Claudia Conway, 16, shocked the American Idol judges when she showed up to audition for the show’s 19th season, which premiered on Feb. 14. Katy Perry seemed to recognize Claudia right away, and immediately asked her, “Are you okay?” when she walked in. Of course, Katy was referencing the very public drama between Claudia and her famous mom, Kellyanne Conway, who previously worked as an adviser to Donald Trump.
“My parents are high profile political figures,” Claudia explained to the judges. “My mother is Kellyanne Conway. She worked for Donald Trump. And my dad is George Conway. He’s a lawyer and he worked against Donald Trump. He’s here with me, though. It’s a lot, but I only want to spread love. I love a compromise and I do agree to disagree with my mom and dad.”
In her audition tape, Claudia explained that there was “more” to her than being “that blonde woman from Fox News’ daughter.” She added, “When your mom’s working for the President of the United States, who you very much disagree with, it’s very hard.” However, Kellyanne still showed up virtually to support her teenage daughter, and she gave Claudia a pep talk before she took the stage. “You should be nervous, honey, it’s a very humbling experience,” Kellyanne said. “Do you know how many people like you dream of even having the opportunity to audition for American Idol? This is your time to shine. Remember, honey, winners are people who are willing to lose.”
Katy, who is openly against Trump, expressed concern for Claudia before the 16-year-old’s audition. “With your mom being the figure that she is…does she still hug you?” Katy wondered. Claudia explained, “I mean, yeah. She loves me. I love her. I feel like our relationship is a little iffy. Most of my life my feelings had been suppressed, so I got social media and now my voice is being heard.”
In a voiceover, Claudia explained that she started using music to escape when things on social media went started going to a “dark place.” She began her audition by singing “Love on the Brain” by Rihanna, but quickly got tripped up, and Katy stopped her mid-song. She urged Claudia to sing her second audition song, which was “When We Were Young” by Adele.
“When you sing this next song, think about when you were young and go back to that time,” Katy advised. “There’s a sadness there. You lost your youth because you weren’t able to experience it on your own without all the noise. Your dad’s your dad, you’re mom’s your mom. Who is Claudia? You have to calm the storm around you. If you sing like you want to read the social media comments afterward, you’re only ever going to be a TikTok star. We want an American Idol.”
Claudia pulled it together for her second song, but it wasn’t perfect. Luke Bryan felt she had a ways to go when it came to the singing aspect of the competition, and he decided to vote ‘no’ when it came to sending Claudia to Hollywood. However, she got ‘yeses’ from both Katy and Lionel Richie, so she got her golden ticket!
“The second was much better!” Lionel praised. “You showed where you could actually take coaching. Some qualities of your voice came through that I was really impressed with.” Katy added, “There’s a lot of noise in your life. You have to calm the storm that is around you. Before you sing, you need to get off your phone, stop reading the comments. Push it aside. Because if not, you may never rise above your dad or your mom.”
We’ll have to wait a few weeks to see how things go in Hollywood for Claudia! Next week, the auditions continue on Feb. 21 at 8:00 p.m. on ABC.