After 15 seasons of stellar performances by some of the nation’s most amazing talent ever to grace a stage, American Idol has come to an end, crowning Trent Harmon as the final American Idol on the farewell episode on 7 April 2016. After winning the competition, Trent sang his winning song “Falling.” Previous winners of the competition include Caleb Johnson, Candice Glover, Phillip Phillips, Scotty McCreery, Lee DeWyze, Kris Allen, David Cook, Jordin Sparks, Taylor Hicks, Carrie Underwood, Nick Fradiani, Fantasia Barrino, Ruben Studdard, and Kelly Clarkson.

David Archuleta Youngest American Idol Contestant

David Archuleta - American Idol Season 7Many people will recall that in 2007, at sixteen years old, pop music sensation, David Archuleta, became one of the youngest contestants on the seventh season of American Idol. In May 2008, David finished as the runner-up, receiving 44 percent of over 97 million votes. David Cook was crowned American Idol that season.

Since the days of American Idol, David has realized a successful music career with his music reaching millions of people worldwide. He has released six albums – David Archuleta (2008), Christmas from the Heart (2009), The Other Side of Down (2010), Forevermore (2012, Philippines), Begin (2012), and No Matter How Far (2013). In 2011, he performed with the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir for their annual Christmas concert and was featured on the recording Glad Christmas Tidings. From March 2012 to March 2014, David placed his music career on hold to serve a two-year, full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Chile. Since returning home from his mission, he has been actively engaged in numerous projects.

In a recent blog post on his official website, David reflected about what the American Idol experience was like. At first, thinking that he would not be able to attend the finale of the show because of scheduling issues, he rechecked his schedule and discovered that it had changed. He then asked his manager if it were possible to still attend to say goodbye to the many people who influenced him as both a viewer and participant in the show. Much to his delight he received a response that he would be able to attend.

Reflections on the American Idol Experience

When he arrived at the rehearsals, he admits that he was nervous at first, but soon began to recognize familiar faces. He even got the opportunity to reminisce with David Cook about being the final 2 contestants of season 7. He also had a chance to meet the contestants from the final season. He commented, “Trent Harmon had mentioned my name in an earlier episode, and that was really touching to me to watch.  To know that the work we do can influence or inspire another means the world, so it was a real privilege to meet him and see how humble he was, along with how kind the others were.” David further remarked:

During rehearsals and being around everyone that I had worked with and worked for before, it was funny in a way to think of how 8 years ago as a 16/17-year-old I let it really get to me and I prioritized what they all thought of me.  Now I’ve become my own person and have higher priorities than pleasing heads and producers of shows, record labels, and companies.  I realized how much we all had grown up—how much I had grown up.  I was grateful for the growth from the show as a performer and person, and for the more uplifting growth I’ve had since.

David ArchuletaHe had an interview with Fred Bronson from Billboard and was asked how he felt about “being in the middle season, Season 7, looking at those in seasons before [him] and in those after [him].” It was then that he realized that the Dolby Theater was once known as the Kodak Theater. It was there that at the age of 11 his dad surprised him with tickets to the American Idol finale that year and he watched Kelly Clarkson win the competition. He also recalls that he sat a few rows back from Natalie Cole who was also in attendance. Now, eight years after being a contestant himself during season 7, he was there for the last season and was again on stage, but this time for the final finale.

David also recalls watching the first season of the show. One of the people from that season who influenced him was Tamyra Gray who was present for the finale. He was able to her how her performance of “And I’m Telling You, I’m Not Going” had influenced him more than any other contestant. He said, “I told her how I had tivo it, memorized it, and learned every part down to her expressions.  She said ‘You need to stop or you’re going to make me cry.’”

Preparing to Go on Stage for the Finale

Before the opening number, “One Voice,” David began to feel anxious and was very quiet while a lot of people backstage were talking. Jordin Sparks who was behind him asked if he wanted to say a prayer. He said that he did and she shouted out to anyone listening that they were going to say a prayer. They were joined by Colton Dixon, Danny Gokey, and Blake Lewis. As Jordin prayed, David’s anxiety began to subside. When the prayer was finished and they had said “amen” David was surprised to hear more people than he expected saying “amen.” He said:

I looked up and saw that just about everybody in  the group on our side of the stage had huddled around us to join us.  It was a special moment.  I’m glad that Jordin was willing to be mindful of quiet little me and also wasn’t afraid to get all of us together like that. It was a unifying experience, which is one of the many powers of prayer—it brings people together and unifies us in a higher purpose with God.

Final Winner Trent HarmonDavid also recalls that just before they were about to go on stage, Tamyra Gray called him over, grabbed his hands, and told him, “I want to take in this moment with you out on that stage.  I want to feel your energy and share this with you.”

Near the end, everyone watched from side stage the moment of Trent Harmon being crowned as the final American Idol. David recalls that it was an emotional moment for both past contestants, as well as, all of the crew. He himself fought to keep the tears back. Everyone went on stage to congratulate Trent, but because of the number of people, David decided to give Trent time to breathe and did not get to congratulate him. However, he did get to congratulate Trent’s family.

Concluding Comments

David concludes with this pensive comment:

American Idol was probably the most difficult thing I ever had to do in my life.  The most draining, emotional, challenging, overwhelming times in these first 25 years I’ve had.  A lot of people told me my 2-year mission in Chile would be.  It really wasn’t though.  Nothing challenged my character more than American Idol.  Never did I feel so alone, never was I so tempted in my life.  Never had I had such a drastic change.   Never was I surrounded by so many superficial things and people.  Never had I had so many people talking so much good and so much bad about me, having cameras follow me around and making stories up about my life just for the sake of more unwanted attention.  I can’t tell you what that did for an introverted person who had always considered himself a recluse, lol.  But it has definitely made me stronger.  I owe so much of who I am today to my experience on that show.

 

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