At the request of his mother, John Wayne Schultz, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Salt Lake City, Utah, auditioned for the 10th season of American Idol in 2011. He received the golden ticket to Hollywood, but was eventually eliminated during the competition, losing the semifinalist spot to winner Scotty McCreery. Looking back on that experience, John recalls, “At the time, I was sad, but I was also very, very grateful to be sent home because my mother’s cancer had just come back. In 2007, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and I told her, ‘Mom I love you. I’ll do anything for you.’ And she said, ‘Well, try out for American Idol.'”
The elimination actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it allowed him to spend more time at home with his mother. He recalls, “I didn’t know it, but we only had a few more months with her. She passed away just after the show. It was a great thing to be able to be home with her during the last few months of her life.”
According to a blog post he shared on his Facebook page, he served a two-year full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Omaha, Nebraska. He also served in the Marine Corps and is a flight instructor. The writer of the blog post, Whitney, further commented:
I am so unbelievably proud of this cowboy brother of mine. He seriously is one of the best people you will ever meet. He is kind, hilarious, genuine and so, so talented. Having him live with my family for the last year and a half has been the absolute best. He brings a light into our home that warms you to your core. There is never a dull moment with him around. Or a quiet one for that matter. This guy is destined for amazing things and I’m so happy that he has been able to share his gift with the world. I know his incredible mama is smiling so big and is so proud of the amazing man he is today.
There isn’t a person who’s met him who doesn’t love John Wayne Schulz.
Five years later, John Wayne Schulz has returned to audition for the final season of American Idol to honor the memory of his mother whom he loved dearly. He remarked, “I decided to come back because I thought, ‘This is the last season of American Idol.’ I love music; I love singing.” His audition aired during the 14 January 2016 episode with him singing Garth Brooks’ “The Dance.” In a video clip from the episode, he commented, “I am definitely back with a fire inside of me to do the very best that I can. I feel like this is a great way to honor my mother’s memory and also to reach for my goals.”
John received a “yes” from each of the judges and was sent to Hollywood. Before leaving the audition room, he thanked and shook the hand of each of the judges. After the audition, he stated, “I think my mom would be really proud of me right now and I wish she was here. This one’s for you, mom!”