He gave up a job at a federal prison to audition for the show last summer.
His wife, Laura, was 6 1/2 months pregnant a the time, with a baby due in December.
“I had to make a decision, either a job or the dream,” he told Idol. “I chose the dream.”
With his wife’s blessing, it should be added. She advised him it was now or never, since it would be difficult to appear on the show once they started raising children.
“Once we have children, he can’t just quit a job,” she told Ryan Seacrest.
“W.T.” auditioned with “Boondocks,” and the reaction from the Idol judges wasn’t exactly overwhelming.
Steven Tyler voted against sending him to Hollywood, saying he didn’t think “W.T.” is ready. Jennifer Lopez voted to grant him a golden ticket.
Randy Jackson went along with Jennifer, but also predicted that “W.T” might get eaten alive during Hollywood Week.
“W.T.” of Appamatox, Va., is undeterred. In his golden ticket interview, the then-25-year-old said that he doesn’t think many country performers sing with soul the way he will.
“You ain’t never seen nothing like me,” he says. “And you’ll never see something like me again.”
Here are some pre-Idol performances from “W.T”