Summer Cunningham Sings ‘Lean on Me,’ Causes Blowup on ‘American Idol’
A young singer named Summer Cunningham won her way to the next round on 'American Idol' Wednesday night (Jan. 23), but inadvertently touched off a fight between the judges over an offhand comment she made.
The 20-year-old auditioned by singing a very strong, clear and powerful version of 'Lean on Me' that clearly impressed the judges. When Keith Urban asked her about her background, Cunningham replied, "I did the country thing for a while," which he took issue with.
"That's like saying, 'I did the brain surgeon thing,'" he said. "You're either a brain surgeon or you're not."
Cunningham went on to explain that she is trying to combine country and soul, which seemed to mollify Urban somewhat. When both Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey admonished Cunningham about whether she was a country singer at heart or not, Nicki Minaj launched into a tirade, saying that the other judges were trying to force the young contestant to be a country singer.
While Cunningham won her way to the next round in Hollywood with four unanimous votes, it was an uncomfortable situation for everyone, as Minaj ended up storming off the set after an exchange with Carey, forcing production to close for the rest of the day. Thankfully, the judges resumed the following day without incident.