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DreamHrt
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Female Number of posts : 148
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PostSubject: Staying power   November 4th 2007, 7:07 pm

Former Idol Elliott Yamin's single remains in Billboard's top 25 after six months


By JOEY GUERRA
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

The single life suits Elliott Yamin. But we're not talking late-night parties and halter-topped groupies.

It's the big, fat, bonafide radio-smash kind that has Yamin smiling. His debut tune, Wait for You, has emerged as one of the year's surprise — and most enduring — radio hits.

"The staying power that this song has, (it's) just been amazing," says Yamin, calling a few hours before a show in Indianapolis.

"It's really kind of made an indelible print."

The success is likely sweet revenge, uh, victory for fans (often dubbed "Yaminions"), who watched Yamin lose the Season 5 Idol crown to Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee.

The bittersweet single is still in the top 25 of Billboard's Hot 100 after more than six months on the chart. And it's now — get this — building steadily at adult-contemporary radio and dance clubs, thanks to spiffy club mixes.

"It's really surreal just to know how much power one song can have . . . not just here, but everywhere," Yamin, 29, says.

Further proof: He traveled to the Philippines two weeks ago for a 10-day whirlwind of press and performances, another perk of Wait for You's smash status.

"We got to play five shows there," Yamin says. "We had the time of our lives. Everybody knows all the words to all the songs."

But, like so many great pop stories, the song almost didn't make it onto Yamin's self-titled debut disc, which has moved more than 500,000 units since its March release.

The original demo was a few octaves higher than Yamin's normal range, and he says he originally "just wasn't feeling it."

That changed once the song was spruced up by Norwegian production duo Stargate, whose top-tier credits include monster tunes for Ne-Yo (So Sick), Rihanna (Unfaithful) and Beyoncé (Irreplaceable). Stargate also wrote and produced Tattoo, the new single from Idol princess Jordin Sparks.

"It really didn't dawn on me until I actually flew to New York, recorded it, started kind of hearing the play back," Yamin says. "It sounded really good, man. It's a perfect match."

Second single One Word, also helmed by Stargate, impacted radio this week. It rides a similarly easy groove but has more of a joyful bounce. Yamin also releases a Target-exclusive holiday disc this week, featuring six covers and two originals.

Every tune on Yamin's freshman album seems tailor-made for his soulful, urgent voice. He co-wrote five on the disc, including old-school standout Train Wreck. His delivery throughout is sentimental without being syrupy, charismatic but not cocky.

"When you're doing other people's songs . . . you have to internalize the lyric and make it your own," Yamin says.

"You have to lay out your own path. It's just an everyday hustle. I know it sounds so clichéd, but it's all up to how much you put into it."

Yamin gleaned early tips from two pivotal females: Whitney Houston ("She was one of the first female singers who really inspired me") and his own mother, who sang at lounges and bars in Richmond, Va.

"She was always singing in my ear, singing around the house, in the car," Yamin says. "She was really my first inspiration."

Idol, of course, proved a fertile training ground. But beyond a musical edge, Yamin says the show gave him essential tools that resulted in a complete life turnaround.

"I've always wanted a career. I just didn't know how to pursue it, how to go after it," he says.

Yamin is, as we learned during his 2006 Idol run, 90 percent deaf in one ear and was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes as a teenager. Those hurdles prevented him from capitalizing on his talent before the Idol auditions.

"I didn't have much going on in my life. I was bagging up prescriptions at a pharmacy back home. I was kind of stuck in a rut, making 10 bucks an hour," he says.

"You get so caught up with everyday life and your routines. Just me being a diabetic and trying to stay healthy and make enough money to pay my rent and have enough money so I can put gas in my car to get to work — those kind of things can bog you down sometimes and get you further away from your dreams.

"I just become a little complacent. I wasn't really in a good place."

Despite, or perhaps because of, his lack of formal training, Yamin quickly became a sentimental favorite during his time on Idol. His weekly performances were emotive and elegant, particularly when he chose to croon Stevie Wonder's If You Really Love Me and Donny Hathaway's A Song for You (included on Yamin's album).

"I have so much more ambition. I'm so much more driven now," Yamin says. "Going through the experience I did with Idol, it just made my life so much better. It gave me so much more direction.

I'm still riding high on life, man. I can't wait to get started on my next record."




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The best of the worst

What a difference third place makes.

After slugging through a series of go-nowhere jobs, Elliott Yamin says he's finally doing what he was ``born to do'' - making original music.

``I firmly believe that,'' Yamin says. ``Good things come your way as long as you work hard for them.''

The soulful singer estimates having more than 40 jobs since he was 17, including a stint at Foot Locker and time as a radio DJ in Richmond, Va.

After quick consideration, he give us the high and the dirty low of his pre-Idol employment history:

The best: I worked for a company called SunCom. They're like a branched-off entity of AT&T Wireless. I worked in their financial-services department . . . in collections. I was the guys that called you and annoyed you about your bill being past due.

I had the best benefits anyone could ever ask for - free medical insurance. We got reimbursed on prescriptions, which for me is good. I'm a Type 1 diabetic. Some of my best friends in the world worked there.

The worst: Oh, boy . . . a company called Alweighs Hamilton Scale. You know when you're driving down the highway, you see a weigh station? Our job was to fix and calibrate those scales. But it wasn't just the truck scales. We would go to big factories, too. I was like 17. I got paid like $5.50 an hour to do everybody's grunt work.

I would get all oily and dirty. We had to get underneath the scales. Sometimes we'd be knee-deep in muddy, swampy water with frogs jumping on our backs. It was just a really ugly job.

joey.guerra@chron.com

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ent/5219315.html

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PostSubject: Re: Staying power   November 4th 2007, 10:28 pm

Good article. I bet the Clive Davis group is kicking themselves for not signing Elliott. He has shown with hard work and determination you can truly be a success as an independent. However I am glad that AI helped to launch his career as I am sure he is.


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