One of the most moving American Idol auditions came Monday night (3/19) when Compton, CA native Marcio Donaldson entered the room for his audition. Donaldson caught the ears and hearts of viewers with his tumultuous backstory of life growing up in one of the roughest parts of town.
The 28-year-old reflected on his youth in a video package that aired before his audition. “Growing up in that neighborhood, there’s a lot of shooting, a lot of substance abuse, a lot of people who did not even see the age of 13 years old,” he shared. “Growing up, we lived in a roach infested apartment. My mother tried her hardest, but children services ended up placing me and sister in the system.”
Living in the foster care system was a trying time for the youth, who turned to his music was a place of refuge. The process of singing gave him hope for a brighter future ahead to escape the hardships he was facing. Though his dreams were big, the neighborhood that raised him found the cycle repeating itself once more.
“It started off with my mother in the system, then me in the system, and then my sister had a child. She couldn’t keep him. Drugs played a big factor in that. Because she couldn’t take care of him, the police and the social worker, they came to my home. They brought him and there’s this week old baby… (choking up) They said, ‘You have to decide if you want to keep this child or he goes into the system’. I looked at him and said ‘I’ll take him.’ I didn’t want him to go through what I went through,” he explained through tears. “I had no idea what I was doing, but he’s actually a real gift.”
As he prepared for his audition, Donaldson admitted that he was not only doing this for himself, but for the future of his son, hoping to show him what it’s like for a man to step up and take care of his family.
Donaldson went on to sing “Jealous” by Labrinth, while Luke Bryan immediately went to snuggle baby Rashad. Throughout the entirety of his performance, the six-month-old sat patiently in Bryan’s arms listening to his dad sing. At the end of the performance, Donaldson couldn’t help but break down at the sight of his baby, earning a comforting hug from Lionel Richie.
“That was quite good. You have range, my friend,” said Richie. “Your voice is a real voice,” added Bryan. “And that’s what we’re after, man. The real voice. Is it technically perfect, no, man, but it’s real. You ride that horse as far as it’ll take you.”
After earning three yeses from the judges, Donaldson claimed his golden ticket, awarded to him by Rashad. “Daddy’s gon’ work,” he proclaimed as he received his son back into his arms.
American Idol airs Sundays and Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.