KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An East Tennessee singer-songwriter is moving forward to the next round of American Idol after appearing on the fourth episode of the 21st season.

Cay Aliese performed ‘City of Nashville’ in honor of her dad on the show, which aired on March 12. Aliese shared that her dad struggled with addiction, and it was a struggle he wasn’t able to overcome. His passing is what encouraged her to pursue music and try out for American Idol.

“When my dad passed, I don’t know really what the moment was, but it just clicked. My dad passed and had so much greatness inside of him that could have changed millions of people if he had gone on the right path and so I was like, I know that I can do this the right way,” Aliese told WATE.

Following her performance, the judges said she had room to grow.

“You have a unique sound. Don’t be afraid to soar. Don’t be afraid to push,” Luke Bryan said of her performance.

Judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan voted to move her forward in the competition and send her to Hollywood. The next episode airs on Sunday, March 19.

You can read more about Aliese’s journey into music here. The Dandridge native hopes her story will inspire others no matter their circumstances.