‘American Idol': Dramatic Onstage Health Emergency Results in Triumph
The final day of Hollywood Week on American Idol was aired Monday (Mar. 23), and had contestants down to the wire performing solos to impress judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie. However, this evening, dramatic as it was, probably did not have anyone expecting a medical emergency taking place right on stage.
The unfortunate moment came when Kansas "snake hunter" MaKayla Brownlee, a charmingly unvarnished vocal powerhouse who'd initially won the judges over with a smoky and accomplished Dixie Chicks cover, headed up for her turn at the mic.
She was intending to do Kacey Musgraves' "Rainbow," noting that she liked the enduring message of the song. "I'm excited and nervous for this performance. It's the most important one of my life, probably," she explained to the camera. "It's gonna be very stressful, and I don't handle stress well."
That was some piece of foreshadowing right there. Before she even launched into performing the son, Brownlee abruptly left the stage and viewers were given a frightening shot of her lying on her back, backstage, as frantic crowds tended to her and someone shouted about her having a seizure.
“You okay, baby?” asked Bryan, who dashed back to see what was going on. “We got you,” assured a not-so-assured-sounding Richie, who also went to check on things.
While everyone waited with hearts in throats, Brownlee’s father showed up to explain: “MaKayla has a condition that's pretty rare.” As it turns out, she suffers from a heart condition that causes her to react to stress in a way that could cause a seizure.
“She can't control it. She's embarrassed, but physically, she's 100% all right,” her dad reassured.
Regardless, Brownlee’s appearance was left in limbo until later in the show, when she’d presumably been medically attended to and ready to give it another shot. That she did, to huge cheers from the audience, and a comforting “You got this” and a wink from Perry.
This time, she made it through the Musgraves song admirably, with everyone breathing a sigh of relief at her finish. “The stress this week has definitely been a lot harder on me than anything that I've ever gone through,” Brownlee noted. “There's nothing I can do to prevent a seizure. When I'm stressed out, my body just reacts differently.”
This clearly moved the judges. “Oh my God, when we’re like ‘I’m tired,’” Perry exclaimed to Bryan and Richie. “Perspective!”
Perspective did indeed help the judges in this particular case, who sent Brownlee through to the next phase of the competition, which will be held in Hawaii.
American Idol airs on Sundays (and select Mondays) at 8 PM ET.
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