Remember the name Douglas Mills. You’ll hear it again.
The 18-year-old from Houston, TX, is a recipient of American Idol’s “golden ticket,” or rather, the “VIP affiliate ticket pass” from ABC Houston, redeemable for a trip to the auditions. It comes in silver, but it’s potential gold for anyone who scores one.
“Music is my life, basically,” he says in the pre-recorded bit. “It’s my safe place from doubters and haters. And people who just don’t like me in general.”
The route to the American Idol auditions hasn’t been an easy one for Mills. “When I was younger, I was bullied because I look different,” he explains. The cruel name calling was “very painful.” Music has helped and healed.
His song Sunday night (March 2) was “especially chosen for the Black community, because they have gone through so much pain over the past few centuries,” he explained. “It’s time to bring awareness to it.”
Mills delivered a powerful performance of “Strange Fruit,” a harrowing song recorded in the late ‘30s by Billie Holiday, and which has been described as “the beginning of the civil rights movement”.
The three judges were blown away. “Young man, that was superb,” enthused Lionel Richie. “You’re a superstar,” Katy Perry explained, when the youngster admitted he didn’t think he’d pass the Idol grade. “You transcend time and space. You froze the room. That was iconic.”
Luke Bryan said the trio were “hypnotized” by the talent before them. “I’m speechless about it.”
Cue some tears, cuddles and a resounding, unanimous “yes” from the judges.