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Monday, January 18, 2010

Elliott Yamin stops in Virginia Beach

"American Idol' Elliott Yamin stops in Virginia Beach
Posted:  01/06/2010 5:50 PM

By Joy Vann
The night before "American Idol" kicks off its ninth season on Fox TV with the typical hapless audition wannabes, fans of the show can get a live "Idol" fix in Virginia Beach with a top finisher, Elliott Yamin.
The 30-year-old Richmond native rose to fame as a finalist in the fifth season of the show and is on a mini-tour to promote his latest album, "Fight for Love." It was released last year and features the radio single "Can't Keep on Loving You."
Yamin has been busy since competing on "American Idol" in 2006, when he placed third (by a narrow margin) behind Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee.
He found success when his album "Elliott Yamin" entered as the highest independent debut by a new artist in Billboard chart history, and his single, "Wait for You," was a top 5 hit.
Times are a bit tougher now, he said, and he's working  harder than ever.
"It's been a tough road. The business has changed since the first album came out. It's tougher to get radio on board and to get money from the label to promote it," he said. "There have been changes in the record business. People don't buy full albums anymore. It's tough for an artist to make a dollar."
Despite the difficulties, he's confident that his fans will pull him through.
"I have a really loyal fan base and I have a brand, but I need to work on expanding my base. This was just a slow year."
Yamin has played The NorVa, a downtown Norfolk venue that can hold about 1,400 people, but he'll be making his Virginia Beach debut Monday at The Jewish Mother, a much smaller Oceanfront institution that he's visited many times.
"I love the intimate settings and having that immediacy with the fans and listeners. It creates a nice atmosphere," he said.
Yamin described this tour, lasting just the month of January, as "stripped down and laid back."
"It's acoustic with a twist," he said, adding that he's happy to be back on tour. "I love everything about being on the road, waking up in a new city every day and the meet-and-greets. I've always wanted to travel and see the world."
In October, Yamin completed his second USO tour in Japan and Guam. Performing for the troops is gratifying, he said, and he hopes to perform in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It's great to get out there and thank the men and women of the armed services. It gives them a little taste of home, and it allows us to say thanks. I've performed at some of the smaller bases around the world that can get overlooked. It makes it that much more special for the troops, like the ones we met in Japan, that might not get as much recognition as those stationed in war zones."
While Yamin keeps working to find lasting success in the United States, he's a star in Japan, a turn that he never imagined in his wildest dreams.
"It's a great market for my music. I've been there eight times in two years and sold a lot of records. For some reason, my records do really well there. I love being there. I love the people, the culture, the food, everything."
Following the current tour, Yamin's calendar is booked solid. His itinerary includes stops in Japan, Chile (for the Vina del Mar International Song Festival) and a return to Angola as "American Idol" representative for Exxon Mobil Corp.'s malaria initiative.
"I plan on being on the road a lot," he said. "I think this year is going to be good for me."

Joy Vann, joyvann@cox.net

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