The top 20 contestants of American Idol have banded together to lend their voices for a PSA in support of Feeding America. Joining forces with judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie, the contestants sang a rendition of Bill Withers' "Lean On Me." Host Ryan Seacrest and in-house mentor Bobby Bones also joined in on the action, which also serves as a preview to its upcoming history-making live rounds.
Given the current social distancing guidelines, the PSA was filmed remotely, much like the rest of this season. On April 26, the 20 contestants will compete from different locations across the U.S. and Canada, fighting for one of the coveted top 10 spots. While the show has typically been filmed on a sound stage with the judges in-person, these contestants will be filming performances on their phones. Even though it's done remotely, the vocalists will sing to win over the viewer's vote and ultimately, the championship.
Prior to the tribute to Withers, who passed away on March 31 from heart complications, American Idol first shared the news of its plan for moving forward with its current season earlier in April. Seacrest officially announced the plan in a statement, when he also revealed that the return date for the singing series.
"During this uncertain time, we're committed to bringing some sense of normalcy and some sense of community and hope through the stories of our contestants and their journey is about to take a historic turn," Seacrest said. "Next Sunday, this competition will continue as the Top 20 compete for your vote with epic performances. Be here as we come to you from our contestants, our judges and my home in 25 different locations across North America as you witness television history."
On Wednesday, Seacrest also revealed that even though the show would revamp its format to accommodate quarantine. In an Instagram post, Seacrest revealed he'd be filming his segments from behind the original judges' desk that was used by the original lineup of Randy Jackson, Paul Abdul and series creator Simon Cowell. "Kept this in my garage for over 3 years in case of an emergency," he wrote in the caption. "The time has come.... [American Idol] is going to be HISTORIC on so many levels."