Katy Perry Gets Choked Up Over Heartwarming Audition in 'American Idol' Season 3 Premiere

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Katy Perry and Luke Bryan on 'American Idol'
Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

American Idol kicked off its third season on Sunday night, and it seems that we're going to get even more emotional moments and unexpected discoveries of raw, surprising talent.

Judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan returned to the judges' table for the first night of auditions, and the first hopeful through the door was a sweet, unassuming Alabama man named Douglas Kiker.

Kiker explained that he's a garbage man in his hometown, where he lives with his little girl, and he's never sung in front of an audience before -- just by himself while collecting trash on the back of the garbage truck.

Before auditioning, the judges had Kiker go out on the street with host Ryan Seacrest, who had the nervous singer perform for a random group of people on the street, just to get him "warmed up" when it came to performing for an audience.

A short while later -- after the judges had seen a few other auditions -- Kiker was brought back into the performance hall, where he nervously belted out a tune. 

The performance showed a lot of vocal power, but was a bit unwieldy, as he has no formal training. In fact, he seems to know very little about the technical aspects of singing altogether.

"Show us your range," Perry said after he first displayed a bit of his raw talent.

"I don't know what that is," Kiker admitted nervously.

"Show us what you can do with your voice," Perry explained, to which the singer sheepishly replied, "I'm trying to figure that out myself."

To help Kiker out, Bryan took a seat at the piano and played a tune, which helped the singer guide his voice a bit -- although he admitted that he didn't know how to follow Bryan's lead. However, he could mimic his notes and proved to be brimming with raw, unbridled vocal talent.

The performance stunned the judges and particularly wowed Richie.

"Doug, do you understand what you just did?" Richie asked.

"Not really," he admitted humbly.

"For a man who has no idea what his voice can do, for a man who has no idea what key he's singing in, for a man who has no idea who the heck he can be, he's here to do one thing: He's trying to show his daughter that he's somebody," Richie said, as we walked up to Kiker to shake his hand.

This compliment brought tears to the Idol hopeful's eyes as he thanked Richie for his kind words.

"I want us all to let you know, you're a hell of a man," Richie said. "I want you to come get this ticket. You're going to Hollywood!"

The judges were overjoyed by the opportunity to send the man to the next round, and Perry was moved to tears by the power of the moment.

"That was not garbage. It was greatness," Perry told the singer as he gripped his golden ticket. "You just stay who you are and you're going to go so far. And you're going to take your daughter to all the highest heights."

Speaking to the Idol cameras after his impressive audition, Kiker got tearful reflecting on what motivated him to try out for the show in the first place and why the judges' kind words and support touched him so significantly.

"They shook my hand and made me feel like I was one of them," Kiker explained, his voice cracking with emotion. "This proves that, if you believe in yourself, and you work at it, you can do anything."

"I work so hard because I'm just trying to give my daughter every opportunity that I never had," he added, as the show played footage of Kiker playing with his little girl in the front yard of their home in Alabama. "I love you, and I miss you! I'll be home soon!"

American Idolairs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

Check out the video below to hear more from the judges about what fans can expect from this season of the hit singing competition series.

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