American Idol headed into its Showstoppers Round on Sunday night (April 9). That means contestants took the stage before learning their fate on whether or not they made it into the Top 24.

Judges had some difficult decisions to make, as they were faced with the best talent they’ve ever had, according to Lionel Richie. But it was the Showstoppers Round that Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan felt gave them the answer to who still belongs in the singing competition.

“The Showstopper Round is a telltale moment,” Bryan said during the two-hour episode. “Now they have to work with the band and show their uniqueness. They have to get out there and stop the show.”

Twenty-four-year-old Warren Peay of Bamburg, S.C., who auditioned with his guitar on a cover of Zach Williams’ “To the Table,” was compared to the likes of Chris Stapleton. The appliance repair technician and worship leader earned a golden ticket to Hollywood when he wowed the celebrity panel, who dubbed him a potential Top 10.

But did he do the same this time around?

For his performance, Peay stepped outside his comfort zone and sang without his guitar. He tackled “Whipping Post” by Allman Brothers, offering a confident delivery on the Southern rock classic while flaunting his raucous country vocals for the studio audience and judges, who were seated on a balcony.

Coaches felt Peay looked natural onstage, despite not having his instrument in hand. When it came down to their decision, they chose to send him into the Top 24.

“How do you think you did on ‘Whipping Post?’” Bryan questioned Peay, who said, “That’s one of my favorite songs of all time. So I certainly hope I did it justice. Judging by the crowd, I’d say it went well. Just based on my feelings, I was certainly happy with it.”

“You have cleared yet another hurdle in your American Idol journey. You made it into the Top 24,” Bryan told the hopeful.

Afterward, Peay turned to viewers and said, “I’m very proud of myself for getting this far. I didn’t know that I would make it this far. I certainly had the highest of hopes. Every performance I have given, I have been happy with. I was totally at peace if I would have gone home today. But I’m very excited to say that I won’t be.”

“That is nerve-wracking,” he added. “I know that this competition is going to get really hard. I’m no stranger to making some sacrifices, and there have certainly been many along the way. Being away from my family is hard. I’m used to seeing them every day.”

American Idol airs Sunday and Monday nights on ABC.

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