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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Elliott Yamin: The quiet storm

Armed with a vocal talent that reaches the depths of the soul, Elliott Yamin electrified the music room at Smith’s Olde Bar with cuts from both his debut and his latest CD “Fight For Love.” Elliott and his team chose an acoustic tour to “spotlight Elliott’s vocals,” according to his tour manager John. And spotlight it did. Elliott’s vocals are impeccable; it is difficult to discern his live vocals from the recorded version. That is the mark of a true vocalist. Though some big label artists may sound somewhat different live, most indie musicians sound the same or even better live than on their recordings. Elliott falls into the latter class.

With no regrets for his choice to take the indie route, Elliott is extremely happy and fully embraces his musical life. Being an indie artist has allowed Elliott to be the “captain of his own ship,” so to speak. He handles many of his own promotions by writing blogs for his MySpace page and the E-train Station, his official fan site, and he “tweets” every ten minutes. Elliott’s gratitude to American Idol for launching his career remains very clear. “Very few artists get benefit of a built-in, millions strong audience, and I’m so grateful for that,” shares Elliott. With the music industry continuing to change and evolve, Elliott is prepared to be at the forefront. “The Internet and social media have changed things, making it possible for indie artists to succeed,” states Elliott. If his show at Smith’s Olde Bar is any indication, Elliott has enjoyed many successes as an indie artist. Seemingly in awe at the numbers who came to see him at Smith’s, Elliott retains much of the humble, excited nature that won over so many fans during his stint on American Idol. He remains very down to earth and is openly grateful to his fans.

Elliott continues his affiliation with American Idol by participating in the show’s “Idol Gives Back” program. Elliott is preparing to return to Angola, Africa in February to continue the work began last year on a school and orphanage. Elliott first traveled to Angola with Idol winner Fantasia Barrino and was part of the campaign that generated $100,000 from Exxon-Mobil that will benefit this project as well as several charities, including Malaria No More. His excitement in being part of the contingent that will personally deliver the check shows on his face when he speaks of the event. One of the things Elliott enjoys most about his job is the ability to touch people who are in need. When asked about being involved in these charitable works, Elliott shares that “[i]t’s very humbling, and I’m just blessed to get the opportunity.” Elliott also shares that visiting impoverished countries can create a feeling of “survivor’s guilt.” “Maybe I don’t need that big screen TV after all,” Elliott says with all seriousness. “Seeing people who don’t have even clean water to drink is a very humbling experience.” Elliott very much appreciates the real gifts in life, including his fans and the ability to make a living doing what he loves.

During Elliott’s set at Smith’s, the far-reaching power of his music immediately became clear. Fans from literally every walk of life loudly showed their appreciation for Elliott’s musical gift. The youngest fan in the audience appeared around 11 years old with the oldest nearing 70. Black, white, and every race in between made an appearance, and every one of them grooved to Elliott’s soothing yet powerful vocals. Most artists seem to attract a “type” of fan, but Elliott’s music transcends type. Very few artists can pull off attracting various types of listeners; in fact, it’s quite rare, demonstrating that Elliott Yamin has the ability to create long-term staying power in the industry. Hearing Elliott perform in such an intimate setting presents a spectacular opportunity. Many seats were set up just below the stage, and three or four fans sat on the lip of the stage. This setting made Elliott’s performance even better, and fans seemed hyped by the opportunity to see and interact with him so personally. By the time he finished his opening number, Elliott was rewarded with thunderous applause, which seemed to grow in crescendo with each passing song. Elliott, quite obviously feeding from the energy in the room, just got better. His vocals on the latest single release “Can’t Keep On Loving You (From A Distance)” were flawlessly clear and seemed to resonate from the walls of the room. Who needs a full band when an artist possesses such vocal prowess? When Elliott launched into “One Word,” Idol alum Jose “Sway” Penala, who is part of Elliott’s band, encouraged the crowd to sing along. They were only too happy to oblige. Hearing a near capacity crowd singing an artist’s song along with him is inspiring. The evening rapidly became one big “love fest” for Elliott Yamin, and he closed the show out with his national and international hit “Wait For You”—or at least it appeared that the show had come to a close. As the crowd yelled for more, Elliott and his band took the stage to perform “Movin’ On” from Elliott’s debut. Having finished up to the crowd’s complete delight, Elliott announced that he would meet any and everyone at the merchandise booth at the back of the venue. Very few people left, opting instead to take advantage of the opportunity to meet and speak with Elliott.

This story should end here, but there is so much more to Elliott Yamin than his vocal talent. His ability to reel in the audience with his light-hearted banter and genuine nature made the show more than just a concert. Elliott was completely sincere when he said, “All I ever wanted was to earn a living, doing what I love.” Mission accomplished, Elliott. Not only is he living his dream, but Elliott is not content with just that; he wants to give back, and he loves sharing himself with people who take the time and spend their money to come out and see him perform. But, it’s more than that. Finishing up the southern leg of his tour, Elliott heads back to the West Coast for a few shows before leaving for Angola on a mission of care that is very important to him, not to draw attention to his music but because he genuinely cares. His music merely allows the opportunity to benefit something far greater than himself. In a perfect world, all artists would be just like Elliott. In Elliott’s world, life is perfect. 
Thank you so much Shirley Kennedy from Atlanta Examiner  

Buy Elliott’s latest Release “Fight For Love.” There isn’t one bad track on the CD. Download it at iTunes to receive two iTunes exclusive bonus tracks.

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