KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A local singer-songwriter is making her way to the national stage. East Tennessee native Cay Aliese is a contestant on American Idol.

“I am from Dandridge, Tennessee,” she said. “Lived there my whole life. I actually just moved to Sevierville.”

The 24-year-old has been a stay-at-home mom of two. “Asher is three and Ember is almost two,” she added. “She actually was born on my birthday.”

Her love of music came from her dad who was also a singer-songwriter. Aliese said he held multiple record deals and made his appearance in several TV talent competitions.

“My dad, growing up, he was in and out of my life but [music] was the one thing we really connected on,” she said.

Aliese said her dad struggled with addiction, and it was a struggle he wasn’t able to overcome,

“I remember when he passed away in my grieving process I just began writing songs and just writing my thoughts.”

She says music has helped her cope with his death and was a big reason she decided to 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.”

Cay Aliese did her tryout in Las Vegas.

“I sang the song, the city of Nashville, which is an original I wrote about my dad,” she explained. 

She couldn’t give any spoilers for the upcoming episode but says she hopes her story will inspire others to go for their goals no matter what their circumstances or where they came from.

“I hope that people can find the strength to be vulnerable because I believe that in this world and the society that we live in, so much is fake and we oftentimes can feel so alone. We’re all going through the same stuff.”

You can see Cay Aliese’s American Idol tryout this Sunday on WATE after the Oscars.

Before that, she says she’ll be releasing a brand new song on Saturday. You can find her music on Apple Music or Spotify and of course, make sure to follow her journey on American Idol on WATE.