Monday was the final day of American Idol Season 18’s Hollywood Week — the crucial solo round with a full band — and it was “survival of the fittest,” according to host Ryan Seacrest. And one contestant, 17-year-old country singer Makayla Brownlee, almost wasn’t able to handle the pressure, due to a rare condition called vasovagal syncope that causes her to react to stress in an extreme way. “There’s nothing I can do to prevent a seizure,” she explained. “When I’m stressed out, my body just reacts differently.”
The way Makayla’s body reacted, when she finally got her turn onstage to sing Kacey Musgraves’s “Rainbow” for the judges, was to go weak, appear as if she was about to throw up, and scurry off into the stage wings, her hand cupped over her mouth. Medics swooped in to assist, and concerned executive producer Trisha Kinane told the show’s staff, “She’s stabilized, but they’re unsure if she can return.”
Thankfully, Makayla was able to come back — greeted by a standing ovation — though she had to sit on a stool for her second performance attempt. Despite being physically weak, she powered it through, the optimistic “Rainbow” taking on new gravity due to the circumstances, while her father in the Orpheum Theater audience and judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan were all in tears. It was enough to advance Makayla to the top 40, but hopefully she will be OK, because it’s only going to get more stressful from here.