'Rising Star' Recap: On the Final Night of Auditions, Five Contestants Advance

PHOTO: Internationally acclaimed singer, songwriter Josh Groban, country music superstar Brad Paisley, pop music sensation Kesha and hip hop artist and actor Ludacris have signed on to ABCs "Rising Star," which premieres June 22, 2014. Bob D'Amico/ABC News
Internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Josh Groban, country music superstar Brad Paisley, pop music sensation Kesha and hip-hop artist and actor Ludacris have signed on to ABC's "Rising Star," which premiered June 22, 2014.

ABC's interactive singing competition, "Rising Star," concluded its round of live auditions on Sunday night with five contestants advancing and five other acts being sent home.

The show asks viewers to download the Rising Star app and vote on each contestant, who perform behind a massive video wall. If the contestant receives at least 70 percent in "yes" votes, the wall rises, and he or she advances.

The two-hour show aired live on the East coast, but viewers on the other side of the country also had the chance to determine the contestants' fate.

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Host Josh Groban and the Rising Star "experts" -- Kesha, Ludacris and Brad Paisley -- presided over the auditions. The "experts" were allowed to vote. So were West Coast viewers, even though they watched the show on delay.

Five contestants advanced during the live East coast broadcast. No additional singers were saved from elimination by West Coast voters. All the advancing contestants will now compete in head-to-head singing duets, beginning next week.

The ultimate winner receives a contract with Capitol Records.

Here are the highlights from the show:

Dana Williams, 24, is a teacher’s assistant from Los Angeles. Her late father, David, was a rhythm guitarist for Michael Jackson and one of Dana's biggest musical influences. Her version of Rihanna and Mikky Ekko’s “Stay” captured 87 percent of the vote. Ludacris thought she could project more in the lower register and better control on the high notes, but could see she was “doing it for her father” and voted yes. Kesha also voted for Williams, commenting that she could “go all the way” and her father would be proud of her. Paisley agreed and voted yes. Paisley said Williams’ performance was “fantastic" and “as good as it gets.”

Long Branch, New Jersey, native Audrey Kate Geiger is a bartender and yoga instructor who gets her inspiration from her dad, also an aspiring rock musician. She sang “Stay with Me” by Sam Smith and captured 84 percent of the vote. Ludacris thought some of Geiger’s runs were off, but said the performance took him “somewhere else” and he voted yes. Paisley and Kesha also voted for Geiger to advance but noted that she needed to “let her hair down” and “be herself.”

Gabrielle Nicole is a 20-year-old from Cleveland who has been singing since the age of four. She’s also a self-described “diva.” She tackled Billie Holliday’s “My Man” and drew an amazing 90 percent of the vote. Ludacris said she “earned the right to be called a diva.” Paisley agreed, adding, “You are ridiculous.” Kesha, referencing a comment Nicole made in her video segment prior to the performance, declared, “Divas don’t do mediocre,” and called the audition “far from mediocre.” All three judges were on their feet for the performance and voted for Nicole to advance.

Karen Hornsby is a former school teacher and current stay-at-home mom to her daughter Gabrielle, who was left blind and unable to speak following treatment for brain cancer. She chose Celine Dion’s “To Love You More” for her audition and collected 82 percent of the vote. Paisley had some issues with the performance, but said he couldn’t deny the audience’s reaction to the song and voted yes. Kesha was moved to tears by Hornsby’s story and voice, which she said were both “amazing.” Kesha voted for Hornsby to advance. Ludacris agreed with Paisley that there were some problems with the performance, but voted yes.

Seventeen-year-old Morgan Higgins is one of the youngest performers in the competition. The normally shy San Clemente, California, native says singing allows her to let go and truly be herself. She earned 79 percent with her performance of Heart’s “Alone.” Paisley thought Morgan was a talented singer, but gave her a “no” due to her lack of confidence. Kesha disagreed, commenting that she saw a little bit of herself in the singer and believed in her. Ludacris thought the performance started out slow, but picked up towards the end and gave the young singer a “yes.”

To recap: Dana Williams, Audrey Kate Geiger, Gabrielle Nicole, Karen Hornsby and Morgan Higgins all advanced to the next round. Cliff Cody, Skye Griffin, the four-man singing group Unselfish, the duo OhMG and the trio TX3 all failed to earn the 70 percent in "yes" votes needed to raise the wall and advance.

The singing triplets who call themselves TX3 received the lowest score on both coasts -- 22 percent during the live East Coast show and 25 percent on the West Coast broadcast. Still, Kesha voted for them, but just so she could see them take their shirts off, which they do sometimes while performing. Backstage, after the show, the members told ABC News Radio they thought about going shirtless, but weren't sure it was allowed.

Kesha voted "yes" for nine of the ten acts that performed Sunday. Ludacris told ABC News Radio backstage that he believes Kesha "is identifying with other things besides just the talent that's on stage." The evening also included Paisley performing his new song “River Bank.” "Rising Star" continues next Sunday on ABC.