Watch McKenna Breinholt Bring ‘American Idol’ Judges to Tears, Belt Powerful “There Was Jesus” Rendition

“American Idol” kicks off its 22nd season tonight (Feb. 18) and contestant McKenna Breinholt already has the tears flowing.

Videos by American Songwriter

Fans got a glimpse of the new season with a clip of Breinholt’s audition. The singer from Gilbert, Arizona, impressed all three judges with her poignant rendition of “There Was Jesus,” Dolly Parton’s 2019 duet with Christian rock artist Zach Williams.

Breinholt Earns Seal of Approval From All Three Judges

Breinholt accompanied herself on the piano. The young artist brought a unique tenderness and simplicity to the GRAMMY-winning duet.

Judge Katy Perry praised the singer’s “signature, raspy” voice. Additionally, Perry’s fellow judges, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie, heaped on extra acclaim.

“You’re very in control of what you’re doing,” Bryan said. “You’ve got it figured out.”

Richie chimed in that he was “anxious” to see more from Breinholt.

“I love exactly what you did,” the “All Night Long” singer said. “I love the sound of your voice.”

[RELATED: Zach Williams Captures Dolly Parton’s First Reaction to McKenna Breinholt’s Emotional ‘American Idol’ Audition]

McKenna Breinholt Meets Birth Family For The First Time

Singing is in Breinholt’s DNA. As she shared with the judges, the 25-year-old was adopted as a baby. Just four years ago, Breinholt learned who her birth mother was: Amy Ross Lopez, an Arizona artist who performed with the folk duo Nowhere Man and A Whiskey Girl.

Sadly, Lopez died in October 2013 of complications from lupus. However, Breinholt told the judges she connected with members of her birth family last summer.

Although they had only spoken on FaceTime, Breinholt said they had plans to meet in person three weeks after her audition.

What Breinholt didn’t know, however, was that several members of her birth family waited to meet her on the opposite side of the door. And as soon as Breinholt opened that door, everyone felt the gravity of the moment. Even Perry ended up in tears.

“I just was so overwhelmed with happiness,” Breinholt told a reporter from her local newspaper. “There was no sadness, no anxiety, none of that. It just felt like I had already known them.”

Featured image via YouTube

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