When I got the call to fly out to Salt Lake City, Utah and hit up the hometown of "American Idol" contestant David Archuleta, I have to admit that I had NO idea what this kid was about. I had a similar chance to do a "homecoming" piece last year, for Idol champ Jordin Sparks, but by that time she was already in the top 10, so we were optimistic she was going to be star-worthy. We weren't even there yet this year but there's something about this Archuleta kid...
It was a sort of a homecoming for me, as I had attended college at Brigham Young University (a million years ago). When we arrived at David’s high school, Murray High, we were pretty impressed. Nice campus, well kept although we were disturbed by the kids that were rocking shorts and sandals when its 35 degrees in the middle of February. But hey, who am I to judge?!
I want to tell you about meeting David's principal and his friends and all their confessions about some of Archuleta's best-kept secrets. I want to tell you about how, on our first night in Utah, like the rest of the country, we were blown away by David's performance of John Lennon's "Imagine." But first, I need to share with you the amazing thing that happened on the second day. After the jump.
So Day 2. We caught up with David's vocal coach, Dean Kaelin. Now this guy has a story: he's a trained musician, has worked with music giant Seth Riggs (who himself has worked with Michael Jackson), and has already turned out Idol-worthy talent (remember Carmen Rasmussen?). Dean shared some really interesting things about David that we didn't know, like David's father is a jazz trumpter and his mother is a singer. Dean was the one who helped David strengthen his vocal chords after vocal-paralysis nearly derailed his singing career before it began. Dean showed us around his office then escorted us downstairs to the studio (on Cribs, this would be "where the magic happens").
But this is what blew us away: Dean shared a clip of a 12-year old David singing "Imagine," the SAME song that David sang the night before on "Idol" that won over the nation. I couldn't believe my ears. All I could think was, Wow, this kid was born to do this. Even at 12-years old, he was amazing.
Here's the footage:
So back to Day 1. We met the principal of Murray High, Principal Scott Bushnell. It was pretty strange. This guy strikes fear into the hearts of unruly students but here he is, a little nervous but totally cooperative and filled with nothing but praise for his students, particularly, David Archuleta.
We also got to meet some of David's friends. Now it’s been some years since I’ve been back in High School so I totally forgot how energetic younglings are. Energetic but focused. We chatted about David and they had no problem putting him and his quirks on blast, spilling the beans on stuff like his fave movie, “Rat Race". His fave food: cheese, thai food and LETTUCE (Yes, lettuce. He claims to love lettuce so much, they call him lettuce boy!). They also said that David is a genuine guy and what you see is what you get. He’s even pretty shy. But whatever you do, don’t go driving with him, UNLESS you wanna hear him belt out the hook for Beyonce’s "Irreplaceable" ("to the left, to the left...").
Between that and David's Idol performance, I'm now announcing my candidacy for President of the David Archuleta fan club. You can see more of my trip to Utah, and what all David's friends and neighbors had to say about him and his lettuce infatuation, all this week on MTV News. It'll be great, I promise.