APU student Ash Ruder ’21 won over the American Idol judges with a song she wrote about her father during her audition on the Sunday, March 7 episode. Ruder, a resident of Turlock, California, is a business major and worship leadership minor.

“The emotions are flooding in from this moment on @americanidol,” Ruder tweeted. “So proud of you Dad!”

Ruder's song honored her father, who overcame years of addiction. She surprised him with the song at her audition, which happened to be on his birthday. The performance brought her father and the judges to tears and inspired an outpouring of support and encouragement on social media by instant fans who were touched by the moment.

“You found the only subject that does not go out of style,” Lionel Richie said. “Love.”

Ruder secured a golden ticket and will advance to Hollywood Week.

Follow her American Idol journey on Instagram and Twitter @ashruder.