Genavieve Linkowski is a contestant on season 18 of American Idol whom fans may recognize because this is not her first time appearing on the show. On Sunday, March 1, she’ll compete once again for a spot in Hollywood, so here’s what you need to know about her ahead of her second shot at stardom.
1. Genavieve is The Oldest of 10 Children
Craig and Tamara Linkowski of Atlas Township, which is near Goodrich, Michigan, are the parents to Genavieve and her nine siblings. The two homeschooled all 10 of their children and once she was old enough, Genavieve helped homeschool her younger siblings, according to a profile in the Tri-County Times in Fenton, Michigan.
Tamara went to the University of Michigan-Flint and is now self-employed, working for Healthy Treats Market. Craig is currently a quality engineer at Kay Premium Marking Films USA, which is a self-adhesive vinyl film and other coated plastic films manufacturer based out of the United Kingdom with plants in Michigan and Mexico. Their 10 children are Genavieve, Corinn, Isaac, Joshua, Grace, Amanda Jean, Abraham, Jacob, Hadassah, and Adeline.
Tamara told the Flint Journal in 2018 that she has always said “God knew what he was doing when he gave me [Genavieve] as a first-born” because she’s so helpful with her siblings.
2. Genavieve Put Her Dreams On Hold When Her Mom Got Sick
In her first American Idol video package, the family talked about Tamara’s battle with heart problems, which basically stopped Genavieve’s dream of being a professional musician in its tracks.
“When I was 12 years old, my mom ended up having heart failure for the first time,” said Genavieve, with her mom adding, “She has always wanted to sing, ever since she was young, and when my health failed, all her dreams stopped.”
“I definitely had to put my singing goals aside and be the mom and be there for my siblings, and I’m grateful that I had the honor to do that,” said Genavieve.
“Genavieve, she would be home all day, taking care of the kids, schooling the kids, feeding them bathing them, putting them to bed,” says Tamara, adding, “She just did everything in her power so I could work on healing myself and it happened. My prayer now is that her dreams come true and this is her time.”
3. Her Family Tragically Lost One of Their Children Last Year
On February 13, 2019, tragedy struck the Linkowski family when they lost their second-oldest child, Corinn. The 18-year-old lost control of her car and was involved in a head-on collision with a truck on a highway outside of town. She died four days later after suffering severe head injuries.
At the memorial service, Isaac called his sister Corinn his “best friend” and Genavieve said she was “the most pure 18-year-old that I’ve ever known,” according to the Flint Journal.
“She loved the Lord with all her heart, soul, mind and strength and her only desire was to give God’s glory to the world, to show it across the nations,” said Genevieve.
The family took some comfort in the fact that Corinn’s death helped six people through organ donation. Gift of Life Michigan sent her parents an update about who Corinn’s organs went to help — three young girls age 3, 9 and 11, and three women age 33, 60, and 65.
“This person is on the edge of death, clinging to life and they’re getting this phone call, they’re getting this news, ‘hurry up, get to the hospital, you’re getting lungs.’ ‘You’re getting a new heart. ‘You’re getting a new kidney.’ That takes some of the sting out of Corinn’s death and brings a bit of a smile to our face,” Craig told local CBS affiliate WNEM after Corinn’s death.
4. On Her First American Idol Go-Round, Genavieve Was Cut During Hollywood Week
For her first American Idol audition, Genavieve sang Jason Mraz’s song “I Won’t Give Up” and got
“That was really impressive,” said Katy Perry at the time, adding, “I think you have a lot of potential and an incredible tone in your voice and if you’re open to being molded and coached, yeah.”
“You just had magic in your voice. I don’t know how to describe it … you’ve just got magic in it,” said Luke Bryan, with fellow judge Lionel Richie going so far as to compare Genavieve to the first time he heard Celine Dion sing, saying she blew him away.
They gave her three quick yesses and then her huge family flooded the room to meet the judges and hug their sister. “Their Thanksgivings must be wild,” said Perry of the Linkowski family.
Then in the Hollywood Week round, Linkowski performed Kesha’s song “Praying,” but she was not chosen to advance to the Top 50.
5. Her Second American Idol Shot Might Be More Successful
After learning about what happened to Genavieve’s sister, the producers invited her back to audition again. During her audition, Genavieve tells the judges what happened while the show played footage of the two sisters from Genavieve’s first time on the show.
“After she passed, I really didn’t know what I was going to do. I felt really lost. I had no motivation to sing whatsoever. My passion to sing was gone for a while, my voice was gone for a while. I just didn’t know how to do life without her because I always did life with her,” says Genavieve during her second audition.
This time around, Genavieve sings a raw, soaring cover of Michael Bolton’s “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?”, which has all three judges in tears. Bryan, who has lost both of his siblings, was visibly emotional after Genavieve sang and later he wiped his eyes as he said, “We gettin’ some talent up in here.”
“Tragedy can either destroy you or make you stronger. You have actually grown. You are no longer singing, you’re performing to the point where I just couldn’t stop watching you,” said Richie. “It took a lot of guts to come back, but I really must tell you, I loved that performance and I look for you to go much further than last time.”
American Idol airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.