Ricky Duran lost his father to suicide and his mother to breast cancer. And in 2019, as the Massachusetts native prepared to take the stage on The Voice, he found out that he nearly lost his girlfriend Alyssa Tosti to a stroke.
"I've definitely seen my share of tough times," the Season 17 runner-up tells PEOPLE in a new interview. "But hearing that Alyssa had a stroke was one of the roughest. I remember rushing over to the hospital and when she had come out of surgery, she opened her eyes and told me to go back and do what I came here to do. And that's all I needed to hear."
It's this support that has continued to propel Duran in recent years to become one of music's most wide-ranging, genre-busting artists and serves as the inspiration to the 30-year old's new single "Star," exclusively premiering on PEOPLE.
"I've written a lot of songs about the losses and struggles I've had in my life," explains Duran, who has released a No. 1 iTunes charting single and sold out a slew of shows since his successful run on The Voice. "I wanted to write a song that was about something positive in my life. If there is one thing that is positive, it's the love I feel for her."
The song also touches on those crucial moments in life where one meets someone and decides to let their heart take a chance on love, even though "that can be a scary thing," Duran says. Granted, Duran did just that back in 2018, when Tosti walked into the same Massachusetts bar where Duran was playing an acoustic set.
"She walked in and we kind of locked eyes and after my show, I asked her if she wanted a drink and that was it," Duran remembers. "The rest is history."
Codi Castle Ricky Duran
The meeting came at a crucial time at Duran's life, as he had just lost his mom in the exact same year.
"My mother was my biggest supporter and my backbone," says Duran, who grew up looking up to musical influences such as Jimi Hendrix, John Mayer and Leon Bridges. "Anytime I needed some reassurance or anytime was just feeling down, she was there for me. So, losing her was tough for me."
But as destiny would have it, Tosti now holds a special place in the life of Duran, a place that serves as a place of safety and security for Duran.
"She has been just there for me every step of the way," he explains. "She seems to get me, and she understands me, and she puts life into my life. She puts light into my life."
It's this premise that Duran pulled from when writing "Star."
"I remember I wrote it outside," Duran recalls of the song he wrote last fall, a song that follows the success of cuts such as "She Closed Her Eyes" and "Selfish Love." "I just picked up my guitar, walked out my balcony and I started playing this guitar and that lyric. That first lyric came out first - "you're a star in the night sky" - and I knew it was instantly something good."
The song seems even more relevant following the pandemic, in which Duran and Tosti hunkered down much like the rest of the world and found a stronger love within one another than ever before.
"When you think about it now, the song is really a reminder of the stars in all of our own lives," explains Duran, who is currently working on a brand-new album. "There was a time when you could take those stars and those special people for granted, but you can't anymore after what we've all been through."
Because if anyone knows that life can change in a flash, it is in fact Duran.
"Things are good," says Duran, when asked about Tosti's current health. "We are always monitoring everything, but she's fairly healthy. She's doing okay. She is my biggest hero, that's for sure."