A star is born! Chayce Beckham was crowned the winner of American Idol season 19 on Sunday, May 23.
The beloved competition’s final three contestants were Beckham, 24, Grace Kinstler and Willie Spence. Early on in the show, judge Katy Perry predicted that Beckham, a former heavy machine operator, would make the top five. “[He’s a] real, bona fide musical artist,” she said, noting he can go “wherever [he wants] to go” career-wise.
The California native first auditioned for American Idol in February, singing “What Brings Life Also Kills” by Kolton Moore and The Clever Few and receiving three “yes” votes from 36-year-old Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie. He moved on to Hollywood rounds before continuing to advance in the competition.
According to the reality star, he wasn’t always so talented.
“I used to sing in my room and my sisters would be like, ‘Shut the door! That sounds terrible!’” he told the San Bernardino Sun in April. “Everybody would tell me that, dude. … It wasn’t good. They pushed me to be better.”
Nevertheless, Beckham kept working on his craft. After being involved in a drunk-driving accident last fall, Beckham decided to turn his life around — and turn to music for healing. The incident inspired him to write the song “23,” which found its way to the top of the country music charts as soon as it was released earlier this month.
“I wrote it and I kind of kept in my pocket and played it for people here and there,” Beckham told the newspaper. “It was never anything that I was banking on, or I was like, ‘Hey, listen to this great song.’ People would tell me, ‘Man, that song is going to be on the radio one day,’ and I was like, ‘There’s no way,’ because I just couldn’t picture it.”
After his win, Idol judges were excited to congratulate the newest winner.
“Congrats to @chaycebeckhammusic!!! Well deserved buddy! It’s been so awesome to watch you learn and grow. Can’t wait to see where the next chapter in this journey takes you,” Bryan, 44, wrote via Instagram.
Richie, 71, chimed in as well, posting a selfie with his fellow judges, Beckham and host Ryan Seacrest.
“That’s a wrap on an amazing season of #AmericanIdol! Say hello to #TheNextIdol @chaycebeckhammusic. Thank you all for watching! See you soon 🙌🏽✨,” he wrote.
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