Narberth’s Louis Knight didn’t make it to the final five of ABC’s American Idol on Sunday, losing an opportunity to compete for the Season 18 title. But in an Instagram post that went up shortly after his elimination, he called the night, which ended in a surprise win for the Harlem subway singer Just Sam, a “huge victory” for himself, “no matter what.”
Before American Idol, wrote the 19-year-old Lower Merion High grad, “I have to say, a part of me was a bit lost.” Being on the show “has forced me to reckon with certain things in my life and grow.”
In an interview last month, Knight described his initial reaction when he was approached by American Idol about auditioning.
“Honestly, at first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to,” Knight said. “Because I’ve been working so hard on trying to be a singer-songwriter, and I wasn’t sure … if I’d be able to showcase my songwriting” on the singing competition.
He learned otherwise after playing one of his own songs, “Change,” for the judges at the auditions in Washington, last year. Inspired by a friend’s suicide, the song not only put him through to the Hollywood round but led judge Luke Bryan to suggest that the British-born Knight, a part-time delivery guy for Narberth Pizza, "may be the biggest star we’ve ever had on American Idol.”
Knight was the first Philadelphia-area contestant to make it to the Top 10 since 2018, when Philly’s Michael J. Woodard and Dennis Lorenzo and Langhorne’s Catie Turner were all in the running for the top prize. No one from this area has yet made it as far as Doylestown’s Justin Guarini, who was the runner-up to first-season winner Kelly Clarkson, way back in 2002.
Knight did get to be part of Sunday’s finale, which included Lionel Richie leading a group of Idol contestants and past winners in a highly produced but socially distanced performance of “We Are the World,” the song he wrote 35 years ago with Michael Jackson to help raise money for famine relief.