Raleigh native, singer Clay Aiken returns to American Idol as mentor Sunday

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Sunday, April 2, 2023
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Raleigh native and singer Clay Aiken is returning to American Idol as a mentor on Sunday along with Jordin Sparks, Phillip Phillips and more.

For Season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken, returning to the show that launched his career is an unforgettable experience.

"When we checked in last night to the hotel, here right next to us there was a kid who is checking in, who is a contestant and it reminded me that yeah, I had to get here and check myself in, by myself that day," Aiken said. "It's almost in a way sort of the last moment of innocence really was that the beginning of Hollywood Week because after that it all took off and it's been like that for 20 years."

Durham native Ashley Tankard auditioned for the 15th time and, she finally got a yes. Kate Perry, Lionel Ritchie decided she was good enough to get a golden ticket to Hollywood. Tankard said she's been auditioning since 2015.

After getting her ticket to Hollywood, Ashley's message to fans is to 'never give up.'

"This is proof to anybody who wants to give up, do not give up," she said. "If it takes you two times if it takes you fifteen if it takes you one hundred. It will happen. It happened for me."

Elijah McCormick,of Raeford, NC brought Lionel Ritchie to tears on Sunday, March 9. McCormick nearly lost his life in a head-on collision on June 8, 2019, only 3 hours after his high school graduation. The car he was in caught on fire after the crash.

He spent 79 days in the hospital enduring multiple surgeries, dialysis, a feeding tube, and relearning how to walk and talk. When he finally did speak, his mom said one of the first things he asked was--"mom can I still sing."

On Sunday, March 19-- Nailyah Serenity of Charlotte, NC brought the judges to their feet with her rendition of Barbara Streisand's song 'My Man.' Serenity was pitch-perfect in her delivery.

Perry, Ritchie and Bryan were blown away.


Watch "American Idol" Sundays on ABC at 8/7c. Hollywood Week starts Sunday, April 2.