How a dramatic move to Hawaii led these Utah siblings to ‘American Idol’

Ammon and Liahona Olayan are pictured during their audition for “American Idol,” which airs Sunday at 7 p.m. MST on ABC. | John Fleenor, ABC

Anger. That’s what Liahona Olayan initially felt when her parents told her their family would be moving from Utah to Hawaii with nothing more than a few suitcases


That’s what Liahona Olayan initially felt when her parents told her their family would be moving from Utah to Hawaii with nothing more than a few suitcases.

The move came at a time when Olayan was satisfied. She had been doing well in academics, music and sports. She couldn’t understand why her parents wanted to leave behind a content, albeit busy, life.

Olayan and her family would end up spending about a year and a half on the Big Island. For three of those months, they stayed in a tent, living off the land, raising chickens, milking goats and washing their clothes in buckets.

Over time, Olayan learned more about her family’s Hawaiian heritage. With time, she drifted farther from social media and drew closer to her siblings. And that’s when she realized that what at first had seemed like an abrupt life change was something her parents had actually given a lot of thought.

“They realized how much our family was really falling apart and how much we weren’t there for each other,” she recently told the Deseret News. “(In Hawaii), we had to depend on each other a lot because we didn’t have all the things that we usually did. … That really opened my eyes and made me realize my family is everything to me — that even if I don’t really have everything, I have them and that’s enough.”

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But something else big happened in Hawaii.

On a rainy, laid-back Sunday, Olayan’s older brother, Ammon, wrote a song. The minute she heard it, Olayan uncovered her passion for performing — specifically singing and writing original music. So she followed in her brother’s footsteps and began writing her own music. And eventually, the siblings started to collaborate.

Five years later, the siblings — who have since moved back to Utah with their family — have performed several shows together. They released an EP in 2019 and were featured on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 2020 youth theme album.

And now, Ammon, 18, and Liahona, 17, are on their biggest stage to date: “American Idol.”

More than 6 million people watched the “American Idol” season premiere on Valentine’s Day. The second episode, which ABC airs Sunday at 7 p.m. MST, features the Olayans’ auditions in front of celebrity judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan.

Since their audition hasn’t aired yet, the siblings couldn’t reveal the outcome. But they did say this much: The best part was getting to do it together.

Friendly competition

Ammon and Liahona Olayan come from a big — and competitive — family.

They’re the oldest of eight kids (with a …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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