Several million “American Idol” viewers got a glimpse of a suburban Lakeland backyard Sunday night as George Jenkins High School senior Kimmy Gabriela wowed the judges with her version of Ariana Grande’s “Leave Me Lonely.” Keep reading to see a video of her performance.

“I feel like you’ve done a little character evolution since we’ve been apart, since Hawaii,” said celebrity judge Katy Perry, a Kimmy fan since her audition in Savannah last fall. “You are starting to know who you are.”

Coronavirus concerns halted “American Idol” after episodes were recorded in Hawaii, but the show resumed Sunday night with the 20 finalists performing from their homes.

Noting the setting, judge Luke Bryan said, “Kimmy, I keep waiting for the neighbors to peep over the fence back there.” He continued: “What I think is really impressive is how well you navigate your notes.”

Judge Lionel Richie was impressed, too: “You had me on the edge of my emotions,” he said, “You took it to the next level.”

Videos were shot on iPhones, according to an ABC news release. Kimmy’s video was shot from multiple angles with professional lighting, a prerecorded music track and post-production that added brief shots of backup singers appearing at the side of the screen.

Check out Kimmy’s singing and the judges’ reactions:


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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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