Former college football player Daniel Marshall Griffith wowed the American Idol judges during his audition on Sunday evening when he sang a cover of one of Garth Brooks’ biggest songs.
Griffith, a native of Chesapeake, Virginia, is a graduate of Virginia Tech, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness and agricultural business operation. In college, he spent his time on the football team where he was a linebacker and also played guitar.
He is a big fan of ‘90s country music and lists artists like Brooks, Willie Nelson, Randy Travis, George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Eric Church, Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean as his biggest influences.
Even though he’s been singing his whole life, Griffith only started performing in front of audiences about five to six months prior to his Idol audition. He faced his fear of performing in front of people when he sang at his grandfather’s memorial service last summer.
While strumming an acoustic guitar, Griffith delivered a memorable performance of Garth Brooks’ “The Dance.”
His audition left the Idol judges, Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan, thoroughly impressed.
“Dan Marshall, you have that storytelling thing, man,” Richie said, praising the former college football player. “There’s something you can’t teach and that’s called natural talent and your craft of who you are. I like what I just heard.”
Perry was a bit hesitant at first, but once she heard Griffith sing, she was all-in.
“Sorry, I’m already thinking about marketing you. You know, I was really nervous when you said you’ve only been doing this for five or six months,” Perry admitted. “I do think you have some natural-born talent. I think that you’ve had your family members say ‘oh go do it,’ but to come here to see if the world likes it that’s a huge risk. All you need is support and a little guidance. It’s not there, but the foundation is secure.”
“First and foremost, playing the guitar may be taking your focus away from singing,” Bryan added. “If you make it to the next round, let the big time pros play the instruments. Man, you’re one of the best sounding country artists that have been through, but you’re not doing all of the emotion properly. If I had 20-minutes out there to coach you, I could really show you some tricks, you’ll just have to focus on toeing the line the whole way if we’re talking in football and country music tune.”
When it was time for the judges to cast their votes, Griffith earned a ticket to Hollywood.
“Dan, I like what you did, It’s a yes from me and I’m excited to see where you go with this amazing sound that you have,” Richie gushed.
“I think you are worth rolling the dice, I think you just need a shot and some support. I’m a yes,” Perry said.
Click above to watch Griffith’s impressive Idol audition.
American Idol returns on Monday at 8/7c with another round of auditions.