On a mid-summer day in 1982, my sister and I received an airmailed letter from Sydney, Australia. Tearing open the letter with excitement, I immediately recognized the writing as that of Russell Hitchcock, the co-lead singer of the pop band Air Supply, an Australian band that achieved worldwide fame in the early 1980s.
I had sent Hitchcock a letter months earlier and described myself as a young fan. Without a real address, my sister and I simply addressed the letter, “Russell Hitchcock; c/o Air Supply; Sydney, Australia,” and placed a domestic postage stamp on it.
Aside from the miracle that the letter had reached Hitchcock, I will never forget Hitchcock’s kind response to a young rural girl. To my young eyes, I viewed Air Supply as larger than life. That hand-written letter with Hitchcock’s distinctive cursive writing taught me that the band included real people with busy, often complicated lives.
Now, more than 25 years later, I view young David Archuleta’s career from an adult standpoint. I have met and spoken with David several times. Each interaction was a needed reality check for me about the sheer work that David’s career requires.
As avid fans, we see the photographed, videotaped, broadcasted, and blogged results when David shows up for an event. However, I often think about the hard work that is not readily visible except when David shares glimpses through his blogs and interviews: Early morning flights, endless airport check-ins, performing on little sleep, adjusting (or not) between time zones, opening the door to yet another anonymous hotel room, enjoying quick visits with extended family and friends during promotion stops, learning a score received the night before a recording session, and so on.
During one night this past week, a fan reported that David did not leave his bus after his concert because, according to the fan’s recollection, Jeff said that David was “exhausted.” This moment really struck me because we know how much David loves to interact with his fans.
Visiting new countries will soon be added to David’s list. Following David’s schedule and imagining the logistics behind the scenes leaves me tired.
However, I can also sense David’s excitement. I see a lot of my young self in David. I was about David’s age when I traveled to England and Continental Europe for the first time. Through travel, I realized that the world was much bigger and messier than my small-town and conservative upbringing ever let on.
As I watch David’s story unfold, I am delighted about the new experiences that await him while realizing his dedication in making it all happen. I know he will experience highs and lows as we all do. I anticipate how his personal growth will be communicated through his music in the coming years.
When I attended David’s Ford Day concert last September, a fellow fan showed me a hand-written postcard from David. The postcard reminded me of Hitchcock’s letter that today is tucked away with my sister’s most treasured belongings. These letters, which affirm our artists’ appreciation for the fans, accompany the music that tells their story to us.