David Archuleta is on his mission. "I guess in a way it is," the 19-year-old Murray native said about his book, Chords of Strength: A Memoir of Soul, Song, and The Power of Perseverance . "It's very much like a missionary experience for me."
It was God who told him that Archuleta "had a job to do." But Archuleta hasn't had time to embark on a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The pop-singing teen has been through a whirlwind since he auditioned his way out of obscurity in 2008 to become one of the most talented singers in the nine-year history of TV's top-rated "American Idol." The soulful tenor has released two albums -- 2008's self-titled debut and 2009's "Christmas From the Heart" -- and is finishing his third album, tentatively set for release before Christmas. His cheery, always-smiling countenance was even seen this past Wednesday onstage during the "American Idol" Season 9 finale.
But Archuleta had time to collaborate on a book, ghostwritten by Monica Haim, who conducted a series of interviews with him over the past year. The book, published as a hardcover by the Penguin Group, will be released on June 1.
While many might think it's too early for the singer to publish an autobiography, Archuleta said it felt like the right time when he was approached about the project.
"People do memoirs later in life, but I've had experiences. I wasn't born yesterday," he said in a Tribune interview. "I'm different from who I was two years ago."
The book allowed him a way to talk to people. It was a book, Archuleta said, that would "finally [be] a way for me to talk to people."
As he explains on the back jacket in the confessional style employed throughout the 248-page book: "I was somehow able to tap into the best parts of myself in those moments when I needed to get through a difficult situation -- on or off the stage. It kind of hit me that the most meaningful thing I could do with this book (and my story in general) is to try to inspire people to do the same. ... There are no hot lights shining in my eyes, no microphone being held up to my face, and no screaming media people barraging me with questions. It's just you and me."
The loose narrative traces his personal trials and tribulations, but is also intended to be a self-help, motivational book in the style of Dale Carnegie. "I didn't want people to read the book and feel sorry for me," Archuleta said. "The reason that I wrote it was to hopefully help someone in some way. I want to be useful in life."
Archuleta's biggest demon, he writes, is self-doubt. "I'm always doubting myself," he said. "[But] the hope in my heart knocks it over. My hope is stronger than my doubt. Hope is pushing you forward."
Arguably, the most interesting chapters in the book are his accounts of the backstage moments through the crucible that was "American Idol," as well as lengthy discussion about his faith. Talking about his spirituality took the longest and was the hardest. "I wanted that to be the most true and most real," Archuleta said. "That's the most important thing."
While the book is a memoir, Archuleta does not delve deeply into personal relationships or family affairs, staying away from rumors of scandals involving his father or reported marital difficulties with his parents. "I try to keep my personal life private," he said. "I'm known for being private. Do I want people knowing everything about me?"
Archuleta has been known for keeping his feelings close to his vest ever since it was announced he'd earned a trip to Hollywood during "American Idol."
"People wonder why I am the way I am, why I do certain things," he said. "This is who I am." Archuleta paused, and then chuckled. "I'm going to be real. I'm a dork."
David Archuleta draws back the curtains -- a bit
David Archuleta will sign copies of Chords of Strength: A Memoir of Soul, Song, and The Power of Perseverance.
When » Monday, June 7, noon
Where » Deseret Book, 45 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City
When » Tuesday, June 8, noon
Where » Deseret Book, 1076 S. 750 East (University Village), Provo