Zach D’Onofrio first thought he might have singing talent when he sang during a local production of Little Shop of Horrors. It was the first time the 17-year-old had garnered so much praise and he wondered if people were telling the truth. His parents owned the Dreamhouse Theatre in Lutz and the teen had taken minor roles before but Little Shop of Horrors was the first time he truly felt like a star.
Since that performance two years ago, Zach started refining his skills. Then, last Fall, when the teen heard American Idol would be holding their yearly auditions in Orlando, he decided to give it a go.
“I just wanted to give it a shot because I saw how people reacted to how I sounded when I sing,” he told Tampa Bay Times.
Before the auditions, Zach won a talent competition, and the first prize allowed him to skip ahead of everyone in the audition lines. So, straight from the get-go, his experience was a bit different than others’.
When Zach made it through the Orlando auditions and met the judges in New York, he arrived bearing gifts— fun, brightly colored socks for each of them.
“This may be weird, but I kind of have a sock obsession,” he told them.
“I wore my lucky socks today.”
Having already given Ryan Seacrest a pair of American flag socks for his time spent on American Idol, Zach proceeds to give Lionel Richie a pair with skulls because the artist “kills” it, the teen says. Katy Perry gets a pair that features cats shooting lasers out of their eyes, with Zach telling her he thought they would match her personality. And lastly, the teen plays off the country music vibe, handing Luke Bryan a pair of socks with roosters.
When Zach tells them he’s been singing for less than a year, they’re not sure what to expect. He informs then he will be singing “How You Look Tonight” from the classic crooner Frank Sinatra. “Why’d you look at me when you said that?” Katy asks the teen. “You know why,” the teen quips back with a laugh.
When the music starts to play, the shy teen sings the lyrics in an unbelievable baritone voice.
When Katy hears the deepness come out, her eyes nearly bulge out of her head.
Zach seemed to be singing the lyrics straight to Katy, and with Lionel and Luke’s encouragement, she makes her way over for a dance.
“I was smiling throughout the whole thing,” Zach recalled.
“The lyrics, I know by heart. So I was just living in the moment. I don’t even remember everything. It was a crazy experience.”
“It was a very crazy experience… It was definitely tough trying to sing while Katy Perry is right in front of you, dancing with you.
“But I just kept going, and I finished the song.”
After seeing Zach’s performance, the judges can only talk about his deep singing voice. Luke is the only one who had a slight criticism, encouraging him to slow it down and swing with the beat like Sinatra did. “That’s all you need to do,” Luke told him, “and America is going to freak.”
“You’re going to Hollywood, brother,” Lionel Richie exclaimed.
Zach’s mother is waiting for him when he emerges from the door and she’s ecstatic for her son. “We’re going to Hollywood,” she shouts as she wraps the boy up in a hug.
See Zach’s amazing performance below!
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