Norwich native Kaitlyn Jackson won her place on American Idol with a heart-wrenching story she told in a song.
The audition was in Boston, and Jackson went out on a limb singing a highly personal piece she had written herself.
The judges of the Fox primetime reality show — Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. — were visibly touched when Jackson told the story of her song, “Another Angel.”
Jackson’s voice cracked with emotion as she explained how, at 11 years old, she was the opening act at the Chenango County Fair when her grandfather suffered a heart attack in the stands as she was performing.
Her country/pop song told how her grandfather fell into the arms of a stranger, who saved him, and how she supposed heaven didn’t need another angel just then. Her grandfather died before he ever heard the song that landed Jackson on American Idol.
Now the 16-year-old is in the running for a place in musical history alongside former contestants such as Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken and Kelly Clarkson.
“It is really an amazing experience,” Jackson said on Saturday as she signed autographs at The Vinyl Music Vault in Oneonta. “Everyone has been awesome. ... But you fend for yourself — you do your own make-up and costume. You meet with a vocal coach for about a five-minute session just to see what key you are in and that is like at 2 o’clock in the morning.”
A frantic segment of the competition for Jackson was the ‘Group Round,’ where the individuals had to form a musical group with other competitors.
“At first I thought I’d sing with Ethan Harris, because he is from here too,” Jackson said. “But he wanted to sing a song that I didn’t know so well. Then I heard some girls asking if anybody knew ‘Momma’s Broken Heart’ by Miranda Lambert. I thought that would be a better song for me, so I went with that group.”