'American Idol' recap: Teen battling cystic fibrosis stuns judges with 'miracle' audition
"American Idol" auditions have officially come to a close this season.
But before the talented golden-ticket winners face off in Hollywood in next week's episode, Sunday saw a new crop of hopefuls aiming to earn a spot among them.
One of those singers was high school student Brianna Collichio from Spencerport, New York.
Though she's only 15, Collichio's life hasn't been without hardships. Before her audition, the singer opened up about her battle with cystic fibrosis, which has made her prone to chronic lung infections. According to Mayo Clinic, cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs.
"The life expectancy for cystic fibrosis is maybe 36, but it doesn't defeat me," she said. "It doesn't define me."
And Collichio wasn't going to let the disease get in the way of her "American Idol" audition, either.
"The eve of my audition, I collapsed," she told the judges. "Right before I went into surgery, I got a call from my sister, and she told me we were able to reschedule the audition."
The teen added that her faith has helped her through tough times and she hopes to uplift people with music.
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"Singing and cystic fibrosis are on different sides," she said. "Usually with cystic fibrosis, your lungs are scarred, but my lungs are not scarred, and my voice is not raspy. So I want to inspire people."
Collichio then sang Alessia Cara's "Scars to Your Beautiful," earning multiple "wows" from the judges.
Lionel Richie thanked the teen for her bravery and complimented the texture of her voice. Though Luke Bryan said there are ways for the young singer to improve, he added that she "knocked it out of the park."
Katy Perry called her "the walking miracle."
"You give people hope, and people need a lot of hope right now," she continued. "You're not your illness. You're Brianna. And if you come at this with the same vigilance that you come at facing adversity, I think you're gonna climb all of the mountains. And I think you're gonna grow right before our very eyes."
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All three judges voted Collichio through to Hollywood, causing the teen to burst into tears.
Another standout was Vahhley, a 23-year-old mother from Brooklyn, New York, who opened up about struggling with homelessness.
"As a parent, you want to give your son everything, and when you don't have the ability to do so, it hurts you," said Vahhley, who brought her father and toddler son to the audition. "I just want to be the best mother that I can possibly be. I want him to grow up knowing that he didn't have to see his mother struggling."
The mom sang "One Moment in Time" by Whitney Houston, bringing Perry to her feet. All three judges voted to send to her to Hollywood.
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"This golden ticket represents my struggles, my strengths," she said, holding her ticket. "It feels like I really, really accomplished something."
Vahhley and Collichio will be joined in Hollywood by 15-year-old high school student Tryzdin Grubbs, 19-year-old college student Wyatt Pike and 21-year-old musician Althea Grace, among other standouts.
The first episode of Hollywood week airs next Sunday (8 EST/PST).
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