West Side singer living dream on 'American Idol'

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"American Idol" has returned, and this season features several strong contestants from Chicago, including Deonte Baker of the West Side. (WLS)

"American Idol" has returned, and this season features several strong contestants from Chicago.

Deonte Baker and his five brothers all sang around the house and in the church choir.

"I'm a kid from the West Side of Chicago," Baker said. "You grow up in the inner city and you see so many things, you're exposed to so many things. And for me to be exposed to something like this, it's such a great feeling."

Baker remembers singing for family members, at block parties and even at the annual Bud Billiken Parade.

"At a very early age I dreamed big," he said. "I always told my mother, 'I'm gonna be up there one day. I want to do this.'"

Baker's audition on Windy City Live won him the chance to compete on "American Idol." He said the experience of being in front of the judges was a bit nerve wracking.

"It was emotionally overwhelming because you have to think, 'Lionel Richie. Oh my God, he represents the entire industry,'" Baker said. "I felt so grateful to be in front of these artists who have been where I am. They said some really cool stuff about my singing."

Baker remembers watching the original "Idol" with his family.

"We used to say, 'Man, could you imagine being on a program like that?' ... and I am!"

"American Idol" airs Sunday at 7 p.m. on ABC.
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