*Current “American Idol” contestant Jacob Lusk is taking the death of Nate Dogg particularly hard.

The singer – who became a favorite of “Idol” fans for his dramatic, Luther-like vocal performances – in 2007 auditioned for and won membership in LA gospel group InNate Praise, which was formed by Nate himself.

According to sources for TMZ, “it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

“Jacob and Nate’s relationship blossomed over the next two years … as Jacob performed with the group at churches around L.A. County,” TMZ reports.

In this video — shot in 2007 — Nate and Jacob are both hanging out in Nate’s studio in North Hollywood.

Earlier today, Jacob tweeted the following about Nate’s death: