Performing in front of superstar judges like Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, the Florida man told the News Journal on Tuesday that he was comforted by the presence of his great-grandmother, who he brought along with him to the show taping.

Pensacola-born singer DeWayne Crocker Jr. will look to inject a little soul into the latest round of "American Idol" auditions when the 23-year-old graces the hit show's hallowed stage on Sunday.


Performing in front of superstar judges like Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, Crocker Jr. told the News Journal on Tuesday that he was comforted by the presence of his great-grandmother, who he brought along with him to the show taping.


"I have the best great-grandmother in the world," Crocker Jr. said. "When (people) watch it, they'll see why I'm bringing her up right now. Sylvia is her name."


Crocker Jr. got his start singing in a host of Pensacola churches as a child and young teenager. His style gradually evolved into the soul genre, but he said his church roots went a long way in shaping the performer he is today.


'Idol' locals of yesteryear: Meet the 3 Santa Rosa County singers you'll see on this season's 'American Idol'


"A lot of gospel greats start off in church," Crocker Jr. said. "A lot of musical greats like Whitney Houston, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Aretha Franklin. They all got their start there."


Though he said he was extremely nervous in the minutes leading up to his audition, Crocker Jr. is no stranger to high-pressure situations.


"In 2017, I sang at the Serena Williams wedding," he revealed. "That kind of opened my eyes to the success I could achieve if I went outside of church and did what I've always wanted to do with my music."


'Biggest performance of my life': Pensacola singer performs at Serena Williams' wedding


Like most performers in his shoes, Crocker Jr. said he shook off the jitters during his audition and found himself living in the moment before long.


Still, he was very aware of some of the "Idol" shadows he was performing under.


"I've watched the show for years," Crocker Jr. said. "So seeing Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Ruben Studdard and talents like that pass through, being on that platform definitely sparks some nerves. Because you want to be able to do your best and live up to the 'American Idol' standard."


See how the Pensacola native did for yourself when his audition airs on the Sunday episode of the ABC show at 7 p.m. CST.


Jake Newby can be reached at jnewby@pnj.com or 850-435-8538.


This story originally published to pnj.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the new Gannett Media network.