'American Idol': St. Petersburg's Kerry Courtney advances to Hollywood
We’re only one episode into the final season of American Idol, and Tampa Bay fans already have someone to root for.
Kerry Courtney, the singer of local pop-rock ensemble Goodnight Neverland, is headed to Los Angeles after earning a golden ticket from judges on Wednesday’s season premiere.
Courtney, 24, identified as a “liquor store worker” from “a small city called St. Pete in Florida,” struck a chord with judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. with a soulfully warbling rendition of Death Cab For Cutie’s Black Sun.
“You’ve got a really unique style,” Urban told the buskerly, whiskerly Courtney. Urban praised his voice as “so unusual, and your usage of it is so unique.”
“I gotta be honest, I liked it,” Connick said. “I was interested in it. It was quirky and different. What I just heard was an interesting piece of art. I can’t deny that.”
“I think you’re super quirky, and there’s a darkness to sometimes when you’re performing,” said Lopez. “I don’t know how America will respond to it, because it gets a little bit dark and a little scary at times. But the sound of your voice was very beautiful.”
This is not exactly news to Tampa Bay music scene-watchers. Goodnight Neverland play a lot around town, including at popular events like Rock the Park and Don’t Stop St. Pete, and have opened for national acts like Vance Joy, Switchfoot, J. Roddy Walston and the Business and A Silent Film. Their style is warm, polished and extremely catchy pop rock. That they would eventually get a national break isn’t that big a suprise — but who could’ve seen it coming on American Idol?
Whether Courtney will be a fan favorite remains to be seen — a Vulture recapper called his performance ‘very ‘Portland open mic,’ which I do not hate” — but he did get a solid chunk of screen time. In addition to his audition, he was the focus of one of Idol’s heartstring-tugging backstory features, which focused on his late mother, who homeschooled Courtney, encouraged him to audition for Idol and died from cancer a few years ago.
“I know my mom would be super supportive of this,” Courtney told the cameras. “I really think she’d be proud of me.”
-- Jay Cridlin