Watch: Aretha Franklin's granddaughter auditions for 'American Idol'

15-year-old Grace Franklin was a part of Sunday's season premiere of "American Idol."

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

The granddaughter of Aretha Franklin will not be the next "American Idol." 

15-year-old Grace Franklin was one of the contestants auditioning for judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie on Sunday's 20th season premiere of "Idol." 

Grace Franklin on "American Idol."

"Tell us about your journey, how did you get here to us?" Richie asked the young singer. 

"My grandma is Aretha Franklin," she answered, causing Richie to toss his pen down on his desk. 

"Stop right there, that's your grandma!" Richie said.

A pre-taped segment showed Grace's life with her parents — Kecalf Cunningham, the Queen of Soul's son, and Kafi Franklin — and her experiences with her grandmother. "I don't think I could fully grasp the fact that she was known worldwide, because to me, she was always just grandma," Grace said.

Despite her familial connections, Grace said that she's her own artist with her own voice. 

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She performed a pair of songs for the judges: "Killing Me Softly," as popularized by the Fugees' Lauryn Hill, and Franklin's own "Ain't No Way." 

The former was dismissed as "a little sleepy and subdued" by Bryan, but the latter was seen as more in her lane. 

It was enough for Perry, who voted her through to the show's next round. But Bryan and Richie were more hesitant. 

"For right now I'm a no," Bryan told her, leaving Richie with the deciding vote of whether to send her through to Hollywood. 

Richie let her down softly, and told her she's not ready for the competition just yet, but there will be a spot waiting for her when she is. 

"I think the best thing for you, in life, is to take a shot and going backwards. Go back and get a running start and come at this again," Richie said. 

Perry took issue with Richie's assessment. "She's got stardust on her!" the "Teenage Dream" singer said. "There's something wrong with your ears. Y'all are insane!"

Richie approached Grace and offered her a hug. "It's going to be a no from me this time," he said, "but (it's) an optimistic, 'come back and see us.'"

"American Idol" continues at 8 p.m. Sunday on ABC. 

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama