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'There Was Jesus' Singer Soars to Top 7 on American Idol, Honors Birth Mom

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Singer McKenna Breinholt has slid her way into the Top 7 of American Idol after judge Katy Perry used a "save" vote to allow her to stay in the competition.

Breinholt thanked Perry on social media after Monday night's competition saying she was beyond grateful for the experience. 

The Arizona native and the other remaining contestants sang songs chosen by Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie on Monday night. 

The contestants then selected their favorite of three choices and tried to figure out who chose the song for them.

The judge with the most wins earned the right to choose a contestant to save.

Perry won and chose Breinholt. 

"I'm so beyond grateful," Breinholt wrote on Instagram. "Thank you for the save @katyperry. Katy really opened a new world of music for me and continuously pushes me to sing my entire heart out."

The 25-year-old sang "Everywhere I Go" by the artist Lissie and thanked her birth mother for choosing life and giving the opportunity to take the stage. 
As CBN News reported, Breinholt, who was adopted, discovered her birth mother was a singer named Amy Lopez. 

After turning 21, she started searching for Lopez but found out she had passed away in October 2013 due to complications of lupus. 

She also learned her mother was a singer who performed in Bisbee, Arizona. Breinholt said she "instantly knew where I got my ear from and where I got my voice from—it just all clicked." 

The young singer made contact with her birth family last summer and found out that they all sing. 

"My birth family was looking for me for probably the last eight years," Breinholt told the judges during her audition. "Knowing that I have another family out there who's equally excited to know and love me was amazing."

She explained she had only spoken to members of her birth family through Facetime but had plans to finally meet them in person in a few weeks. 

But they surprised her during the audition showing up with her adoptive parents during the judging. 

Tears and excitement filled the room as Breinholt reunited with her birth family. 

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At that time, Perry asked her to play one of her birth mother's songs for the families. 

The young singer performed a rendition of her mother's recorded song "Tumbleweed" which she also performed on April 15 after learning she was advancing to the Top 14.

"I just kind of wanted to honor her that way," Breinholt said.

Breinholt says after American Idol she plans to record a version of the song in a recording studio.

"A huge goal of mine, right when I'm done, is to get in the studio with my birth uncle and start rewriting a lot of her songs," she said. "Maybe that's the way that I would do that, put my own spin on them."

Breinholt got her start in the competition by singing "There Was Jesus" by Zach Williams and Dolly Parton.

All three judges were moved by her performance and told her she was "going to Hollywood" to compete on the show. 

Zach Williams and Dolly Parton shared a special message to the artist after watching her performance.

"What an awesome thing it was to see you use our song," Williams said. "We're just praying blessings for you and your family that you got to meet."

"We felt like it was a blessing for you to sing it and I'm sure you felt like it was a blessing to have all your people there," Parton added. "Thanks for thinking of us and loving the song."

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About The Author


Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.