Lakeland worship pastor moves on to 'Hollywood Week' on American Idol

Nathan is one of five representing the Bay Area
Posted at 1:55 PM, Mar 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-26 14:08:50-04

Finding the right note has been Nathan O’Neal’s thing since he was three-years-old. 

Now, he’s using his musical family's background as the worship pastor at Fuel, a church in Lakeland where he says music is about expression and lifting a joyful noise.

"My favorite thing about music is that it makes people feel things and it takes them places,” said O’Neal. “You can hear a song and it will take you back to a memory from 10 years before."

It wasn’t until recently, O’Neal decided to strike the right chord with American Idol.

“The American Idol journey has been a whirlwind. [It’s] exciting, scary, nervous, just awesome and all around a lot of fun,” said O’Neal.

His audition wasn’t a conventional one. He uploaded his audition video for the producers to see online. It was an option that was available for the first time in the American Idol reboot.

When O’Neal got the call that he was going to perform in front of the celebrity judges, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richey; he was over the moon.

"I actually was not that nervous when I got in front of the judges. I was more nervous when I got in front of the producers," said O’Neal.

O’Neal says his musical influences have been Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Christian music artist, John Mark McMillan.

He says he is excited about what could be, but even if the music stardom isn’t for him:

“I’m doing exactly what I love... so my perfect world? I would still be here in five years leading worship here at Fuel."

O’Neal made it past the celebrity judges and will be one of five Tampa Bay contestants in Hollywood, one step closer to becoming the next American Idol.

You can see American Idol on your ABC Action News station at 8 p.m. on Sunday and Monday nights.