Mary Jo Young had never performed live in front of a group prior to her American Idol audition of Tate McCrays “You broke me.” Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the 19-year-old singer grew up in both Tennessee and the Cleveland, Ohio area where she currently works as a real estate sales associate. Mary Jo explained she has loved singing since she was little and comes from a very musical family.
Her journey to American Idol began almost a year ago when she started posting videos to TikTok during pandemic-related shutdowns in Ohio last spring. Initially posting just for fun, Mary Jo began attracting an audience with her impressive covers and now has over 263,000 followers on the platform. Her posts of Tate McRae’s “You Broke Me First,” Niall Horan’s “This Town” and Noah Cyrus’ “Young & Sad” started gaining popularity and Mary Jo later released recorded versions on Spotify and other streaming platforms. It wasn’t long before she began attracting the attention of tv talent competitions. In an interview with Cleveland.com Mary Jo said, “It all happened in the blink of an eye. One day I was posting covers and all of the sudden I had people reaching out from shows.” America’s Got Talent and The Voice expressed interest in her but Mary Jo settled on American Idol saying, “I thought I’d do ‘American Idol’ because everyone on the show sings; I don’t want to go up against someone who’s juggling fire because I don’t know how the heck that would go,”
For her audition, Mary Jo performed “You broke me first” by Tate McCray. After the performance, Judge Luke Bryan asked “So you’ve never really performed in front of a live crowd?” Mary Jo revealed that not only has she never performed in front of a crowd, she’s also never sung in front of her own mother. American Idol judges decided to “fix that” and asked Mary Jo to bring her mom into the audition room. Judge Katy Perry said, “So you’re a fan of your daughter from afar, I hear,” to which Mary Jo’s mom responds, “That’s pretty much it.” The judges watch in awe as Mary Jo then sings a cover of Lewis Capaldi’s “Bruises” in front of her mom for the very first time. After the performance, Mary Jo’s mom tells the judges “Thank you for making her do that,” Mary Jo’s audition earned yes votes from all three judges with Luke Bryan saying “Top Ten I think.”
Mary Jo admits she was nervous before the audition. In an interview with Cleveland.com, she said, “I was originally scared to do the show because I hadn’t sung in front of anyone, let alone three of the most famous artists in the world. “I’ll always be nervous in front of Katy Perry.”
With her successful audition, Mary Jo is on her way to Hollywood and while Luke Bryan has at least 15 contestants on his Top Ten, we agree Mary Jo may be one of them.
Do you think Mary Jo has what it takes to win season 19 of American Idol?
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