HunterGirl stepped outside of the box when she took the stage to perform in front of a live audience during American Idol on Sunday night (April 17).

Rather than channeling a song from another artist, the singer — full name Hunter Wolkonowski — launched into "Heartbreak Down," an uplifting original tune she wrote as a dedication to the people who need to hear it the most.

Fans will recall that HunterGirl, who hails from Winchester, Tenn., works with veterans, providing them assistance through music therapy.

“They tell their stories, and I use those stories to write songs. It helps them deal with PTSD. It’s a healing process,” HunterGirl explains in a pre-recorded clip. “The first time that I ever did that, I was like, ‘My life has changed forever. It’s really special. A lot of my family is military. My great grandfather and my grandfather, and the list goes on.”

Onstage, HunterGirl owned her Top 20 moment. Wearing a denim jacket with purple sequins and cowgirl boots, she looked every bit a star as she shared the inspirational lyrics to her self-penned tune.

But I’m going to put this heartbreak down / get back on my own two feet / start walking the walk and talking the talk and finally doing what’s best for me,” HunterGirl sings throughout the chorus of the unreleased song. “It hurts worse before it gets better / and yeah, your memory might last forever / but piece by piece I’m fixing things someway somehow / I’m going to put this heartbreak down.

“What you do for veterans is profound,” Katy Perry told HunterGirl after she performed. “Second of all, that was an original song! Girl, this is when you pull out those tricks because you are an artist. I put my money on you, girl.”

Luke Bryan even told HunterGirl that when she sings, she sounds like, “the dadgum country radio.”

“You just have that magic sound and then write the songs to back it up,” he added. “The sky's the limit. I see your future. Thank you for getting up and playing a great original.”

Lionel Richie also chimed in, telling HunterGirl, “If I need to find one word to kind of give you your place here, it’s that you’re a natural.” He gave her an A+ rating as a writer since he sang along with her, despite not knowing the lyrics to her song.

HunterGirl’s performance was given as one of the Top 20 contestants. She is now relying on America’s votes to send her into the Top 14. Fans can vote for HunterGirl at or Text 11 to 21523.

American Idol airs Sundays and Mondays at 8PM ET on ABC.

See American Idol Contestants Then and Now

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