Australian Idol judges 2023: Contestant given bone cancer diagnosis wows Meghan Trainor, Amy Shark, Kyle Sandilands, Harry Connick Jr
When Perth local Sara Houston underwent her 32nd operation, she had no idea she’d be auditioning for Australian Idol in just 24 hours.
Sara received an “aggressive” bone cancer diagnosis at the age of eight – and as the years passed, her medical needs continued.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Local Perth blows judges away with auditions hours after surgery
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So when she underwent a “cleaning” procedure at the hospital, she had no idea that her stepmother was traveling to the airport to meet singing superstar Ricki-Lee.
Sara, a keen singer, and the host already shared a special bond – with Ricki-Lee meeting Sara when she was going through her cancer battle as a child.
Ricki-Lee was a contestant on Australian Idol at the time and the pair were even photographed together.
Ricki-Lee saw him meet a young Sara. Credit: Seven
This time, however, Sara’s stepmother wanted Ricki-Lee’s help to carry out a different plan – to encourage Sara to audition for Idol right after her discharge from the hospital.
“I got a really manic phone call from my stepmom last night,” Sara told viewers in a confessional on the show.
“She met Ricki-Lee and the judges at the airport.
“They wanted me to come down and audition today,” the 26-year-old added before pulling Ricki-Lee into a hug as the cherished photo from years earlier was pulled out.
Rick-Lee looks at the flashback photo. Credit: Seven
“It’s been a long time… Does it bring back some memories?” she asked the singer.
Sharing more details of her cancer battle, Sara said she was diagnosed in 2004 and was in hospital “for quite a long time”.
“Ricki-Lee came into Ronald McDonald House when I was very unwell and mum and I were losing our minds,” she recalls.
She added that it would be a “dream” to be in a position to give back to others in a similar way.
When it came to auditioning in front of judges Kyle Sandilands, Meghan Trainor, Amy Shark and Harry Connick Jr, Sara spoke about how she only had 11 hours to prepare.
Sara Houston meets the judges. Credit: JODY D’ARCY PHOTOGRAPHER/Seven
“Serious? What did you do before the 11 o’clock?” Harry asked as Sara explained that she had undergone surgery.
“I’ll have to stop you, that’s a lot of information. Your 32nd surgery and it was yesterday? How are you doing here?” he asked.
Sara explained that her diagnosis as a child resulted in “massive complications”.
“(Doctors) didn’t think I’d have a leg — that kind of thing. And so they basically played clean,” she explained.
Moved by her journey, Harry told her, “No matter what happens with your singing audition, I just want to say how heroic you are.”
“I mean, I love strong women anyway – I’ve been surrounded by them all my life. You’re on another level – I can’t believe you had surgery yesterday,” he added.
Sara is accompanied by Harry Connick Jr. Credit: Seven
When she announced that she would be performing Waiting on the World to Change by John Mayer, Harry offered to accompany her on the piano.
“I’ll play it with you,” the star told her.
And their joint performance did not disappoint.
Sara Houston performs. Credit: JODY D’ARCY PHOTOGRAPHER/SevenAmy Shark watches Sara perform. Credit: Seven
Sara blew the judges away with her rendition, with Harry encouraging her to “sing some more”.
As she finished the emotional song, Kyle told her, “Yesterday was yesterday and today is a whole new fucking day.”
“It was so iconic. I have chills all over my body and I want to cry,” Meghan added.
“Your whole attitude when you sang, you were so confident and so fun to watch,” Amy said.
“I have something they can’t say because I was playing up there and you looked over your right shoulder at me a few times and kind of smiled at me,” Harry began.
Kyle Sandilands, Meghan Trainor, Amy Shark and Harry Connick Jr. Credit: JODY D’ARCY PHOTOGRAPHER/Seven
“I thought, ‘This is what Australian Idol is.’
“I had fun playing with you and I want to thank you for that honor.”
The judges chose to present Sara with a golden ticket, sending her straight through to the top 50 contestants.
“This is not what I had planned for today,” Sara laughed after leaving the audition.
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