CLAY COUNTY TEEN HEADING TO HOLLYWOOD - After Wowing Judges On 'American Idol'


By Anna Moore

CLAY, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — A Clay, W.Va., teenager with dirt under his fingernails and mud on his boots is getting national attention after wowing the judges this week on "American Idol."

Zack Dobbins, 18, sang his original song, "Misuse," with an acoustic guitar and gritty, southern rock vocals during his audition, which aired Sunday night on ABC.

"American Idol" judge and country music star Luke Bryan asked Dobbins after his song if he knew the term "vibrato."

"No," Dobbins said. "I don’t know 'nothin' about singin', other than I like to do it."

Pop singer and judge Katy Perry said Dobbins was "so authentic" and told him he "has a sound."

Singer-songwriter and judge Lionel Ritchie told Dobbins he was giving them "heart and soul" and is "real."

All three judges voted "yes" for Dobbins to go to the next round, which takes place in Hollywood.

In Dobbins' story package before his audition aired, he is shown driving around the town of Clay in a 1993 F-150 pickup truck that is completely covered in mud. He said he named the truck Loretta.

"I was literally in the woods for three hours last night stuck in the middle of nowhere," he said. "I went down into a hole and the bumper hit so I just jumped the clutch for a second and let her eat and then here we are. That's why she's so muddy."

Dobbins said his grandfather and father played bluegrass music, which influenced him.

"You just gotta do what you like and if nobody likes it then that's too bad because you do," he said.

Before the audition, Dobbins was employed paving roads and he quit so he could audition for the show. He told the judges he was there following through on a promise he had made to a girl who no longer is in the picture.

The winner of the contest wins a record deal.

Bryan told the Clay teen that they would teach him a little bit about singing along the way.

"I don't want to change ya," Bryan said. "We might have to get that asphalt out of them fingernails."