When you’re a judge for the massive hit talent show American Idol, you’ve seen pretty much everything. Every year, thousands of people audition, hopeful for a chance to perform and compete before some of the music industry’s most celebrated figures.
But when the Idol team made it to Nashville, they were stunned by a contestant who was younger than any audition contestant they had ever seen before.
By day, Kelley Kime is a successful real estate agent in Florida in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. But this business-savvy woman doesn’t just have an incredible voice; she also is a devoted single mom with musical kids. So a few years ago, when she decided to audition for American Idol, she pulled a little surprise for the judges.
As Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, and Keith Urban watched, she walked in with her contest number … and with her daughter Hope, who was just 3 years old at the time! Hope was already thrilled to find out that her mother was competing and that they were going to be on TV. When Kime explained to her daughter what was going on, Hope gasped and exclaimed, “we’re stars?!?”
For Kime, who explained in her audition video, “I pretty much take on both roles of mom and dad, I’m the one paying the bills and putting food on the table and raising my daughter.” For this mom, her daughter is “everything.”
Sooo proud of my Hope!!! Unfortunately, her age makes her ineligible to be an official contestant on the show, but she…
As Hope walked into the audition room, she was just as surprised as the judges were. Keith Urban joked, “boy they’re really getting young, aren’t they?” Lots of cameras, lights, and stars! She was particularly excited to meet Jennifer Lopez, whom she had seen earlier, telling her mom, “she looks just like a barbie!”
Then came the time to sing, and Hope stepped up to deliver a moving rendition of the song that was on every girl’s lips at the time: “Let It Go” from Frozen. And sing Hope did, with the poise of a much older girl.
My mini, my purpose, my love, my Hope ❤️
As she belted out the children’s classic, she even got Jennifer Lopez to sing along with her. Harry Connick Jr. exclaimed, “you were amazing!” and Lopez squealed, “oh my god, she is soooooo cute.” Keith Urban gave her some farcical feedback, saying that she needed to work on her “melisma” and “breathing technique.”
Then it was time for her mom to stand up and sing, and little Hope got to come up with the judges and sit on Jennifer Lopez’s lap! As Kelley Kime stood up to sing Sunday Morning by Maroon 5, you could see the sense of anticipation on little Hope’s face.
As the song went on, her mom gathered her strength and sang with incredible power and beauty. Kime clearly had Jennifer Lopez on her side, as the star swayed back and forth with the a capella rendition.
When Kime finished, Harry Connick Jr. told her daughter, “Hope, there is only way she that she’s going to be able to get to Hollywood with you.” And sure enough, Kime got not just one but two golden tickets to attend the live show.
Hope called her grandmother just afterwards and explained the amazing news. “I just got a ticket, and you know what, I was really good!” While this little girl couldn’t compete because of her young age, there’s no doubt that she’ll be back again in the future. Watch out American Idol!