Calvin Upshaw Amazed 'American Idol' Fans With His Incredible Stage Presence

Calvin Upshaw's 'American Idol' audition left the judges and fans equally impressed. But did the Marks-native receive a golden ticket to Hollywood?

Leila Kozma - Author

Feb. 28 2021, Published 11:53 a.m. ET

On Season 19 of American Idol, 26-year-old Calvin Upshaw delivered a stirring performance of Calvin Richardson's hit song, "Falling Out," — and his impassioned delivery, honesty, and incredible stage presence left the judges astounded. 

As a teaser reveals, the father of one applied to American Idol because he wanted to start a new chapter in his life. And he duly earned a golden ticket to Hollywood. 

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Calvin Upshaw demonstrated his exceptional talents during Season 19 of 'American Idol.'

Originally from Marks, Miss., Calvin opened up about the heavy hand life had dealt him in a  teaser for American Idol. 

As he explained in the video, the lack of opportunities in his hometown made him disillusioned. With nowhere else to look, he ended up taking the wrong path. In the video, he doesn't share further details about the nature of his circumstances or the activities he became involved in. It's understood that Calvin had served time in jail. 

calvin upshaw american idol
Source: Twitter
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"Being incarcerated, it really took [the light] away from me," Calvin explained in the teaser. "To be away from my child, my family, I can't get [those] days back." 

"I have to be the one to make decisions on what I want to be in life. If I continue to stay focused, I continue to grow," he described his approach. 

Several people from Marks, Miss., took it to Twitter to congratulate Calvin for the incredible performance — and to reveal that many of those living nearby are rooting for him. 

"Loved seeing a fellow Marks, Miss. native on @AmericanIdol last night. Calvin Upshaw has a moving story of brokenness and hope," wrote Barbie Bassett (@BarbieBassettTV). 

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Source: Talent Recap/YouTube

"You would have had to have known him personally to know why we're so proud! It's only up from here #CalvinUpshaw Congrats again!" tweeted @Ambitious_R_Us

"Sitting here watching @AmericanIdol crying! Kid that grew up across the street from me just told his story and made it to the next round with his God-given talent. His story doesn't begin to tell how much he's overcome. I know everyone from Marks, Miss. felt that! #CalvinUpshaw" tweeted @CoachJ1906. 

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Calvin opted for "Falling Out," a Calvin Richardson song about falling out of love.

For his audition on American Idol, Calvin sang a poignant song about the debilitating feeling of falling out of love by Calvin Richardson. 

Unlike some of the other singers auditioning for the show, Calvin refused to give in to the feelings of nervousness, pouring his heart right out on stage. Needless to add, his fiercely powerful presentation galvanized the judges.  

calvin upshaw american idol
Source: Twitter
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"Man, I gotta tell you. That voice crack was not a vocal crack, that was a feeling crack," Lionel Richie told Calvin.

"I know, when you break some hearts, it's not a good thing. So no matter what a person [did], you gotta know how to [bring] the pieces back together," Calvin responded. 

"Sounds like you've been through some stuff," Katy Perry said. 

"What you're carrying on your shoulders is, I can't even imagine," Lionel told him.

"Listen, Calvin, today is a new day," Katy told Calvin. 

Moved by his exceptional performance and complicated life story, the judges unanimously decided to give Calvin a golden ticket to Hollywood week — where he will get the chance to compete against DJ Johnson, Nia Renée, and the like. 

Catch new episodes of American Idol every Sunday at 8 p.m. EST on ABC. 

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