Nashville's Grace Leer chose Faith Hill's "Cry" for her audition into the Top 10 of Season 18 of American Idol, and after a slow start, the judges agreed she owned it.

Luke Bryan made note of Leer's early lack of swagger after Lionel Richie and Katy Perry were nothing but indulgent with their praise. "The first part of that song, it just lacked a little of what you gave us on 'Natural Woman,'" Bryan says, referring to her performance of Aretha Franklin's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" in Hawaii.

"From halfway through your performance to the end, you were giving us those big amazing notes that you spoil us with," he adds. When she finished, Leer was seen wiping away tears, as were television critics. She performed the song at her mother's house in California, where she grew up.

While not among her highest-charting country songs, the Grammy winning "Cry" was a crossover hit for Hill in the early 2000s. The song ties Leer to country music, but in choosing it for her first American Idol live performance, she no doubt was hoping to pull votes from a mainstream set of fans.

Beyond the performances, fans tuned in to watch American Idol on Sunday (April 26) to see the remote sets each performer came up with. Leer sang from her garden, with a country-chic tableau behind her. It was a charming scene that also allowed viewers a peak behind the production curtain. Alternate cameras and light setups were visible, but certainly not distracting during her performance.

Next Sunday (May 3), American Idol will cut the total number of finalists in half, based on viewer votes. The 28-year-old Leer looks to be the only contestant with a country background. At least, she was the only one who chose a country song during the first round of live performances.

See the Top 20 Finalists on American Idol, Season 18: