Laine Hardy is a current contestant on American Idol and has some pretty strong ties to DeRidder.

His mother Cindy came to DeRidder as a military child when she was eight or nine years old. She went on to graduate from DeRidder High School before moving to Livingston, Louisiana and getting married.

Last year her son, seventeen-year-old Laine Hardy, auditioned for American Idol by singing ‘Hurricane’ by Band of Heathens.

With a rugged, soulful raspy voice he immediately won over all three judges and was given a golden ticket to Hollywood.

Cindy said that during that audition Laine was so nervous he was sweating profusely and was terrified to sing in front of the judges.

Laine was one of 100,000 who auditioned and received one of the 250 golden tickets American Idol gives to their contestants.

During the 2018 season, Laine performed three times and made it to the ‘Top 50’ before he was eliminated after performing ‘Fire Away’ by Chris Stapelton.

Before his performance ended the disappointment was apparent on judge Luke Bryan’s face.

Immediately after his performance judge Katy Perry sighed and said “oh man.”

The third judge, Lionel Ritchie said that in order to make it, “you’ve got to be able to do a tour.”

Laine said before his performance that he had been struggling all week during the competition. He was normally a shy and reserved kid but being on American Idol made him step way outside of his comfort zone and forced him to open up.

Unfortunately, the struggle showed in his vocals and he was eliminated.

This year, Laine was back at American Idol but this time he was not auditioning to be a contestant.

His best friend’s sister, Ashton Gill asked Laine to play guitar for her while she auditioned, and he agreed.

As soon as he walked into the room the judges immediately recognized him.

Perry jumped up and ran to him for a hug, followed by Ritchie and Bryan. It was apparent to them that the now eighteen-year-old had found his confidence and had made some changes.

Ritchie made the statement, “you look good man” to the beaming and confident artist.

Laine went on to play the guitar while Gill auditioned and received a golden ticket.

The judges then asked Laine to sing them a song, and he did.

While singing ‘The Weight’ by The Band, Perry dropped her jaw in awe at his stronger, more defined voice. Though he still had the soulful raspy voice. He was definitely singing stronger and more confident and was told that if he ever wanted to come back to compete on the show he would be welcomed back.

Perry then offered him a golden ticket, followed by Ritchie extending it even closer to Laine.

They all encouraged him to come back to American Idol, having found everything they suggested to him when he was eliminated.

After a few short moments, Laine took the golden ticket.

Last year on American Idol Laine was not very sure of himself. But slowly with each performance, the inner star began to emerge.

His mother said that this year he is a completely different kid. She often asks herself, “Who is this?” when he performs.

Laine learned to play the guitar at age seven and shortly after that, he asked his mother who Elvis Presley was. His mother was so shocked that he even know who Elvis was but she told him who he was and would show him pictures and videos of him performing.

Laine was so infatuated with Elvis that he asked his mother to make him an Elvis costume for Halloween, complete with the sunglasses.

On a trip to Walmart, other shoppers would ask Laine, who was dressed as Elvis, for an autograph.

This year not only does Laine’s confidence enter the room before he does, but he also has a different look. He smiles more when he sings now and is hairstyle is different. He even changed his style of clothing to look more sophisticated with a suit. But not everything has changed with him. He still likes to wear a pair of Lacrosse rubber boots or run around barefoot, even in the suit.

It’s pretty clear to Cindy that no matter where Laine finishes on this season of American Idol he will continue to perform and produce music in his own genre that’s a combination of classic rock, southern rock and traditional country. Laine has also written and recorded a five songs. He currently has two of them available on iTunes and Spotify.

On Sunday Laine made it into the ‘Top 8’ by singing ‘Oo-De-Lally’ from Robin Hood for his Disney Night performance.

Tune in Sunday night to see if the “Bayou Boy” with DeRidder roots can make it into the ‘Top 4’.