'American Idol' contestant Ricky Manning hopes to bring original sound

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"American Idol" hopeful Ricky Manning talks about the surreal experience of meeting judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie. (KABC)

Florida native Ricky Manning now calls Southern California his home. The singer-songwriter has been down the competition road before, but Manning believes he has the right voice for "American Idol."

He has been performing for much of his 23 years. But even with all his experience, Manning admits his nerves kicked in a bit when he joined a room full of other hopefuls at the auditions and had to face the judges.

"When I went into the room and saw Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie -- it's really surreal and you just try to be in the moment as much as you can," said Manning. "But even more than that, it's the 'American Idol' set, it's just so iconic, and I've been watching this show since I was 8 years old. So to be standing there with the 'American Idol' symbol behind me and three celebrity judges, it was really super strange, but one of the coolest experiences I've ever had."

Manning is battling hundreds of other hopefuls for a coveted spot on the show's final roster. He knows every week he needs to "bring it" in order to stand out in the crowd.

"I think what stands out about my music is it's an original sound," said Manning. "I'm inspired by a lot of Motown and stuff like that, so I'm trying to bring like older music in, sort of 'vibed' with new pop and new music like that that's something that helps me stick out. That's what I grew up on: Motown, Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder, so definitely old music is cool music!"

"American Idol" airs Sunday and Monday nights at 8 p.m. on ABC7.
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