American Idol 2021 Cecil Ray: Did the judges put through the right country-pop singer?
Cecil Ray, the 20-year-old machine operator and father from Cameron, Texas, is trying to make life better for his daughter. Cecil has dealt with nerves throughout his American Idol journey. He flipped his hair excessively during his audition, struggled with keeping tempo, but he did show off a bright country-pop tone that Luke Bryan noticed. The judges believed in Cecil and sent him off to Hollywood. In the genre challenge round, he missed his cue and had to restart and delivered an okay performance but nothing spectacular.
This time around, he fought for the final spot in the Top 24 with returnee Drake McCain and won that battle. Drake brought firepower in his Luke Bryan cover of “Country Girl (Shake it for Me)” with some strong vocals. But at moments, the performance came off as cheesy and I just didn’t like the song choice. On the other hand, Cecil picked the perfect song “Beyond” by Leon Bridges. Although Cecil seems a bit underbaked, he’s got a great tone and sounds radio-ready. But but once again here, he seems to have a lack of confidence and often cuts off the ends of lines or runs. Cecil does have the nasal quality to his voice that is prevalent in a lot of country-pop including Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett. Songs from the latter, I think Cecil would sound nice singing.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Cecil is talented, but I would’ve pushed Drake through simply due to the fact that he seems more ready, and he most likely wouldn’t have cracked under the pressure like I think Cecil might. Either way, I think Caleb Kennedy is the strongest country competitor in the Top 24 this season, and might have that lane to himself in the near future.
Luke notes that Cecil still isn’t quite sure what to do with his hands, but Katy Perry calls it was a “good effort.” Luke asks Cecil what he has learned about himself, and he replies, “I didn’t have self-confidence” and that Idol has been a “life-changing journey.” We will soon find out if I’m wrong about Cecil. Maybe he will gain confidence and wow in the celebrity duets and solo round.
Watch Cecil’s soulful cover of Tyler Childers “Shake The Frost” HERE. My favorite cover of his, as he controls the runs and his range sounds stronger than what we have heard so far, is this performance of Cody Johnson’s “All I See is Red” HERE.
Check out his Instagram.
American Idol 2021: Cecil Ray sings “Beyond” by Leon Bridges