‘Idol’ Judges Call West Virginia Teen A “Diamond In The Rough”

American Idol/YouTube

Few things get American Idol fans more excited than a contestant that isn’t aware of how great they are. Throw in a little bit of “aw shucks,” a muddy truck, and some dirty boots and we get the ideal “country” Idol hopeful.

Clay, West Virginia, native Zack Dobbins brought just such a combination to the Idol audition episode that aired Sunday night (March 8). The 18-year-old won over the judges and viewers with his authentic, humble approach to music.

“I grew up on music ’cause my grandpa played bluegrass. And then my dad played. Music is a passion. You just got to do what you like. And if nobody likes it, then that’s too bad ’cause you do,” Dobbins said.

The small town boy also showed off his mud-covered truck named Loretta. “She’s a ’93 F-150. I was literally in the woods for three hours last night, stuck in the middle of nowhere. I went down into a hole. And then the bumper hit,” Zack said. “So I just dumped the clutch in second and let her eat. And then here we are. That’s why she’s so muddy.”

American Idol/YouTube

Dobbins has never strayed far from his West Virginia home. In fact, he has never flown on a plane and admitted that he didn’t know exactly what American Idol was all about.

“I didn’t know what this was all for. I thought it was for, like, a plaque or something at the end. I was very confused,” Zack admitted. “If I go and got big and famous, I’m gonna have, like, a single-wide trailer on an acre of land that’s all flat, so I can just run the mower back and forth. And I’d still have the same truck. It just runs a little better.”

Dobbins surprised judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie when he effortlessly accompanied himself on guitar for an original song called “Misuse.”

“Zack, I don’t think you know what you’re doing. I don’t think you need to know what you’re doing,” Perry told the humble singer. “You’ve got a sound. You’re so authentic. Yeah, a lot of these people out here, they’re polished. They’ve been to some fancy school. They know blah, blah, blah. They can’t sing half as good as you.”

“We’re going to teach you a little bit about singing along the way,” added Bryan. “I don’t want to change you.” 

All three judges voted to send Dobbins on his first airplane ride with a ticket to Hollywood. After Zack left the audition room, the judges continued to marvel at his talent.

“He is a diamond in the rough,” Perry said. “He’s still in the rough.”  And, Lionel Richie called him “perfect.”

Watch Zack Dobbins’ full audition in the video below.