Warren Peay’s Vulnerable Zach Williams’ Cover Earns Standing Ovation On ‘American Idol’

“We all just want to be connected like this, so thanks for being vulnerable,” Katy Perry gushed of Warren Peay’s performance.

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Andrew Wendowski

Andrew Wendowski is the Founder and CEO of Music Mayhem. As a 29-year-old entrepreneur, he oversees content as the Editor-In-Chief for the independent brand. Wendowski, who splits time between Philadelphia, Penn., and Nashville, Tenn., has an extensive background in multimedia. Before launching Music Mayhem in 2014, he worked as a highly sought-after photojournalist and tour photographer, collaborating with such labels as Interscope Records and Republic Records. He has captured photos of some of the biggest names, including Taylor Swift, Metallica, Harry Styles, P!NK, Morgan Wallen, Carrie Underwood, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Shania Twain, and hundreds more. Wendowski’s photos and freelance work have appeared nationwide and can be seen everywhere from ad campaigns to various publications, including Billboard and Rolling Stone. When Wendowski isn’t running Music Mayhem, he enjoys spending time at concerts, traveling, and capturing photos.

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Posted on April 23, 2023

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Warren Peay; Photo Courtesy of American Idol

Warren Peay took American Idol viewers to church with his impressive performance of Zach Williams’ “Up There Down Here” after earning a spot in the Top 20.

Ahead of Warren Peay’s performance, he compared his love for gardening to life and explained that it’s not always easy to keep plants alive, but you can’t give up on it just like life. 

“Back home when I’m not singing or working, I am very much a gardener,” Peay began to explain. ”I like to get my hands dirty, there’s something so relaxing to me about going out and digging a spot for a new plant. It’s definitely tough sometimes to work out in the yard and keep plants alive. Not everybody can do it and I definitely lost a few myself, but that’s the thing is you can’t give up on it, you got to keep going. It’s the same with life in general. I believe that sometimes you end up in a place that’s not good for you and that’s certainly what happened to me some years back.”

He went on to open up with his previous struggles with alcoholism and how music has helped him get through it.

“My relationship with drinking started in high school. From doing it a little bit on the weekends to doing it every day… after a while I recognized that I definitely had a problem,” Peay admitted. ”I learned that that wasn’t where I needed to be.”

“Incredibly Thankful” For American Idol

In addition to being an appliance repairman, Peay also leads worship at his local church, which he says allows him to grow as a musician. He also admitted that he is very grateful for the opportunity to showcase his vocal abilities on Idol.

“By the time I started playing for the church, I really started top transition out of drinking. All of my efforts were going into singing and writing music. I think that that’s when I really realized that music was what I wanted to make my career. Truly I didn’t think I’d make it this far and now I’m also getting to watch a career start to grow and this Idol journey and all I can do is be incredibly thankful.”

Warren Peay; Photo Courtesy of American Idol
Warren Peay; Photo Courtesy of American Idol

The 24-year-old appliance repairman from Bamberg, South Carolina delivered an impressive performance of Zach Williams’ single “Up There Down Here.”

“We could use a little up there down here / A little more of Your love, it’s so clear / We could all use a lot more living / On Earth like it is in Heaven / A little more up there down here / A little more up there down here / Wе could all use a lot more living / On Earth like it is in Hеaven,” Peay sang on the tune’s chorus. 

Watch Warren Peay’s Cover Of Zach Williams’ Hit Below

Standing Ovation And Praise From Idol Judges

Warren Peay’s performance earned a standing ovation from the American Idol judges and massive Idol audience. 

“You know with your story… there’s a point in your life when you discover that if you just let go and let God. Everything else falls into place,” Richie told the contestant. “It’s so beautiful that God led you to us here on American Idol and you’re doing such a great job. Congratulations man!”

“Amen,” Peay said, agreeing with Richie’s comment. “Thank you.”

Authentic And Vulnerable

Katy Perry went on to praise the contestant’s authenticity and vulnerability. 

“I like that you have gone through the starwash and you’re still Warren Peay,” Perry added. “I do notice that maybe you got a little bit of a blowout on your beard though. It’s fluffy, but I love that you’re authentic and it’s so great to hear more of your story and sharing that with other people because I went through my own hard times like that as well and it’s like we all just want to be connected like this, so thanks for being vulnerable.”

Luke Bryan admitted that Peay’s song choice was perfect for him.

“World class song choice for you, and it’s so nice to just sit back and listen to you deliver the message of a great song,” Bryan told Peay. “Just stay you and America will speak. America’s voting for you now, so…” 

Previously Compared To Chris Stapleton

Warren Peay auditioned for Idol with Zach Williams’ 2016 song, “To The Table.” The Idol judges quickly compared Peay to Chris Stapleton from his vocals to his look. 

“I thought you were Chris Stapleton’s brother,” Katy Perry joked at the time. Meanwhile, Luke Bryan dubbed him the “Christian Chris Stapleton.”

“You walked in that door and I was like, please God, please God, answer our prayers, God. This guy looks the part. Please have him sound the part and you sound the freaking part,” Bryan previously shared of Peay.

Throughout the competition he has also covered Whiskey Myers’ “Stone,” Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s “It’s Your Love,” The Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post,” Adele’s “Set Fire To The Rain,” and more.

How To Vote For Warren Peay On American Idol?

Viewers can vote for Warren Peay by visiting AmericanIdol.com/Vote, via the American Idol app or by texting 9 to 21523. 

Voting remains open till 9 AM EST on Monday, April 24.

American Idol airs every Sunday and Monday at 8/7c via ABC.

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Andrew Wendowski is the Founder and CEO of Music Mayhem. As a 29-year-old entrepreneur, he oversees content as the Editor-In-Chief for the independent brand. Wendowski, who splits time between Philadelphia, Penn., and Nashville, Tenn., has an extensive background in multimedia. Before launching Music Mayhem in 2014, he worked as a highly sought-after photojournalist and tour photographer, collaborating with such labels as Interscope Records and Republic Records. He has captured photos of some of the biggest names, including Taylor Swift, Metallica, Harry Styles, P!NK, Morgan Wallen, Carrie Underwood, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Shania Twain, and hundreds more. Wendowski’s photos and freelance work have appeared nationwide and can be seen everywhere from ad campaigns to various publications, including Billboard and Rolling Stone. When Wendowski isn’t running Music Mayhem, he enjoys spending time at concerts, traveling, and capturing photos.

See more posts from Andrew Wendowski