20-year-old cosmetologist Elleigh Marie distilled all the emotion, love and uncertainty of life as a military daughter into her audition performance on American Idol on Sunday (March 17.)

Marie -- who hails from American Fork, Utah -- had a powerful story to share with the judges before she even opened her mouth to sing.

She grew up the daughter of an Air Force military service member, and when her father was away on deployment, Elleigh had to step up as a caretaker for her younger siblings, especially after her mother was diagnosed with multiple health issues.

"My dad was gone a lot of the time and my mom was struggling with kidney disease and thyroid disease," she explained to the judges. "So a lot of the responsibilities did fall on me."

Marie's emotions were hitting her particularly hard as she stood on the American Idol audition stage, because the family had learned just hours earlier that her father is about to be deployed for a year. "It really sucks," the young singer said, choking back tears.

"He comes home every time, so I'm just lucky that that happens, but regardless, it's just so scary," she continues.

With that poignant emotional backstory fresh in her mind, Elleigh launched into a pitch-perfect rendition of Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me." The song is a frequent choice for singing competition auditions, but few can deliver the emotional heart -- and high notes -- of the country classic the way this young performer managed to do during her time onstage.

"If you sang from that space every time, you would be in superstar territory," judge Katy Perry raved.

"I think she's Top 10," Luke Bryan predicted. "There's just really beautiful things going on in your voice, especially when you settle down...it got really well done, really classy, really older than your years. I just loved it. Loved it."

After the rest of the family -- including Marie's father -- came in to meet the judges and stand onstage alongside her, Marie officially received her Golden Ticket, with a unanimous vote from all three judges to send her through to the next round of competition.

American Idol airs Sunday and Monday nights on ABC. Episodes are available to stream on Hulu.

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Gallery Credit: Sterling Whitaker

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