On Wednesday morning, I attended the Grammy Camp: Basic Training event sponsored by the Grammy Foundation at the University of Southern California.
The event, and accompanying activities held Wednesday, are meant to reinforce the Foundation's commitment to arts education, with high school students from around the area having the chance to interact with musicians, songwriters, producers, and other veterans of the music industry.
During the morning session, I jumped at the chance to have a one-on-one interview with songwriter and producer Eman (full name: Emanuel Kiriakou), whose hit singles include Hot Chelle Rae's "Tonight Tonight," Selena Gomez's "Who Says," and, most importantly for my interests, Murray native David Archuleta's most popular single, "Crush."
Eman has a long history of working with the 21-year-old Archie, with three or four songs on Archie's debut album, the same number on Archie's sophomore album, as well as songs on Archie's Christmas album.
"I was a huge fan of David on the show," Eman said of "American Idol." "I followed him from very early on."
Eman said that he has a habit of not writing songs for specific artists -- that could be very limiting -- but he broke his own rules by "targeting" Archie when writing "Crush." When he offered the song to Archie, Eman said he loved the song, and by working with Eman "made it his own."
Archie's career has had its ups and downs, and will take a breather when Archuleta goes on a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which Archie announced in December. Eman, who said he still talks to Archie often, said he feels like an older brother to Archie, and Archie has confided to him over the years that he had always wanted to go on a mission.
Archie's fan base is "real and staunch," Eman said, and doesn't worry about Archie's fans forgetting about him in two years' time. Eman, without naming names, said he has gone on tour with other "American Idol" alumni, including some with many more hit singles than Archie, but that they have never matched the intensity and the number of people that come to see Archuleta in concert.
On the mission, Archie might be able to reflect on music and come to a realization of what kind of artist he wants to be, Eman said, adding that he believed that Archie is still trying to find out where he fits in today's music landscape. Whatever Archie decides, Eman said, his fans will be ready for him.
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