American Idol 2022: Jay Copeland will sing for Katy Perry, Luke Bryan – Delmarva Now

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You’d think fans of Jeremiah “Jay” Copeland of Salisbury were auditioning for the next “Spider-Man” movie with the way they’ve been climbing the walls for the singer’s first appearance on “American Idol” season 20.
His supporters finally will get to marvel at the singer with the golden voice when he debuts on episode five Monday evening, an “American Idol” spokesperson told Delmarva Now / The Daily Times.
The Salisbury University 2020 grad said he was skeptical weeks ago when he learned he was getting the chance to show off his vocal talent for the producers of the reality show.
At the time, he assumed he was being catfished.
“When I received the message that I could audition for the producers of ‘American Idol,’ I thought it was a joke and a scam,” Copeland said in an email statement to Delmarva Now / The Daily Times.
“I did more research on the producer and realized she was actually legit and gave it a shot,” he added. “I doubted myself and did not believe I would make it past one producer. Little did I know that I would make it to the celebrity judge auditions.” 
The first people Copeland broke the news to were his stepdad and his mama.
“My advice for Jay is always, ‘Remember God, because he gave you the gift and talent; stay prayerful, embrace and enjoy this wonderful experience,’ ” Christina Ryder, the singer’s mom, said in an email statement.
Copeland isn’t the only singer in the Mid-Atlantic region looking to make some noise on “American Idol” season 20.
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There’s also New Jersey singers Cole Hallman, of Manasquan, and 16-year-old Camryn Champion, of Lumberton; Western Pennsylvania singer Morgan Gruber, a senior at Riverside High in Beaver Valley; and Kenedi Anderson, formerly of Thibodaux, Virginia.
One of Copeland’s longtime fans is Debra Kelser, a fourth-grade teacher of his at Glen Avenue Elementary School.
“When he was in elementary school, he was always walking around the halls and playground singing. He was amazing,” Kelser recalled. “He was / is super close to his mom, and she has the same sweet personality.”
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Zoë Sheller attended Salisbury Middle School with Copeland and she sang with him in JMB’s annual “Rock & Roll Revival show in 2015. She recalled his lively spirit.
“His love for life and the people around him brightens every room he walks into. That love for life, I feel, makes him a stronger performer,” Sheller said. “It makes his performance accessible to all and that’s why he is loved by so many people.” 
Grace Foxwell Murdoch, Sheller’s great auntie, was introduced to Copeland when her niece was in middle school. She’s been charmed by the young man ever since.
“I attended their school productions and became an immediate fan of Jay,” Foxwell Murdoch said. “He deserves every accolade because he has put in the time and now it’s his time to shine.”
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Philadelphia native Trinity Marie moved to Salisbury in 2009, and met Copeland during her freshman year in the “Rock & Roll Revival.” Marie said she was “in awe” when she first heard his musical pipes.
“It means the world to me to see him on ‘American Idol’ living his dream,” she said. “I know he’s going to go out there and show off his voice like no other. I’m so proud of him and can’t wait to see what’s he’s got in store for us.”
Another member of Copeland’s ever-growing fan club is Jason Phillips, his former school counselor at Chipman Elementary School from 2002-2006.  
Phillips described the singer as a “mannerable little boy and great young man who I have followed from elementary to college.”
He also said Copeland comes from a great family that includes his mom, “who was a stellar parent and volunteer.”
Copeland was raised in a rich musical family led by his grandfather, George Copeland. The “American Idol” hopeful’s mom is also a force on the mic, and his uncle, Josh, was a finalist in 2019 on the BET singing reality show “Sunday Best.
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The younger Copeland said watching his uncle and grandfather sing every Sunday and throughout the country made him set expectations for himself.
“Once those standards were met, I wanted to beat those expectations and set a higher standard,” he said. “They may not know it, but I will forever thank them for the work they have done for Salisbury and throughout this country. I love them dearly.”
Episode five of “American Idol” may be the charm for Copeland, a chance for his supporters and the country to hear his vocal prowess.
It’s been a long wait, but Copeland wants everyone to know he hasn’t forgotten where he came from.
“I will always be a proud Salisburian and a proud resident of Eastern Shore!” Copeland stated. “If you ever feel like throwing in the towel, remember that you have always rooted for me and I will do the same for you. I love you all so much!”
Copeland’s debut episode on “American Idol” will air on ABC at 8 p.m. For more info, visit
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Andre Lamar is the features/lifestyle reporter. If you have an interesting story idea, email Andre Lamar at


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