David Archuleta, a 17-year-old from Murray, Utah, a town centered in the Salt Lake Valley, made it as one of the top two on American Idol, a television singing competition.
In one interview given while in the middle of the competition, David was wondering about the changes that were coming with the fame of performing for millions of viewers each week. He said that he still felt like “I’m just David from Murray.”
The nation may have been surprised to hear such a pure, clear voice coming from one so young, but David’s classmates at school, and especially those in seminary, were not surprised at all. They already knew he had an amazing voice because they get to hear him sing at school programs and for seminary devotionals.
“Every time it’s his turn to do the class devotional,” says Brother Justin Harper of the Murray High Seminary, “he asks if he can sing. Then the other teachers will bring their classes in just for devotional to hear him. It really sets a wonderful spirit for class.” Even while busy and involved with the television show, Brother Harper said David reported on his daily scripture reading to keep up with his seminary class.
Mietra Aarabi, one of David’s close friends, says that David did not enter the competition to become a celebrity. She says, “David understands that he has a talent and that his voice affects people. He’s not arrogant about it. He is as humble and thankful to those who help him as you saw on the show. That’s how he really is.”
Was David the popular guy in school? Jessica Judd, another of David’s friends says, “If by popular you mean people like him, then yes, everyone likes him. At lunch, you know how everyone has their own group to sit with. You can never find David because he’s going around talking to people. He cares about you.”
The Church is a major force in David’s life. “He is so strong,” says Mietra. “He is the one that reminds us of what is right. He will keep on doing what he believes.”
“Even while he was so busy in Hollywood, he asked about the meeting schedules of wards in the area and went to church,” says Jessica.
David Archuleta is not just David from Murray anymore. The music world now knows about a great guy with an amazing voice that has a quality they can’t quite describe. Those at home in his ward, in his seminary class, and his hometown know what that is. What he believes shows.
“To have been given this opportunity and to be able to share music with people is just the best feeling ever.”
Inset photograph by Ravell Call, Deseret News; all other photographs by Getty Images.