09/20/2013 03:13 am ET Updated Sep 20, 2013

'The X Factor': Ashly Williams Tackles Whitney Houston And Comes Out On Top (VIDEO)

It was Ashly Williams' big opportunity, and the 24-year-old wasn't going to squander it. She brought her family along as support for her dream on "The X Factor," but there was one notable absence. In a flashback sequence, viewers learned that Ashly's mother was murdered when she was 14. She was now pursuing this dream in honor of her mother, whom she called her "guardian angel."

“This is the moment that I’ve been waiting for. The moment that my mother would be proud to see me accomplish," Ashly said before hitting the stage.

And yet, when the judges asked her what was interesting about her, Ashly's only response was to say, "I'm working on it." It didn't take much work for her to blow the judges away with her take on Whitney Houston's epic smash "I Will Always Love You." It's one of those iconic songs that singers should probably never take on, and yet Ashly not only managed the song, she absolutely owned it.

She brought herself to tears, and brought all four judges to their feet, along with the entire audience. Simon Cowell told her that the reason he brought "The X Factor" to America was to find people like her. It was a unanimous vote that sent her on to the next round.

Hollywood Life's Ivy Jacobson dubbed Ashly the "standout of the night" for nailing a near-impossible song. TVLine's Michael Slezak was impressed, too, albeit somewhat reluctantly. "Yeah, the juxtaposition of Ashly discussing her mom’s tragic murder to the maudlin strains of Sarah McLachlan’s ‘Angel’ had me prepared to dial 1-800-Just-Stop, but her rendition of ‘I Will Always Love You’ had a gruff beauty, and was 90% in tune. Not bad considering she was fighting back tears in response to the audience’s zealous response.”

The audition rounds continue on "The X Factor," Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

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