‘American Idol’ premiere features tribute to Ahmaud Arbery in contestant’s emotional song

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The twentieth season of ‘American Idol’ premiered on Channel 2 Sunday night. While it didn’t feature any Georgians vying for the title, it did feature an emotional tribute to Ahmaud Arbery.

The last contestant of the episode, which aired just days after the anniversary of Arbery’s murder, was 26-year-old Taylor Fagins from New York, New York.

Fagins sat down behind a piano and performed his original song, “We Need More,” for judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

“We Need More” paid tribute to two Black Americans whose lives were taken: Arbery and Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky in March 2020.

“Ahmaud Arbery, you went for a run cause you probably felt free. Ahmaud Arbery, your run had an end that nobody could see,” the song began.

Arbery was shot and killed on February 23, 2020 while out for a jog in Brunswick, Ga. He was chased by a group of three men who claimed they believed he was trying to rob a construction site. During their encounter, one of the men began filming and another shot Arbery, killing him.

Travis McMichael, his father, Greg McMichael, and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, were convicted of Arbery’s murder and sentenced to life in prison in November. The trio was also convicted of federal hate crimes last week. They have not yet been sentenced on those charges.


Once the song ended, each of the three noticeably moved judges offered their words of support and admiration for Fagins and the message of his song.

“We need your song in 2022,” Richie said. “That was very powerful.”

“That was a really really magical moment,” Bryan said.

“Activism comes in so many forms and it seems that art has the most impact at the end of the day. I just think you should continue on your process and, hopefully, influence a better world,” Perry told the young singer-songwriter.

Fagins advanced to the Hollywood Week round unanimously.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Last season, Georgia’s own Willie Spence was the competition’s runner-up.

‘American Idol’ auditions continue Sunday nights on Channel 2.