The Idol judge and Top 3 finalist delivered a stunning rendition of “I Told You So,” a song solely penned by Travis that appears on the country icon’s 1987 album, Always & Forever. Idol alum Carrie Underwood later covered the song on her album, Carnival Ride.
Bryan and the 23-year-old Tennessee native, wearing coordinating all black ensembles with gold accents, effortlessly sang the classic country hit.
The performance comes just days after Luke Bryan surprised HunterGirl with the invitation to sing the classic country hit with him during the finale.
“I don’t have a single to promote or anything that’s about helping my career. You and I are going to perform ‘I Told You So’ by Randy Travis on the finale. Picked by me,” Bryan revealed to HunterGirl.
“Oh my God that’s going to be insane,” HunterGirl gushed.
Earlier this month, HunterGirl released her debut single “Red Bird,” a track that was co-written by HunterGirl (Hunter Wolkonowski) alongside Austin Goodloe and Matt McKinney and produced by Jimmy Robbins.
“Red Bird” brings the age-old belief that seeing a cardinal means that a loved one is visiting you from Heaven to life. Throughout the lyrics, Huntergirl begs for a red bird to appear to help her get through the tough times.
“My momma told me when I was a kid/ When a red bird flies close your eyes/ Makes a wish here it is / Right around the time my faith went missing/ I was praying for angel but the wings looked different / God if you’re listening could you send me one on down,” she sings on the chorus of the track.
“When I was a little girl my family always told me ‘when you see a red bird, it is a sign from Heaven that a family member is looking after you,’” Huntergirl explains. “Cardinals have been a big sign in my life and really important to my family. Red Bird is a song that I wrote from my heart with Matt and Austin. I cried in the writing room with this song. I want people to know that we are never alone and the ones we love are always watching over us. Sometimes you just need a red bird.”
The three-hour Season 20 finale of American Idol also featured performances from the Idol judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, as well as the Top 3 finalists Noah Thompson, HunterGirl, and Leah Marlene.
Additionally, superstars Carrie Underwood, Gabby Barrett, James Arthur, Sara Bareilles, Michael Bublé, Deana Carter, Earth, Wind & Fire, Melissa Etheridge, Flo Rida, Ben Platt, Thomas Rhett, Tai Verdes, and more also performed during the star-studded broadcast.
Several other contestants from Season 20 also returned to the Idol stage, including Mike Parker, Christian Guardino, Jay Copeland, Nicolina Bozzo, Fritz Hager, Emyrson Flora, and Lady K.
Hosted by Ryan Seacrest, the American Idol finale aired live coast-to-coast on Sunday, May 22, at 8/7c on ABC. The finale also streamed live on ABC.com and the ABC app and will be available to watch via Hulu on Monday (May 23).