April 19, 2010
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.
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