COLUMBIA, Maryland -- Your favorite artist's music changes your life, and you get the chance to tell them that.
For most, it's an imaginary scenario. But one fan had that unexpected opportunity during Kendrick Lamar's set at the opening night of this year's Sweetlife Festival on Saturday.
"I’m at the end of the show, and I see this young lady crying, and I’m thinking, She must be really going through something right now," Kendrick explained to MTV News after the show. "Then I start hearing her murmur with her lips, ‘You saved my life.’ So I’m like, Damn. This is serious. This is not for play, why she’s out here right now. She came to see the person that actually helped her get through a life, through music."
"Then she said, 'I was gonna kill myself last year.' So I said, at that point, I gotta bring her up onstage and show her some love and let her know this is real."
He did just that, as security helped her make her way onto the stage, where she broke down as the two shared a touching embrace.
"When I was 15, I was diagnosed with severe depression, and Kendrick got me through it," Claire, who's now 16, told MTV News, bravely opening up about her personal struggles (Due to sensitive nature of the subject, we're only using her first name for this story).
"And I couldn’t have done it without him. I listened to his music over and over and there were nights where I thought I was going to end it all, and I didn’t, and I think that’s because his words impacted me in a way that no other artist has ever done. I can’t thank him enough. I can’t thank the people behind him enough for making him come to the earbuds that I listen to. I feel inseparable from his music."
She didn't think she'd ever be able to actually thank him, though. Until Saturday.
"He saw me crying, he tried to touch me, he couldn’t reach, and then he just said to the security guard, ‘Bring her up.’ And I lost it."
Kendrick is typically soft-spoken and reserved in person, yet uses his music to open up with an unwavering honesty about his personal life, feelings and experiences. This has been the case for years, but he took his willingness to share self-reflection to a new level on To Pimp A Butterfly's "u," where he emotively raps about his "suicidal weakness" and negative thoughts he had about himself. He later follows that up -- and balances it out -- with the self-love anthem, "i."
Not many are willing to share stories of a bout with depression in such a public way, and when someone with Kendrick's megaphone decides to, it has the powerful potential to directly help others. The evidence was apparent Saturday night.
"I told him I was gonna kill myself, and I think his music was the main reason that I didn’t," Claire said. "Because I had myself -- and my music."
In that moment, the rapper became not Kendrick Lamar, 27-year-old music superstar, but Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, 27-year-old son, brother, friend and young adult trying to navigate life's highs and lows just like the rest of us.
"[I wanted to] bring her backstage and let her tell her story," he added -- which is what he did after the show. "Let her know, it’s more than just me bringing you onstage -- I actually feel you. Because that’s why I do my music."
"And every time I see something like that, it reminds me why I do what I do. It was just crazy. She came back here, we signed some stuff for her, talked to her for a little bit, and told her to keep going."
Though he's had fans approach him with similar messages in the past, the gravity and importance of what they tell him consistently hits home.
"It’s new every time to me," he said. "When other people see it, they know how powerful it really is... that people actually wholeheartedly hold your music to a standard where they feel like they need it."
For Claire, the chance meet and thank K. Dot for helping her through those times of need couldn't have been scripted any better.
"He was exactly as I ever imagined meeting him ever would be, and I never thought I really would, but I guess miracles happen," she said. "I think the main reason I wanted to meet him was to thank him. Because he should know his music has the power to impact a person’s entire existence. Someone should know that they’ve done something like that."