‘American Idol’ singer’s gun violence story left Katy Perry in tears, wanting ‘change’

A woman in an updo smiling at a red carpet event.
Katy Perry spoke out against mass shootings during a recent episode of “American Idol.”
(Richard Shotwell / Invision / Associated Press)

An audition during a recent episode of “American Idol” became an emotional spotlight on gun violence.

In a fiery speech during Sunday’s episode, pop diva and “Idol” judge Katy Perry condemned mass shootings in America, telling Santa Fe singer Trey Louis that “our country has f— failed us.”

Louis, who was the last singer to audition Sunday, shared his motivations for appearing on “American Idol.” When asked by judge Luke Bryan, the 21-year-old mattress salesman said the show was where his favorite musicians “made it” and that he wanted to shine a light on Sante Fe, Texas.


Gun violence has become the drumbeat of our days. We say we’re shocked, but we’re really not. We say we’re in disbelief, yet we’re really not.

Jan. 29, 2023

“In May 2018, a gunman walked into my school,” he told the panel of “Idol” judges, which also included Lionel Richie. “I was in Art Room 1 and he shot up Art Room 2 before he made his way to Art Room 1.”

He continued: “Lost a lot of friends, eight students were killed, two teachers were killed and it’s just really been negative, man. Santa Fe’s had a bad rap here since 2018.”

After sharing his story, the teary “Teenage Dream” hitmaker said Louis “should be singing here because you love music, not because you had to go through that.”

Three mass shootings have been carried out in one week in California, in Goshen, Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay.

Jan. 25, 2023

“You didn’t have to lose eight friends,” she added. “I hope that you remind people that we have to change ‘cause you know what? I’m scared too.”

“It’s terrible Katy, horrible,” Louis replied.

Richie and Bryan comforted their fellow judge. The “All Night Long” singer also weighed in on gun violence and mass shootings.

Simu Liu, Ken Jeong, Padma Lakshmi and more react after 10 people were killed and 10 more were wounded in a Saturday night shooting in Monterey Park.

Jan. 25, 2023

“We have tolerated this for so long, too long,” Richie said. “It’s become a norm.”

The audition came to a close with Perry demanding change and asking Louis to “lead.”

After hearing both Louis’ performance of Whiskey Myers’ “Stone” and his story, the judges unanimously agreed that he’s ready for the next stage of the competition and Hollywood-bound.


“You let it come out of your heart and that’s what we love around here,” Bryan said.

Since his audition aired Sunday, Louis has received love on social media from fans and “Idol” personalities. On social media, Bryan, Richie and “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest praised the Santa Fe singer for sharing his story.

“Keep spreading light and awareness with your music,” Seacrest tweeted Sunday evening.

Gun safety activist group Moms Demand Action shared a clip from Louis’ audition to their Twitter account and thanked Perry and “Idol” for “using your platform to call attention to the gun violence crisis that devastates countless young people in this country, like Trey.”

After receiving his ticket to Hollywood, Louis concluded Sunday’s episode noting that his journey isn’t only for his hometown. It’s “for Parkland, for Columbine, for Las Vegas and so many others.

“What we go through every day because of what happened is terrible. But there is light, there is positivity and you just have to go chase it,” he said. “Santa Fe, I’m not stopping. I’ve got all the motivation behind me. I’ve got all of you guys behind me. What a blessing this really is.”