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Former 'American Idol' Contestant Elliott Yamin Earning Respect with Debut Album


Singer Elliott Yamin joins a long list of American Idol contestants who have gone on to achieve success in the music industry. Elliott recently appeared on VOA's live request program, "Border Crossings", to talk about his debut album and quick rise to fame. Mary Morningstar has this report.

"Wait For You" was the first single released from Elliott Yamin's self-titled debut album. It climbed to Number 3 on a U.S. airplay chart and propelled sales of his album to nearly 400,000 copies.

Elliott was born in Los Angeles, and grew up in Richmond, Virginia. He got his start singing on karaoke stages in his late-teens. But, Yamin admits he never dreamed he'd become a famous singer.

"I didn't really have the heart or desire to pursue a music career full out, you know," he says. "Just for fun, for kicks, my friends and I would go out to the karaoke bars. They knew how shy I was and they'd try to get me to up there [on stage] and I wouldn't do it. Eventually, they just started signing me up without my knowing and the next thing you know my name would be called and I'd kind of be forced to get up there and sing. It got real fun, you know. That's really all I was doing back home was just singing karaoke."

Elliott's friends also convinced him to audition for the fifth season of American Idol in 2006. Simon Cowell, who's known as the show's most critical judge, called Elliott "potentially the best male singer" ever on American Idol. He placed third in the contest behind Katherine McPhee and winner Taylor Hicks. Elliott says he's grateful for the instant popularity that came from American Idol.

"It's pretty tricky actually to just encounter total strangers who know who you are," Elliott says. "It's cool to get to see how much admiration there is out there, how much support and how much people are in my corner. So, I embrace it, I love it. Sometimes it can be a little weird. Some people can be a little too invasive sometimes, of course. But, that just comes with the territory and that's not often the case. There's just so much love out there and I love every second of it."

Elliott co-wrote five of the tracks on his debut album. He describes what it was like to be involved in the songwriting process.

"I really hadn't had a whole lot of experience in songwriting prior to trying out for the show, so I got [together] with a lot of really talented producers who also write and just talented musicians," he explains. " It's so amazing to see what can come out of just putting our heads together in the studio and just being creative. When we went in the studio, we didn't really have a shaped out devised plan of what we wanted the record to sound like production-wise. So, we basically just started from scratch. That's what I'm really most proud of. The end result was quite an accomplishment for me. So, I'm very proud."

Elliott recently wrapped up his first U.S. solo concert tour. He says his future goals include taking his music around the world.

"American Idol has such a broad fan base. Not only is it the most popular show here, of course, but in so many other countries all over the world," he says. "So, I want to get my music out there. I want to go there, I want to tour. I want to go to Europe and Asia and just continue what we're doing, just playing music and traveling. There's no greater job in the world than that."

In late-September, Elliott will perform five concerts in the Philippines. He also has another round of U.S. dates scheduled in October and November.