One of the reasons I know that David Archuleta is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience is because there is an entire category of people who find themselves inexplicably drawn to this remarkable young man who are not the kinds of people commonly–if ever–given to fanaticism of any kind. It is also telling that a significant number of these people are music professionals.
As for myself, I’ve been involved in music, entertainment, and media for my entire career and I’ve seen a lot of talent come and go. I cannot quite recall ever having had quite the experience I had discovering David. Even after I had acknowledged my bizarre devotion, after I had started blogging about him, and after realizing (much to my relief) that I was far from the only responsible, level-headed adult who had gone completely batty over him, I was still surprised at how deeply I continued to be affected by his voice and his astonishing musicality. There are certain moments of David’s recorded performances that seem like direct portals to universal truth. Involuntary tears are not uncommon.
The degree to which David has the capacity to move people is a rare power. People want to give themselves–their emotional lives and vulnerabilities–over to him. His potential to be a star of profound dimensions lies as much in this artistry as it does in his character: that of a man who can be trusted with such an awesome responsibility.
I had always expressed the belief that David was far more in control of his material, his performances, and his career trajectory than anyone–particularly the smarmy and skeptical press–had given him credit for. What I hadn’t quite seen until the media week following the finale was that David has very definite ideas about where he is headed and what’s next. He was aptly vague on the specifics, but consistent and clear on the intentions. This was both more ataractic and more unexpected than the poise and self-possession with which he handled the media onslaught itself. Perhaps it ought not have been a surprise that the more substantive the engagement, the more successfully David rose to the challenge; he was thrown more by the condescension of cheek-pinching than by the demands to justify his lyric flubs.
It’s a mistake to think that gentle compassion and humility don’t reside on a foundation of enormous strength. My concern for David–maybe even some misguided parental sentiment–led me to convey some thoughts and warnings to him about how brutal and selfish the entertainment industry could be, and how easy it is to lose sight of one’s own personal path. I think now that I needn’t have been so concerned. The thoughts themselves are pertinent regardless, but David has expressed a certainty of purpose that, while perhaps still somewhat sublimated, nevertheless represents an artery of guiding principles that continues to reveal itself as enormously trustworthy.
David’s future is both bright and deep. Our confidence in his choices ought to be as unequivocal as our devotion to his work.