ITV
December 11, 2016 at 02:09 AM EST

Louis Tomlinson earned even greater respect and devotion from his fans after a brave performance of his new song “Just Hold On.”

The former One Direction member took to the X Factor stage to debut the single Saturday, just three days after his mother, Johanna Poulston, died of leukemia. DJ Steve Aoki, who produced the track, accompanied Tomlinson on stage. Despite the emotional timing, Tomlinson performed live as per his mother’s final wish.

Amidst a standing ovation, judge Simon Cowell took the moment to reveal his support and adoration for the performer. “I’ve known you now for six years. What you’ve just done and the bravery — I respect you as an artist, I respect you as a person, and your mom was so proud of you, Louis,” he said. “She was so looking forward to tonight. She’s watching down on you now and you’ve done her proud.” 

Tomlinson agreed with Cowell’s sentiment later on Twitter. “Feeling so much love around me and my family,” the 24-year-old said. “Mum would have been so f—ing proud ( sorry for swearing mum ).” 

He also thanked fans, friends, and Aoki for their support, and said the performance was more difficult to get through than he expected it would be. “That was harder than I ever imagined.”

That was harder than I ever imagined. I want to thank everyone around me and all of the amazing fans out there that made that so special!

— Louis Tomlinson (@Louis_Tomlinson) December 11, 2016

Feeling so much love around me and my family . Mum would have been so fucking proud ( sorry for swearing mum ) love you !

— Louis Tomlinson (@Louis_Tomlinson) December 11, 2016

Also @steveaoki , you have been such a rock and inspiration throughout this ! Pure talent and a real gent !

— Louis Tomlinson (@Louis_Tomlinson) December 11, 2016

 

“Just Hold On” is now available on iTunes and for streaming on Apple Music and Spotify. Listen to the studio recording below, followed by some Tweets of support sent Tomlinson’s way, and see the X Factor performance above.

What an #XFactorFinal performance. We’re proud of you, @Louis_Tomlinson! So great to have you back with us. https://t.co/lkMfML3Dxe

— The X Factor (@TheXFactor) December 10, 2016

#ProudOfLouis

What an emotional performance! @Louis_Tomlinson your mum would be so proud of you!

— ROBYN REGAN (@RobynlouRegan) December 10, 2016

He certainly did his late mother proud tonight. Wow that’s tough #XFactor pic.twitter.com/axzz5h9zsr

— Dan Wootton (@danwootton) December 10, 2016

What strength @Louis_Tomlinson had tonight on stage tonight. A lot of respect towards his performance. #ProudOfLouis

— Jack Morlen (@JackMorlenMusic) December 10, 2016

Anyone else end up in tears at the end there? Credit to @Louis_Tomlinson there, great song and so braces and strong.

— Ollie (@OllieMarland) December 10, 2016

Wow Louis Tomlinson, what a guy!! Takes so much courage and bravery doing that! #solider

— Brooks Way (@ThisIsTheBrooks) December 10, 2016

Brave performance from @Louis_Tomlinson . Can’t begin to imagine how him and his family are feeling. Great song too. #ProudOfLouis

— James McVey (@TheVampsJames) December 10, 2016

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