Cecil Ray received some constructive criticism from the “American Idol” judges Sunday.
The contestant belted out Tracy Lawrence’s 2004 hit “Paint Me A Birmingham” before being joined by Jimmie Allen to sing his and Brad Paisley’s track “Freedom Was A Highway”.
The pair bonded over being fathers and having financial struggles, with Ray telling Allen: “It’s not easy, I can tell you that much. I mean, financially, I’m not where I wanna be.”
Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan encouraged Ray to open up more and be more confident on stage after the performances.
“Cecil, you’re the underdog here. You know, the movie about the underdog, they gotta take that turn at one point. So you need to start taking that turn,” Perry told him.
“You kinda got swallowed up a little bit. There was just some pitch problems that I haven’t really heard from you,” Bryan then said. “And I don’t know if it’s just because of the crazy room and the band and lights and camera and action… Just understand, man, it’s gonna get harder every round, and you’re gonna have to be on point, every round.”
Richie added, “I just saw myself onstage about a hundred years ago. It’s stage presence and attitude. Your hand got stuck in your pocket and you haven’t pulled it out yet… Attitude is what we need now.”