“American Idol” is where talent from low places gets a chance to shine on stage in front of millions of audience members—not to mention star judges. Nineteen-year-old Texan Colby Swift’s boots tell tales about where he comes from.
The young man who had never sang in front of a large audience in his life (let alone in Hollywood) says he can’t “sing like everybody else. I’m me, I’m Colby Swift. I ain’t tryin’ to be like anybody else.”
During a Hollywood Week episode, American Idol Judge Luke Bryan, 42, noticed large holes in Colby’s boots while he was on stage. After a soulful performance, while Colby was waiting to hear if he was advancing to the next round, Bryan offered the young singer his own expensive boots.
“Colby, can you show the camera the bottom of your shoes?” he asked. “What size shoe are you, Colby? Wouldn’t be a 12-D would it?”
“I mean, whatever fits,” Colby replied. Bryan chose to “solve that little problem” by handing his boots to Colby in front of stunned eyes and applause from everyone.
“Colby, those boots are made for walking to the next round,” Bryan told him.
The inspiring gesture came following a Spanish country song by Colby that garnered a standing ovation. With an acoustic guitar in hand and cowboy hat, Colby sang “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” by Freddy Fender—a song he once sang for his little sister when he was picking her up from school.
— American Idol (@AmericanIdol) March 25, 2019
Bryan had cut Colby short during his song to request cutting out the guitar, and the Spanish lyrics resonated with soul, nakedly for all to hear.
Backstage, after the successful performance, Colby told the camera, “To have Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie stand up for me—it’s a blessing, man.”
“I never thought I’d get a standing ovation man!”
Meanwhile, Colby’s dad had been watching in the audience during the song. He had been overcome with emotion during his son’s moment in the spotlight. The father held a special place in Colby’s life. After Colby’s mother had taken off when he was 7, all Colby had was his dad to support him.
“My dad’s always been with me every step of the way, so I’m blessed by that,” he had told the judges during his audition.
“I just had to suck it up and be a man at ten years old.”
“I love what you’re about, your presence,” singer Lionel Richie, 69, had told him.
Sadly, not every goodwill gesture ends well. Colby was eliminated in the next round when he forgot the lines to Grenade by Bruno Mars, though he took it in good stride. And he was able to hang on to his new boots, if it’s any consolation.
“They told me those boots were your lucky boots, and then you put my boots on and this happens,” Bryan told Colby afterward. The young man wasn’t too discouraged by the defeat, though. He was spotted moonwalking in front of the camera in his new footwear.
“I am leaving with my head held high—and Luke Bryan’s boots,” he said with a smile. “They’re my boots now. They ain’t yours no more!”