Durbin Talks New Single, Autism Awareness
Friday, November 22, 2013
James Durbin, who rose
to fame as a finalist on the tenth season of American Idol, just released
his new single, "Parachute," which is now available on iTunes.
James was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and Tourette Syndrome when
he was 10 years old at Stanford Medical Center. A portion of the proceeds
from his new album "Celebrate," which comes out on April
8, 2014, will benefit Autism Speaks.
Autism Speaks Staffer Kerry Magro sat down to discuss the release
of James single and what he is doing today in the autism community.
Kerry Magro: Thanks for
giving us a few minutes today James! So James, what were some of the
key supports you had early on to help get you to where you are today?
James Durbin: My mom was always my greatest support. She was really
all I had at the time. She made sure that I had great outlets and
she got a godsend when she discovered I loved music, art and theater.
She did everything she could to get me scholarships into as many music,
art and theater programs as possible which helped me progress &
KM: So many people on the autism spectrum have been influenced by
music. How did music play a part in your life growing up?
JD: Right around the time when I was diagnosed, I got a hand-me-down
guitar with a chord book and a cheap busted tuner. I didn’t
know what I was doing, haha. I taught myself some chords to play some
basic songs and then I tried writing my own little songs & jingles
and it really helped me. It was a big change up. Ive always listened
to different music since back then. I think music is like medicine
and can be a benefit for anyone no matter what genre. There’s
just so much you can learn. It’s all about focus and for me,
not only on the Autism spectrum but also the Tourette's spectrum,
focus was something I needed help with. Music is my focus.
KM: You may not know this but when you were on American Idol we had
an Autism Speaks Voting Club to vote for you every week. How has the
reception from the community been since American Idol?
JD: Oh wow! No way? Thank you so much for voting for me! The reception
has been amazing. I’ve enjoyed meeting so many fans & so
many who are on the spectrum. I love hearing their stories. It’s
so incredible hearing peoples success stories and knowing you inspired
them. Once you start believing in yourself it can do wonders. Parents
are always telling me their stories at my shows, “Johnny couldn't
keep eye contact before & he had difficulty holding down a conversation...and
now he has a girlfriend, has his grades going up.." When I was
a kid I didn’t have a role model who went through the same things
I did, so I’m glad I get to be that for others.
KM: Your new single “parachute” comes out today. Can you
tell us a little bit about the song and your new album “celebrate”
which comes out in April?
JD: Parachute is officially up today. I co-wrote the song with Andy
Stochansky & my Ptoducer Scott Stevens. The first time I heard
the song idea, I knew I wanted it on "CELEBRATE", we just
had to finish writing it. I think "Parachute" is very relatable
& can work as a Euphemism, not only for relationships but for
those with Autism. If there's something you are worried about, I think
that hearing the line "Jump, Jump, Jump, Jump, Without My Parachute..Straight
Into You" can be almost like a mantra to push through it. Throw
away any feelings that hold you back. Get rid of all the negativity
that keeps you from being who you're meant to be.
KM: What advice would you give to the future James Durbin’s
of the world in our autism community?
JD: I really think that regardless of what it is.,, Whatever they
are trying to pursue to be.. a doctor, teacher, actress, musician,
anything. You can do it! I love being on the autism spectrum, I don’t
see it as a disability. I see it as something extra that normal people
don’t have. I tell all my autistic friends & fans this.
You have an extra sprinkle of genius in you. And it’s different
for so many on the spectrum. I know so many people who have a hard
time with eye contact but then they are complete geniuses in the key
interests they love and are passionate about. That’s what I
do. I immerse myself in it. I love it.
In order to get yourself to a point of success you need to stop judging
yourself based on what others think. I judge my own success by my
own merits. You should look at your success based on what you want
to accomplish as a person. If you set your own goals and your own
standards and you beat your own goals then THAT’s success!
KM: Thank you James for your time today and best of luck with your
single and your album coming out in April!
JD: Thank YOU guys. It’s been a total blessing. I’m seeing
things so clearly now in my life. And I think it’s a complete
waste to go into life without caring for others. I’ve never
loved so much and worked so hard in my life and I’m so grateful
to be here. Thanks again.