Shannan Gibbons makes her American Idol debut on March 1. (ABC/Eliza Morse)

A 20-year-old singer from Bellport gave an emotional and memorable American Idol audition Sunday that so impressed judges she earned a “Golden Ticket” fast tracking her to the Hollywood round.

Shannon Gibbons wowed the American Idol judges with her soulful rendition of “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James. Judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie gave her a Golden Ticket that allows her to compete in a series of pre-taped and live rounds filmed in Hollywood for a chance to win a recording contract and grand prize of $250,000.

“[Auditions like yours] is why I keep coming back to this show, Shannon,” exclaimed Perry. “I ain’t letting any more people go through unless they’re as good as [you].”

Bryan echoed the enthusiasm. 

“[Shannon’s] our new barometer…our new standard,” Bryan concurred.

Bryan, Perry, and Richie didn’t need to deliberate much after that, as the three unanimously agreed to simultaneously say the words Gibbons had dreamed of for years: “You’re going to Hollywood.” 

Before the audition itself, American Idol showed a testimonial of Gibbons, where she discussed her past struggles with depression. 

“I remember being four years old, before going to kindergarten, and literally having suicidal thoughts every single morning,” said Gibbons, who held back tears as she recalled her journey. “Music got my mind off it. I was chasing a dream, but also every single day I was having thoughts about not being there tomorrow. My family helped me so much they were the ones that pushed me to go get help and go see a psychiatrist. Once I did that my world opened up.”

Outside of her American Idol audition, Gibbons is media studies major at Queens College and is a member of the school’s soccer team. She is also the youngest member of the Long Island-based band The Om-en. 

Gibbons joined the group of “middle-aged men” about two and a half years ago after meeting them at church. The group helped give Gibbons an opportunity to perform at renowned events and music festivals including; the Sundance Film Festival, Great South Bay Music Festival, and Montauk Music Festival. 

To follow Gibbons’s journey, watch American Idol Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.  

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