Crystal Bowersox Delivers Powerful 'People Get Ready' On 'American Idol'

Singer breaks down at the end of her performance.

She came into the show riding a wave of personal emotion, following weeks of gut-wrenching ladder-climbing on "American Idol," thoughts of quitting the show and even a hospital stay. But on Tuesday night (April 20), a triumphant Crystal Bowersox showed millions that the only thing that remained sick was her musical talent.

The pierced, tattooed, dreadlocked, 24-year-old mother blew away the competition during the "American Idol" inspirational-songs episode, performing a cover of the Curtis Mayfield classic "People Get Ready." Mentored by Alicia Keys, Bowersox skipped the instruments and upped the emotion as she broke down in tears on the last note after seeing her father in the audience.

"I've been a fan since day one," marveled Randy Jackson, who started a standing ovation for Bowersox. "That is how you do it."

"You have never looked more beautiful," Ellen DeGeneres added.

The title track of the Impressions' 1965 album, "People Get Ready" was arguably the Chicago soul group's most memorable hit. Composed by the legendary Curtis Mayfield, the gospel-influenced track harnessed social and political elements of the time for its impact yet still rings powerfully true some 45 years after it was first performed. The song has been covered by everyone from U2 and Seal to John Denver and Bob Dylan.

Even more emotional than the song's lyrics, however, may have been the straight-outta-Hollywood circumstances that set the stage for an emotional performance by the Ohio busker and mother of one. Hospitalized last month and ordered by doctors not to perform on the show (Bowersox suffers from diabetes), Crystal could have been kicked off "Idol" if she were a no-show, then she nearly quit the show herself. Through all the ups and downs, however, the one thing that has remained is her talent. Fueled by a soulful voice and sincere stage presence, there's little doubt after Tuesday night that she now has to be considered the season's front-runner.

"Thank you so much for taking a risk," Kara DioGuardi told her after the performance. "MamaSox, you know why they call you that? 'Cause you just schooled all those contestants."

What did you think of Crystal's emotional performance? Let us know in the comments below!

Get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page, where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.