ATLANTA, -- In a small Atlanta studio, Vedo is putting the finishing touches on his first single.
"It has to be something people can gravitate towards."
He is making the most of the spotlight, as one of the 12 finalists on NBC's The Voice -- working on his music, singing in 11 Alive's telethon for victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes, and last night, back in Los Angeles for The Voice Finale.
When America first met Vedo, he was wowing his idol Usher in the blind audition. No one watching this smiling, charismatic 20 year old had any idea what he went through to get here.
"We were in and out of shelters."
An hour outside Detroit, Vedo and his two brothers endured a homeless childhood, raised by a mother who allowed no excuses.
"We used to wash up in gas station bathrooms, sleeping in the car, getting up, brushing our teeth in the bathroom and then go to school. My mom didn't allow failure just because what's going on at home."
But Vedo saw things no child should have to see."My mom had some very abusive relationships, almost to the point where she was beaten half to death and I witnessed it, me and my brothers witnessed it. And we couldn't do anything. We were little. We were itty bitty kids. We couldn't do anything but cry."
By the time he was a teenager, Vedo was in and out of juvenile detention centers. He was stealing. He was fighting. All the time.
"If somebody said something about my shoes, it's going down. If somebody said something about my clothes, we're going to fight."
The one constant in Vedo's unstable life, music. And that voice. It won him friends. And girls.
"I was definitely a lady's man. I was definitely a lady's man," he says, laughing.
When he was 14 years old, Vedo's mother sent him to live with his father in Atlanta. Under the threat of no more music, Vedo stopped fighting and started getting A's and B's at South Dekalb Highschool.
And then his voice landed him on The Voice.
At the same time, Vedo's mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. She saw his blind audition, taped in the Fall. She died one month before his national debut.
On taking the stage without her, Vedo says it was "The hardest thing I've ever done in my life."
On stage, Vedo tucked the grief away. But every performance was for her.
"I miss everything about her man. Every every everything. There's nothing I don't miss about her. Sorry."
Vedo didn't make it to the finals. But he's traveled further than most in just 20 years.
"When I look back over everything I've done I've come from -- this to this to this -- and now look at me. I made the top 12, national television, 17 million people watching. I'm not mad at that. That ain't bad."
The exposure from The Voice is helping Vedo work, and dream -- big.
"I want to be labeled entertainer of the year, entertainer of the world."
He was a boy who fought to get by, a young man who fought to get out. Vedo is still fighting but now it's for the person he loves and misses most.
"I'm still going to be striving to make her proud. I know she's watching. I feel her watching."
More Vedo Coverage
-Photo Gallery of Vedo from The Voice
-Vedo reflects on The Voice
-Vedo performs on the 11Alive Cares special for Oklahoma tornado victims