At 6 years old, Archuleta, who grew up on a steady diet of musicals like Les Misérables and Evita, developed a love for singing as a way to find solace in the comfort of his backyard. Before long, family, friends and neighbors started to notice, and at 9 years old, coaxed by the promise of free quesadillas, he was singing for crowds at a local restaurant. And in 2007, when the then-16-year-old (now 26), appeared on American Idol, the world started noticing. Receiving 44 percent of nearly 100 million votes, the shy, fresh-faced vocal prodigy was runner-up on the hit show’s seventh season, finishing behind David Cook.
A record deal with Sony/Jive Records, arena tours, a No. 2 single (“Crush”) on the Billboard Hot 100, acclaim from the likes Bruce Springsteen, Kelly Clarkson and Rihanna, and international fame followed. But even after running the gamut from Top 40 pop to holiday music on six studio albums and 21 singles, released over the past decade, including a two-year break from music to embark on life-changing missionary work in Chile for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the TV personality, bestselling author and former Star Search Junior Vocal Champion and one of American Idol ’s youngest breakout wunderkinds was still just finding his voice.