Hey, not everyone pops out of the womb a star. Grace Franklin, the 15-year-old granddaughter of Aretha Franklin, appeared on American Idol on Sunday (February 27th), but didn’t quite have the same chops as her mythological elder to allow her to advance to the singing program.
“I feel like people expect me to sing exactly like her, but I am my own artist and I have my own voice,” the young Franklin said in a pre-recorded clip prior to her audition. Unfortunately, judges Lionel Ritchie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan weren’t exactly impressed with the voice she offered.
Franklin opened her audition with a Lauryn Hill-inspired cover of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly,” but the performance proved more one-dimensional than the soulful original. “It was all just a little sleepy and subdued to me,” Bryan noted, while Perry, the gentle one in the bunch, agreed that the performance was “soft.”
Perry then encouraged the teenager to sing another song, which led to a performance of Aretha’s classic “Ain’t No Way.” While Franklin’s second song was more impassioned than the first, the teenager’s vocals still turned out more gentle than the full-throated roar you might expect from Aretha’s granddaughter.
While Perry was charmed by the young singer’s “stardust,” Bryan and Ritchie refused to bow to the powers of nepotism and voted no for Franklin, insisting she come back after working on developing her voice. Even when Perry walked off the set in protest of Franklin’s rejection, Ritchie — who acknowledged that he knew and loved Aretha and, by extension, her granddaughter — held his ground, insisting she “put the shyness behind you and the voice in front of you.”
Watch Franklin’s audition below. As always with rejection videos, it’s a little cringeworthy, but the young singer will surely have a music career in the future if she wants it. Her last name is Franklin, after all.