Preston Duffee Shares Original Country Ballad in Honor of Late Mother on ‘American Idol’

This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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Playing guitar since he was 12, it took musician Preston Duffee a number of years before he could finally write a song. He eventually wrote his first one, “Something to Write About,” in tribute to his mother, who took her life after a long battle with bipolar disorder in 2020 and shared the song during his March 5 audition on American Idol.

“She just struggled with bipolar and depression, and over time it got harder and harder for her to hide it from us,” shared Duffee during the episode. “That day, we all went to church. We had a cookout after that at the house. All of our friends came. Mom was in a great mood, but as people started trickling out, her mood started to change.”

Duffee shared, “As I was getting ready for bed, I heard a gunshot. I didn’t know what it was at the time. But then my sister went into her room, and that’s where she found mama.”

His mother’s death left the family homeless for months since they depended on her income. “It was really hard,” added the singer, sharing his personal story.

Her death also led him to his very first song, “Something to Write About.”

Then he told me son all you need to do / Is think of all that I’ve done for you / And how everything that you’ve been through / Has made you into the man you are now,” sang Duffee, capturing the attention of AI judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan.

Following his performance, the 21-year-old South Carolina native received a standing ovation from all three judges, who were in awe of the young artist’s songwriting ability.

“Songwriting is a skill, and you nailed that,” said Richie. “If you can do 40 more like that, you’ll have a great, great, mailbox career. Just mail in your money, man.”

Perry added, “I feel like I’m looking at a young Luke Bryan.”

Touched by Duffee’s performance Bryan told the singer “I’m gonna shoot you straight.” He added, “We’ve got some other country guys in this thing that when you hear them sing, it’s gonna be hard. But what I know from you and the way you thought about that song, that’s the first song you wrote, the way you approached it, the way you wrote it, man, you’ve got a really bright future as a songwriter. Your voice will grow and be stronger.”

Photos: ABC/Eric McCandless

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