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A country singer proves herself on “American Idol” years after blowing a national anthem performance YouTube/American Idol

Sometimes second chances pay off. Just ask 16-year-old Harper Grace.

The talented country singer from McKinney, Texas, made headlines in July 2012 after botching her rendition of the national anthem ahead of a nationally televised major league soccer game. Despite the fact that she was just 11 at the time, the reviews were cruel, with Deadspin calling it the “worst national anthem rendition ever.” Now, she has finally had a chance to redeem herself with her powerful audition on “American Idol.”

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Harper Grace auditioned for “American Idol” in Nashville, and performed two songs for the show’s premiere episode, which aired on ABC March 11. Armed with her acoustic guitar, she belted out an original song, as well as a countrified cover of “Young, Dumb & Broke” by Khalid.

The panel of judges, which consists of Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan and Katy Perry, couldn’t help but smile over the high school student’s infectious energy, youthful voice and creative songwriting. After hearing both songs, the celebrity co-stars took turns applauding the teenager.

“I love the quality of your voice,” Lionel praised. “In fact, I don’t even know if you know that you have the kind of voice that you have.”

“You have a great voice,” Luke agreed.

As for Katy, she took a moment to highlight Harper’s knack for writing.

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“That’s a really well written song. I mean, the chorus is really well written. There’s a lot of real details in that song,” Katy said, before focusing on the young talent’s vocals. “I don’t think your voice has seen its ultimate potential, but I think you’re kind of like a dream for Hollywood to be able to carve out.”

After the judges shared their reactions to Harper’s audition, they presented her with a golden ticket to the next round of auditions in Hollywood. Be sure to check out Harper’s “American Idol” audition in the video below. “American Idol” airs Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Nashville-based writer and Rare Country contributor Melinda Lorge has always been passionate about country music. Follow her @MelindaLorge and join the conversation @RareCountry.
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