Start rooting for the home team. We’ve got a semi-local on American Idol.
Cuban-born Lazaro Arbos is a brave young man who has the voice of an angel when he sings but a pronounced stammer when he speaks.
According to his A I bio, the 21-year-old scoops ice cream for a living but has big dreams of performing.
On Thursday night, Arbos wowed judges Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban and Mariah Carey during an auditions stop in Chicago.
On the Fox show, viewers see a slice of Lazaro’s life in Southwest Florida. His parents, Gisela Andraca and Reinaldo Arbos, explain that the speech impediment began at age 6 and that they tried therapy, but it hasn’t worked.
“We don’t know where the stuttering came from,” mom says. “It’s something that goes on. No one really knows why.”
“Without music he couldn’t have survived,” adds his father.
“Stut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tering is really hard,” Arbos says with obvious difficulty. “It’s like a r-r-r-r-rollercoaster.”
But when he started crooning Bridge Over Troubled Water, he sounded like a different person. The amazingly fluent performance brought to mind the scene in The King’s Speech when Geoffrey Rush’s character puts headphones blasting with music on Colin Firth and asks him to recite passages out loud — which he does perfectly.
The vote was unanimous: Lazaro got his golden ticket, and he’s headed to Hollywood.
“Your story is very, very inspiring,” Minaj said after Arbos’ song ended. “I think you brought a very great vibe into the room.”
“Just sing all the time,” added Urban.
Jane Fraser, spokeswoman for The Stuttering Foundation of America in Memphis, was also blown away.
“His participation on American Idol is an inspiration to so many and provides us with yet another wonderful opportunity to educate the public about stuttering,” she said, adding that B.B. King, Carly Simon, Bill Withers and Nancy Wilson have slight stutters.
If you’re in the Naples area this weekend, catch this star-on-the-rise at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the Legacy Church of Naples, 3705 Westview Dr., announced Dave Gipson, a fellow member of the congregation. Gipson writes on NaplesNews.com that Lazaro is “a fun-loving person in spite of being challenged.”