updated 12/16/2011 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 12/16/2011 AT 8:35 AM ET
And then there were three.
Canty, 20, had frequently found himself in the bottom two in recent weeks and admitted feeling slightly relieved that he wouldn’t be competing in the final weeks.
“I feel so good,” he told PEOPLE after the elimination. “The pressure is off of me. I don’t have to worry about singing no more ‘save me’ songs. I don’t have to worry about America shooting me down about something that I did. I ain’t got to worry about Simon [Cowell] throwing me the heat. I can just relax.”
Canty said he was incredibly grateful for his time on the show and now plans to pursue acting. He’d love to star in a sitcom, he added.
“When I was on stage, I felt like I owned the stage and I could be who I wanted to be. It was an amazing experience.”
Mom’s Prayers Also a Factor
And if he ever found himself feeling a lack of motivation, he only needed to look to his mother for inspiration.
“That is what keeps me strong, my mom praying every week and telling me not to ever give up and keep fighting,” he told PEOPLE. “My mom is the strongest woman I have ever met. No one can tell me otherwise. She kept me fighting each and every week. She is so proud of me.”
Canty also said he has no idea who among the final three contestants – Melanie Amaro, Chris Rene and Josh Krajcik – will take home the talent show’s $5 million prize on next week’s finale.