Late last year, Austin, Minn., teen Molly Kate Kestner begged her parents to let her audition for "American Idol." The budding singer/songwriter already had started to hone her talents through a series of songs she posted online.

Her father, Kevin, had other plans. He told her: "Molly, if God is interested in putting you up on a national platform, he does not need Ryan Seacrest or 'American Idol.' "

It turns out God was interested, and he got an assist from actor and social-media celeb George Takei.

Over the past few days, Kestner's tender, emotional ballad "His Daughter" -- recorded, as her father said, "with a cracked iPhone and out-of-tune piano" -- has jumped to 1.5 million YouTube views and counting. CNN called it "a bone-chilling performance," while the Huffington Post promised the song "will knock your socks off."

The 18-year-old Austin High School senior has been posting songs online for years, her father said, primarily to share them with her extended family. "She's one of seven children, and my wife is one of 10 children," he said. "She's got 30 first cousins in Ohio. She was posting songs to keep everyone in the loop. Most of her views were in the low 100s, or at most the low 1,000s."

"His Daughter" was different. Kestner wrote the song, about an unexpected pregnancy, a year ago. She played it for her choir teacher, who thought it was worth saving to debut for her senior solo recital. On Easter, she finally posted it on Facebook, and within 48 hours, it amassed 13,570 likes.

But the song truly took off Tuesday, when former "Star Trek" star Takei shared it on his Facebook page, which claims nearly 7 million followers. "A friend forwarded me this clip, and there are tears in my eyes from the depth and pathos of this young woman's song," Takei wrote. "Has America found its young Adele? I'm nearly breathless from listening."

Before you could say, "Oh, my," Kestner's views skyrocketed, and the media started calling.

Molly Kate Kestner (YouTube screengrab)
Molly Kate Kestner (YouTube screengrab)
Her father said they have heard from journalists from Italy, Germany, Venezuela, Australia and other far-off locales. Performance offers started flooding in, as well, and Kestner already has booked her first big gig. She will sing the national anthem at Monday's Minnesota Lynx game at Target Center.

Kestner has made plans to record the song professionally next week and will put it up for sale on iTunes soon after. Her father said they also are in contact with a lawyer to help manage her sudden fame.

The attention has been overwhelming for the family, most of all for Kestner, who is preparing for her prom this weekend.

"For most high school seniors, prom is the biggest thing in their life," Kestner's father said. "I think she's just looking forward to getting away from her cellphone for a few hours."

Pop music critic Ross Raihala can be reached at 651-228-5553.

Follow him at twitter.com/RossRaihala.