Longtime viewers of American Idol__ know most contestants come with emotional backstories. Enter Dennis Lorenzo. The soulful singer from Philadelphia is currently one of the top contenders on the reality singing competition — overcoming the murder of his father at a young age, a tough upbringing, and homelessness.
In Sunday night's episode, Dennis opened up about his childhood to mentor Bobby Bones. "When I was 5, my dad was murdered," Lorenzo adds. "He was murdered on the streets of Philly. It was pretty tough because I didn’t really know how to deal with it, you know?" Luckily for Dennis, his grandparents bought him a guitar when he was 16 years old and he credits that purchase for changing his life.
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In his auditon, Dennis sang "Unaware" by musician Allen Stone, which he was fatefully able to sing with the artist this week in a celebrity duet that wowed judges and viewers alike. "Dennis Lorenzo — Phenomenal performance… Never lose that guitar, many will follow it," one fan tweeted before another added, "Dennis, I can't underscore how SENSATIONAL that performance was!! You NAILED IT!" A third chimed in, "O.M.G… I had it confused! I thought Dennis was the celebrity! He was singing even better then the guest celebrity! His notes were pure and soaring!" We couldn't agree more.
However, the road to stardom has not been easy — and his the hole-fileld guitar to prove it. "I got to the point where I realized I have to get out here," he said on the show. "I bought a one-way ticket to LA. When I first got here I was sleeping in cars, sleeping in parks, storage units… pretty much anywhere I could find. I would ask myself, 'How do I go from where I am right now to what I want to be?" He soon got a job, met his now wife Clotilde, and the couple welcomed a baby girl named Aliyah before auditoning for the show.
"I grew up without a dad," he added. "And I feel like this is my moment to be that man. To step up and support my family… to be the next American Idol. We'll be voting for Dennis!
American Idol airs Sunday and Monday nights at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.