It has been a roller coaster few days for Crystal Bowersox.
On Friday, celebrity site TMZ reported the 24-year-old single mother was talked out of leaving American Idol two weeks ago by the show's host, Ryan Seacrest.
Over the weekend Bowersox reportedly texted a former Idol contestant that she felt "betrayed by Seacrest" for leaking an exaggerated version of the events to the media.
Last night the Ottawa County resident put the drama behind her for a stirring rendition of the Impressions' "People Get Ready" that had her in tears by song's end and the judges declaring her performance the best of the evening.
"All of us felt this song meant a lot to you," said Simon Cowell. "You sang it fantastically, and for me it was in a completely different class to everything else we heard tonight."
Judge Kara DioGuardi offered praise to Bowersox for performing without an instrument for the first time on the Idol stage: "Crystal, thank you so much for taking a risk and putting your guitar down. You're at another level tonight. And, Momma Sox, you know why they call you that? Because you just schooled all those contestants."
After the judges' critique, Seacrest asked Bowersox why the song was so emotional for her.
"My dad's here," she said. "This is the first time he's been here. I just saw my dad, and I was like,••'Thank the Lord for my family.'•"
If there is any lingering animosity between Bowersox and Seacrest, it wasn't apparent onstage, as the two stood arm in arm.
Tonight brings a two-hour American Idol with its Idol Gives Back charity fund-raiser, featuring performances by Alicia Keys, Elton John, Carrie Underwood, the Black Eyed Peas, and Annie Lennox, among others.
At the end of the show (8 p.m., WUPW-TV, Channel 36), one of the seven Idol finalists also will be eliminated.