WATCH: Alabama High School Student Triston Harper Nails Cody Johnson’s ”Til You Can’t’ On ‘American Idol’

At just 15 years old, Harper is the youngest finalist in the Top 14


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

April 16, 2024


11:33 am

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Triston Harper; Photo by Disney/Eric McCandless

Triston Harper continued his successful run on American Idol on Monday evening, taking the stage for an impressive cover of Cody Johnson’s chart-topping hit, “‘Til You Can’t” after securing a place within the Top 14. 

Secures Spot In The Top 14

The performance took place just moments after host Ryan Seacrest revealed that the 15-year-old landed a guaranteed spot in the Top 14, leaving contestant Roman Collins to sing with hopes of earning a judge pick. 

“Congratulations, Triston, you did it,” Seacrest told the country singer, who appeared to be overcome with emotions upon hearing the news. 

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Harper, who is the youngest finalist in the Top 14, showcased his raw talents throughout his performance of the inspiring tune. As the audience clapped along, the high school student effortlessly belted out the lyrics, proving his talent goes well beyond his years.    

Previously Performed An Emotional, Original Song

On Sunday evening, the McIntosh, Alabama native took the American Idol stage to perform an original song titled, “H-O-P-E.” Before his performance, he explained that “H-O-P-E” stands for “hold on pain ends.” As a survivor of abuse and homelessness, Harper aims to use his music to help others facing similar situations. 

Triston Harper; Photo by Disney/Eric McCandless
Triston Harper; Photo by Disney/Eric McCandless

“Anytime I’m going through a hard time or I don’t know how to express my feelings, I write songs,” he explained and went on to quote the lyrics, “I’ve seen the pain and I’ve seen the sorrow. I witness it every single day. Kind of makes you wish there is no tomorrow.” 

Harper admitted to experiencing these emotions when he was homeless. 

“When I lived on the streets, I felt that many a night, so I just felt like, when is this pain ever going to end? I hope I can change somebody’s life, somebody who’s going through that stage of darkness,” he said. “I just want to be able to show that I’m here and I’m doing things never thought I could do. You put your mind to it and you do it. You ain’t got to have a lot of money because the real treasure’s buried down deep in your soul. I am just a little country boy from a small little town that nobody knew nothing about. It really shows you that dreams do come true.”


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Harper Earned Praise From The Judges

Following his performance, Idol judge Luke Bryan praised the young star, admitting, “How do you get that much talent in a 15-year-old? It’s truly remarkable watching you. I believe this is what you’ll do the rest of your life. The day that I knew I could play music, the rest of my life was very important. And at 15 years old, I think you’ll be doing this forever and it will change you and your mother’s life forever.”

Lionel Richie echoed Bryan’s comments, telling the young man, “You have all the tools to have a career for the rest of your life. All you have to do right now is just enjoy American Idol and then from there, remember, let us backstage for your future, alright?” 

Katy Perry admitted he was changing his life and called him the “real deal.”

American Idol returns this Sunday, April 21 with Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Night. This special episode will feature guest mentor Gene Simmons, reveal the 2024 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Inductees, and include a live vote for the Top 12.

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for and her work being featured on She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.