'Songwriting, storytelling and acoustic Lee': Idol champ ready for homecoming show

Growing up in Mount Prospect, Lee DeWyze spent a lot of time in Lions Park.

But he will visit the park for the first time as a performer Thursday, as part of the Mount Prospect Park District's Home Town concert series.

DeWyze, winner of "American Idol" season nine in 2010, will perform at the Veterans Memorial Bandshell, 411 S. Maple St., at 7:30 p.m.

The homecoming promises to remind some fans DeWyze's performance at Arlington Park on Sept. 24, 2010, when "it was me and my guitar," he said.

"That's what it's going to be (Thursday) too. So it's a bit of a full circle moment. I'm excited for that," he said. "It's going to be a night of songwriting, storytelling and acoustic Lee."

The homecoming show originally was scheduled to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of his "Idol" win, but the pandemic disrupted those plans. COVID also changed DeWyze's creative and performing outlook.

"(COVID) definitely made me appreciate being on the road again. Not that I didn't before, but, like anything, once something's there, then it's not, it has an impact," said DeWyze, who released the album "Ghost Stories" in 2021.

"I wrote half the record before COVID hit and the other half during or post. So it really created this interesting arc in the record and in the music," he said.

The album also reflected an artistic evolution.

"I feel like my songwriting now is at a point where I'm doing my best writing," he said. "I understand what being vulnerable in my music means to me and I can kind of allow that to happen.

"I have always looked at the human brain and the heart kind of like this giant house," he added. "Each room you have explored, and there's the room where the sun comes in and there's the room the light never hits. Once in a while you find a new room that you have never explored before. It's amazing what can happen when you allow those doors to reopen."

Los Angeles is now home to DeWyze, but "whenever I'm here, I always feel at home."

When he is back in town, he mostly spends time with family, but a stop at Lou Malnati's or Portillo's is also likely.

DeWyze said he will perform some new material Thursday and hopes to release new music soon.

"I believe it's going to be a record," he said. "We're definitely going to release a couple of singles at least, but a record would be either late this year or early next year."

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