Katy Perry Bursts Into Tears Over Dillon James’s Emotional 'American Idol' Performance

Kayla Keegan

From Good Housekeeping

  • American Idol top 7 contestant Dillon James made judge Katy Perry tear up while singing Amos Lee's "Hang On, Hang On" to his mother, Lindy.

  • Dillon has been vocal about his past struggles with drug addiction in his early 20s before coming on American Idol.

  • Dillon is now one of the 2020 finalists competing in the season 18 (third on ABC) finale on Sunday, May 17.

American Idol judge Katy Perry was overwhelmed by contestant Dillon James's performance on Mother's Day — and we can see why.

On Sunday night's episode, each remaining contestant was tasked with singing their favorite Disney song and dedicating another song to their mother or a mother figure in their life. Dillon started his night with "Our Town" from the Disney movie Cars and then got more emotional when it came time to sing to his mom, Lindy.

Before his performance, Dillon emotionally recalled his past struggles with drug addiction prior to trying out for American Idol. Even when he had hit "rock bottom," Dillon said his mom had always been there for him. And so, to show his appreciation, Dillon wrote a letter to his mom saying that she was his best friend and vowed to sing one of her favorites, Amos Lee's "Hang On, Hang On."

As he sang from his home backyard with his mother watching nearby, the camera showed Katy tearing up and wiping her eyes with a tissue. After the performance, Lindy got up from her seat to give Dillon a hearty hug and said, "thank you for singing my song."

"Dillon, you've really been vocal about your struggles in life, and for you to be able to get through [to] the other side, and to be able to look at your mother ... it's very special, guys," Luke Bryan told Dillon at the conclusion of his performance. Lionel Richie added that Dillon is a "fabulous inspiration" to others struggling.

Katy also piled on the compliments: "What a beautiful story of being able to go through that and have your mother there saying, 'Come back, and I will always be here.' Isn't that what the definition of a mother is?"

While holding back tears, Dillon reflected on his emotional performance and journey on American Idol so far. "You can be pretty much all the way lost and still ... if you have people around you who love you and you realize that you need help, you know, you can ask for it."

Next Sunday, Dillon will be one of the top 7 competing in the American Idol season finale, along with Julia Gargano, Arthur Gunn, Louis Knight, Francisco Martin, Just Sam, and Jonny West. The final episode of the 2020 season will begin with two contestant eliminations based on audience votes. After that, the remaining five will perform two songs and real-time voting will determine the next winner.

Will it be Dillon? If you vote for him, it just might be!

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