15-Year-Old ‘American Idol’ Contestant Moves Judges With “Cover Me Up” Performance

American Idol contestant
American Idol

Grab the tissues.

For most talent-based shows, the moving stories are the ones that connect with the judges and audience best. But something strikes a nerve a little more when someone young has experienced hardships.

Meet Triston Harper. A 15-year-old who just auditioned for American Idol. When I first heard Triston talk, I thought I was about to watch a 30-year-old sing. He is well beyond his years maturity-wise because of the struggles he faced growing up. From McIntosh, Alabama, Triston grew up in a Choctaw Indian community.

When Triston was eleven, his stepfather became abusive towards his mother, leading them to leave the home. Shortly after leaving the abusive situation, things took another turn, leading him and his mother to become homeless. Being 12 at the time, he prayed that things would turn around. And they did when his grandfather drove to Alabama to help him and his mother get back on their feet.

Because of this hard living, Triston is mature beyond his years; you can see it in his demeanor and vocals. Triston tells the judges that he will sing Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up,” which of course was also a hit for Morgan Wallen. But from the moment he opened his mouth, he sang with so much soul. I’m also getting shades of Tracy Lawrence in that vocal tone.

After his stellar performance, he got a standing ovation from Lionel Richie and Katy Perry… but he captured Luke Bryan’s heart.

“Anything you’re doing technically wise when you’re singing is because you’re 15. I could have an afternoon with you and just say, ‘Don’t do that anymore.’ Just don’t do those two things and… man.” 

Katy Perry chimes back in:

“You’re a shotgun.”

With all three saying yes to Triston, he secured a golden ticket to Hollywood. And as much as shows like American Idol rarely ever help discover a new country star, Triston Harper might be one to watch.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock