When a teen-age Zach D’Onofrio first appeared on “American Idol” in 2018, he surprised judges with his Sinatra-style crooning. Now a Florida Southern College student, he had a new surprise for the judges when he returned Sunday night: a duet with his girlfriend. After they performed, the judges rewarded him with a ticket to advance to Hollywood Week.

D’Onofrio first sang The Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers,” and judge Katy Perry said she wanted to hear more. Without skipping a beat, he brought out his girlfriend, Idol alum Catie Turner, who was conveniently waiting in the wings.

Together they sang “Falling” by Harry Styles. The judges were familiar with Turner because she was a top-six finalist in 2018, and that’s where she and D’Onofrio met.

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Sunday night’s episode on ABC-TV was the final week of auditions for the current season. Hollywood Week begins this coming Sunday at 8 p.m.

D’Onofio, who grew up in Wesley Chapel, made it to Hollywood Week in 2018, and it was there that he was eliminated.

“Thank you, judges, for being so nice to me again,” D’Onofrio said during an interview following the audition. “Being back is so surreal. … I just can’t wait to sing again in Hollywood, because I have a lot more planned.”

Judge Luke Bryan noted that D’Onofrio seemed more comfortable when he was joined onstage by Turner. Perry said D’Onofrio, who has a shy manner, reminds her of a turtle that hides in his shell but “wins the race.” Judge Lionel Richie echoed her, saying, “What we need now is for you to actually come out of your shell.”

The three judges voted unanimously to advance D’Onofrio to Hollywood week.

D’Onofrio studies music management at Florida Southern College and hopes to manage other artists as a career. “That’s my goal at the end of this,” he told LkldNow last week “to help other people do what I’m doing.”

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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