Musicians Who Burst Into Tears On Stage

Music has a mysterious power to tap into our emotions, a phenomenon can be just as true for those who listen to a powerful vocal performance as it is for those who are the ones singing. In fact, the most beloved vocalists of the modern era have been those who've been able to infuse their singing with so much feeling it can elicit tears, ranging from such legends as Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner to current stars such as Taylor Swift and Adele.

Sometimes, the experience of singing an emotional song has the same effect on singers that it does on listeners, causing music artists to lose their composure onstage and break down in tears. In fact, it's not a rare phenomenon, and the reasons underlying these in-concert displays of emotion can run the gamut, from a singer becoming overwhelmed by the love from thousands of fans to personal heartbreak impacting a performance.

For more on how this has played out over the years, read on for a look at musicians who burst into tears on stage.

Beyonce gave fans an 'ugly cry' on the final night of her Mrs. Carter tour

Back in 2013, Beyoncé hit the road for her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, performing more than 100 shows in North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Europe before concluding in the spring of 2014. On the final show of the tour — in Lisbon, Portugal — she became struck by the gravity of the occasion. She called for a spotlight to be placed on her, and then addressed the audience. 

"If you all don't know, tonight makes 132 shows," she said, as recorded in a video from the audience. "Tonight is the last show of the Mrs. Carter Show. We started a year ago and I want to say this has been such a journey. In the past year, we've been through so much together. The Super Bowl, shooting the videos, all of these shows. When I first started the tour, my baby was not even walking yet. I just want you to know that I am so lucky." Tears streaming down her cheeks, she joked, "I'm giving y'all an ugly cry."

That wasn't the only time Queen Bey was spotted breaking down during that particular tour; as a fan-shot video documented, she also wound up breaking into tears in the midst of an emotional performance of "Flaws and All" during a show in Antwerp, Belgium.

Mexican singer Lupilla Rivera couldn't hold in the tears after his sister's tragic death

Lupilla Rivera is the brother of wildly popular Mexican-American singer and television personality Jenni Rivera, who tragically died at age 43 in a 2012 plane crash.

On the one-year anniversary of the accident, Rivera — also a singer — performed at a special tribute concert held in Iturbide, in the Mexican state of Nuevo León, near the site of the crash. "Thank you for this unforgettable night," he told the crowd in Spanish, as translated by the Latin Times, which reported his voice cracked as he launched into a musical tribute to his late sister, "Serenata De Respeto." In a video of the performance, Rivera is seen openly weeping while attempting the song, finding it difficult to complete any verses as he's overcome with emotion. Struggling to sing between sobs, the crowd took over for him, singing along as he tried to regain his composure. 

More than a decade later, the pain of losing his sister continued to haunt Rivera. In a 2022 interview with Yordi Rosato (as reported, in English translation, by American Post), he spoke of the sadness he was still living with. "That pain is never forgotten," he said. "The first step I take in the morning. The pain is present ... "

Selena Gomez broke down paying tribute to slain singer Christina Grimmie

While in the midst of her 2016 Revival Tour, Selena Gomez was hit with the devastating news that her friend, singer Christina Grimmie, had been killed. The 22-year-old, who had made a name for herself singing on YouTube and as a contestant on the NBC singing competition "The Voice," was gunned down by a disturbed fan during a meet-and-greet after a concert. 

The following night, Gomez addressed Grimmie's murder onstage, speaking to the audience during her show in Miami. "When she was 14, we met her and my parents and I signed her," Gomez told concertgoers, as reported by Billboard. Gomez's voice trembling, she continued: "One thing about Christina and her family is that she holds her faith so closely to her. And I think it's not about a religion and it's not about anything or good deeds. It's just that she had faith, and I don't really understand how this really happened, but I would like to dedicate this next song to her."

With that, Gomez launched into a tearful version of "Transfiguration," a song popularized by Hillsong Worship, choking up as she sang while accompanying herself on piano, sans band. The same day as the performance, Gomez paid tribute to Grimmie via Twitter. "My heart is absolutely broken," she wrote in the caption, accompanying a throwback photo of herself and Grimmie. "I miss you Christina."

Marc Anthony wept uncontrollably while honoring legendary singer Juan Gabriel

In September 2016, Mexican pop star, singer, and songwriter Juan Gabriel suffered a fatal heart attack at age 66. While little known to English-speaking audiences, Gabriel was wildly popular in his native Mexico, and also throughout Latin America. 

One of Gabriel's biggest fans was singer Marc Anthony. Not only did Anthony cover the singer's 2010 hit "Abrazame Muy Fuerte" on his 2010 album "Iconos," a collection of Anthony's cover versions of songs that he credited as his biggest musical inspirations, but he also recorded a duet with Gabriel that appeared on the latter's "Los Dúo 2" album. In an interview with Billboard, weeks before Gabriel's unexpected death, Anthony credited his idol's single "Hasta que te conocí" for inspiring the direction of his own musical journey. "When I heard this song, I swear I saw lights, I saw clarity," Anthony said. "I knew the song was going to change my life. That was it. I never recorded freestyle again."

On the day of Gabriel's death, Anthony took to the stage of New York's famed Radio City Music Hall and offered a heartfelt musical tribute. As a fan-filmed video from the show demonstrated, an image of Gabriel appears on the giant screen behind Anthony as he sang Gabriel's "Abrazame muy fuerte." At several points during the performance, Anthony can be seen wiping a tear from his eye as the audience joins him in song. 

Mariah Carey became choked up during a particularly emotional performance

For decades now, Mariah Carey has utilized her extraordinary five-octave vocal range on an array of hit songs, ranging from her holiday classic "All I Want For Christmas Is You" to her emotionally charged power ballad "Hero." It was while performing the latter, during a 2014 concert at New York City's Beacon Theater, that she broke down mid-song, wiping away tears as she delivered the song's emotional lyrics. While Carey didn't deign to fill in the audience on the reason for her crying, speculation was rife that it had to do with her recent divorce from Nick Cannon, which was made public just weeks before that show.

Of course, that wasn't the first time that Carey has let the waterworks flow during a performance. A fan-shot video, taken during her 2000 Rainbow Tour, featured tears welling up in the singer's eyes and slowly flowing down her cheeks while she performed the ballad "Petals." Carey has also been moved enough to shed tears while listening to a contestant sing on "The Voice," and also while evaluating another contestant on "American Idol."

While Carey has displayed a tendency to wear her emotions on her sleeve while performing, she revealed that she made a conscious decision to not cry after she split from Cannon. "At that point in my life [during my marriage] I didn't cry because I had to be so emotionally cut off to deal with it," she told Parade.

Demi Lovato became tearful while performing in Manchester following concert massacre

May 22, 2017 was a dark day for music fans; on that day, a terrorist bombing during an Ariana Grande concert in the British city of Manchester led to the deaths of 22 concertgoers, leaving 59 more injured. The tragedy resonated throughout the world, with numerous celebrities throughout Britain and beyond paying their respects to those who lost their lives.

Just over a year later, Demi Lovato took to the stage of the same venue, the Manchester Arena. Knowing what had taken place within that very building, it was impossible for Lovato to not address the horrific incident during her concert. However, even Lovato herself may not have been prepared for just how emotional that moment became for her. As the Manchester Evening News reported, Lovato dedicated their song, "Skyscraper," to the 22 people whose lives had been taken. "I know how much you guys have been through over the past year," Lovato told the crowd while seated behind a grand piano.

"It means so much to me that you guys are coming out here tonight. Some of you told me that this is the first concert you've been to since everything happened. I can't imagine how hard everything must feel," Lovato continued, fighting back tears. "But I wanna give it up to you guys, because you guys have stood up and said, 'We're not gonna let them win.'" 

Enrique Iglesias broke into tears after a rapturous standing ovation

Enrique Iglesias is beloved by fans all over the world, something that became clear when the singer was performing in the Czech capital of Prague. In a video taken at the show, the crowd can be seen bursting into applause while giving the singer a standing ovation, continuing to cheer and clap to such a degree that he simply became overwhelmed as the seconds ticked by and the cheering refused to subside. Wiping away tears as the audience roared, Iglesias' emotions got the better of him as he found himself caught up in that emotional moment.

Iglesias has always been grateful for his fans and their enduring passion for his music. "I don't mind sharing part of my life with them," the "Be With You" singer told The Associated Press in a 2018 interview. "I always have, in a way, through my music." 

Being on tour, he admitted, brings about mixed feelings, in that he's engulfed by the affection of fans while forced to be away from his wife Anna Kournikova and their children. "I miss my family like crazy," he admitted. "But I love doing what I do, which is being on stage and just being surrounded by my fans. Those are the two things I love most in my life."

Covering a Fleetwood Mac cover to honor her late dog caused Miley Cyrus' tears to flow

Miley Cyrus couldn't hide her emotions during the Boston stop on her 2014 Bangerz Tour. In fact, Cyrus broke into tears at several points during the show, including while performing Lana Del Rey's "Summertime Sadness," and again as she covered Coldplay's "The Scientist." 

However, it was during a soundcheck performance of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" that she really became overwhelmed, crying so much she could barely make it through the song. The reason for her tears, she told the crowd, was the recent death of her beloved dog, Floyd. "I'm sure you guys already know, but the reason that I'm so upset is my dog, I shouldn't say he was my favorite but he was my favorite, he passed away," she said, dedicating "Landslide" to his memory while revealing they'd often listen to the song together. 

Cyrus had earlier warned her fans to expect an emotional night due to the grief that had overtaken her. "I'm sorry in advance if I am not myself tomorrow Boston," she wrote on Twitter, the night before the Boston show, but added, "I will try my best to be my best."

Justin Bieber was brought to tears after award show performance

Justin Bieber has been one of the world's biggest pop stars since he was a teenager, and continues to receive the loving support of fans throughout the planet as he matures. This extreme level of support proved overwhelming for the Canadian singer during a 2022 concert in Mexico City, while he sang his hit "2 Much." In concert footage Bieber shared on Instagram, Bieber can be seen pausing while listening to the audience sing along, with tears welling up in his eyes. In fact, Bieber shedding a few tears onstage isn't that much of an anomaly. Back in 2015, TMZ posted a video from a 2015 show, in which he tears up while looking out at the adoring audience.

Of course, Bieber's most famous onstage display of emotion took place in front of millions of viewers, when he broke into tears following his performance during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards.

During a subsequent appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," Bieber explained it was the love he was feeling from the audience that led him to break down in tears. "I just wasn't expecting them to support me in the way that they did," Bieber said. "Last time I was at an award show, I was booed ... That's what's so special about the emotional moment at the end," he added. "It was authentic, it was real. I was really just wanting it so bad."

Katy Perry cried in pain after getting slimed at the Kids Choice Awards

Katy Perry is known for her exuberant stage performances, but every once in a while she's found herself overtaken by emotion due to various circumstances. One such occasion took place in May 2023, during the final show of her Las Vegas residency. As Daily Express US reported, Perry broke into tears of joy when a fan got down on one knee near the stage area to pop the question, resulting in an engagement. "I love you. They just told me backstage that the guy in the stripes wanted to ask his boyfriend to get married," Perry tearfully told the crowd. "And since it's the last show, you guys are the best, congratulations," she said, before jokingly referencing the tears welling up in her eyes: "I'm PMSing so it's more than I should be," she quipped.

More than a decade earlier, Perry cried onstage during the 2010 Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards. The award show is notorious for "sliming" celebrity guests, who submit to having a bucket of green sludge poured over their heads. Perry had clearly been advised on what to expect when she opened a box on a podium, which caused green slime to spew right into her face. What she hadn't been expecting was the force with which the slime was expelled, slamming her in the face and literally knocking her to her knees. When she got up, Perry alternated between sobbing and laughter.

The Cure's Robert Smith began to cry during an emotional concert

British singer, songwriter, and guitarist Robert Smith has been the frontman of The Cure since forming the band in 1978 and has continued to record new albums and perform live during the 50-plus years since. Smith occasionally becomes emotional onstage, which was the case during a 2023 concert in Atlanta. At the time, Smith was performing the band's 1989 track "Plainsong," when he suddenly burst into tears. 

In fan-shot footage from the show, held at Atlanta's State Farm Arena, Smith can be seen stepping away from the microphone, wiping tears from his cheeks as he walked around the stage until he regained his composure, all as the band continued to play.

That particular song is clearly one that's imbued with emotion for Smith. A few weeks before that tearful performance in Atlanta, a fan posted some amazing footage on Twitter featuring Smith singing the song directly to his wife Mary Poole, serenading her sweetly while she beamed at him from the side of the stage. Turning his back to the audience, Smith is seen focusing entirely on his wife while singing the lyrics, "Like I'm living at the edge of the world / 'It's just the way I smile,' you said."

Rihanna was overcome with emotion during Dublin show

In June 2016, Rihanna was performing in Dublin during her ANTI World Tour, when she launched into "Love the Way You Lie," her hit collaboration with rapper Eminem. As a video of the performance documented, Rihanna began to sing the song but immediately found herself drowned out by the audience, as thousands upon thousands of voices joined together to sing along. After singing just a few words, she dropped her head down and moved away from the microphone while the crowd's singing continued. She then held up her hand, her head still down; when she lifted her gaze to look at the crowd, she was crying. 

Wiping tears from her eyes, she continued the song, and then called out, "Dublin!"

"I only have ever in my life heard an audience of people scream so loud that they sound like one voice and that only happens in Ireland, in Dublin," she told the audience, as reported by BBC News. "Thank you so much." Rihanna later shared her appreciation for that Dublin audience in an Instagram post, writing, "What a night!!!! Such an emotional show for me!"

Ariana Grande's musical tribute to her late grandfather brought her to tears

When Ariana Grande took to the stage of Madison Square Garden in New York City, she was still mourning the recent death of her grandfather, Franke Grande, known as "Grandpa Grande" to her legions of fans. For that show, she planned a special tribute, which began with audio of her late grandfather's voice being heard throughout the venue and his words appearing on the large video screen on the darkened stage. 

"Music — you want to do something in music? Go ahead and do it," he can be heard telling her in the recording. "Don't be afraid of it. There's so much music; you gotta work on it. Don't let them challenge you; don't let them intimidate you. Do your thing, that's the only way to do it."

When the stage was finally lit, the white-clad singer was seated upon a white grand piano while singing her ballad, "My Everything," which she dedicated to her grandfather. The song was clearly an emotional one for her, leading her to break into tears midway through as she brought her hand to her face as she wept; however, she managed to resume the song for the next verse. Finally, though, it all became too much for her, leading Grande to pause the song as she broke down sobbing while valiantly attempting to finish the song. 

Taylor Swift couldn't hold it together during a performance of All Too Well

As her worldwide army of Swifties well knows, Taylor Swift has a tendency to open up about her real-life heartbreaks in her music (which has led to furious online scorn for exes such as John Mayer, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Joe Jonas). As a result, Swift sometimes finds herself revisiting painful memories from the past while performing old hits onstage. That, in fact, was apparently what happened when she delivered an emotionally charged performance of "All Too Well" during a concert in Jakarta, Indonesia, during her Red Tour, which spanned from 2013 until 2014.

Accompanying herself on piano, Swift connects with the song — which fans have come to believe was inspired by her breakup with actor Jake Gyllenhaal — on a visceral level. As a video of the performance showed, by the time she'd come to the end of the song her eyes had welled up with tears.

While that song has become a favorite among fans — and, apparently, Swift herself, who rerecorded it as an epic 10-minute version, and also directed a short film to accompany the new iteration — she has acknowledged that the origins of "All Too Well" are rooted in personal pain. "And then, I was also, like, at the time, honestly, really sad," Swift confessed during a 2022 interview with "Late Night with Seth Meyers." "Because I had actually gone through, you know, the stuff that I had sung about."