WATCH: Elijah McCormick’s Rascal Flatts Cover Brings Lionel Richie To Tears On ‘American Idol’

In 2019, McCormick was involved in a tragic accident that nearly took his life. Now, he sings with a purpose.


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

March 6, 2023

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Elijah McCormick; Photo by ABC, American Idol

American Idol auditions are underway and Idol hopeful Elijah McCormick left a lasting impression on the judges with his emotional rendition of a Rascal Flatts hit. 

McCormick, who hails from Raeford, North Carolina, has been singing since he was about 6 years old but said that he truly fell in love with music when he was in high school. Unfortunately, that’s also the time he faced a life-changing event that nearly took his life. 

Prior to his performance, the 21-year-old recalled a tragic car accident that left him severely injured. 

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“On graduation day 2019, I was in a bad car accident. The car caught on fire. I had to learn how to walk and talk again,” he explained. 

The contestant’s mother, Teshauana, who also attended his audition, shared, “I got a phone call. I thought it was just a fender bender. But when I got there, it was terrifying.” 

He was airlifted to the hospital and flatlined multiple times on the way. Following the accident, McCormick faced a long recovery that included 79 days in the hospital, and numerous surgeries.

“I really don’t know where I’d be if he hadn’t made it,” his mom tearfully added. 

Elijah McCormick; Photo by ABC, American Idol
Elijah McCormick; Photo by ABC, American Idol

When he awoke, his first question was, “Mama, can I still sing?” 

Eventually, Elijah McCormick found his voice again and made the decision to make music his purpose in life.

For his audition, McCormick chose to sing Rascal Flatts’ “Bless The Broken Road.” His vocals thoroughly impressed Idol judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie and left Richie in tears. 

“Got me, boy,” Richie said as tears streamed down his face. 

The judges then made their way across the room to offer McCormick hugs. 

While seated back at the judges’ table, they each took a moment to comment on his audition. 

“I just got to say it. I mean. The last person I saw approach singing like you was Willie Spence,” Bryan said, referring to the late Season 19 finalist. 

Richie agreed, adding, “It’s the same approach.”

Elijah McCormick, Mom; Photo by ABC, American Idol
Elijah McCormick, Mom; Photo by ABC, American Idol

“I mean, you hit one of those notes, and I thought of Willie, and from then on, I couldn’t recover,” the “Stuck On You” singer admitted. “I was trying to look very dignified, and then you just beat me up some more. But let me tell you this. God brought you back nine times for you to do something amazing. I’m so glad you’re here with us. That was just one of those moments in my life that I’ll never forget.”

The singer then revealed that his mother signed him up for American Idol prior to his accident. 

“I had my ID number and everything,” he told the superstar judges. 

“You are just here fulfilling your destiny. This was always meant to be,” Perry declared. 

After bringing in his mother at the request of the judges, McCormick’s fate on Idol was revealed. 

Elijah McCormick; Photo by ABC, American Idol
Elijah McCormick; Photo by ABC, American Idol

“Your son, when he opens his mouth, he’s divine. God brought him back for a purpose in life, and it starts right here. I know you went through absolute torture. Well, God bless you, and your family, and that golden child right there,” Richie told her. 

“The golden child deserves the golden ticket,” Perry added as all three judges voted “yes.” 

After the judges’ decision was revealed McCormick and his mother shared a hug. 

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

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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.