Military Kid Wows Idol Judges (and Us)

(Photo: Twitter)(Photo: Twitter)

Fifteen-year-old Army brat Tristan McIntosh and her robust, gorgeous voice floored the American Idol judges during her Little Rock, Arkansas audition which aired last night — and then they floored her with a totally great surprise.

Tristan was the final audition of the episode. Viewers knew right away this one was going to be phenomenal — and that it was going to be about more than just Tristan as a musician.

Tristan’s mom, an Army Major and Nurse Practitioner at Blanchfield Army Medical Center at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, was deployed at the time of the taping and, therefore, couldn’t be there. Tristan said that was particularly hard because “she was like the whole reason that we kind of got this audition. It’s been weird with her not here because shes basically the reason I am the musician I am today.”

Army Maj. Amy McIntosh was about to retire, Tristan said, when she got “called to serve in the Middle East.”

“She kind of knows me better than I know myself and it’s kind of weird that she is not here for something of this magnitude, something as big as this,” she said.  “When I walk in the room I feel like my mom’s going to be there in spirit.”

Tristan sang “Why Baby Why” by Mickey Guyton and gave both me and Jennifer Lopez me some serious goosebumps (“That gave me the goosies,” Lopez said.)

Excuse us while we mop our tears off the floor.

Posted by American Idol on Thursday, January 7, 2016

“I see in you something very very special,” Lopez said after Tristan finished singing. “I’m really good friends with Alicia Keys. Not only do you remind me of her just because of how you look but also because of your heart — it’s just beautiful and special. And I think you made your mom so proud today, I cant wait until she sees this.”

Our new favorite military kid star got a big “yes” from each of the judges — but that wasn’t all. Harry then read her a email from her mom telling her to “most importantly, have fun” and then — cue the Carrie Underwood and some tears from Tristan — in walks Maj. McIntosh.

“Do you think I would miss this for the world? Did you really think I would miss this? I love you,” she told her daughter.

Crying. Crying from us. Crying from the judges. Crying from Triston. Crying from Maj. McIntosh.

Usually we aren’t too keen on the mushy as-seen-on-TV military reunions or, as we call them, “reunion porn.” (Read why here.) But I’ll be the first to confess: I loved this one.

Then there was this final thought from J-Lo “She might win — I’m just saying, I said it first.”

We hope you do, Tristan!

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • Barbara Y. Wills

    Loved it. Would love to know where she goes to high school in the Clarksville area. Is she at FT. Campbell high school or in the CMCSS? We all wish her good luck for a great musical future.

    • Amy_Bushatz

      Barbara — From what I can tell, Tristan actually lives in Nashville although her mom is stationed here at Campbell. (I’m here, too!) I wasn’t able to get in touch with her (Fox has a strict policy that only allows Fox affiliates to interview Idol contestants) but from what I could read into her Twitter feed, she has made it sound like she lives in Nashvile proper.