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Elliott Yamin: a former Idol exclusive

Joel D. Amos is a Los Angeles-based writer, and the Senior Entertainment Editor here at SheKnows. He has interviewed numerous celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts, Katherine Heigl, Rachel McAdams, Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaw...

Mom's memory lives on

American Idol has produced another hit-maker in Elliot Yamin. The singer exemplifies the Clay Aiken rule: winning American Idol is not necessary to become a star.

Mom's memory lives onSince his 2006 Idol debut, Yamin has charmed audiences.

Yamin is now releasing his second album, Fight For Love.

Yamin called to dish on life after American Idol, his maternal influence that shines with him even after his mother's March 30 passing and why Season 8's Allison Iraheta has nothing to worry about at all. "She's going to be huge," Yamin says from his Los Angeles home.

Mom's influence looms large

SheKnows: Hello Elliott, how's things in your post American Idol world?Elliott Yamin: I feel fortunate to be able to be talking about a second album. Most artists who put out their first record don't get the opportunity to do a second one. Just the fact that it is here and the day is upon us, really makes me proud.SheKnows: Growing up, who was the true musical influence on you because I could see it running the gamut?Elliott Yamin: I think my mom was my biggest influence. She was the first person I heard sing. She would sing all the time constantly around me growing up. As I got older I started to listen to Stevie Wonder, Johnny Hathaway, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke and cats like that. That's where I started drawing my own musical inspiration from.SheKnows: I can completely see that as someone who grew up with a musical mom. It's something about that being passed on from a mother…Elliott Yamin: Sure, absolutely. It's funny, that gene kind of skipped my brother (laughs). He's the brains of the family. I always picked singing. It was something I could naturally do. It's just something I've been doing since I could talk. It all has to do with my mom.Mom's memory lives onSheKnows: Recently on American Idol, they played the going-home montage and there you were going home with your mom.Elliott Yamin: That's like the fourth time they've done that this season alone!SheKnows: Every time I get the chills, to be honest -- especially now.Elliott Yamin: Yeah, me too (sighs).

Fight for Love

SheKnows: For you as a songwriter and a musician putting together an album, is song selection difficult?Elliott Yamin: It is, especially when we have a surplus of songs. We did this time around. This is a great problem to have, you know? You're right. It's difficult. There were so many quality songs this time around. We have a lot of single potential songs on this album. That was definitely quite the task to figure out. My goal is to get as much of if out as possible. I wanted to push that.SheKnows: Are you going to be able to do some touring this summer? It is the best season for live shows.Elliott Yamin: We've got some shows lined up at the end of May. Then in June we leave for Japan. This will be my second tour there in less than a year. We sell a lot of records over there; it's a great market for us. It'll be my fifth tour there in a year-and-a-half.SheKnows: Wow…Elliott Yamin: I love it, man. It's not confirmed, but in August, it's going to be me and Mark Broussard touring together. I think together, we're going to have a real soulful show. If you had told me when I was in Allison's (Iraheta) position, that I would be selling records in different corners of the world, I wouldn't have believed you. It's so amazing.

Mom's memory lives onAn Idol gives back

SheKnows: You've gone to some incredible places across the planet. Are there a few that truly stand out for you?Elliott Yamin: My stand-out trip was definitely when we went to Angola, Africa -- to be a part of the whole Idol Gives Back and go over there and make a tangible difference. We handed out bed nets to kids in orphanages. We visited with sick kids with AIDS in hospitals. It really opened my eyes to the bigger picture. When you come back from places like that they call it survivor's guilt. You really get a deep appreciation for how blessed and fortunate we are. To see the resolve of the people over there in such an impoverished nation, yet everyone is so positive and optimistic and happy to have life. These kids get so excited about going to school and having a roof over their heads. It was an amazing trip and I'm going back sometime next year.SheKnows: You went with Fantasia…Elliott Yamin: Yeah, me and Fantasia. Quick story, we were at this orphanage that had been started at the brink of the Civil War. There are all these displaced kids there and we noticed that half of the school wasn't finished being built yet. We asked them how much it would take to finish it. They came up with a figure like $50,000. So we have actually put together a benefit concert soon to finish building that orphanage and that school. We can't wait to physically present them with the check and the tools to finish it. That's been on all our minds since we were in Africa.

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