It was a unanimous vote of the three judges on "American Idol" Sunday night. They awarded a Golden Ticket to Hollywood to Triston Harper of McIntosh. That means he advances in the "American Idol" competition – in Hollywood.

Sunday night was the premiere of the 2024 "American Idol" season. The 15-year-old from McIntosh, way down in southwest Alabama in Washington County, 44 miles north of Mobile, impressed the judges.

Triston is now a student at Leroy High School. He plays guitar and sings. He is the youngest contestant in this season of Idol.

If you missed the Sunday night premiere, you can catch the video on demand starting February 19 on Hulu.

Idol will air each Sunday at 7 p.m. on ABC. The following two Sundays, February 25 and March 3, will be initial auditions of new contestants trying to win their Golden Tickets to Hollywood. After that, the next round of competition for advancers will start on March 10. That would be the earliest date Triston would appear to continue the competition.

A video was produced about Triston before Sunday's "American Idol" appearance.

Triston sang his version of a hit by another Alabama singer, Jason Isbell's "Cover Me Up." The judges appeared impressed with his powerful voice at the tender age of 15.

Judge Katy Perry gave him a standing ovation, saying, "It wasn't perfect, but it resonated with me. It was really good." It has just been announced this season will be Katy Perry's last on Idol. She is going to Brazil to perform in their carnival.

Judge Lionel Ritchie, yet another Alabama singer, said, "Your voice, you've got it."

The third judge is Luke Bryan. He said he needed two hours with Triston Harper to work on two technical aspects of his singing but that they could be fixed.

"American Idol" has launched the careers of many winners and contestants, including Alabama's Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks; Kelly Clarkson; Carrie Underwood; Jennifer Hudson; Alva Lambert; Clay Aiken and others.

Triston, raised in the small town of McIntosh, is a Choctaw Indian. There is a tribe of Choctaws in and around McIntosh.

"We're so proud of Triston being honored to appear on 'American Idol,' and we hope that you'll be the winner of this competition," tribal chief Dr. Lebarron Byrd told Triston.

Sunday night's Idol segment included a mini-documentary about Triston and the town of McIntosh. The points that came through were that he is country (true) and had a hard time growing up (truer).

Triston revealed that his stepdad had been abusive towards his mom. When he was 11, they felt they had to leave McIntosh.

"The lowest part of my life was when me and my mom had got homeless, and we were sleeping on the side of the road. I had just turned 12."

From homeless to Hollywood. In three years. We have the makings of a movie.

Tristont's mom, Hattie Mae, also came to the premiere. Their close-knit family joined them:  his brother, grandparents, and two aunts.

The judges commented that Triston "checked all the boxes for country." They mentioned his deep country voice and his mom's name, Hattie Mae.

1819 News will continue to cover Triston Harper as the 2024 "American Idol" continues.

Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at

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