Louis Tomlinson held back tears on the X Factor UK stage after performing his debut “Just Hold On” with Steve Aoki. The X Factor performance came just three days after Tomlinson’s mother, Johannah Deakin, died after a battle with leukemia.
Tomlinson kept his performance date on X Factor, to the surprise of fans and show producers, but the former One Direction star delivered his debut without missing a beat and garnered support from friends and fans in the process.
According to The Sun,One Direction members Harry Styles, Niall Horan, and Liam Payne were in Tomlinson’s dressing room backstage to offer the performer strength days after his mother passed away. The One Direction members flew to meet Tomlinson in time for his X Factor debut.
The One Direction members have not been in the same room together since they announced their hiatus in December of last year, but an X Factor source said, “Harry, Niall and Liam all wanted to be there to support Louis tonight for what was undoubtedly one of the most difficult moments of his life.” The source continued, “It was an incredible and special thing for them to get back together as a four and be like brothers again. Niall flew in overnight from New York so he could be there and Liam came from Los Angeles. It was that important they were together.”
Tomlinson’s debut performance of “Just Hold On” on X Factor was supposed to be a happy moment in the singer’s career. The single marks the first solo venture Tomlinson has attempted since One Direction went on hiatus, but the release tragically coincided with his mother Johannah’s death on December 7. Tomlinson was close with his mother, and frequently posted photos of himself and Johannah on his social media pages.
Johannah was the mother of seven children and she was only 43 when she died. Earlier this year, Johannah was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia that took her life on Wednesday. After her death, Tomlinson’s family released a statement which read: “It is with immeasurable sadness that Johannah Deakin’s family said goodbye to Johannah in the early hours of Wednesday 7th December 2016. Earlier this year Johannah was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of leukemia that required immediate and continuous treatment. We respectfully request that the family are given time and space to grieve in private.”
Since Johannah’s death, Tomlinson has received condolences and support from fans, fellow musicians, and celebrities alike. X Factor judge Simon Cowell, who originally signed One Direction to his record label in 2010, addressed Tomlinson directly after his “Just Hold On” performance.
“I’ve known you now for six years,” Cowell said. “What you’ve just done, and the bravery, I respect you as an artist. I respect you as a person. Your mum was so proud of you, Louis, and she was so looking forward to tonight. She’s watching down on you now. You’ve done her proud.”
Cowell was a mentor to Tomlinson and the rest of the One Direction members back when the group first started. One Direction originally premiered on X Factor and eventually were signed to Syco, Cowell’s record label. Cowell knew Tomlinson’s mother and delivered an uncharacteristically heartfelt speech to Tomlinson after his performance.
After Tomlinson debuted “Just Hold On” on the X Factor stage, the One Direction singer was notably teary-eyed after Cowell’s statement. At one point, Tomlinson hugged co-performer Steve Aoki, but Tomlinson maintained composure and seemed grateful for the outpouring of love from people who had supported him in the past.
Although Tomlinson’s debut was shadowed with sadness after his mother’s passing, the tragic event acted as a catalyst to bring together members of One Direction and helped raise up Tomlinson. As Cowell said, Tomlinson’s mother would be proud of his accomplishments both on the stage and in his life.
“Just Hold On,” the dual venture of Tomlinson and Aoki, is now available on iTunes and and Spotify.
[Featured Image by Chris Jackson/Getty Images]