He heard the gunshot as he was getting ready for bed. Preston Duffee wasn’t sure what it was. His sister Shannon went into their mother’s room and found their mother. Introducing himself on American Idol 2023, Duffee said that his mother had battled bipolar disorder and depression. Over time, he said, it got increasingly difficult for her to hide it. The day she killed herself had been a good day – church followed by a cookout with friends; but as the friends left his mother’s mood changed.
Duffee wasn’t looking for sympathy. He was giving the background to his music and the first song he wrote (and was about to perform). He wrote the song after his mother’s death in 2021. He said it came to him in under an hour, adding that music saved his life. Music helped him cope and it enabled him and his sister “just to eat, put food on the table”. When their mother died, the Duffee siblings were “basically homeless” for 3 months, as their mother paid the household bills. Let’s watch Duffee:
MD-tn6rx picks up a recurring thread in the responses to Duffee’s performance: “I am NOT a fan of country music, just to preface how INCREDIBLE this song is. It’s beyond genre. It’s a story, a journey, a remedy, and he sang and played it Outstandingly!” Similarly, Quintin Fraylon writes: “I grew up listening to rap, hip hop and R&B but this song makes me love country music, the way he puts his words together ANYBODY can relate to this!” Other comments simply say the song should be released ASAP!
As we saw, 21-year-old South Carolinian Dupree got a standing ovation from all three judges. Music Man readers unfamiliar with the music of the American South or evangelical Christian music might find Preston Duffee’s lyrical device of conversing directly with The Lord somewhat unusual. If you take a step backwards, it is evident that this trope is also endemic to reggae and hymns based on the Old Testament. Here is Preston Dupree’s post-American-Idol single No Way Out, released on 4 August 2023
Having made it past the audition, Duffee sang Buy Dirt by Jordan Davis and Luke Bryan (as a duet with Jon Wayne Hatfield) in the second part of Hollywood Week. When it came to his final solo performance, Duffee chose to sing Crazy Town by Jason Aldean. He did not go further in the competition.
Preston Duffee would probably have done better if he had sung one of his own songs as his solo performance. Speaking to Jodi Helmer from Marlboro Coop, Duffee confessed that he was very uncertain about singing Something to Write About for his audition, and nearly covered Tim McGraw’s hit, She Never Lets It Go to Heart instead. He said: “I was trying to talk myself out of singing Something to Write About. One of the producers said, ‘We really think you should do your song. I’ve been doing the show for 18 years and I think it’ll be a hit for you.’” It’s a good thing Duffee listened.