Trey Louis, a 21-year-old hopeful who sells mattresses for a living, walked into the Season 21 American Idol audition room with plenty of confidence on Sunday night (Feb. 26). But what viewers across America didn’t know is he also carries the weight of someone who has been through a tragic event.

After Luke Bryan asked Louis why he was auditioning for the reality TV singing competition, the raw talent from Santa Fe, Texas, told the judges a heartbreaking story: He revealed that he's one of the survivors of the 2018 Santa Fe High School mass shooting.

“Man, so American Idol, number one, is kind of where people that I enjoy make it,” Louis began before he divulged his second reason for auditioning for the show. “Number two, I’m from Santa Fe, Texas. In May 2018 a gunman walked into my school. I was in Art Room 1. He shot up Art Room 2 before he made his way to Art Room 1."

"I lost a lot of friends. Eight students were killed, and two teachers were killed. It's just really been negative, man," Louis added. "Santa Fe has had a bad rap since 2018.”

Upon hearing Louis’ story, Perry couldn’t help but drop her face in her hands and sob.

"Our country has f--king failed us," she said through a stream of tears. "This is not okay. You should be singing here because you love music, not because you had to go through that. You don't have to lose eight friends."

"We've got to change, and I hope you can just lead. Can you do me that favor?" she added.

He agreed.

Louis did receive a Golden Ticket to Hollywood, but it wasn’t because of his tragic story — it was because of his stellar voice and powerful rendition of “Stone” by Whiskey Myers.

The young contender’s take on the song was fluid as he poured his heart and soul into the lyrics. Louis kept his eyes closed for the rendition as he offered up his raspy vocals reminiscent of the sounds of Chris Stapleton.

“Man you’re singing from the perfect spot buddy,” Bryan said, cheering him on. “You throw that head back, you close your eyes, and you’ve got the perfect voice. You start wondering when the Chris Stapleton disciples will start showing up.”

"It's important for me to share my story from my hometown. For Parkland, Columbine, Las Vegas, and so many others," Louis said after the audition.

Fans can keep up with Louis’ journey on American Idol, airing Sundays on ABC.

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