Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon did a lot of his singing while working as a janitor in his father’s church, but on Sunday (March 10) he stunned American Idol judges with a heavenly performance.
The gay son of a Catonsville pastor, Harmon was the last person to appear in front of Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan on the day he auditioned.
Perry, the daughter of evangelical Pentecostal pastors who has been open about her struggles with her religious upbringing, immediately related to Harmon as a fellow pastor’s kid (PK) and told him: “I feel you, I know you.”
Harmon then made his mark performing a song he wrote, “Almost Heaven,” sitting at the piano.
In the audition tape, Harmon says the song is about questioning whether there is place in Heaven for someone like him.
He also discussed realising he was gay at nine years old, and having to then come out to his religious family.
“It wasn’t always easy growing up as a pastor’s kid. I can say that. I felt a sense of… there are certain parts of me that do belong and there are certain parts of me that don’t belong,” he said.
He continued: “I first came out to my family three years ago. The consensus seemed to be that this is not a path that I should follow.
“You need to lose the broom my friend.”
— American Idol judge Lionel Richie commenting on Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon’s performance
“There’s times when I do feel along. The hardest part for me is seeing how difficult it is for my family. I’m hopeful it’s an experience that we can learn to grow together.”
As for his own religious views, he said: “All of my religion has been stripped down to I love you, no matter what.”
American Idol judges praise Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon’s performance
Harmon’s heartfelt performance made a positive impression on the judges.
“You need to lose the broom my friend,” Richie told him.
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An incredulous Perry asked Harmon again if his job is seriously picking up the trash in the church. He confirmed it was, but added: “It’s great, I get to sing, you know.”
All three were in agreement and had no hesitation in telling him: “You’re going to Hollywood.”
Harmon’s performance also won him support on social media, with Twitter users praising his talent.
“Jeremiah has a compelling vibe about him that will make you stop and listen to him. His voice is like an aged glass of wine. He’s a smooth and talented performer,” one person wrote.
“LOVE Jeremiah! You can hear his heart in his song…rare,” a Twitter user reacted.
“Goosebumps,” another simply commented.
Harmon, who traveled to the audition along with his boyfriend John, opened up about his performance in an interview with ABC’s local news outlet WMAR-2.
“There was kind of a silence after it finished, and I was thinking to myself, oh no, they hated the song,” he said.
Discussing the significance of his experience at American Idol, Harmon said: “This definitely changed my life, I think this opportunity has given me a chance to take ownership in my story in a way that I never have before and it’s just been a total leap of faith for me.”