Tears were shed during Sunday night’s (March 19) episode of American Idol as one contestant with a heartbreaking background was rejected by the panel of judges in front of her 4-year-old daughter.
Fire Wilmore, a 22-year-old single mother, revealed that she had gotten pregnant with her daughter, Maja, at 18 years old. The Oklahoma native — who spent her life in and out of foster care — now works as an exotic dancer in Virginia.
“The world’s not designed for single moms to be successful so I did what I had to do,” she said. “I need to do better. I need to get away from dancing. I need to do this for me. I need to do this for my daughter.”
Wilmore entered the room with her young daughter in tow, who found a seat on Luke Bryan‘s lap before sharing an adorable moment with Katy Perry and a toy crocodile. However, the singer’s background and her 4-year-old child’s presence weren’t enough to sway the judges.
After hearing her performance of Bruno Mars’ “Talking to the Moon,” Perry instructed Wilmore to try it again, this time belting. While she was able to execute the exercise, Lionel Richie said, “I just think you need to be pushed. Now, Katy just pushed you a little bit and you nailed right on top of that without even thinking about it.”
Meanwhile, Bryan said he was hoping her voice would be “more.” Although he believed the judges could push the aspiring artist, he admitted her voice “wasn’t as good” as he was hoping.
After the two judges voted against sending Wilmore to Hollywood, Perry told her, “Well, you don’t deserve three no’s. Because you’ve got something there, I just think that it hasn’t been worked out enough.”
She continued, “It’s gonna be OK. It is. There’s always beauty. There’s always light in the darkness. Somehow, someway you will find what you came looking for.”
The most upsetting part came when Maja ran to her mom with a Golden Ticket, to which an emotional Wilmore demanded, “No. Go put it back,” prompting Perry to offer her one more shot at the singing competition show.
The “Roar” singer proceeded to approach Wilmore, where she handed her a tissue and a “second chance” at auditioning in Nashville. She said, “That’s where you’re gonna show us what the fire is. I know you didn’t name yourself that for nothing.”
Through tears, Wilmore told cameras, “I’m not just somebody who’s been through a lot of stuff. I’m working hard and I need to change my life. I need it. I don’t want it, I need it.”
American Idol airs on Sunday nights at 8/7c on ABC.
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