WATCH: Dakota Hayden Deemed ‘Top 10 Material’ After Luke Combs Cover On ‘American Idol’

17-year-old Dakota Hayden may be from a small town but he has big dreams in Music City.  Hayden hails from…


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

March 13, 2022


8:14 pm

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Dakota Hayden; Photo by American Idol, ABC

17-year-old Dakota Hayden may be from a small town but he has big dreams in Music City. 

Hayden hails from the small town of Fordsville, Kentucky (population 500), born and raised in the country on a 36-acre farm, where he and his family raise cattle, deer, turkey and more. The high school student and his family often hunt and fish on their farm as well. 

Ahead of his performance, Hayden admitted that he’s most excited to sing in front of American Idol judge Luke Bryan as he has idolized him since he was young. 


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A post shared by Dakota Hayden Music (@dakotahaydenmusic)

“The judge I’m most excited to perform in front of, it has to be Luke Bryan. I’ve been listening to him for as long as I can remember. I’ve always looked up to him and hear him on the radio and his singing intertwines with my life and being able to sing and perform and meet him is life-changing,” Hayden said.

Strumming an acoustic guitar, Hayden allowed his country vocals to shine during his audition with an impressive cover of Luke Combs‘ chart-topping hit, “When It Rains It Pours,” a track that appears on Combs’ debut album, This One’s for You

YouTube video

Following his performance of the fan-favorite Combs’ single, Bryan and his Idol cohorts, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry, praised the singer’s vocal abilities and authenticity.

“When you saw us up here smiling the whole time, it was not because we were laughing at you, we were thinking to ourselves, ‘we found somebody here,’” Richie shared.

“First of all, you’re pure country. Believable as heck, It’s believable and I love your pureness,” Richie added. “You’re an awe-shucks kind of guy, and it translates and even though you’re not Luke’s [Bryan] son, I’d like to kind of that that’s what I’m thinking right now. Your attitude and personality kind of reminds me of my man down there.”

Perry then added to Richie’s statement, gushing over Hayden’s country vibes.


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A post shared by Dakota Hayden Music (@dakotahaydenmusic)

“Just like Lionel says, you are authentic through and through. You are country from your hat to your boots. I think that you are raw and young,” Perry gushed. “Honestly, I think you’re top 10 material.”

After Perry, Bryan thanked the contestant for driving to Nashville from Kentucky to audition for Idol as the “Up” singer admitted he thinks Hayden is worthy of the Top 10.

“I think you’re in the right place, thank you for driving your butt down from Fordsville, Kentucky. Call your mama, your daddy, your grandma, your auntie, your uncle, call your church, call your preacher, because you are exactly what we want to find,” Bryan added. “And Katy is right. I think you’re going to really snip the Top 10.”

Dakota Hayden ultimately earned a Golden ticket to Hollywood, with a unanimous “yes” from the Idol judges. 

American Idol airs every Sunday at 8/7c on ABC.

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Lauren Jo Black

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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.