- American Idol contestant Nick Townsend revealed during his audition that he lost both of his brothers to suicide.
- Judge Luke Bryan teared up during Nick’s performance before explaining that two of his siblings have also died.
A young American Idol contestant’s backstory shares some heartbreaking parallels with judge Luke Bryan’s own tragic past.
During the season two premiere of the ABC reality show, fans learned that the country singer and contestant Nick Townsend have both suffered unimaginable losses in their families. The 25-year-old Nebraska native explained to Luke, Lionel Richie, and Katy Perry that he was auditioning for the singing competition to honor his two brothers.
Nick revealed that he lost his beloved older brother, Zach, in January 2018 when he took his own life while serving in the military. In an attempt to “feel something again” after his sibling’s death, he accepted a job in Japan—but while he was overseas, his younger brother Matthew also died of suicide. Nick was overwhelmed with guilt and confessed on camera that going to Japan is his “biggest regret.”
“It made me feel selfish, you know? Because I left my little brother when I could have been there,” Nick said. “All I can think about is he needed me and I left him.”
Despite the devastating tragedies he has experienced, the hopeful performer refused to give up.
“I know my brothers would want me to keep pursuing my dream and be really proud that I’m here,” he explained.
Nick then sang James Bay’s “Let It Go” and his performance brought Luke to tears. The country star—still visibly emotional—offered Nick some positive feedback about his singing, saying his voice is “very easy to listen to.” Then, Luke opened up to the contestant about the deaths of his own brother and sister.
“I haven’t brought this up on this show because I haven’t had to,” he said. “But, I’ve lost both my siblings and I just applaud you for keeping a positive attitude and continuing to fight and just trying to be a light for your parents.”
Luke was just 19 years old when his older brother, Chris Bryan, was killed in a car accident. Seven years later, tragedy struck again and his sister, Kelly, died unexpectedly while at home with her young son.
After Luke explained his heartbreaking connection to Nick, the judges all voted for him to advance to Hollywood. When his parents came in to meet the celebrities and congratulate their son, Luke shared a touching moment with Nick’s father.
“You know what you got to remember? It’s alright to cry good tears,” he said as he embraced the tearful dad.