VIDEO: American Idol’s James Durbin Has Asperger’s & Tourette Syndrome — And A Killer Voice

On Wednesday, judges Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez searched for the next American Idol at AT&T Park, the home of baseball’s champion San Francisco Giants, where a few Bay Area hopefuls knocked it out of the park in their auditions.

Host Ryan Seacrest said the show was seeking “golden voices in the golden state,” noting that it was just two years ago the San Francisco auditions turned up a golden talent in Adam Lambert.

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They may have found their next breakout contestant in 21-year-old Santa Cruz native James Durbin, who possesses two of the keys needed to succeed on TV’s most popular talent show: a harrowing backstory and a strong set of pipes.

Durbin, who’s been diagnosed with both Tourette syndrome and Asperger’s, is unemployed, and has a child. At the age of nine, he lost his father, also an aspiring musician, to a drug overdose.

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“I’m gonna have to keep calm and keep still and keep my mind on what I’m here to do,” Durbin said. “And what I’m here to do is to show America who James Durbin is.”

Durbin then did just that, unleashing amazing renditions of Led Zeppelin’s You Shook Me and Aerosmith’s Dream On, earning a berth to Los Angeles.

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“You sing from a very different place than a lot of the people we see,” Lopez told Durbin. “You sing from where you’re supposed to sing from: from feeling, from heart, from your soul. From the need to feel and make others feel.”

Watch the video on

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American Idol airs Wednesday and Thursday at 8/7c.



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