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'American Idol' contestant who was 'mom shamed' leaves the show

Judge Katy Perry, who made a controversial joke about Sara Beth Liebe being a 25-year-old mother of three, unsuccessfully tried to convince her to stay.
/ Source: TODAY

After receiving backlash for comments labeled as "mom-shaming" during Sara Beth Liebe's "American Idol" audition, judge Katy Perry tried to convince the same 25-year-old mother of three to stay on the show.

The episode, which aired on April 2, initially shows competitor Liebe anxiously evaluating her time thus far, saying the whole experience has been "overwhelming" for "someone like (her)," who hadn't pursed a music career previously. "I don't even know what show business is," she said.

To boost her confidence, "American Idol" alum Clay Aiken came on the show as her coach, listening to Liebe sing "Roxanne" by The Police and telling her that it's understandable that the pressure can get to her head. Aiken added that her initial audition had been "infectiously lovely."

"If you fake it one time, you can have it," Aiken told her. "It worked for me; it’s going to work for you."

Married since she was 18, Liebe felt out of place on the show, saying she felt she "didn't fit the mold of a competitive singer."

"I don't think I realized quite how hard it would be to be away from my kids," Liebe continued. "They're all still really young."

At first, the mother of three said she planned to "try (her) best" since she'd made it this far. However, Liebe struggled with being away from her family.

"There's a lot of guilt that comes when you leave your kids to do something completely selfish. I'm just going to try to keep my head on straight," she said.

After she got up to sing, Liebe stood before the judges and announced her difficult decision to leave "American Idol."

"This opportunity is really rad, but this is actually going to be my last performance because my heart's at home so I'm going to get home to my babies. They need me, so thank you," she said, before leaving the stage.

Stunned, the judges asked each other what had just happened. "What just happened? Is she going to leave?" judge Lionel Ritchie asked. Perry responded, "We're going to figure this out." Luke Bryan said, of Liebe's decision, "That's a mistake."

Bringing Liebe back to the stage, Perry attempted give her a pep talk, mother-to-mother. Perry shares her 2-year-old daughter Daisy with Orlando Bloom.

"Sara Beth, I know, life is scary. I also know that it's easier to walk away than to be rejected. But then I also know that you lose out on your fullest potential. And I know that you love your family for your kids. I know that as a mother," Perry said. "But remember, self love is just as big as motherly love. Don't leave the competition."

Liebe thanked her, and Perry added, "You've opened a door you thought you never would open and you got a 'yes.' And you may get another 'yes' in the future. Do not give up."

The California mom said she was "humbled" and "grateful" to receive such kind words from Perry, but the short speech ultimately doesn't seem to change her decision.

"I wish my kids were a little bit older. I understand how big of an opportunity this is, and I still kind of want to go home," Liebe said. "I'm sure that when I get home, I'll regret it. I probably will say, 'You should have stayed. You should have done it.'"

On April 2, the day the episode premiered, Liebe shared a video to TikTok of herself crying and breathing deeply, writing, "I don't normally share videos like this but I wanted to share this moment from right after my audition when I was having a literal panic attack because I was so overwhelmed with gratitude and shock."

"My heart is grateful," she continued. "Sometimes we are presented with big opportunities and situations and we have to make big decisions."

Liebe revealed that she was actually scouted to audition for "American Idol" and that she was thankful given she hasn't previously had "much support with singing."

"I took the change on something big and said yes to a huge and VERY UNEXPECTED opportunity that was presented to me, and while it may not have been for me ... in the process found myself again, most the most talented people I've ever had the HONOR of meeting (many of which are now close friends) and fell in love with music again," she wrote.

The singer's first audition garnered social media reaction — and not only because of Liebe's voice. Commenters called Perry's behavior, and an off-the-cuff comment she made about Liebe being a young mother, "rude" and "atrocious."

During the tryout, Perry was shocked to learn Liebe, at 25, had three children.

“What?!” said Perry, popping up and walking away from her seat for a moment.

“You OK, Katy?” Bryan then asked his fellow judge.

“Nope,” Perry responded.

“If Katy lays on the table, I think I’m going to pass out,” Liebe said.

“Honey, you’ve been laying on the table too much,” Perry replied.

In a video shared on TikTok on March 8, Liebe revealed that she didn't want to address the situation, but was being "flooded" with articles, comments and messages. So, she shared her reaction.

“It was embarrassing to have that on TV and it was hurtful, and that’s that,” she said in the video. “But I did want to take this opportunity to just say that I think that women supporting and uplifting other women is so cool, and I think that mom shaming is super lame.”