16-Year-Old With Cystic Fibrosis & Ventriloquist Amaze American Idol Judges

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American Idol‘s 12th season ventured into Oklahoma City Thursday, where Randy Jackson said — in a statement some would refute — the show found its’ all-time greatest contestant ever, in country wunderkind Carrie Underwood.

Judges Jackson, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, and Keith Urban sent 45 competitors ahead to Hollywood. Thursday’s standouts included Kayden Stephenson, a 16-year-old with cystic fibrosis; and Halie Hillburn, a 26-year-old ventriloquist who brought along her puppet, Oscar.

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Hillburn, who said the puppet has been a presence at her side since she was 9 years old, began yodeling, but later wowed the judges, sans Oscar, with a brief recital of her own that got her a ticket to Hollywood — without the puppet.

“I think you and Oscar will have to sever the ties … you have a beautiful voice,” Carey told her.

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“Oscar is holding you back — baby, you can sing,” Urban cracked. “Boy, that’s going to be a difficult car ride home, with Oscar — he’ll be so upset.”

Stephenson, who said he has a life expectancy of 35 years old with cystic fibrosis, said he’s been singing since the age of 4.

“Ever since then I knew I was the one,” he said. “Looking at me, people would never think I had something wrong with me. Knowing that my illness is terminal is definitely scary, but, also, it gives me an opportunity to do everything now, while I’m young.”

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While Stephenson’s backstory was harrowing enough, his talented singing put him over the top with the judges, who he impressed with his rendition of Stevie Wonder’s I Wish.

Nicki compared him to a young Michael Jackson, saying “so many children would be inspired ” by Kayden’s talent and optimism.

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“I’m like, ‘Let’s go make the record now,’” Mariah said. “With the swag, and everything … I think girls will fall on the floor.”

“That’s the goal!” the young singer said, before getting a unanimous vote to Hollywood.

Watch the video on RadarOnline.com

American Idol‘s 12th season continues Wednesday on Fox at 8/7c.

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