Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan are all returning as judges for the singing competition and told Good Morning America just how much it means to mentor America's next major music star.
"This is not just a job, y'all. This is, like, a passion and, and we felt it ... This is where we get to take all of what we've learned and, like, give these kids some kind of shortcuts," Perry said.
The judges said it's important to point out contestants' talents, as some never realized their potential.
"It baffles me that some of these kids will come in so raw ... beautifully talented, and no one's ever told 'em," Bryan said.
"I came in as Dad," Richie added. "I didn't realize that, but I found out so many of them never had that experience."
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This encouragement is reciprocal: The judges said the contestants are also inspiring them.
"They inspire us to come back and practice what we preach," Bryan said.
"It just reminds me, look, there was no music business first. It was always the music," Perry added.
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Season three of "American Idol" premieres Sunday, Feb. 16, at 8|7c.
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