MANASQUAN — A musician and surfer from Monmouth County is among the "first" to land a ticket to Hollywood on the new season of American Idol.

Cole Hallman, of Manasquan, shared the early release of his audition for the music competition series to Facebook on Sunday, hours before it hit ABC.

The 22-year-old Hallman — with his mother, Nicolle, and sister, Katie, by his side — ultimately impresses celebrity judges, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie.

Bryan calls him an "authentic voice," while Perry said "You can just hear your heart — your heart is in your voice," before the trio welcomes Hallman's mother and sister into the audition space.

Cole Hallman Music via Facebook American Idol
Cole Hallman Music via Facebook

Hallman then sings a short duet of a Rolling Stones' classic with his sister, Katie, who has a chromosomal deletion. (She appears often on her brother's TikTok feed, especially leading up to the big "Idol" reveal.)

Their duet earns a standing ovation from Richie, Perry and Bryan, who says Hallman sang "20% better with his sister."

Perry says he needs to sing like he's always with his sister "that's where the joy is, that's where the happiness is."

Cole Hallman Music via Facebook American Idol Manasquan
Cole Hallman Music via Facebook

They then deliver the news that Hallman has been sent through to California for season 20.

Hallman's father, David, retired as superintendent of Belmar Elementary School (the district serves pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade) within the past year.

Ahead of his big primetime debut, Hallman played a weekend gig in Asbury Park at Langosta Lounge with cover band, The Orange Blossoms.

He also has played at the Stone Pony, as he shared a video clip to TikTok, captioned that he used to be a barback there (the bar equivalent of a restaurant busser).

As a New Jersey native, it's not much of a surprise that Hallman does list Bruce Springsteen among his top 10 influences (also on TikTok) — though lower than Jack Johnson, the Hawaiian "mellow surf" rock star.

Hallman is a 2021 graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, according to his Linkedin profile.

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at

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