When Lillie McCloud waltzed onto the "X-Factor USA" stage and told judges she was 54, she sparked a collective jaw-drop. And by the time the youthful grandmother had completed her soul-stirring performance of Cece Winans' "Alabaster Box," the entire audience was drunk with inspiration.
All four judges, Demi Lovato, Paulina Rubio, Kelly Rowland, Simon Cowell and the X-Factor audience rose to their feet and applauded after McCloud had lifted them with a song about worshipping Jesus for his goodness. In the rapturous lyrics she sang:
And I've come to pour
My praise on Him
Like oil from Mary's alabaster box
Don't be angry if I wash his feet with my tears
And I dry them with my hair
You weren't there the night He found me
You did not feel what I felt
When he wrapped his love all around me and
You don't know the cost of the oil
In my alabaster box
"That was unbelievable lady, unbelievable," said Rubio in a video of the performance that was posted on YouTube on Wednesday and has already garnered more than half a million views.
"Where you been? Where've you been hiding?" asked Rowland. "The fact that you sang for people a song they didn't know and y'all could feel that couldn't you," continued Rowland as the audience agreed with roaring applause. "Every single part of this room, you touched with your voice. You blessed us all. Thank you."
Cowell called her voice incredible and told her that she "nailed it."
"Oh my God, that ripped my heart out of my chest and I feel like I'm listening to Whitney," declared Lovato.
After all the judges gave her a resounding "yes," Cowell admitted that he had never heard the song before but when Rowland asked him if he felt it, he responded "Oh my God!"
Since McCloud's performance went viral however, reports have surfaced criticizing McCloud, whose real name is Nicole McCloud, for having had some professional experience as a singer.
One commenter on YouTube, HoneySwtDrms, echoed the sentiments of several viewers in a post responding to the critics that said:
"Americans would be FREAKING STUPID to not vote for her just because she's had a professional career. If anything, we should be voting for her to be a SUPERSTAR when the rest of our Motown-era Legends are dying off!"