17-year-old Dakota Hayden may be from a small town but he has big dreams in Music City.
Hayden hails from the small town of Fordsville, Kentucky (population 500), born and raised in the country on a 36-acre farm, where he and his family raise cattle, deer, turkey and more. The high school student and his family often hunt and fish on their farm as well.
Ahead of his performance, Hayden admitted that he’s most excited to sing in front of Idol judge Luke Bryan as he has idolized him since he was young.
“The judge I’m most excited to perform in front of, it has to be Luke Bryan. I’ve been listening to him for as long as I can remember. I’ve always looked up to him and hear him on the radio and his singing intertwines with my life and being able to sing and perform and meet him is life-changing,” Hayden said.
Strumming an acoustic guitar, Hayden allowed his country vocals to shine during his audition with an impressive cover of Luke Combs’ chart-topping hit, “When It Rains It Pours,” a track that appears on Combs’ debut album, This One’s for You.
Dakota Hayden Was Praised As Authentic By All Three Idol Judges
Following his performance of the fan-favorite Combs’ single, Bryan and his Idol cohorts, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry, praised the singer’s vocal abilities and authenticity.
“When you saw us up here smiling the whole time, it was not because we were laughing at you, we were thinking to ourselves, ‘we found somebody here,’” Richie shared.
“First of all, you’re pure country. Believable as heck, It’s believable and I love that your pureness,” Richie added. “You’re an awe shucks kind of guy, and it translates and even though you’re not Luke’s [Bryan] son, I’d like to kind of that that’s what I’m thinking right now. Your attitude and personality kind of reminds me of my man down there.”
Perry then added to Richie’s statement, gushing over Hayden’s country vibes.
“Just like Lionel says, you are authentic through and through. You are country from your hat to your boots. I think that you are raw and young,” Perry gushed. “Honestly, I think you’re top 10 material.”
Luke Bryan And Katy Perry Think Dakota Hayden Is Worthy Of The Top 10
After Perry, Bryan thanked the contestant for driving to Nashville from Kentucky to audition for Idol as the “Up” singer admitted he thinks Hayden is worthy of the Top 10.
“I think you’re in the right place, thank you for driving your butt down from Fordsville, Kentucky. Call your mama, your daddy, your grandma, your auntie, your uncle, call your church, call your preacher, because you are exactly what we want to find,” Bryan added. “And Katy is right. I think you’re going to really snip the Top 10.”
Dakota Hayden ultimately earned a Golden ticket to Hollywood, with a unanimous “yes” from the Idol judges.
American Idol airs every Sunday at 8/7c on ABC.