Aretha Franklin's Granddaughter Grace Franklin Auditions for 'American Idol'

Her audition caused judge Katy Perry to walk off the stage.

A contestant with ties to musical royalty auditioned for American Idol on Sunday's season 20 premiere. The late Aretha Franklin's granddaughter, Grace Franklin, the 15-year-old daughter of Aretha's son, Kecalf Cunningham, tested her own musical chops in front of judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan

Grace shared her lineage with the judges right off the bat, and opened up about her relationship with the late R&B legend in an aside package. 

"I was really close with my grandma. I got to see her all the time. I used to travel with her a lot," Grace shared of Aretha. "I don't think I could fully grasp the fact that she was known worldwide, because to me she was always just 'Grandma.'"

In terms of her own musical style, Grace feels like she is a different artist from the "Respect" singer. 

"I feel like people expect me to sing exactly like her, but I am my own artist and I have my own voice," she said. 

Judge Richie was thrilled to learn of Grace's ancestry, sharing several personal stories about Aretha. Perry wanted to know if the singer did, in fact, "kept a little pistol in her purse" and Grace told her it was not true, noting that her purse was filled with "the money." 

For her audition song, Grace chose Lauryn Hill's version of "Killing Me Softly." 

While she hit all the right notes, Grace's rendition lacked any spark with Bryan calling it "sleepy and subdued." 

Fox and Ron Howard/Redferns

Perry asked Grace to sing another song and she then sang her grandmother's song, "Ain't No Way." 

While this song packed more of a punch, not all of the judges were convinced. 

Bryan said she needed to "add command" to her performance and voted "No." Perry disagreed, saying, "I think you have stardust and sparkle all over you. You are beautiful, and if you'll trust us, if you'll listen to us, if you'll put in the work, I think we can find that next level with you."

But when it came time for Richie to vote, he was focused on what he felt was best for Grace. 

"I think the best thing for you in life is to take a shot at going backwards. Go back and get a running start and come back at this again," he urged her. 

Perry got upset with Richie's decision, giving him a look at the judges' table. 

"Give her a shot, give her a chance!" Perry shouted at Richie. "I'm sure Aretha wasn't Aretha when she walked into the room, but somebody said, 'Yes, I want to work with you. I want to develop you.'" 

Perry was up in arms over Richie's decision, saying, "I will lay down on the ground. I quit this show. I'm going to the bar." She then walked off set. 

Richie then comforted Grace, giving her a hug and encouraging her to come back and audition for them again. 

Grace isn't the only connection to Aretha in Idol's history. Jennifer Hudson appeared on season 3 of the music competition, shockingly getting voted off early in the Top 7. She later went on to play Aretha in the 2021 film Respect.