American Idol fans are revisiting the Season 11 audition of Haley Smith, who died over the weekend at the age of 26 in a motorcycle accident. In her 2012 audition in which she was 18 years old, Smith sang a folksy rendition of Rufus and Chaka Khan's "Tell Me Something Good," earning herself a golden ticket to Hollywood.
"I'm just laughing because you put in your own spin on the great R&B classic with Chaka," judge Randy Jackson said. "It's not perfect to the song but I actually kind of like that."
Steven Tyler agreed, complimenting the Colorado native on her originality. "Wow. I love your voice so much. You're right out of my era and I'm honored to be here listening to your voice," Tyler gushed.
"I just love the commitment to you just being who you are and just the natural gift," Jackson agreed. "We always say to people, 'Make it your own. You don't need to sound like the record.' And you've definitely been doing your own thing with this. I love that. I love that."
After Smith left the audition room with her golden ticket to celebrate with her family, Jackson admiringly called her a "real flower child" to fellow judges Tyler and Jennifer Lopez.
"She's not following any of the artists out there, she's just herself," Tyler agreed.
Impressed as the judges may have been with her take on the Chaka Khan classic, Smith did not make the next round of cuts once she made it out to Hollywood Week.
Seven years after Smith's American Idol season aired, fans grieved her after her family confirmed she died over Labor Day Weekend in a motorcycle accident. She was reportedly riding a motorcycle in Maine on a residential road that turned into a highway when she lost control on a sharp turn. Her father, Mike Smith, suggested to TMZ that a deer may have caused his daughter to miss the turn, as he said she rode frequently and didn't believe she would simply lose control of the bike.
In her Idol audition package, Smith, who worked as a busser, a housecleaner and a meat packer, spoke about her love for the outdoors.
"I definitely love being outdoors," she said, adding that she lives in a "log cabin in the middle of nowhere."
"It's where I feel most at peace, you could say... The landscape is to die for if you were to die for anything," she said, laughing. "It's beautiful."