“Every time I would think about my purpose, the answers seemed to come in sounds. In melodies. In feelings.”
~ David Archuleta, COS, pg 91
“I perceive the world through the wide range of emotions that whirl all around in it.”
~David Archuleta, COS, pg 193
From early childhood he sang all the time, alone in his room or in the backyard. He sang for family and friends and at various functions just for the love of singing. He would sing random verses that came into his head at odd moments, a habit he has never lost. He sang even though he was painfully shy, even though he hated the sound of his voice. He didn’t believe it when people told him he could sing, thinking instead that they were, “just feeling sorry for me because I was little.” I marvel at the kind of love for one’s art that can conquer even the belief that you have no gift, or as he describes it in the early days of it’s development, “…my so called gift.”
Yet in spite of this lack of confidence in his ability, he worked hard to improve his voice. He practiced and studied persistently to increase his range and knowledge of music, taking every opportunity that came his way to overcome his shyness at performing in public (he was much more comfortable singing alone in his room). Just when all of his labor began to pay off and he could see some real progress, came the awful diagnosis of vocal paralysis. What was that like, I wonder, to work so hard and overcome so much and then suddenly lose the dream? I think it must have broken his heart. He could have become rebellious and bitter. He could have railed against God. Instead, he accepted His will and his fate and continued to persevere. He struggled with his vocal exercises, even, as he recalls in his book, Chords of Strength, A Memoir of Soul, Song, and the Power of Perseverance, there were days he felt the whole thing was, “a waste of time.” In the intervening years till the miracle of his voice returned to him, he learned to face life philosophically with the fervent belief that, “everything happens for a reason.” He learned so much about faith, hope, courage, gratitude, humility, and the very real power of prayer. Quoting again from his memoirs he says, “From the moment I got the diagnosis, life quickly went from Star Search to soul search.”
On AI he was scoped by the same doctor who had treated him for vocal paralysis years before. In “Chords of Strength,” David relates how the two pictures were totally different, so different that at first he thought it was, “scary.” Then he writes:
“….I still had a paralyzed vocal cord, but…my cords had found a way to work around the condition because by some miracle, they were vibrating despite what medically wasn’t supposed to be able to happen…The one vocal cord, it seemed, had actually grown up over and around the weak one in order to adjust for the other not working.”
The one strong cord “grew up over and around the weak one”…reached out and gathered the other cord so that when the working muscle vibrated the one, it caused the other to vibrate too. In other words, the physical mechanism that produces the sound of his voice is literally an embrace. It is an act of reaching out and lifting up, causing the weak to stand, and that which was unresponsive to feel again. How like a metaphor for David’s view of life and the effect his music has on so many.
What had seemed like a curse had in fact turned out to be a blessing, giving his voice a breathy, velvety quality and an emotional power born from the ashes of a refining fire. There is a pain and heartache in his voice that is genuine. It is a sound that one feels as much as hears.
Once I stood at a barricade in the noon day sun
And looked up into gold-flecked eyes that sparkled
Brighter than sunlight
And rested in his resting voice to feel
In that eternal moment the peace of unconditional
Once upon a dream I stood at another barricade,
This time at night and David sang
One song after another while I,
Bathed in moonlight (his voice was the moonlight)
Felt him reach out and gather my soul in an embrace.