EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to include information about Rocky Peter's childhood and life after "American Idol." (Dec. 30, 2021.)
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Chasing dreams is not always glamorous. In fact, it often takes many "no's" before you finally get that one "yes."
Rocky Peter is a true testament to finding your passion and holding onto it.
Strolling through Riverside, the Mission Inn's Festival of Lights is the place Rocky Peter goes to take a break when he has writer's block.
"To enjoy the scenery, like the lights are incredible," Peter said.
The Mission Inn's Festival of Lights means family and tradition for most, but it's a symbol of hope and opportunity for Peter.
“I used to be homeless and I used to sing in the streets for random strangers," he explained. "It was the perfect opportunity for me to make some money to pay my bills."
The self-taught singer and songwriter spent much of his childhood in Nigeria, abandoned and used as a child slave before escaping to America without a support system.
He prioritized his education and was accepted into UC Riverside when he got here.
His story put him on the radar of an "American Idol" producer who encouraged him to try out for Season 14.
"Through all of that struggle, music was always there for me. Music is the one thing that does not have to be given to you, you can get it," Peter said during an interview on "American Idol."
He made it to Hollywood, as they say. Although he was eventually eliminated, he said it opened the door for him to perform on several big stages, including the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The opportunity gave him the confidence to pursue a career as a musician, shifting from dreams of becoming a doctor when he discovered the healing powers of music.
"Even though I could go to medical school and become a medical doctor and heal people through that I felt like I could heal so many more people with my music," he said.
Peter funds his own concerts and rents out venues to perform, saying the dream is still very much alive.
"I just believe if you have a dream, don't make excuses and don't wait for someone to hand it to you," he said. "Find a way to get it done."