Formerly homeless Chicago singer blooms in 'American Idol' spotlight

CHICAGO (WLS) -- "American Idol" makes some big dreams come true, but it's also hard to watch talented young people get voted down by the judges.

Ayana Rose Lawson is an aspiring singer from Chicago's South Side. She spoke about surviving a tough life, and said she won't give up her hopes even though she didn't make the cut.

Ayana is Ethiopian for "beautiful flower." She bloomed even through the struggle of her family being homeless for the past five years.

"Music is the only thing that kept me smiling and it was the only thing that I felt like I could connect my world to other people's," Lawson said. "I used to play basketball and when it came to sports, other people would have means to pay for new sneakers and new clothes for school and I wouldn't."

Lawson discovered her talent early.

"I started playing the piano, I would mimic what my mom would sing while she was cooking at three years old," she said. "Even if I didn't make it, I'm still never stopping on my dream. They could have told me never to sing again, but they didn't say that.

I felt like it was just an accomplishment for me and to hear so many people say that they were inspired by me, it was breathtaking."

Ayana dreams of a future when she can see her name in lights on a Chicago marquee - maybe not as an "idol," but an all-American artist.

"Music has always helped me to keep a smile on my face and hopefully in the future I'll be able to do that for others," Lawson said.

"American Idol" airs Sunday at 7 p.m. on ABC.
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.