Before winning the ninth season of American Idol, Lee DeWyze released two independent albums that introduced his mix of husky vocals and acoustic singer/songwriter fare. Working under the tutelage of Ministry guitarist Louis Svitek, who doubled as his producer and mentor, DeWyze made his solo debut with the release of 2007's So I'm Told. Slumberland followed several years later. Meanwhile, he worked in a paint store to make ends meet.
DeWyze's career received a big boost in 2010, when he began competing in American Idol at the age of 23. In a competition filled with guitar-playing vocalists, DeWyze managed to stand out from the pack with his smart song choices, eventually beating second-place rival Crystal Bowersox and taking home the Idol crown on May 26, 2010. His debut single, a cover of U2's "Beautiful Day," was released in conjunction with his win, and a full-length album, Live It Up, arrived later that year.
Live It Up debuted on the Billboard charts at 19 and failed to gain much traction despite DeWyze supporting it with a headlining tour. In October 2011, RCA decided not to exercise their option to DeWyze's recording contract. As the singer/songwriter worked on new material, a collection of old recordings called What Once Was was released in 2012; it contained outtakes from his first two independent albums, 2007's So I'm Told and 2010's Slumberland.
DeWyze returned to new material with 2013's Frames on Vanguard Records. The album found DeWyze revisiting a more rootsy, folk-pop-influenced sound and collaborating with a handful of songwriter/producers including Drew Pearson, Shelly Fairchild, Rick Seibold, Toby Gad, and others. Buoyed by the singles "Silver Lining" and "Fight," the album reached number 116 on the Billboard 200 chart. In 2016, DeWyze delivered his fifth studio album, the crowdfunded Oil & Water, on Shanachie Records. DeWyze embraced synthesizers and moody textures on his 2018 album, Paranoia, which was also released on Shanachie. ~ Andrew Leahey