While Grace Franklin's audition wowed Katy Perry, co-judges Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie didn't feel the teen was ready.
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LIONEL RICHIE, KATY PERRY, RYAN SEACREST, LUKE BRYAN

Showbiz can be rough ... even for the descendants of legendary singers.

Aretha Franklin's teenage granddaughter Grace appeared on the season 20 premiere of ABC's American Idol on Sunday, auditioning with the Fugees' "Killing Me Softly" and her late grandmother's "Ain't No Way."

The 15-year-old high school student — daughter of Franklin's gospel artist son Kecalf Cunningham — said in her confessional that she had a close relationship with the late Queen of Soul, who died in August 2018 at 76.

"I got to see her all the time. I used to travel with her a lot," Grace said. "I don't think I could fully grasp the fact that she was known worldwide, because to me, she was always just grandma. I feel like people expect me to sing exactly like her, but I'm my own artist and I have my own voice."

While the teen's performance garnered praise from Katy Perry, her co-judge Luke Bryan voted no to Grace continuing through to the next round, leaving it up to Lionel Richie to break the tie. Richie ultimately voted no, explaining that the best thing for Grace would be to "take a shot at going backwards."

"Go back and get a running start and come back at this again," Richie said, prompting Perry to stare at him pointedly. "Are you putting pressure on me?" Richie asked his co-judge, to which Perry said, "She's got stardust. Give her a shot. Give her a chance. I'm sure Aretha wasn't Aretha when she walked into the room, but somebody said, 'Yes, I want to work with you, I want to develop you, you've got something.' "

GRACE FRANKLIN AMERICAN IDOL
Grace Franklin, granddaughter of the late Aretha Franklin, auditions for 'American Idol'
| Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC

Richie urged Grace to trust him, adding, "If you go and come back and put the shyness behind you and the voice in front of you, you are going to be something amazing. I don't want to be the one to make you tip over and fall at this infant stage." A frustrated Perry replied, "I will lay down on the ground. I quit this show. I'm going to the bar," and walked off stage.

Before he and the teen embraced for a hug, Richie offered words of comfort: "Grace, you know how I feel about your family and you, but I don't want this to be a crash and burn," he said. "It's gonna be a 'no' from me this time, but an optimistic, 'Come back and see us,' okay? Make that work, okay?"

A rep for Richie did not immediately respond to EW's requests for comment.

Watch Grace's audition above.

American Idol airs on Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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Episode Recaps

LIONEL RICHIE, KATY PERRY, RYAN SEACREST, LUKE BRYAN
American Idol

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.

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  • TV Show
seasons
  • 20
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