DeKalb County

Georgia 21-year-old punches ticket to Hollywood on American Idol

LOS ANGELES — A contestant from Georgia has the chance to become the next American Idol. Willie Spence, 21, earned his golden ticket to Hollywood.

Spence was the last performer of the night and he was shinning bright like a diamond as he blew away Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie with his performance of “Diamonds” by Rihanna on Sunday night.

Spence earned a yes from all three judges.

STUNNING! Did you catch this 21-year-old Georgia man's performance on American Idol last night? -- We're talking to him about his show-stopping audition on Channel 2 Action News This Morning.

Posted by WSB-TV on Monday, February 22, 2021

Channel 2′s Heather Catlin caught up with Spence about his Idol audition on Channel 2 Action News This Morning. Spence grew up in Douglas, Georgia and lives in the Dunwoody area now.

When he was in high school in Coffee County, a video of Spence singing “Diamonds” quickly went viral racking up over 11 million views.

“I chose that song again because that song helped me in the beginning and I will never forget that song. So, that was really easy for me to do,” Spence told Catlin.

That video earned him some national recognition, but then he started to face some serious health issues.

“The doctors told me that I had they found fluid in my lungs. I weighed 600 pounds,” Spence said.


Spence went to work and lost close to 200 pounds. He’s still on his weight loss journey and finally able to really pursue his dream.

Spencer told Catlin that his Idol audition was the most important on in his career. While getting the golden ticket is still making his smile, he said he’s most excited to make his family proud.

“My family, my parents, my grandparents you know they sacrificed a lot for me to have this moment and to chase my dreams,” he told Catlin.

If you missed Spence’s performance, you can watch it below on American Idol’s YouTube page.

The judges seemed to like his chances of going far in the competition Perry told Spence “try not to sing circles around everyone out there” and Bryan added “give them a fighting chance.”

Will more Georgians join Spence in Hollywood? “American Idol” airs every Sunday night at 8 p.m. on Channel 2.

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