Tori Kelly on American Idol: Did the singer compete and win season 9?

The talented artist did audition for the show, but she didn't win her season.
(Disney/Eric McCandless)
(Disney/Eric McCandless) /

Tori Kelly is a known singer-songwriter in the music industry today! That's why American Idol tapped her to help mentor the first half of the Top 24 of American Idol 2024 this evening (Here's how to vote for them!). All artists have to start somewhere, right? So did she compete on American Idol and win?

Tori Kelly did not win American Idol

There's two answers to that question. The first is, yes. The California native did compete on American Idol. She was a part of the round of hopefuls in season 9 (2010) of the competition series. However, Tori Kelly did not win American Idol season 9. Unfortunatley, the talented singer went home following Hollywood Week. She was only 16 years old at the time.

That year, it was Illinois native Lee DeWyze who took him the win, with Crystal Bowersox coming in as the runner-up. But just because she didn't make it far on the show, that doesn't mean Kelly didn't find success afterwards! Actually, there's quite a few artists like Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert who didn't win their respective seasons, but are big names in music today. And Kelly was able to join them in that!

The judges that season were Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi, and Ellen DeGeneres. From Canyon Lake, California, she auditioned with the song "Gravity" by John Mayer at the Denver auditions. She got a "yes" from Jackson, DioGuardi, and Victoria Beckham (who was guest judging at the time before DeGeneres took over during Hollywood Week). Cowell gave her a "no," but of course she still made it through.

(Disney/Eric McCandless) /

Then in Hollywood, Kelly performed with a group called "The Mighty Rangers" with her fellow contestants, singing "Closer" by Ne-Yo. Finally in a solo performance, she took on the song "Hot N Cold" by (current American Idol judge!) Katy Perry. After this point, Kelly did not continue on in the competition, which means she didn't make it into the Top 24 of the ninth season.

However, the artist didn't let that get her down! She was able to find success a couple of years later after her time on the show. In 2012, Kelly released her first Extended Play (EP), Handmade Songs. Eventually, she was signed with Capitol Records and her debut album, Foreword, came out in 2015. Since then, she now has a total of five studio albums, received two Grammy Awards, and even voiced the character of Meena in the animated films Sing and Sing 2.

She's certainly very talented and has a strong voice. But sometimes as we know on the competition series, that's not always enough. Not everyone is lucky enough to find success after their time on American Idol. But it's those rare and special ones like Kelly who do. And we're so happy she did! Along with mentoring, the 31-year-old serenaded us with her voice in a performance in this evening's episode. If you missed it, you can check it out below!

American Idol season 22 airs Sunday and Monday nights on ABC. Stream the next day on Hulu. Stay tuned to Hidden Remote as we continue to bring you news and updates about the show each week!

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