On Sunday night, Katy Perry was moved to tears as the American Idol judges gave a standing ovation to a survivor of the 2018 Santa Fe High School mass shooting. This prompted her to deliver an impassioned plea against gun violence.
Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan, the panel of judges, listened to Trey Louis, a Texas-based 21-year-old mattress salesman and aspiring vocalist, singing Whiskey Myers’ 2016 song “Stone.” Yet it was his past that grabbed their attention.
In May 2018, Louis was a survivor of the shooting at Santa Fe High School that left 10 dead and 13 wounded.He told the “Idol” panel about his experience. “I'm from Santa Fe, Texas. In May of 2018, a gunman entered my school,” Louis said. “He shot up Art Room 2 before he made his way to Art Room 1, where I was. A lot of people I knew perished that day. Eight students and two teachers lost their lives, and Santa Fe has been living with a negative reputation ever since.”
All three judges were clearly upset, but Perry had a much stronger reaction and started to cry. “Our country has failed us! This is not alright,” he said. “You should be performing here out of your love for music, not because of the terrible situation you had to go through. You didn't deserve to lose eight friends. I hope that you remind people that we have to make a change. Because I'm scared, too.” Richie was also profoundly moved, telling Louis, “We have endured this for so long. Too long. It's become a norm.”
Perry persisted, “We need to alter. And I hope you that you can lead,” before the three judges sent Louis on his way to Hollywood for the next round.
Perry has been supportive of tougher gun regulations in the US for some time. Her song "Teenage Dream" was included in a 2021 gun violence public service announcement, which was put together by Sandy Hook Promise, a group composed of relatives of those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School incident of 2012.