Gabby Barrett sang Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” in front of millions — but there was one unexpected (and legendary!) guest in the crowd that took her breath away.
During Sunday’s episode of American Idol, the Pittsburgh native took on the fan-favorite tune for her last performance of the night. Little did she know, she was singing in front of the iconic rock band’s former lead singer, Steve Perry.
“That was insane,” Barrett, 18, told PEOPLE after the show. “I’m actually surprised I knew who it was at first because he’s older now, but I looked over and I knew his face. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I had no idea he was coming. That was such an honor.”
She added, “He said that my version was the best version that he ever heard. That’s so crazy. My dad would always play Journey in the car and I remember watching him perform on the television. I remember him wearing a yellow t-shirt and some tight skinny jeans and just seeing him here and being able to sing his song in front of him was such an honor. Holy monkeys!”
After Barrett completed her song for the evening, she noticed Perry standing near her parents and quickly said, “Oh my gosh, I know who that is!”
Instead of the judges critiquing her performance, Katy Perry suggested that Journey star do the honors.
“She was amazing, that’s my critique,” he said.
Ryan Seacrest escorted a star-struck Barrett to Perry and the two embraced in a sweet hug.
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“It was the most amazing version I’ve ever heard,” Perry — who reunited with Journey for their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2017 — told the crowd. “Swear, it was just beautiful!”
Barrett joined fellow finalists Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Maddie Poppe for the first night of the two-part finale. The second part airs live on Monday at 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST on ABC.