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West Philly’s Dennis Lorenzo went from homeless to 'American Idol'

Tune in Sunday, April 8 and Monday, April 9 to see him perform.
Dennis Lorenzo of West Philly went from homeless to performing on American Idol. | Getty Images
Dennis Lorenzo of West Philly went from homeless to performing on American Idol. Getty Images

So many people have dreams of becoming successful musicians, but how far are they willing to go for it?

For West Philly’s Dennis Lorenzo, his dream took him from the City of Brotherly Love to Atlanta and then to Los Angeles, where he was homeless upon arrival.

“I lived in a tent,” he says. Prior to that, he was sleeping on people’s couches and studio floors in Atlanta, putting everything on the line for his music.

Eventually, he got a job in Los Angeles as a line cook, at the Greek restaurant, Rodini Park.

“When they asked me where I lived, I had to say ‘around the corner,’” he remembers.

Lorenzo has been overcoming hardships his whole life. When he was a child, his father was murdered, and his mom had put her own dreams on hold to support the family.

“My mom used to be a singer and after my dad passed, she gave that up for my sister and I. There wasn’t much she could do. She loved to sing- that was her passion,” he says.

As a kid, Lorenzo wasn’t interested in music at all.

“I wanted to be everything but a singer. I wanted to be a wrestler like Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), I wanted to be a scientist.”

That all changed when his grandparents bought him a guitar at age 16.

“We’ve been inseparable ever since,” Lorenzo says of the instrument.

When asked about his musical influences, the 26-year-old lists Childish Gambino, Jay Z and Kendrick Lamar as inspirations, but also cites Katy Perry.

“Not many people know this but Katy Perry inspired me to start producing music,” he says. “When I was in Atlanta, sleeping on floors and stuff, her album ‘Prism’ really inspired me.”

As far as his hopes for American Idol, Lorenzo just wants to pay it forward and inspire others.

“I want to continue to inspire people, but on a very large scale. I want to be that leader that I know I was born to be — the guy to help people choose the right path over the negative one.”

And the biggest thing he misses about Philly?

“One of my favorite spots is Abner’s Cheesesteaks. It’s on 40th and Market,” he says. “ I miss Philly so much. I also love the zoo.”

Lorenzo performs on American Idol this Sunday, April 8 for his solo set and Monday, April 9 for his duet.

For more information, visit: abc.go.com/shows/american-idol