There was no doubt who 'X Factor' contestant Marcus Canty would give thanks to during the Thanksgiving themed episode on Tuesday night. His mother was stage-side as the 20-year-old from Bowie, Md., delivered a tear-jerking performance of  'Song for Mama' by Boyz II Men.

"Mom I love you. Thank you for being so strong and thank you for being the woman that you are," Canty said after a video package showed all the hardships she brought him through growing up. She was a single mother raising two kids in a tough neighborhood. Murders weren't uncommon on their block, but through it all she kept singing songs of inspiration to her children.

After an incredible performance that included a smoke filled stage and soaring backup singers, Canty found his mother and gave her a big bear hug as judge Nicole Scherzinger wiped her tears away. "You know you're making all the other sons out there look bad today," she said, adding that his performance was honest and from his heart.

Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell agreed. "For the first time I actually felt a connection with you on the stage," Cowell said.

"You are as great as any great singer I've ever worked with," judge L.A. Reid offered his contestant, comparing him to Babyface and Boyz II Men. It's possible he was pouring it on thick to make sure Canty wasn't among the bottom three vote-getters.

The contestant with the fewest votes will go home on Wednesday, with the next two lowest having a sing-off to decide the second contestant to pack his or her bags. Early on the competition is stiff, so it will be a fight for every vote.

Watch Marcus Canty Perform 'Song for Mama' on 'X Factor'