Oliver Steele returned to American Idol following his recent elimination to showcase his talent once more during the Season 21 finale. For his performance that took place on Sunday, May 21, Steele also got the chance to share the stage with country hitmaker, Jelly Roll.
As the 25-year-old singer stepped out in front of the audience, he finished off the opening verse of Jelly Roll’s single, “Need A Favor.” This song impacted country radio on February 13, following his top-charting track, “Son Of A Sinner” and his No. 1 single at rock radio, “Dead Man Walking.”
The pair effortlessly embraced the song’s hard-hitting melody as they belted out the lyrics that center around a character who hits a spiritual realization while in the midst of trying to convince his love interest to stick around. As he folds his hands and bows his head, the character at hand understands that he doesn’t deserve the favor he’s praying for, but he’s willing to try whatever it takes to repent his disconnected actions of the past.
Jelly Roll donned a fashionable patchwork jacket with black pants, which matched Steele’s blue and white tie-dye t-shirt and distressed black pants.
Steele stepped up and let his gritty vocals shine as he took on the song’s powerful narrative that was co-penned by Jelly Roll, Austin Nivarel, Joe Ragosta and Rob Ragosta. The crowd cheered as he took over and belted out the final lyrics before he and Jelly Roll stood back-to-back and finished out the song in unison.
“I only talk to God when I need a favor / And I only pray when I ain’t got a prayer / So, who the hell am I, who the hell am I / To expect a Savior, oh / If I only talk to God when I need a favor / But God, I need a favor / Amen, amen,” they delivered in the chorus.
Jelly Roll and Steele can relate to each other in a number of ways, including the fact that Steele grew up in Mt. Juliet, which is less than 25 miles from where Jelly Roll was raised.
On a deeper level, both singers have had their own set of experiences in life that has led them to understand what it’s like to find themselves in a difficult place, yet somehow find the strength to pull through it.
At the start of his Idol journey, the Top 12 contestant revealed that his dad, professional blues guitarist and singer-songwriter, had unfortunately suffered a stroke that affected the left side of his body. This also made it difficult for him to get around without the assistance of a wheelchair.
Steele’s Idol audition was an emotional one as he was promoted to bring his father in the room after sharing his story with the judges.
“He’s a smart man. He’s the reason I do what I do,” Steele shared before adding, “It’s been a struggle to have him around. He’s been through a lot.”
The budding artist went on to sing an unforgettable cover of Eric Clapton’s “Change the World,” which earned him a spot in the competition.
He has recently released two songs to streaming – a cover of Harry Styles’ hit, “As It Was” and an original track titled, “Too Soon.”
In a previous Instagram post promoting the new music, Steele wrote, “This song is the result of a year of hard work and discovering who I am.”
Live from Hollywood, the three-hour Season 21 finale of American Idol also featured performances from the Idol judges, Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, as well as the top 3 finalists: Megan Danielle, Colin Stough, and Iam Tongi.
Additionally, Ellie Goulding, Jelly Roll, Pitbull, TLC, Lil Jon, James Blunt, Jazmine Sullivan, REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin, Kylie Minogue, Lainey Wilson and Lauren Daigle also performed throughout the broadcast.
American Idol alums Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken also returned to the show.
Country superstar Keith Urban, who served as an American Idol judge during seasons 12 to 15, was on hand to mentor to the top 3.
“To be able to come in as a mentor, and play as well, is incredible,” he told PEOPLE. “That was home for me for several seasons, and the mentoring part is probably one of the things I always enjoyed the most, getting to work with the artist one-on-one.”
During the show, several other fan-favorite contestants returned to the American Idol stage, including Haven Madison, Olive Steele, Wé Ani, Zachariah Smith, Warren Peay, and more.
Hosted by Ryan Seacrest, the American Idol season 21 finale aired on Sunday, May 21 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT.