New Orleans native Burnell Taylor was a breakout star during his audition in Baton Rouge, LA. He performed “I’m Here” from The Color Purple, which seemed like an odd choice to the American Idol judges until he opened his mouth and started singing. By the end, Burnell was granted a rare standing ovation from the American Idol judges.
In his audition intro from Baton Rouge, Burnell says he grew up in a musical house and his grandfather really got him started with music. His grandfather was a band leader and his mother is a singer. Burnell’s grandmother says he was always singing, even as “a little tot.”
Burnell says he has always been singing, but finally realized he really knew how to sing after Hurricane Katrina. He stayed in the city during the storm and witnessed the terrible flooding and destruction brought to New Orleans by Katrina. His family lost everything and decided to move to Baton Rouge.
Asked by host Ryan Seacrest how you come back from something like that, Burnell says, “It happened, you just gotta live after that.” Not just live, of course, but live and sing. “It was an eye opener, to appreciate the things I do have.”
Burnell’s mom says she is very proud of him, because he hasn’t given up on his dream. “He’s still working on it, no matter what happens.”
So far, Burnell’s dream has carried him all the way to the American Idol Season 12 Top 20. No matter what happens from here on out, he just wants to “continue to grow” as an artist and a person. He feels “so blessed” to have all of the wonderful people in his life supporting him.