'American Idol' Singer 'Brought to Healing' by Judges After Brother's Tragic Brain Injury

American Idol contestant Emma Kleinberg's ticket to Hollywood came after the toughest year of her family's life.

In Monday's all-new episode of the ABC singing competition, the Colbie Caillat-inspired singer knocked out judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan with her performance of "American Privilege" by Allen Stone, earning not only her ticket to Hollywood, but universal praise from the panel.

"I gotta be honest, she's probably the best one we've heard today," Perry told her other judges.

Bryan chimed in, "You showed us everything, even when we didn't think you had something else."

"You can't teach confidence," Richie added. "We felt comfortable for you."

Kleinberg revealed that coming to audition for Idol was an attempt to bring light into what was otherwise an incredibly dark year for her family.

"My brother [Alex Kleinberg] is just my rock," she told the cameras before her audition. "He's been through a really tough year and I feel like this opportunity came at a time in our lives where we really need some uplifting stuff. Whatever happens, I'm just so excited to be here."

Emma revealed that the two actually had auditioned for American Idol when they were much younger, but didn't make it to Hollywood. And while Alex was always "really happy and caring and fun" while they were growing up, their family noticed a "shift" near the end of college that led to him being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

At this time last year, Emma continued, Alex had called their father asking for help while in the grips of "a really big manic episode."

While their dad promised to get Alex somewhere that would help him, the next day Emma remembers getting a devastating phone call from her mother—her brother had tried to kill himself. Thankfully, he did survive the attempt, but had suffered a serious brain injury from having oxygen cut off for too long.

"The saying, 'You're one phone call away from your knees,' is the truth," Emma's dad Allen told the cameras. "This was the phone call that brought me to my knees. I actually have to say Emma helped me survive, and that's the truth."

Alex might not be the same person he was before the attempt, but Emma's family has embraced their new normal and "new Alex."

"There's no part of me that is mad at him," Emma said. "There is no part of me that thinks it was a selfish decision. I'm really sad for old Alex, the Alex that I grew up with. But new Alex is amazing, and I'm falling in love with him every day."

Earning the golden ticket to Hollywood from the judges with her brother cheering her on, Emma said it felt like her family's saga had seen closure in some way.

"When I came out and I saw my brother smiling, that was just a year of sadness brought to healing," she revealed. "It affirmed me in every sense of the word that I'm in the right place."

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


American Idol airs Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Photo credit: ABC