Just like his namesake, John Wayne Schulz looks like the epitome of a cowboy. Wearing a cowboy hat and a charmingly broad smile, the tall, handsome Southerner walks out onto the audition floor in the clip below holding a guitar. But behind that smile lies a sad tale reflected in his song choice.
He greets the judges with a lazy drawl, and immediately is met with a compliment from Harry Connick Jr. “You’re just a big, handsome cowboy.”
Smiling shyly, Schulz utters a bashful “Thank you” before introducing himself. Jennifer Lopez leans casually to her left, pointing toward him as she asks him if he’s auditioned before. The former contestant confirmed that he had indeed been up on that stage during season 10 of American Idol.
“Why’d you wait so long to come back?” Harry asks.
Schulz explains that he was bumped off when it got down to him and Scotty McCreery. But the saying “everything happens for a reason” couldn’t ring more true in Schulz’s case. “At the time I was sad, but at the same time I was very grateful to be sent home because my mother’s cancer had just come back,” he says.
When his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, her only request was for her son to try out for American Idol. She ended up passing away just after the show ended, but he was able to spend those final months with her. Schulz eventually decided to return for the final season of the show.
“I’m definitely back with a fire inside of me to do the very best that I can,” he says in the clip. “I feel like this is a great way to honor my mother’s memory.”
After explaining his story, he begins a heartfelt version of Garth Brooks’ “The Dance.” As the camera pans over each judges’ face, an expression of understanding and emotion mingles takes hold of them.
The words couldn’t have rung more true, and the judges agreed, giving him the golden ticket toward his dream of singing and making his mom proud. If you were touched by Shulz’s story and song, please SHARE this video with your family and friends!
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