When singer David Archuleta rolls into the San Diego area for a show at Escondido’s California Center for the Arts on April 17, it will be a homecoming of sorts.
“San Diego was actually where I auditioned for American Idol,” says Archuleta of the show that made him a star. “There were 15,000 other people waiting at Qualcomm Stadium, so I thought there’d be no way I would even make an impression. There were are a lot of really good voices there. Then I pass the audition and am on the show and had millions of people voting for me. It’s like, ‘What did I get myself into?’”
Since Archuleta came in second on the seventh season of the famed talent competition during the show’s heyday in 2008 (it was the No. 1 show in America at the time), Archuleta, now 28, has had a unique path. After experiencing radio success and capitalizing on his Idol fandom, the singer embarked on a two-year mission in 2012 for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which involved him residing in Chile and effectively putting his music career on hold.
Once back in the U.S., he saw the opportunity for a reboot and lately has been churning out music on his terms. Departing from the bubblegum pop he’s been known for (an early hit was the buoyant “Crush”), Archuleta is on tour in support of Postcards in the Sky, his first album since 2013. It aims to show a deeper side to the Salt Lake City native.
“This album has a lot to do with mental health,” says Archuleta. “There are tracks on there about people who might be going through abuse. I also actually open my shows with a song I wrote for my brother from the album called ‘Waiting in the Stars.’ He’s gone through a lot and it’s dedicated to him.”
For Archuleta, writing deeper songs also means encountering different reactions from the audiences, a stark contrast from just reading chatter online. “What I love about performing is that you get to see how people actually react to the music,” he muses. “It’s one thing to buy the album and leave a comment about how you feel. But at a live show, you can sing a song and sometimes even see when people’s faces light up. It’s really cool to watch people’s reactions in person.”
At the same time, he notes that despite a decade-plus-long career, there are occasions when he’s not sure how people will react. “Sometimes it can be a little intimidating, so I’ll try to close my eyes when I’m on stage.”
Regardless of any intimidation, he notes of a special bond between him and his fans, and relishes seeing new places.
“It’s really neat to be able to go to so many places that i never thought I’d go,” says Archuleta, who recently played shows in North Dakota, Wyoming and Iowa in advance of his April 17 date in Escondido.
“I never thought I’d do a show in North Dakota, but I was just there. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Do people even know who I am around there?’ But the great thing is, you can connect with people no matter where you are. It goes to show you the power of music.”
Archuleta’s show on April 17 begins at 7:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit artcenter.org/event/david-archuleta/