*Ousted “American Idol” contestant Jacob Lusk said he was hurt by constant criticism from the show’s in house mentor Jimmy Iovine.

“It is definitely hard to have someone beat you over the head with a baseball bat, and then say go ahead and sing for your life,” Lusk said in a conference call.

The 23 year-old gospel singer was booted off the show by viewers after reaching the Top 5, and exited on Thursday with a stirring rendition of “A House is Not a Home” that critics rated his best performance.

His departure followed weeks of negative comments about his song choices by record producer Iovine, the regular coach of the “Idol” contestants.

Lusk told reporters it was more important that his music connected with American viewers on the top-rated TV singing contest.

“It’s about touching people with music. It’s not about how great I can sing, or how many riffs I can do, or how good Jimmy thinks I am. It is about me putting out great music that America loves,” he said.

Lusk said he had no complaints about Iovine, and did not feel under pressure after having landed twice in the bottom three in public voting.

But he added, “I was getting a little tired probably, and I was trying to do different things that I thought he (Iovine) would like and (I thought) that Americans wanted to see different things.”

“I just think I didn’t have the greatest performance on Wednesday, and I wasn’t in my element, and that is why I was sent home,” he added.

Lusk, from the Compton neighborhood of Los Angeles, said he was looking forward to putting his past struggles behind him and making a career in music, and hopefully on Broadway.

He told reporters that his father died when he was 12, that he was bullied in school and had sometimes found himself homeless and hungry after leaving home at age 17.

“I have been homeless, I have gone without. There’s a dozen times where I didn’t have any money, times when I didn’t think I was going to make it (in the music business) but I kept going and I am here,” he said.

“I am so honored by the comparisons to Luther Vandross, and I want to put out a record that will not only make his fans proud but make the new fans that I have acquired proud as well,” he said.