My Fan Experience: David Archuleta

On this blog, I want to share my passion for books, movies, shows, and various other forms of entertainment. I want to be open with my very ‘fangirl’ self, and share my experiences with people and things that have inspired me. I love hearing people talk about things they are passionate about, explain how an individual, a group, or a creation has inspired them. So I will be sharing my own personal experiences, telling silly stories of celebrity encounters, getting emotional over movies and shows and characters, and just being an all-around, slightly obsessed fangirl. Enjoy the ramblings.

In this particular post, I will be sharing my experience as a fan of a young singer who was introduced through a weird and wonderful singing competition show and became one of my biggest inspirations: the one and only David Archuleta. (He’s not the only one. There’s, like, a boxer named David Archuleta. But you get the idea.)

I was 15 years old and I had watched the last two seasons of American Idol and even attended the American Idols Live Tour in 2006 and 2007. Season 7 was premiering, auditions continuing one night in January 2008, and I very clearly remember texting with a close friend while I was watching the show. We were wondering where ‘the cute guy’ was—because there was always at least one for everyone, let’s be real. And then popped up on my screen a 16-year-old with baggy clothes and spiky black hair. It was my very first introduction to David Archuleta.

I’ll be completely honest here: I may have judged the book by its cover. He reminded me of a ‘skater guy’, the baggy clothes and spiky hair just not quite shouting sweet little singer. He was shy and quiet, and I wondered if he would be just another one of the teens with a dream he was not quite ready to dive into. But fortunately, I was very, very wrong. (My bad, David. Too quick to judge.) When David started singing, I was immediately impressed. He was controlled and passionate and had a calm sound that was completely entrancing. I remember very clearly still being on the lookout with my friend for that one guy that would become the highlight of the season for me. Right after I heard David sing, I texted her: Found him.

It was Hollywood Week that really got me attached to David’s voice, though. He sang “Heaven” by Bryan Adams, and I was in awe. That voice—I still can’t even really explain what had me immediately attached to that sound and this boy, but I was. Even one of the back-up singers got emotional during the performance—I was right there with her.

Throughout the show, I was continuously in awe of David’s singing voice, his ability to control it, and the songs he chose to present it to us. But moreover, I was in awe of David himself, as a person. We slowly learned all of these different things about him, his faith, his family, his background. He was quiet and awkward and, let’s face it, a little dorky. But it was so darn endearing, because you just knew that it was all real. It never felt like David was trying to be something that appealed to more people, or that he was working toward being the most famous or the most talked about. He was just singing for the pure love of it. He was passionate, and it was beautiful and inspiring. The voice got me first, but the person behind the voice came up to the surface, throughout and long after American Idol.

During the summer of 2008, I made plans to go to the American Idols Live Tour for a third year in a row. But I was so much more excited this time around. David had quickly become my favorite singer before even releasing an album, and I could not wait to see him live and in person. We went to the Indianapolis show in July, where my friend and I had the pleasure of meeting two incredible ladies who actually contributed to one of my favorite David fan sites (shout out to Fans of David!). I was surrounded by them and all of these other amazing, passionate fans when I first saw David Archuleta in person. It was a signing before the show, out behind the arena, a miniscule, unimportant event to some people, but an incredible moment to me. A simple autograph and a high five can mean everything to someone who so deeply looks up to an artist as I did—and still do. And of course that night, I heard the voice live for the very first time. If it was possible to fall more in love, I did in that moment when I was surrounded in a huge fieldhouse not just by thousands of people, but by the sound of a voice and the feeling of the love for music itself.

I won’t go into complete detail about every time I’ve seen David live—because it’s 11 times, so you’re aware—so allow me to share some highlights.

In August 2008, I was blessed with the opportunity to go backstage at a second American Idols Live show and meet all of the top ten contestants from season seven—including David, of course. I probably looked like a lovesick puppy, and I talked like a ridiculously peppy cheerleader, but I was in such a fangirl blur that it did not even matter. Plus, the winner of the season, David Cook, decided that he wanted to see the airing of Michael Phelps’ race at the Beijing Summer Olympics, so he got David to literally stand on his back to reach up and turn up the volume on the television in the room. We then all stood together and watched Michael’s win. It was hilarious, amazing, and something that never fails to come to my mind whenever the Olympics are brought up.

In October 2008, I heard David sing the National Anthem at a high school football game in Ohio. It was pretty much as weird as it sounds.

In March 2009, I took my first trip to Chicago to see him on his first solo tour. And waited seven and a half hours in the cold and rain of Chicago outside the House of Blues. What can I say, I’m committed (and maybe a little crazy, I’ll admit it!).

In July 2009, I saw David as the opening act for another one of my absolute favorite singers, Demi Lovato. With three of my closest friends there with me, this was undoubtedly one of the most fun concerts I have ever been to. (It was also the beginning of my best friend and I’s ‘post-concert McDonald’s’ tradition. It tastes even better after a concert, and even better than that after a David concert. Trust me, it is science.)

In August 2009, at the Hard Rock Café in Louisville, Kentucky, I attended what I believe was David’s first fully acoustic show. I can’t describe what this concert was like. Circumstance had my friend and I standing literally on the side of the stage, just feet away from David performing. There were absolutely no cameras allowed, no videos or photos whatsoever, and while this is always disappointing at first, it was the most incredible thing to experience. Everyone was completely focused on David and the music, no distractions. I was overcome by the music, and by the connection I felt with David and with every single person in that room. This show exists not in pictures and videos, but in the hearts and minds of a select few fans who were lucky enough to be there.

In August 2010, I saw David perform at an outdoor show in Louisville. I also had the chance to meet him once again. On a street corner. While he was eating lunch. And my friend and I stood in horribly awkward silence while we waited for him to finish eating, when we very easily could have talked to his guitarist who was standing right there. Yeah. It’s one of my more embarrassing David stories. My apologies, David.

In September 2010, I went to an annual horse race (yes, a horse race) and festival where David was the featured concert performer. Almost, but not quite as weird as the high school football game.

And on my 18th birthday in November 2010, I traveled to Fort Wayne to see David perform and attend a signing afterward. My personal favorite part of this evening was when David wished me a brief but still sincere Happy Birthday.

From here, plenty of wonderful things happened in the world of us David fans. But in 2011, during David’s second Christmas tour, something happened that changed everything in our little fan world. David is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and in December 2011, he announced to us fans that he had chosen to serve as a full-time missionary for two years beginning in 2012 in Chile.

Admittedly, it was heartbreaking. There were so many questions. Would we get to hear new music anymore? Would we be able to hear from him at all? What if something happened to him in this foreign country and we didn’t even know about it? What did this mean for us, the fans, a family of our own who did respect his privacy but also looked to him as our connection, and made this departure feel like saying goodbye to a friend for an extended period of time?

But it all came into perspective because, as a fan family, we had each other. We communicated and stayed in touch, and we realized that this was an amazing, admirable thing David was doing. To some, he had everything. He had a career, and he was doing something he loved. But he was able to realize that he needed something more, that letting go of all of that for a while and putting his focus on God and on other people was what would give him a feeling of being complete and help him see himself more clearly. It was a positive thing, and two years did actually go by in a flash.

David returned in 2014. We all waited anxiously for any sign of him stepping back into music. What we didn’t know was that there was a period of time in which he considered walking away permanently, focusing on other parts of his life and on furthering himself outside of music. But something encouraged him, something gave him that push to continue. He became honest and vulnerable with us. He shared an incredible blog post back in 2015 about his struggles before his mission and his new mindset toward music and his personal life (linking that here). David was a new person when he returned from his mission work, but deep down, he was still the same lovable, passionate, slightly dorky kid we had all come to know.

In April 2016, I saw David live for the first time since 2010. Seeing him in person, standing there in front of me again, was like a sigh of relief for me. My best friend who came with me (who comes with me to most David shows, because she’s awesome) later commented that it felt like he was ‘real’ again. And that was so true. Of course, it wasn’t like he suddenly disappeared when he was on his mission—he was out doing incredible work, inspiring people in so many ways. But when he started doing shows and sharing music again, he came back to us, the fans. He was back in the place we knew him best, on stage and in the recording studio. Of course we don’t know him personally, and there are plenty of things that should rightfully stay with him and his family and loved ones, but somehow we do know him, and the music is what brought us together in the first place and then pieced us right back into place once he returned.

In November 2016, I saw David do one of his Christmas shows for the very first time. Any dedicated David fan knows just how much David loves doing these shows, singing the beautiful songs of the Christmas season. I had wanted to go to a Christmas show since the very beginning, and I finally had the opportunity. And it was just as magical and perfect as I had always heard it would be. I sat there in the audience, listening to the sounds of the season, and feeling the incredible spirit of God that David always talks about. I looked over at the star on top of the Christmas tree on the side of the stage, and I felt something so comforting, so inspired and heartfelt. It was perhaps my favorite David show I have been to so far. And it brought me back to the absolute beauty, the indescribable power of that voice that I had heard for the first time nearly nine years before.

In the past few months, we as David fans have faced a waiting period that has been an extreme test of our patience–or at least my patience, but I think many feel the same way. We have been waiting and hoping for word on new music, tour dates, appearances, anything related to David and everything he has in store for us. It has been extremely difficult, waiting for so long for some type of communication, but somehow, I still find myself getting excited the second I hear that something is coming up. This post happens to be the perfect place for me to inform anyone who happens across it that David’s newest single, “Up All Night”, will be released this Friday, April 21st. Even more exciting, his new EP Orion will be released on May 19th, and it is the first in a series of new EPs. He will also be embarking on a west coast tour, with more dates to come later on. It has indeed been a long wait, but I still get that feeling of excitement and anticipation when we are this close to a new release. That is how I know that there is still something there, something that keeps the spark of being a fangirl for a particular artist alive.

That is my fan story, as it relates to David Archuleta. And it is still continuing. David released two new songs at the end of 2016, “Numb” and “My Little Prayer”, absolutely beautiful songs that were just so David, in a way that his songs never had been before. I don’t simply love David because of his music and his artistry—I admire David so deeply because of who he is as a person. He is kind, humble, generous, completely selfless, faithful, thoughtful, insightful, and so much more. I love having someone like that to look up to, someone who has given me so many memories and introduced me to so many friends without even realizing he’s done it. And so I am a proud fan and supporter. And I will continue to be for as long as David chooses to share his words and his story with us. Which, let’s hope, is a very, very, very long time.

(Note: I am not affiliated in any way with David or his team. Just a fan supporting her favorite artist.) (But seriously, go buy #UpAllNight and #Orion when they are released.) 😉

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Rosie Amber

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