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Starkville high schooler Jennifer Jeffries earns golden ticket on ‘American Idol’

The judges congratulating Jennifer Jeffries after she received a ticket to Hollywood on Sunday's episode of "American Idol" (Photo courtesy of ABC)

A Starkville high school senior took the American Idol stage by storm on Sunday night with judges calling her voice one of the most unique they’ve ever heard.

Jennifer Jeffries, 17, is the youngest of nine children. The aspiring singer-songwriter decided to play one of her originals in front of Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie, and she did not disappoint.

With a soft, gritty voice that’s reminiscent of Jade Castrinos and exactly what Indie rockers are looking for, Jeffries performed “Change My Ways.”

As soon as the first note came out, Bryan was smiling while Perry and Richie joined in being taken back by Jeffries’ voice.

“I was not expecting that voice,” Bryan said after, calling it an “amazingly unique voice that I don’t think we’ve ever had.”

“There’s this unique grit. Oh god, it’s so Mississippi,” Perry added as Bryan quipped, “Like a little Indie film soundtrack voice.”

It didn’t take long for the three judges to agree that Jeffries deserved a spot in the next round, gladly handing over a golden ticket to the Starkville native.

When asked about her songwriting and why she first decided to put pen to paper, Jeffries had the perfect answer.

“The songs I write, they’re about personal things. Things I’ve been through and things that I’ve witnessed,” she explained. “I write them so people can connect with them and know that they’re not alone, because a lot happens in real life – a lot of pain but a lot of joy. I try to capture that.”

You can keep up with Jeffries’ journey on American Idol when season 22 returns on Sunday, March 17. The hit show will be off this week as the Oscars will take over the primetime spot on ABC.

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