WATCH: Warren Peay Impresses With Zac Brown Band Cover On ‘American Idol’

Peay impressed the judges with his storytelling abilities.


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

May 2, 2023


11:14 am

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Warren Peay; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

ABC’s American Idol returned on Monday with the Judge’s Song Contest, challenging each of the remaining contestants to since a song submitted anonymously by the Idol judges. 

Standout contestant Warren Peay was asked to choose between “Colder Weather” by Zac Brown Band, “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and “Blue Side of the Mountain” by The Steeldrivers. The South Carolina native was thrilled with all of the song choices but ultimately decided to go with “Colder Weather” by Zac Brown Band. 

Warren Peay; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless
Warren Peay; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

To prepare for the performance, Peay worked with the vocal coaches and hoped to showcase his vocal range throughout the song. 

Surrounded by blue lights and a background that resembles a starry night sky, Peay took the stage to deliver a stirring performance of the 2x platinum-certified country hit, which was co-penned by Zac Brown, Coy Bowles, Wyatt Durrette and Levi Lowrey. The song was a great fit for Peay as it put his powerhouse vocals on full display.  


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Following his performance, it was revealed that Lionel Richie was the judge who hand-picked “Colder Weather” for Peay. Richie praised the former appliance repair technician for finally feeling comfortable enough to walk around the stage rather than stand behind the mic for his entire performance. The “Hello” singer also applauded the contestant’s storytelling skills.  

Judges Katy Perry and Luke Bryan complimented Warren Peay on how he manages to make each song his own by adding his signature flair into every performance he gives. Perry also shared her excitement over the dynamics of Peay’s voice. 

Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless
Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

He Made The Top 8

It was revealed that Warren Peay was safe within the competition and would advance to the Top 8. Following the show, the Idol contestant took to social media to express his gratitude for the news. 

“I cannot put into words how it feels to be in the Top 8! It means the world to me to know you have all voted me this far into the competition, and I hope I can continue to make you all proud,” he wrote, adding, “To God be the glory!” 

A Standout Audition

Warren Peay auditioned with “To The Table” by Zach Williams and earned a “yes” from all three judges. 

“Coming into American Idol, I truly feel like this is a game changer for me,” Peay shared ahead of his audition. “I want to get out and play as much as possible….make it a career. I think my church is super proud that I’m going, and I’m so glad to have that support behind me.”

His performance drew comparisons to Chris Stapleton and left the judges floored. 

“His voice cuts through,” Bryan pointed out, while Richie added, “FM Radio right there!” 

Perry was equally impressed. 

Warren Peay; Photo by ABC, American Idol
Warren Peay; Photo by ABC, American Idol

“A Christian Chris Stapleton. Warren Woo,” she gushed. ”You walked in that door and I was like, please God, please God, answer our prayers, God. This guy looks the part. Please have him sound the part and you sound the freaking part.”

Throughout the competition so far, he’s gone on to sing “Stone” by Whiskey Myers, “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele, “Up There Down Here” by Zach Williams, “It’s Not My Time by 3 Doors Down, and more. 

A Surprising Twist

Tyson Venegas and Marybeth Byrd were eliminated during Monday night’s American Idol. In a surprising twist, the judges saved Oliver Steele. 

American Idol returns next week with Alanis Morisette and Ed Sheeran joining Luke Bryan as guest judges. The Top 8 will perform and the Top 5 will also be revealed. 

An all-new episode of the competition airs coast-to-coast on Sunday, May 7 at 5 pm PT/8 pm ET 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.