Louis Knight will never forget the friend who made him feel at home in a foreign country.
Russell Peck was a kind soul and one of the most supportive people Louis has ever met. Not a day goes by that the 19-year-old doesn’t miss his best friend, but he honors Russell’s legacy every time he sings the song he wrote in tribute. That’s why he knows Russell would be proud of his “American Idol” audition.
Louis was just 10 when his family moved from London to Philadelphia. As one might imagine, he and his brother Max had a hard time adjusting to life in the U.S. But their days grew brighter when they joined a local soccer team and met Russell.
Their new pal quickly became a part of their family.
“He was always so supportive of my music,” Louis said. “Even when you didn’t, he would always believe in you, and he’d help you see that too. He was just such a good person.”
But like many other good people, Russell was struggling inside. No one knew just how much until it was too late. In January 2018, the teen took his own life.
While Louis tried to express his grief through his lyrics many times, his emotions were too overpowering. Then, one day, his feelings came out all at once and became the moving song he called “Change.”
“I wrote it as a tribute to him, and hopefully to give hope to other people that are suffering mentally,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to get involved and try to advocate for suicide prevention, and try to use this experience to help others.”
Louis donates all the profits from “Change” to the Philadelphia chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
He also seized the opportunity to raise awareness on a much larger scale by auditioning for “American Idol.”
In a video, we see that after Louis introduces himself to the judges, he explains the meaning behind his original song. Then he moves to the piano and blows them away.
His performance is packed with emotion because he’s obviously singing from the heart. “See, life it comes in waves, and it’s full of highs and lows / But Russell taught me this wisdom in my soul.”
When he finishes, all three judges agree that Louis deserves to go to Hollywood. In fact, Luke Bryan adds, “I think he might be the biggest star we have on ‘American Idol.'”
What a beautiful way to honor Russell and show those who are struggling that they’re not alone. We wish Louis the best of luck as he continues to honor his friend.
Listen to Louis’ audition in the video below, and share his song with the world. If you or a loved one is hurting, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Help is ready and waiting.
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