Daily Archives: August 14, 2009

Music and Faith: Concerning David

davidcutieAnyone who is a devoted David Archuleta fan knows all about his faith as a Mormon.  For those who share his faith, I’m sure there is a great deal of pride, especially because David himself is a walking testimony – no proselytizing necessary.  For others, that he is so respectful, so loving, so thoughtful, and so joyous without being preachy means that we can enjoy him without any discomfort. 

So, when different fans share their experiences about encountering David, I find myself having to really sift through their observations.  It seems to me that David is a savvy dude, who knows how to keep his faith private and his practices surrounding his faith out of public view.  But, what if a secular fan is made uncomfortable with knowledge of their idol’s faith? Does this really shift one’s perspectives?

I would hope not.  I mean, before an artist like Prince became a Jehovah’s Witness (a faith shared by tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams and at one time by the late Michael Jackson, who in his last interview with Ebony was still “thanking Jehovah,” thus revealing his early upbringing), I thought he was the sexiest man alive.  After he joined that faith, which I don’t share and which I have profound issues with (and I must admit my personal bias against it is based in my childhood encounters with its practitioners when I used to live with the family of one of my aunts, who were all Witnesses), I can honestly say that my perception of Prince’s sexiness has still not changed, despite my knowledge of the faith he practices.  Why?  Because Prince hasn’t proselytized his religion through his career and public persona.

Yes, there are subtle hints here and there (his song “Sign of the Times,” for example, is in keeping with his faith’s fixation on the Apocalypse, as is “1999”), but for the most part, they are unobtrusive and can only be detected by those in the know. 

There are a number of other music artists who are deeply religious, but unless they’re primarily singing sacred music or thanking God every now and then when they accept an award of some sort, the secular fans usually don’t know and most often times, if they don’t know the codes and the signs, often stay pretty ignorant of such things.  (I, for example, was surprised to discover that two artists that I really like – R&B singer Erykah Badu and the rapper Eve – were Muslims until a fellow Muslim pointed out the subtle hints of their faith.)

The problem with the Internet and Reality TV is that fans are often digging up all the nitty gritty about their favorite idols.  Seriously, if we were introduced to David first on radio, we might not have ever known what his faith was until later revealed in an interview (and only if the interviewer specifically asked him about it).  As a rule, David does not divulge information about his religion, nor does he proselytize its doctrines.  Yes, he lives his life a certain way and sings certain songs that are not in conflict with his own moral compass, but that’s not the same as being public about one’s faith.  The only time I ever hear about messages from his religion in a certain song or in a certain fashion choice (remember when David was spotted wearing a ring?), it’s always somebody proselytizing on his behalf.  Because, when it comes to David, you will not get a peep from him on the issue.

So, for those secular fans who are ever made uncomfortable with a religious choice on David’s part, always remember who divulged that information (for it most likely didn’t come from the young man himself).  At the same time, let’s not color our views of his faith and interpret certain actions as somehow problematic.  Our secular society does have a tendency to vilify religion without due cause and to paint religious individuals as unhealthy, repressed persons in need of modern intervention. 

In short, I’m hoping both secular fans and fans of faith can come together in our admiration and love for David without feeling uncomfortable about this issue.  Nor should we be uncomfortable at all considering that the one we have gathered together for – David – has yet to make a public statement about his faith, let alone to preach from this perspective. 

Music started out as sacred worship – that’s its origin and that’s why our best musicians often come from a religious background.   We’ve all basically testified to the divine origins of David’s glorious Voice.  If we recognize its miracle, then that’s really the only proselytizing we need anyway.

David doesn’t have to preach.  He just has to sing, and we’re all convinced.  There is a God, a higher power, a force in the universe, all contained by the magic that is the Voice.

David’s Sistah Love

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Thanks to those of you who clued me in to a post on Shontelle’s official site concerning the wishful thinking of a Shonleta duet between her and David (it even links back to this blog!).  There are a number of reasons why a Shontelle and David duet is a fabulous idea (and definitely one that would be far more interesting than that Miley duet in which David is basically reduced to back-up vocals).

First, there’s the prospect of bringing “Soul David” out of his shell.  Wouldn’t that be all kinds of fun when he pairs up with someone like Shontelle on a possibly R&B pop song?  Second, they are such good friends, and their tweets to one another are some of the cutest (and flirtiest, I might add). They should definitely collaborate on at least one song.  Third, if David gets the hook up with Island records artists (Shontelle being one of them), who knows if this will ease the inevitable transition from Jive to another label (cough cough)?  The final point is David gets to relish in his “sistah love.” Not to mention that, with an outpouring of such love, how much easier it would be to market David to an “urban” audience, which is what will inevitably establish David’s “cool” credentials, the way it did for Justin Timberlake, and the Beatles and the Rolling Stones before him, and Elvis Presley before them.

I know I’ve expressed this before (perhaps wishful thinking on my own part), but I do love David’s easy friendships with a number of black girls.  (See? We so would have been BFFs if we knew each other.)  Apart from stealing my heart when I first saw him perform “Heaven” on American Idol – “Hellooooo, gorgeous!” and all that – what really cemented my David Devotion was what had  transpired during Top 20 week.  This was the week when he delivered his showstopping “Imagine” the first time and transformed AI Season 7 into the David Archuleta Show.  He was so charismatic, at the top of his game, so dang talented that, when another contestant was voted off the following evening (his good friend Alexandrea Lushington), the buzz was about how David was crying over Alexandrea getting booted off (and not that Alexandrea herself didn’t make the next round – who herself had to comfort David with a hug).

So, David melted my heart because 1)he, like myself, was so disappointed that someone like Alex didn’t last longer in the competition and 2)he revealed himself to be such a sensitive soul.  Most importantly, in losing a friend and fellow “soul singer” in Alexandrea, it became transparent that, without a fellow peer close to his age, David started getting less comfortable on the show.  Seriously, check out David’s “comfort” level with Alexandrea when he says the following:

Uh huh. I love how he keeps underestimating himself. 😉

jordindavidhug

Beyond Alexandrea, there is his Syesha crush (how cute that she was the first one David chose to follow on Twitter), his Tamyra Gray inspiration (who gets several shout outs from him and honorable mentions in his CD liner notes, alongside Natalie Cole and Kelly Clarkson), and his Jennifer Hudson admiration.  And, of course there is his love for Jordin Sparks, fellow Idol and label mate who has also expressed a desire to duet with David. 

 So, which is preferable?  A Shonleta duet or Jordavid duet?  Maybe both could happen.  I’m leaning more toward Shonleta because it’s an opportunity to move beyond AI and to also do something a bit soul funky.  I particularly like her Battle Cry.

Besides, they became fast friends when they met during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and hung out during the Jingle Balls concerts.  A match up in the studios seems to be the next logical step.  

My own preferences, if he ever duets with a fellow Idol alum, would be for a pairing with Melinda Doolittle (my other favorite AI contestant), but a Shontelle or Jordin duet seems more possible.  And a real fantasy, when David develops his piano-playing skills, is to do a song-and-piano duet with none other than Alicia Keys.  That would be all kinds of awesome.

Heck, the way David naturally harmonized with his friend Ashlee the other day, it’s safe to say he could duet with anybody (hello? He made Miley Cyrus sound good on “I Want to Know You”).  

But when it comes to his “sistah love,” I’m sure the magic of “Soul David” will really come through.