Before taking the stage for Monday’s episode of “American Idol,” contestant Makayla Brownlee warned, “I don’t handle stress well.” And moments later, the judges and audience learned exactly what she meant by that.
The 17-year-old high school student from Wellington, Kansas didn’t have a chance to sing a single note before appearing unsettled, staggering and exiting the stage.
After medics rushed to her side, they revealed she was suffering a seizure.
Katy Perry and fellow judges Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan appeared concerned, with the men rushing backstage to check on the teen and Perry urging them to “give her a little space.”
In a voice-over, Brownlee revealed what caused the event.
“In seventh grade, I was diagnosed with vasovagal syncope,” she said. “It’s a heart condition that causes me to react to stress differently than other people, and it could cause a seizure.”
According to Cedars Sinai, standing too long, intense emotions and dehydration are among the common triggers for vasovagal syncope episodes, and that the condition is “the most common cause of fainting.”
A production assistant from “American Idol” informed the judges that the contestant had to get checked out, but added, “We don’t know if she’ll be back.”
Which is why when she returned just hours later, Perry, Richie and Bryan all gave the singer a standing ovation before she stepped up to the mic again.
“You got this,” Perry said with a wink.
And it soon became clear that she really did, as Brownlee belted out a moving rendition of Kacey Musgraves’ 2019 hit “Rainbow," complete with the lyric, “Everything is alright now.”
The performance earned her a second standing O from the judges, and plenty of tears from Perry.
“That was the sweetest performance of ‘Rainbow’ #MakalylaBrownlee,” the pop star tweeted as the show aired. “So thrilled you were able to come back and sing for us and give us that perspective we need to be reminded of sometimes.”
In addition to inspiring an emotional reaction from Perry, Brownlee’s performance earned her a spot in the Top 40.