Elliott Yamin is a great singer. Anyone who watched the sixth season of American Idol knows this for a fact. In terms of pure singing ability, Yamin is arguably the best male singer to ever grace the Idol stage. One thing you may not know about Yamin is that he’s also a really good person. Yamin has suffered from Diabetes for years and has begun using his Idol fame to do what he can to help those who suffer from Diabetes. We talked to Yamin recently and discussed his involvement with the Inspired By Diabetes campaign, as well as what he’s been up to with his music.
Below you will find both the written transcript and full mp3 of the interview.
So I know you’ve gotten involved in this Inspired By Diabetes campaign. Can you tell us a little bit about what that’s all about and how you got involved?
Absolutely. Inspired By Diabetes is a creative expression competition sponsored by Eli Lilly, and they came to me and asked me if I wanted to help endorse it and also be a judge of some of the entries. I said of course because it kind of hits close to home. Of course A) I’m a type one diabetic, and B) It’s kind of a creative competition. I jumped at the chance to be a part of it, and I’m glad I am. It’s really great, because it’s really making a direct impact and difference in children’s lives, and the quality of their lives at the same time. What it is is a creative competition where contestants can enter the competition through song, through art, through drawings, through words, or an essay.
Basically we’re looking for people to share their stories about diabetes or their connection to diabetes in any which way. Like I said, through words, through pictures, or art, or music of course. There’s all these great, great prizes for the winners, and all the information regarding the contest can be found at their website inspiredbydiabetes.com. But the really cool thing that drew me in is the fact that for every entry the contest gets, Eli Lilly is going to donate money to a program called Life For A Child. Basically, what that program is, it’s basically to benefit children in 13 different countries around the world. Most of these are developing countries, or some might be third world. Kids in these countries have no access to insulin, and they have no access to proper medical care. What Eli Lilly is doing is for every entry donating money to that charity, and I’m also donating money by sales of t-shirts and pins at my concerts to the charity as well. We just want to make sure that kids who need insulin to live don’t go without.
I’m very privileged to be on an insulin pump and to have insulin, but I couldn’t imagine my life without it. I wouldn’t be here very long, nor would I be able to help make a difference or help to share my gift with everybody around the world. It’s a big thing to do, it’s a big contest, and it’s a big charity. Another cool thing about it is that for every entry, Eli Lilly is also donating scholarships to American Diabetes Association diabetes camps, which I thought was really cool too. I’ve had a chance to visit a few camps over the past couple years, and before I did I never even knew that diabetes camps existed, let alone there was just someplace where all these diabetics can go, congregate, share their stories, and kind of feel like a normal kid. Those are the kind of things I like to be involved in, and that’s what Inspired By Diabetes is all about.
You’ve also been named the campaign’s global ambassador I believe, and I think you’re speaking with the United Nations this month right?
I think I am. I’m in New York now, and we’re going to come back on the 13th, 14th, and maybe 15th to do the big, big stuff with the United Nations. That’s going to be a lot of fun.
It’s going to be pretty nerve wracking too I bet.
Not really, no. I think if I can walk the plank on that American Idol stage, I can take on anybody. We’ve already been to Congress, and one of these days I want to actually be able to testify. I’d like to give a testimonial, maybe if I get a chance to go back to Congress. I’m trying to fight the battle on all fronts, because I am a type one diabetic and quite frankly I’m getting sick of it.
What would you tell a young kid who’s been diagnosed with diabetes? I know you were diagnosed when you were a teenager. How did that change your life, and what advice would you give to a young person?
Well, it changed everything about my life. How I eat, I have to be conscious of how I’m feeling at all times, and there’s so many different things I have to check a year. I have to make sure my eyes are okay, and diabetes just effects so many different parts of your body. It kind of seems like it’s the gateway to complications to everything. Having diabetes just magnifies that so much greater. That’s one of the biggest misconceptions that young people with diabetes have, thinking “I might slip up every now and again here and there, or I don’t need to pay attention to it, or I don’t need to check my blood sugar that often.” I too included. I didn’t really think about the serious, and sometimes fatal, long term effects that diabetes can have on you. I think part of being young and growing up is just kind of living in the moment and being in the now. It’s important to just take a breather, take a step back, and take some time with yourself and just take care of yourself. Eventually you’re going to be the only person to do that anyway, so just take care of yourself.
Musically, I know last month you just released a holiday album with NBC and you’re about to go on tour. Can you talk a little bit about the album and the tour?
Well I’m out on tour already, and I’m kind of in the middle of the second leg of my tour right now. It’s really to support my current album, and of course the Christmas record too, though we’re not playing any Christmas music. I did an exclusive Christmas record with Target. There’s eight songs on there, two of which are original and the rest are covers. I think there are other artists that got the same kind of deal I did, like Taylor Swift and KT Tunstall I believe. All three of us were picked by NBC to do Christmas holiday records called Sounds of the Season. I have a really good relationship with Target and they’ve sold a lot of my albums in the past. The cool thing about the deal is that I’ll actually get to own the masters to it after the holiday season, which is really cool. The fact that I got to go in and record some more music with my voice on it, and kind of keep my voice out there resonating among the fans, and maybe I’ll get to do some cool stuff this holiday season with NBC.
Alright Elliott, I appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. We wish you luck in the future and we’ll be hearing a lot more from you soon I’m sure.
I hope so, thanks for having me.
-Interview Conducted by Oscar Dahl