Former construction worker Noah Thompson earned a spot in the American Idol Top 10 after nailing an old Jason Isbell country song. The fan favorite, who just turned 20-years-old, belted out a stirring rendition of “Cover Me Up,” a 2013 Isbell-written song that Morgan Wallen eventually made famous.
Isbell won a Grammy for his album Southeastern, which included “Cover Me Up” as the top track. Rolling Stone magazine even honored the album with a spot on its 500 greatest albums list. Then Wallen covered the song for his record-breaking project Dangerous: The Double Album. So for Thompson to choose the well-traveled track and also deliver a memorable performance speaks to both his ability and his courage as an artist at a young age.
Thompson, a Kentucky native that worked construction before gaining fame on the singing show, played acoustic guitar in front of a house band for his performance. His fellow contestants watched from the side of the stage, Country Now reported.
“I’m at a loss for words, I’m just grateful,” Thompson said afterwards.
Thompson originally gained entry into the show thanks to his cover of Kameron Marlowe’s “Giving You Up,” which both Marlowe and American Idol host Lionel Richie praised publicly.
“You got a real-life, story-telling, badass voice,” Richie told Thompson at the time. “It’s believable. I don’t know what you were expecting… I know you weren’t expecting that. That’s why I said it.”
Noah Thompson sang country, bluegrass, and pop songs during his tenure on American Idol
Throughout the season, Thompson has delivered soulful performances of other hit songs like Cam’s “Burning House” and The SteelDrivers’ “Blue Side Of The Mountain.”
Host and country music superstar Luke Bryan also praised Thompson heavily over the course of the season. He declared Thompson “might win the whole competition” after noting the “magic quality” he has “going on in [his] voice.” Third host Katy Perry called Thompson’s backstory and current run the “American dream.”
Showing his versatility, Thompson also regaled audiences with crossover pop songs like Noah Cyrus’ “July,” Rihanna’s “Stay,” and Harry Styles’ “Falling,” during the course of the show.
Thompson said his family inspires him to follow his dreams as an artist.
“As a child, I was just always around music, my dad gave me his guitar. Dad showed me the simplest of chords and I kind of just took off,” Thompson recalled. “My dad really wanted to be in music, that was his dream also. Kind of the whole point of me being here, for my dad. I wanted to do it almost for the both of us.
“[My dad] believes me in obviously, but I never believed in myself; so for me to have made it this far it’s definitely a confidence booster. I want this to be something that me and [my son] Walker can do together too,” he also said. “I think he’s going to have a voice on him probably. He’s got a hell of a yelling voice, that’s for sure.”