April 19, 2010

Idol's Elliott Yamin on Idol Gives Back

Posted: 07:47 PM ET

Elliott Yamin placed third in Season Five of American Idol – narrowly finishing behind winner Taylor Hicks and runner-up Katherine McPhee.  His first album – Elliott Yamin – was released in March of 2007 and went gold.  His most recent album – Fight For Love - was released last year.  Elliott travelled to Angola with Idol judge Kara DioGuardi in February as part of the Idol Gives Back effort. 

LKL Blog:  Tell me about your Idol Gives Back to Angola with Kara.  It was your second there, right?

Elliott Yamin:  Yes, that’s right.  It was amazing.  The opportunity to get to go back and be a part of something so life changing for so many people was really cool.  I made a promise when I went there a couple of years ago that I’d be back.  In that time, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with Exxon Mobil, one of the big sponsors of Idol Gives Back.  Collectively, we raised enough money to build a new dormitory at St. Isabel’s Orphanage there.  I had the great pleasure of visiting the kids there.  They were in dire need of basic supplies that they were lacking when we first visited and now, since we’ve been back, we got to see the new dormitory being built and how happy the kids were – that just means the world to me.  It was a very special trip.

LKL Blog:  In addition to the school, there’s also some anti-malaria efforts.

Elliott:  Yes, absolutely.  We had the opportunity to pass out malaria bed nets all over the city and in different towns and villages and educate people on how to use them, we demonstrated how to set them up.  We spread the word about how preventable malaria is.  Education is a big issue there.  There are still a lot of myths about malaria.  We just wanted to make sure everybody knows it will help save their lives.

LKL Blog:  You talked about going with Kara.  She wasn’t a judge your season but what were your impressions of her, what was it like getting to know her?

Elliott:  It was awesome.  She’s a sweetheart.  It was really great to talk to her and get to know her on that level and get to talk to her on a personal level.  She’s a talented songstress, she’s been writing songs for years.  She’s got a great formula for it, obviously.  I think she’s great.  We keep in touch since the trip and we want to plan another one together.  Hopefully we’ll get the chance to be in the studio together and write together as well. 


LKL Blog:  As anybody who watches Larry King Live knows, you were in Chile in February when the earthquake hit.  Now that you’re back and had some time to process what happened, how did that whole experience affect you?

Elliott:  It really shook me up.  No pun intended.  I was so on edge.  Of course earthquakes are always so unexpected, especially one of that magnitude.  And to be in a foreign country, one that you’ve never been in before, was particularly tough because I was just with my tour manager.  Usually when I’m out of the country, I’m with my band or a bigger group of people.  It was just my tour manager and a group of other performers.  It was tough, it was tough.  I came back home and for almost two weeks, I slept downstairs on my sofa.  I kind of became this hermit; I didn’t want to leave the house.  I constantly felt like the earth was moving and the ground was shaking because there were hundreds and hundreds of aftershocks.  After a while you get used to feeling the buildings shake and sway.  It just kind of became part of everyday life over there.  And so here, I got home and just felt like it was constantly moving.  It was scary.

LKL Blog:  You tweeted out about the earthquake experience.  And in one of your tweets you mentioned that you’re diabetic and you were concerned over if you’d have enough insulin.  I know you’ve got Type I diabetes, you’ve been living with it since you were a teenager.  How has that shaped your life, having that disease?

Elliott:  I think all in all, it’s made me more responsible and forced me to grow up a little quicker than I wanted to maybe.  I’m not saying I’m always on top of it, but I do a much better job than I used to when I was first diagnosed.   I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of handling.  And it’s a part of who I am.  It’s not a disease that comes and goes.  It’s a life long thing until there’s a cure. 

I think the turnaround for me was when I was on the show and I realized I had this great big platform to help bring diabetes to the forefront.  To let people know that I have it and that it’s been a struggle over the years.  And that if I’m out here chasing my dreams and really living a healthy life, anyone can. 

I think it’s helped me to accept it even more.  And to embrace it even more.  And to share my story with those who will listen and hopefully inspire enough people to help make a change or find a cure and take better care of themselves.

LKL Blog:  Simon Cowell is going to be leaving Idol after this season.  How do you expect that’s going to affect the show?  Will Idol be Idol without simon?

Elliott:  That’s a good question.  He’s obviously a big reason why people tune in.  I just don’t know.  It’s so weird to think about Idol without him on there.  I guess that all remains to be seen, you know?

LKL Blog:  Also remaining to be seen is who is going to win the current season.  Who are your favorites?  Who do you like?

Elliott:  I really like Casey James, he’s come on strong the past three or four weeks.  I like Michael Lynch a lot.  I did like Aaron Kelly.  I just think at this point, he’s kind of going backwards instead of forward.  But I think he’s the one guy that epitomizes what Idol is about:  take a young, really green, inexperienced kid – with a really good voice – and help shape his style and sound.  I just feel like he’s going backwards, he’s not improving over the past few weeks. 

LKL Blog:  So you think it’s the guys’ year this year?

Elliott:  I think so.  Everyone is high up on Crystal Bowersox – and I like her too.  Honestly, I just don’t think anyone is unique in their own right or really has the wow factor.  I think everybody sounds ordinary, at best.   And that’s not to take away from their talent.  I think that all the contestants are talented in their own right.  There’s just nobody with that wow factor or anybody with the really crazy story or personality.  I don’t know, it’s been kind of tough.

Filed under: American Idol • LKL Web Exclusive

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Cajazz76:24:8   April 19th, 2010 8:24 pm ET

Elliot Yamin is a great example of how the show extends beyond the sole boundaries of a stage or studio. I saw the clip where he was handing out mosquito nets and offering goodwill to the orphaned children in Angola. My accolades to Kara also who accompanied him.

Dean Miller   April 19th, 2010 9:18 pm ET

Is there any way the judges could have a majority vote to offset the teeny bopper voting going on in the lve compititions? Too much good talent has been lost this season.

Kayla Pugh   April 19th, 2010 9:33 pm ET

Hey My question is for Ryan and Simon how does it make you feel to jnow that your fams help out in Idol give back.

artsygirl   April 19th, 2010 9:59 pm ET

Hey Elliot..big, big're my fave idol contestant your voice and your cds...hope to see you live sometime!! (boston area!) Keep up the great work!!

Donna from Weed   April 19th, 2010 10:23 pm ET

Love hearing from Elliott. He would make a suitable replacement for Simon...he speaks his mind

Kristi   April 19th, 2010 10:51 pm ET

So nice to hear from Elliott. Thanks for interviewing him. I wish Idol would have him sing again. As Elliott described Aaron as being" young, really green, inexperienced kid – with a really good voice", it made me think–hey, that was Elliott in the 5th season.

MAC   April 19th, 2010 11:04 pm ET

Elliott Yamin and David Cook–best two idol contestants ever. Also, best ambassadors for goodwill and humanitarian causes ever. Thanks for doing what you do. Elliott, you have a God-given gift and your interpretation of a song can bring me to tears. I agree about Casey James–think he has the potential to be this year's biggest success story. YOU SHOULD HAVE WON SEASON 5!!! Your voice is phenomenal and your spirit is inspiring.

MAC   April 19th, 2010 11:08 pm ET

By the way, it should have been Elliott singing "If I Can Dream" on Elvis night the last week. He can make that song soar.

jackie   April 20th, 2010 12:19 am ET

Elliott Yamin – the voice of an angel and the heart and soul as big as the universe.

LaDOnna Carlisle   April 20th, 2010 12:33 am ET

Hi i was just wandering how Simon likes working with Ellen, The two are so different?

LaDonna Carlisle   April 20th, 2010 12:36 am ET

Hi, Simon how do you like working with Ellen, you two seem so different?

Debbie McConnell   April 20th, 2010 12:37 am ET

God continue to Bless HE BLESSES...Others!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YOU ARE SUCH AN SEE how "you give back"

You have a WONDERFUL God Given Voice...Keep Makin' the CD's
and We'll KEEP BUYIN' ....'em!

THANK YOU FOR YOU BEING YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shelley Brown   April 20th, 2010 12:37 am ET

Hey Elliott, you are my favorite contestant! I saw you and Josh Hoge at Slim's in S.F. a couple of years ago, and you guys were great! It would be great to see you come back to the Bay Area.

Cajazz76:24:8   April 20th, 2010 12:44 am ET

Season 1–

Winner: Kelly Clarkson

Runner Up: Justin Guarini

Season 2–

Winner: Ruben Studdard

Runner Up: Clay Aiken

Season 3–

Winner: Fantasia Barrino

Runner Up: Diana Degarmo

Season 4–

Winner: Carrie Underwood

Runner Up: Bo Bice

Season 5–

Winner: Taylor Hicks

Runner Up: Katherine McPhee

Season 6–

Winner: Jordin Sparks

Runner Up: Blake Lewis

Season 7–

Winner: David Cook

Runner Up: David Archuleta

Season 8–

Winner: Kris Allen

Runner up: Adam Lambert

All still making music....Last night Carrie Underwood made history by becoming the first two time winner of the ACM...second year in a row...

lhaggett   April 20th, 2010 12:45 am ET

Elliott should be commended for all the charity work he does which we can follow on Twitter. He's a person with a great heart, and I too agree that he had the best voice in Season 5. Would love to see him do an R/B single.

Cajazz76:24:8   April 20th, 2010 12:47 am ET

correction: Carrie Underwood became the first FEMALE two time winner..

sweetsmoke1   April 20th, 2010 1:23 am ET

Hey Elliott – how about recording another duet with Taylor Hicks! You guys sound good together on Taylor's last album The Distance! Love it!

Catherine Smith   April 20th, 2010 2:01 am ET

It is so great that you interviewed Elliott Yamin. He is one of the greatest American Idols ever. He has such incredible voice and I think it is under appreciated. I think the best is yet to come!

LocoLady   April 20th, 2010 2:35 am ET

Ahh Elliott, I remember sitting most of the day voting for you on Moose something, I can't remember the name but you were on top of that site for a long time, I must have voted a 100 times a day . I bought all of your CD's,and "the storm" and the homemade CD's of everything you sang on Idol I got on ebay. I have the lapel buttons, only they are on my hat LOL, A pic, 8×10 of you before you went and updated to movie star , always thought you sang like an Angel, still do. Never could get "a house is not a home" though. Got your Xmas albums too. Still waiting for the old standards so you can knock John Buble out of the box. Glad to see you are such a nice kid.and doing good works. Bless you. .

LIlly   April 20th, 2010 8:11 am ET

Elliott you are one sweet funky white boy 🙂

We love you!!!

JimmyJJ   April 20th, 2010 9:34 am ET

Elliott, you are the best. Getting Exxon and Idol to the table and making lives better in Africa. You are truly an inspiration and someone who is using his celebrity for all the right reasons. I looked into the malaria work you did and I have to admit, I didn't even know the disease still existed. I am DEFANITELY calling into Idol Gives Back and making a donation. Thanks, buddy, for using your super talent for good.

Tina   April 20th, 2010 1:22 pm ET

I love Elliott! Thanks for interviewing him! He SO should have won! 🙂

Donald L Allen   April 21st, 2010 4:55 am ET

Donald L Allen what a ma stick what is that I been doing it four a long time what have you been doing and what or you gonna do about it well the way I see it if the police permit you to brake the low or your police give you a right over me way do I even try just give UP four one thing it a joke on you what do I look like to you a full and way wood you want to run four a huge ant you dun a nut to screw this country UP don,t you get it we have had a tuft of you just quit don,t run just quit see you ween you or not there to screw UP what is good no more

dolapo johnson   April 21st, 2010 9:07 am ET

hello larry.pls kp me updated on wats gng on in ur up d gud wrk

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