Aretha Franklin’s granddaughter auditions for ‘American Idol’

Grace Franklin, 15, says she's her "own artist" with her "own voice."

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Grace Franklin, the granddaughter of Aretha Franklin, auditioned for American Idol during Sunday’s episode on ABC.

Grace, 15, went before judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan, and revealed that she was from Detroit. When Richie asked her what led her to come to audition for the long-running vocal competition series, Grace revealed that the Queen of Soul was her grandmother.  

Grace stated that she and Aretha had a special bond. “I was really close with my grandma. I got to see her all the time. I used to travel with her a lot,” Grace said. “I don’t think I could fully grasp that she was known worldwide cause to me she was always just ‘Grandma.’” 

The teenager explained that high expectations for her musical chops come with the territory, being Aretha’s granddaughter. “I feel like people expect me to sing exactly like her,” Grace continued. “But I’m my own artist, and I have my own voice.”

Grace performed two songs for the three judges, starting with “Killing Me Softly,” a la Lauryn Hill’s interpretation by The Fugees. Although the judges applauded, Bryan called her performance “sleepy and subdued,” while Richie stated that he could tell she was “a nervous wreck.”

Aretha Franklin "Amazing Grace"
(Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

The judges gave Grace another chance by asking her to do a second song. She chose an Aretha classic “Ain’t No Way,” written by Aretha’s sister, Carolyn Franklin. Bryan complimented her, telling her that her “runs are really, really great.”

When it came time for the vote whether to send her to the next round, the judges were split. Bryan said no, while Perry said yes. Richie had the deciding vote and said no. He stated that Grace needed to hone her skills more and return when she was more ready and less nervous.

“Trust me. If you go and come back and put the shyness behind you and the voice in front of you, you are going to be something amazing,” Richie said.

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