Canada's Lauren Spencer-Smith Makes It To 'American Idol' Top 20

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Lauren Spencer-Smith has made history by becoming the first Canadian to make it to the Top 20 of American Idol.

“I’m so overwhelmed. It means a lot,” the Nanaimo, B.C. singer said on the episode that aired Sunday night. “I’ve worked really hard and it’s nice that I get to prove to people that I can do this.”

Spencer-Smith impressed judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie with a performance of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” The episode was taped at the Aulani resort in Oahu, Hawaii in January.

Idol only starting accepting Canadian hopefuls in this, its 18th season. Ontario's Vivian Hicks and Saveria also auditioned – the former earned a golden ticket to Hollywood (but her audition wasn't broadcast) and the latter failed to get a golden ticket.

In early November, Spencer-Smith auditioned at Sun River Resort in Oregon with P!nk’s “What About Us.”

“You have such a God-given gift,” Perry gushed in the audition episode, which aired on March 1. “You may be 16 but that voice is 1,000 years old. You have a bit of a Leona Lewis vibe to your voice but it is very much you.”

Richie opined: “You are wise and gifted well beyond your age. Amazing control. I just think you did a great job. You just continue going down that road and you can make something happen on this show. I really love what you just did.”

Bryan called Spencer-Smith’s voice “super interesting.” He said: “You have this tone that is making us very intrigued by you.”

On the episode, the Spencer-Smith said: “Vancouver Island is not too big of an island, not that many people. I feel like I’m a very little girl with a huge dream and that American Idol will help me achieve that dream in so many different ways.”

The 16-year-old made it through “Hollywood Week” in December to earn a chance to perform in Hawaii.

American Idol shut down production in mid-March due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the Top 20 contestants were sent home. Live shows were scheduled to begin April 6 – instead the Hawaii episodes were spread out over two weeks instead of one. Producers have put together American Idol: This is Me, which looks at the lives of the Top 20 contestants, for broadcast on April 12 and 19.

It’s not yet known when Idol will be able to begin live episodes.

Spencer-Smith was contacted by a casting agent about appearing on American Idol. She is not quite a beginner, though.

Last year she appeared on Steve Harvey’s now defunct talk show Steve after producers saw a YouTube video of her singing “Always Remember Us This Way” from A Star Is Born.

In 2015, she joined Keith Urban on stage at Sunfest in Duncan, B.C. to duet on Bob Dylan’s Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel my Love.”

Spencer-Smith’s debut album Unplugged, Vol. 1 is up for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year at the Juno Awards, which were postponed due to COVID-19.