EXCLUSIVE: 'American Idol' star La'Porsha Renae talks emotional moment that reduced Jennifer Lopez to tears - 'I'm so grateful'
American Idol turned into something of a therapy session on Thursday night.
As the remaining contestants opened up about overcoming adversity in their lives, one story struck a particular chord with judge Jennifer Lopez.
"I was nervous, because I just didn't feel like I was going to be able to keep it together," 22-year-old La'Porsha Renae told ETonline after the show. The Mississippi native brought down the house with an emotional performance of Mary J. Blige's "No More Drama" after revealing that she had recently removed herself from an abusive relationship.
"It takes a lot to overcome, it takes a lot of strength to overcome those things in our life, baby. I know, everybody knows, we've all been through stuff like that, you know what I mean? And honestly, you're an inspiration," Lopez told Renae, fighting her way through tears. "It was so beautiful. You put it in your music and you don't overdo it. You do it right there in the pack like you're supposed to. It was powerful. Thank you for that moment."
Lopez's remarks had some viewers wondering about whether the 46-year-old superstar had also suffered from domestic abuse. In fact, in her 2014 memoir, Lopez did open up about feeling abused in past relationships, though she never reveals names.
"I've never gotten a black eye or a busted lip, but I've felt abused in one way or another: mentally, emotionally, verbally," she wrote. "I know what it feels like for your soul to be diminished by the way your loved one is treating you."
"I got out of the relationship in April and then I came straight to Idol in June of last year, so it's been fast-paced, learning song after song and singing week after week," Renae said backstage. "I never really just sat down and sunk my teeth into the fact that I was there. So, to face the pain that I've been through was a whole different thing and America kind of forced me to do that this week."
As the Top 5 Idols were revealed on Thursday, they each performed two songs requested specifically by the viewers. In addition to "No More Drama," Renae also performed India Arie's "Ready for Love."
"I'm so grateful to America for that because, at one point, I was going to let it all out," Renae said. "So, I'm glad that they kind of took this journey with me and they were like, 'It's OK. You can let it out and let it out in these songs.' I feel so blessed right now."
Renae quipped that she was feeling "relieved" after the show. "I'm happy! I'm ready to go home and eat brownies and chocolate cake, and play music and dance with my daughter. I'm so grateful."
Staying consistent with past performances, Renae drew no criticism from the judges during Thursday's show. But the singer said that she won't let the high praise from Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. get to her head.
"I come from really humble people," she explained. "We never had a lot. A lot of people I guess, well, some people change when they get in spotlights and everything but you can take the girl out of Mississippi, but you can't take Mississippi out the girl! I stay true to myself, my daughter. I just remember where I came from, I remember what I'm coming from and then I remember why I do what I do.
"I do what I do to inspire people," she continued. "They can't be inspired by an ego, a big-headed person. It doesn't work. It doesn't match. And I really want to be that role model for people, for children. I want to be real. To my fans, I want them to view me as a real person. Don't put me on a pedestal, I'm human. I make mistakes, I cry, I hurt, just like you."
Elsewhere in the broadcast, Idol alum Adam Lambert delivered a downright gleeful performance of his new single, "Welcome to the Show," which had all the contestants up on their feet.
"I voted for Adam! My whole family. We had three phones each, we voted for him every way we could and to see him live, he got better! I didn't even think that was possible," Renae gushed after the show. "How do you get better, Adam? Come on, now. And then he has the nerve to have that high-pitched voice, you know, throwing out all kind of Whitney Houston notes and all that. I'm a woman and I can't get that high! Oh my God. It was phenomenal."
Re-live the moment for yourself, and see what Lambert had to say backstage, in the player below.
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