Taiwanese American Nate Tao, whose parents are hearing-impaired, wowed judges at an audition for American Idol’s season 12, one of the most popular talent shows in the US.
Tao, a 24-year-old from West Virginia, sang Stevie Wonder’s For Once in My Life at the audition in Oklahoma and successfully made it into the show’s Hollywood week, where 54 people will compete for the top 40 spots to stay on the show.
Singer Mariah Carey, one of the four judges, said she enjoyed Tao’s performance.
“You did a really nice rendition. Really nice, beautiful voice,” she said.
Longtime musician and producer Randy Jackson also gave positive feedback, saying that Tao sang with “unassuming” ease.
“When I first started to sing, my parents were not so enthusiastic. They were probably thinking: ‘What if Nate sucks? What if he’s completely horrible? We have no idea,’” Tao, a sign language teacher, said before the performance.
“I think if I make it to Hollywood, my parents would definitely think, ‘Okay, maybe he has some talent,’” he said.
Tao majored in music and minored in journalism in college.
He said on his personal Web site that he grew up playing the piano, but later realized that singing was his true passion.