Competitive singing shows have brought us many remarkable things- From Justin To Kelly, the Mariah Carey/Nicki Minaj beef, and Sanjaya, just to name a few. Though the judges are constantly changing, the shows have one mainstay in common: frequent shot-to-the-heart, sob-inducing, tragic backstories.
Below are the hardest hitting misfortunes contestants have suffered- if you’re not Kim K-style ugly crying by the end of this, you have no soul.
Fantasia Barrino: American Idol, Season 3
With possibly the most famous backstory, Barrino appeared on Season 3 of American Idol, blowing judges away with her incredible range and powerful voice. In high school, Barrino was raped by a fellow classmate and dropped out, giving birth to her daughter soon after. Despite her many setbacks- including her illiteracy- the singer went on to win the competition, and has enjoyed many mainstream successes since.
Jennifer Hudson: American Idol, Season 3
Despite only coming in seventh (really?!) on the third season of Idol, this Dream Girl has had a truly blessed career. Sadly, her personal life hasn’t been as smooth. In 2008, the star’s former brother-in-law brutally murdered her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew. The Hudsons continue to persevere in the face of this unthinkable tragedy, while remembering their departed family members.
Paula Goodspeed: American Idol, Season 5
Though it happened over seven years ago, this tragedy is fresh in the minds of anyone who watched Season 5 of Idol. Paula Goodspeed came off incredibly quirky in her audition, revealing herself as a huge Paula Abdul fan. As it turned out, her infatuation was more intense than she led on: three years later, Goodspeed was found dead of an overdose, in her car parked outside of Paula Abdul’s home.
Angela Martin: American Idol, Seasons 7 & 9
This Illinois native became a fan favorite after disclosing she was a single mother to a daughter with Rett Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder. On her first go around on the show, Martin made it to Hollywood- only to find out that her father had been brutally murdered. After her elimination, Martin returned to the show twice, though she still could not escape tragedy. While in Hollywood for the ninth season, Martin’s mother was declared missing. She still hasn’t been found.
Danny Gokey: American Idol, Season 7
Gokey’s emotional audition came with a heavy backstory: his wife of four years had died of a heart condition just one month before his audition. An 8th season favorite, Gokey has since remarried and is now a successful Christian musician.
Chris Medina: American Idol, Season Season 10
Season 10’s Chris Medina might have the most tragic story of all: a mere four months before their wedding date, Medina’s fiancee Juliana was involved in a car wreck that left her with significant brain damage. Still remembered for his moving backstory, Medina made it to the top 40 of Idol Season 10.
Asia’h Epperson: American Idol, Season 7
18 year-old Epperson wowed the judges with a moving rendition of Leanne Rhimes’ hit “How Do I Live,” but not before revealing her inspiration: her father passed away just days before her idol audition.
Barrett Baber: The Voice, Season 9
Competing among the final four contestants on this season of The Voice, Baber recently told viewers of a tragedy that changed his life. While in college, the singer was involved in a plane crash that proved fatal for 11 passengers, including his music teachers’ daughter.
Vedo: The Voice, Season 5
Team Usher member (and possible Usher doppleganger?) Vedo made it into the finals of Season 4. However, just weeks into filming, the singer’s mother passed away after a long battle with lung cancer. Vedo performed a moving tribute to her, singing Bryan Adams’ classic “Everything I Do” in one of his final appearances.
Jesse Campbell: The Voice, Season 2
A season two favorite, Campbell made it to the quarterfinals on Team Christina before being eliminated. Prior to his tenure on the show, the singer was once homeless with his young daughter.