“I was really close to my grandma,” the teenager said of the late Grammy winner during the Sunday, February 27, episode prior to trying out. “I got to see her all the time. I used to travel with her a lot. I don’t think I could fully grasp the fact that she was known worldwide. Because to me, she was always just grandma.”
While Grace started her audition with “Killing Me Softly” by the Fugees, judge Katy Perry asked the teen to try another tune. The competitor subsequently belted out one of her grandmother’s songs “Ain’t No Way.”
Perry, 37, gushed, “I loved your rendition of your grandma’s song.” She voted for Grace to proceed to the next round — but fellow judge Lionel Richie did not agree.
“You’re 15,” the Alabama native, 72, explained. “You’ve got the family lineage. What we need to put now is time and some work in to get it up to par. The age and the voice has to all come together on the same path.”
The “We Are the World” singer told Perry to “trust” him when the California native tried to argue, saying, “If you go and come back and put the shyness behind you and the voice in front of you, you’re going to be something amazing and I don’t want to be the one to make you tip over and fall at this stage.”
The “California Girls” singer threatened to “quit” the ABC show. “I’m going to the bar,” Perry said as she left the stage. “There’s something wrong with your ears.”
Luke Bryan also voted to send Grace home, however, so Aretha’s grandchild did not proceed.
The “Respect” singer died in August 2018 at age 76 after battling pancreatic cancer.
“It is with deep and profound sadness that we announce the passing of Aretha Louise Franklin, the Queen of Soul,” the Tennessee native’s family wrote in a statement at the time. “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”