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UPDATE: School of Music student headed to Hollywood, next round of ‘American Idol’


Liberty University sophomore Luke Taylor will be advancing to the next round of “American Idol” after  singing  “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash on the Sunday night audition episode.

School of Music student to perform on ‘American Idol’


This Sunday, March 6, at 8 p.m. (EST) on ABC, Liberty University sophomore music student Luke Taylor will be featured in an audition round of the hit reality singing competition show “American Idol.”

Luke Taylor

“I’ve never known much about life or what I’m supposed to do with life, but I feel like God presenting this beautiful gift to me is really just a sign that no matter what happens, through the ups and downs, He gave this opportunity to me so I could glorify Him and so that I could share music with the world,” the 20-year-old Commercial Music major said. “This is a really, really cool opportunity.”

“American Idol” scouts developed an interest in the budding country music artist last year after seeing his popularity grow on social media. His distinctive bass voice has quickly captured fans — Taylor has close to 2 million followers on TikTok.

“I actually got called to be on the show. Most people have to audition,” he said. “Having such a big corporation reach out to me without me saying anything is very humbling, honestly. I feel like a lot of people would think it would really boost my ego, but knowing that I’m just some kid from the middle of nowhere, and I’m having this awesome opportunity, shows how good God really is.”

While he cannot disclose the outcome of the pre-recorded audition episode set to air on Sunday, Taylor, originally from rural Pennsylvania, did share his excitement about filming in Nashville, Tenn., in November.

“I got to hang out with people until I got called up to record something, so I was there each day from about 7 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon,” he said. “The actual experience was really fun.”

Luke Taylor (right) joins former Liberty students (from left) Jody McBrayer, Guy Penrod, and Mark Lowry at the 2021 Homecoming Concert.

At Liberty, Taylor sings with the School of Music’s Chamber Singers and is also the bass vocalist in the school’s a cappella group, Shine. During last October’s Homecoming Concert, Taylor was asked to join alumni Guy Penrod (’85), Mark Lowry (’80), and Jody McBrayer on stage for a song.

Taylor said studying and building on his talent in the School of Music has been an enriching experience.

“It makes me realize how little I know but also how much I want to know, and that’s the whole reason I’m here: to learn and to grow.”

“I’m seeing improvement and I get to be surrounded by all of those awesome professors and students to help guide me, and it is really an honor,” he added.

Taylor grew up in a Christian household but said he did not desire a relationship with the Lord or a college education. That all changed when his parents encouraged him to enroll at Liberty in the Fall of 2020.

Soon after arriving on campus, Taylor was sitting in his dorm room, reading his Bible for an essay he had to write for class when he decided that he wanted to surrender his life to his Creator.

“I’m just a very factual person and if I cannot see evidence, then I struggle to believe in it,” he said. “It’s hard to believe in God when you can’t actually see Him. So it was a long time until I fully came to faith, but once I did, it was eye-opening.”

Now, Taylor is sensing the freedom and joy that comes from keeping Christ first in his life.

“My Grandpa used to say that without pain you cannot know happiness,” he said. “I think that is really true because no matter how many dark times you see, there is always going to be light after that if you have faith. And faith makes you appreciate that. I think having experienced so many years without it and then being able to step into the light is just really eye-opening and it makes you understand that no matter how hard times get, there is always going to be a sunrise over the mountain.”

As excited as Taylor is about being recognized on one of the nation’s most popular television competitions, he is just as excited about his upcoming summer job — working on his friend’s cattle ranch in Colorado.

“I’ve always wanted to do that and finally the opportunity is presenting itself,” he said.

The nature lover says that while his dream job is to tour the nation as a country singer, being a family man who lives on a farm near Nashville is his dream life.

“In the future, I don’t care what happens as long as I’m making music and have enough money to support a family,” he said. “My two dreams are to be a musician and to be a father.”

Taylor said he is excited for friends, family, and the Liberty community to watch him on national television.

“I want people to be excited for this show,” he said. “Whether or not it is to see me, it’s not about me. It is for the glory of God. Getting to see that and getting to show that on that show is really awesome, and I hope people get to see that light.”

This won’t be Taylor’s first time on a network TV show. Last March, he ventured west to Los Angeles to take part in Season 2 of FOX’s show, “I Can See Your Voice,” where a panel of judges guesses whether contestants look or act like a quality singer. Like “American Idol,” the FOX show reached out to Taylor. Unfortunately, Taylor did not advance past the first round.

“I was there for a week and I had to quarantine for four days, which I did not like. I don’t like to be on my own,” he said laughing. “That show was completely different (than “American Idol”) because we were not allowed to talk with any of the other contestants. It was a whole different feel.”

Although he is only in his second year of college, Taylor has already developed a reputation as an up-and- coming country music artist. He hopes to one day tour with his country music inspiration and fellow bass singer, Josh Turner.

“I feel like that would be a really, really fun time,” he said.

School of Music Dean Stephen Müller said he’s excited to watch the show and is proud of Taylor’s accomplishments as a student.

“I’m proud of Luke for the way he has jumped into his studies and participation in the School of Music,” he said. “I think his willingness to equip himself by studying here will pay big dividends for him down the road. Not only is he a really nice guy and a great singer, but he also has the maturity and foresight to see how a music degree can help him reach his career professional goals.”

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