Mikenley Brown Brings Tears with Story of Overcoming Bullying on ‘American Idol’

Mikenley Brown moved the American Idol audition room with her story of overcoming bullying and an eating disorder.

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“This audition is confirmation to me,” Brown shared as she stood before judges Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, and Katy Perry before breaking into tears. “I’ve been through a lot.” Brown then dug into her backstory, sharing how when she was in middle school, she found herself the victim of online bullying from her peers, taking their hurtful comments to heart.

Brown developed an eating disorder as a result, keeping her in and out of doctor’s offices and hospitals trying to figure out what was going on, Brown asserting that “my body was just failing.” “One of the last hospital trips I took, the doctor looked me in the face and was like, ‘You’re going to die. Your life’s almost over,'” Brown said through tears. “It really opens your eyes.”

“She had to find her voice and realize she wasn’t created to fit in,” said Brown’s father Mike, who accompanied her to the audition.

“It’s a victory just for you to be here,” Richie encouraged after hearing Brown’s story. This led to an acoustic cover of Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain” that flexed Brown’s vocal complexities, and her raspy voice layered with smooth tones, with her father playing alongside her on guitar.

“One of the most important things in this journey of American Idol is for someone to kind of have a thing,” Bryan observed after her audition. “And you just got a thing…you sing because it just comes out of you. You look like you were born to do this.”

“Our value comes from deep inside,” Perry advised. “A self-love that I had to go on a journey to find, and thank God you found it before you started because now the house will be built correctly.”

“I can spot your voice from any other contestant, that’s called style,” Richie praised.

All three judges rewarded Brown, who was wiping tears from her eyes, with a ticket to Hollywood. Perry predicted that she’ll make it to the Top 24.

The first week of the Hollywood round begins on Sunday (April 2) at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

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