Nashville-based singer Grace Leer's road to American Idol was a long one. The musical hopeful earned a ticket to Hollywood during Season 18 auditions on Sunday night (March 15) -- more than a decade and a half after she competed on American Juniors, a children's version of Idol.

Leer, now 27, competed on American Juniors -- which was also hosted by longtime Idol host Ryan Seacrest -- when she was 11 years old. Per her official website, the California native both played soccer and sang since the age of six, and when it came time for college, Leer chose to accept a scholarship and play Division I soccer at the University of California -- Berkeley.

Leer graduated from UC Berkeley in 2015 and met guitarist and songwriter Kyle Clouse, who accompanied Leer during her American Idol audition as she performed the Highwomen's "Crowded Table." The two friends have been living in Nashville since 2017.

During her Idol audition, Leer also performed an a cappella version of Patsy Cline's "Crazy," after judge Katy Perry asked to hear a second song: a sad country song, specifically. Luke Bryan, also a judge on the TV singing competition, praised Leer's performance, saying that her voice "sounds like a classic situation right off the bat ... It's great, and it's easy to listen to."

As Bryan, Perry and fellow judge Lionel Richie were preparing to offer Leer a spot in Hollywood, she began to cry. She admitted to the three stars that their words meant an awful lot to her: "That was the first time i ever felt like, holy crap, this is possible," she explained.

"You know how Nashville is," Leer told Bryan. "I mean, it's competitive, it's saturated."

American Idol's Season 18 "Hollywood Week" begins on Monday (March 16). The show airs at 8PM ET on ABC.

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