WATCH: Emmy Russell Overcomes Nerves, Earns Standing Ovation On American Idol With Bonnie Raitt Classic

Russell’s performance gave Luke Bryan “full body chills.”


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

April 22, 2024


1:35 pm

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Emmy Russell; Photo by Disney/Eric McCandless

Loretta Lynn’s granddaughter, Emmy Russell, continued to impress on American Idol on Sunday evening when she delivered a stunning rendition of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” 

During this unique episode themed around the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, each of the remaining contestants had the opportunity to have a personal, one-on-one conversation with rock legend Gene Simmons from Kiss. He gave each contestant, including Emmy, valuable feedback regarding their performance and on-stage presence. 

When it came to mentoring Emmy Russell, Simmons immediately noticed her timidness and jumped in to help.   

Emmy Russell performs live on American Idol and earns a spot in the Top 12.
Emmy Russell; Photo by Disney/Eric McCandless

“When Emmy came in, I immediately saw the tightness, which is your enemy by the way, because onstage you will wilt like a flower that doesn’t have enough water,” he explained. “One of the best ways of getting rid of jitters is when something unexpected happens.”

He then yelled out loud, which startled Emmy. He told her, “Like that! See? Like that.” 

She admitted his advice “actually helped.” 

YouTube video

The rock star went on to praise her vocal abilities and Emmy admitted his feedback meant a lot to her. 

“I have read the comments and it’s like, ‘She needs to just stick to songwriting.’ ‘Leave it to her grandma.’ And so when Gene told me that he liked my voice, it was really validating.”

During her performance, Emmy Russell shared a beautiful delivery of the song. She hit all the high notes. Evoking goosebumps from viewers along the way. She did, however, seem to be a bit nervous, but she powered through. 

The judges leaped out of their chairs to give her a standing ovation. 

Emmy Russell talks with Ryan Seacrest after performing on American Idol.
Emmy Russell; Photo by Disney/Eric McCandless

Luke Bryan complimented her vocals and encouraged her to keep doing what she does best. 

“The realness of your voice is so listenable. I mean, I had full body chills and we have singers coming up here that are dancing, that are belting songs through the roof, but the realness and the innocence that you’re able to do week in and week out is your thing,” he said. “And it’s very special. Just keep doing it.” 

Lionel Richie kept his short, yet sweet, telling Emmy, “I just wanted to tell her one thing. That was great.”

Lastly, Katy Perry told her, “Emmy, you’re not competing against any of those people. You’re competing against yourself. And tonight you won.” 

This performance landed Emmy Russell a place in the coveted Top 12. Tonight, she will perform with hopes of making it into the Top 10.  

As the granddaughter of country legend Loretta Lynn, Emmy Russell, has struggled with finding her place and standing out due to her family ties. 

“I think there’s a reason why I think I am a little timid and I think it’s because I want to own my voice,” she explained during her audition, and later added, “That’s why I want to challenge myself and come out here and really step in and be like, okay, come on Emmy.”

Emmy Russell performs on the American Idol stage.
Emmy Russell; Photo by Photo by Disney/Eric McCandless

Throughout the competition, she has performed several originals, including “Skinny” and “Want You.” She’s also covered “More Hearts Than Mine” by Ingrid Andress and “Beautiful Things” by Benson Boone. 

American Idol returns tonight, Monday, April 22, with performances from the Top 12. The Top 10 will be revealed at the end of the episode.

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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.