GOSHEN, Clermont County — Another Tri-State native has been selected to move to the Hollywood round on “American Idol.”
Jon Wayne Hatfield, of Goshen in Clermont County, got his golden ticket on Sunday night. Last week, Mason’s 21-year-old Michael Williams got a golden ticket from superstars Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan after singing Bruno Mars in his “American Idol” audition.
Hatfield performed an original song inspired by his grandfather, Ray, during his audition. He said his grandparents had raised him since the age of 5 as his mom battled with addiction.
“My grandma was my mom,” Hatfield said. “My grandpa was always my best friend. He’d go out in the backyard and climb trees with me all the time ... it was the best life you could ever ask for.”
The 21-year-old’s grandmother died three years ago, causing Grandpa Ray to shut out everyone around him — including Hatfield. Hatfield said his grandfather didn’t talk to him for more than a year. When he finally sat down with him, Grandpa Ray told Hatfield he was gay.
“I was 16 when I met my wife. I told her about myself, and she said, ‘I love you and it’s OK,’” Ray said. “Jon was the last person I told because I was scared he would stop loving me.”
Hatfield said he immediately told his grandfather nothing would change between the two “because you’re my best friend and you’re my dad.” His song “Tell Me Ray” encourages his grandfather to be courageous and love himself.
Perry asked Hatfield to bring his grandfather into the room for his performance. Before Hatfield even started, Grandpa Ray was tearing up.
“It’s a tough one,” Grandpa Ray said to the judges. “Jon, my grandson, he’s my rock.”
After the performance, all three judges gave Hatfield — and his grandfather — a standing ovation. Richie even gave Grandpa Ray his handkerchief.
“Part of us as people, we have to be encouraged — and a lot of us don’t get a lot of encouragement, a lot of us have to fight for it,” Richie said. “And to have that kid write a song about you is, just, very special.”