For David Archuleta, despite all the successes of his flourishing and diverse career in entertainment, there has always been something to overcome. In his early teens, it was the beginning of nagging vocal chord paralysis. In his early 20’s, it was stepping away from the spotlight at a pivotal moment to honor his Mormon faith. In his late 20’s, it was making the brave decision to come out as queer. His coming out sparked as much uproar from his religious community as it did celebrations within his loyal fanbase and the LGBTQ+ community.
Ever since, Archuleta has been on a new mission… perhaps his toughest yet. A mission that, while it wasn’t always easy to do so, has seen him push past the detractors and take ownership of his own life. He sings about it on new song “UP,” out now.
“Only place I’m goin is UP”
“UP” is a melancholy acoustic guitar-driven tune that sees Archuleta plant his feet firmly on the ground and proclaim that he will not give up… that he will not be tied down by negative thoughts: “Only place I’m goin is up / Only make room for love / Cause my story is far from over / Its only begun.”
“I think you live through things and they are not always fun to live through,“ he said. “To say it, to sing it, to write about it… that has been my therapeutic way of overcoming them. I’m going to rewrite this story. Yeah, that’s where I was, and there was a time when I thought that way and I believed it… thinking that I was hopeless and that there wasn’t really a future for me. Now, to a place where I’m going up and there are greater things in store for me.”
After recently being unveiled as the Macaw on Flx’s The Masked Singer finishing second to Bishop Briggs as Medusa, Archuleta shared similar sentiments. His emotional testimony encouraging anyone feeling lost to live their truth was met with an overwhelming showing of support and love from the live crowd and those watching at home. All rooting Archuleta on as he makes his way up.
“It’s fine. I’m fine. Ok, alright!”
16 years into his career, Archuleta has done more than most. He is most known for his debut single “Crush,” an upbeat, innocent-as-can-be pop tune about teenage butterflies that served as the perfect statement piece post-American Idol, but his discography and other ventures, while not as mainstream, show him as the musical chameleon he is.
Songs like “To Be With You,” his cover of “Angels” by Robbie Williams, “My Kind Of Perfect,” and “I Know He Lives” highlight the balladeer in him with his massive range and effortless soulful chops. Other cuts like “Your Eyes Don’t Lie,” “Something Bout Love,” “Zero Gravity,” and “Ok, Alright,” have been eclectic efforts to diversify his pop sound. On top of five official studio albums and other compilation projects, he has released a covers album and two Christmas albums, has appeared onstage as Joseph in last year’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in Utah, has effectively used YouTube for collaborative covers of worship songs and adult contemporary classics, and, if it’s possible, more.
“I’m so indecisive and it shows in my music,” he said with a big smile. “It’s kind of hard… I can’t make up my mind. I get FOMO I think. I have to try everything so I know… for myself.” He acknowledged his catalog consists of more ballads, more adult contemporary-geared tunes, but says his newer material falls in line with the more uptempo releases of recent years such as “Faith In Me,” “Up All Night,” and “OK, Alright.”
“I feel like I’ve made more of an effort to make fun, happy music because that’s where I’m at in life,” he said. “Before, it was a lot of music about being in my head and overthinking things. The frustrations of dealing with that, and anxiety. But now I’m just like… I want to have a good time. I feel that I’m in a freeing part of my life and that’s what I want to express now.”
A Faith Transition
For Archuleta, coming out was as empowering as it was terrifying. But, in conversation, he does not shy away from it. He discusses his relationship with his family, and with God, with candor and empathy. “My mom has been on a journey,” he said. “It was hard for her to accept me… that I was coming out. But, she has worked so hard. I’m always grateful to see parents who are willing to make an effort to understand their child when their child is coming out. Even when it goes against everything they were taught. It’s not easy, but we’ve always been like this. We’re just trying to fit the part that we think will make people accept us. But that can only last for so long.”
His relationship with God is a bit more complex, but he continues to search for the answers. “I’ve been on a faith journey… a faith transition,” he said. “I don’t know where I sit exactly. What I was taught about what God was was so specific. I was taught that God is a man… He has a beard. ‘This is what He thinks of you… this is what He thinks you need to be… this is what He thinks if you’re gay… and if you live a gay lifestyle, this is how He is going to punish you.’ I tried, and did, believe that that’s what God was. By doing that, I thought, ‘Oh, what everyone told me what God was, that’s not really what God is.’ So then I’m like, ‘Ok… what is it? What is God? Who is God?’ I’m not sure exactly. I still feel this greater power and I still call it God. But, God isn’t hateful towards me the way I was taught God would be.”
Just when he appears to have worked through his thought, another materializes. Because he wants to talk about this. He wants to make up for lost time. He doesn’t need to be prodded about it, he just speaks from the heart. “I’m so used to calling God a He but I don’t know,” he said. “Everything is in question. Just like how everyone thought they knew God hated LGBTQ+ people for choosing to live. Hating their sin. Loving someone… I don’t think God considers a sin.”
“Only make room for love”
He continued. “People can be selfish with their love,” he said. “I don’t think that is isolated to just gay people. I tried to be in a straight relationship, but I just found that I have an inclination to be attracted more to guys. It has been a beautiful thing for me to get to experience, and I followed that because I followed God. The way I have always tried to. I just feel like I’m able to do that more honestly, and openly, and fully than I ever have before because I’m not trying to do it according to what some other person told me what they think God is. I’m following God the way I feel in my heart.”
For Archuleta, his God is his God. The same God he begged to change him, but refused. The same God who he felt came to him and said, “I will not change you because this is who you are meant to be.” That is the God he knows. “Even if people say that I am following something that is like the devil… like Satan, I think I know what evil feels like,” he said. “I also think I know what goodness and light feels like. That’s what I’m going to keep following.”