Ashley Hess, a 27-year-old former Utah Valley University student from California who got her start as a singer in the Utah music scene, was shown advancing to the Top 20 on ABC’s “American Idol” on Sunday night.
“Oh my gosh, you’re kidding. Are you serious?” Hess asked the judges after finding out she had made it to the Top 20.
Johanna Jones, a 23-year-old Brigham Young University commercial music student from Las Vegas who made it to the Top 40 after Hollywood Week, was eliminated on Sunday’s Showcase/Final Judgment episode, filmed at Aulani, a Disney resort and spa in Hawaii.
“It’s been such a beautiful journey so far, but unfortunately, this is the end of the road here at ‘American Idol,’ ” judge Katy Perry told Jones.
Hess reflected on her “American Idol” audition, when Perry told her she could win the competition, during the episode.
“My first audition was crazy,” Hess told the cameras. “To get that affirmation was just the best, and so I want to show the judges that I can also step away from the piano and still put on a good performance.”
Hess sang “Gone Away” by H.E.R. with a full band in front of a live audience on the episode. Judge Luke Bryan called the performance “a little sketchy” during the Final Judgment. Hess said she loves the song, but thinks it’s better performed just her and the piano.
“We see the comfort go to a new level when you’re at the piano. Not saying that you can’t morph into working a whole room and working a stage, but you really, really are amazing when you’re in that element,” Bryan told Hess. “I think early on, we all agreed that we really, truly thought you were Top 10, and unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that you’ll be Top 10, but we can guarantee you’re Top 20.”
Jones said “American Idol” has “been the craziest journey” and she knows she has “a lot more to give.”
“I’m disappointed,” Jones told the cameras. “The last thing you want is to get sent home.”
“I’m just so proud of her for everything,” said Jones’ fiancé Matt Zavoral, who proposed to her after a solo performance at Hollywood Week. “She’s my ‘American Idol,’ and I love her.”
The Top 20 will compete next in a solo round set to air Monday from 7-9 p.m. on ABC.