Each year, American Idol produces a handful of contestants who give memorable
performances during the audition rounds, immediately making them odds-on
favorites to win. Last night, millions of American Idol viewers were introduced
to just such a contestant in James Durbin. Durbin is a 21-year-old Santa Cruz,
California resident and unemployed father who has faced some major challenges
over his lifetime.
At the age of nine, Durbin’s father died of a drug overdose and the Idol singer has also been diagnosed with Tourette syndrome and Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of autism.
James Durbin wowed the judges with an amazing vocal range, which included renditions of "You Shook Me" and "Dream On." Judge Steven Tyler was particularly impressed, saying, “Wow man, that was so, so good."
Comparisons are already being made to Season 8 American Idol runner-up, Adam Lambert. However, Durbin is actually much different and his unique story, coupled with an amazing voice, will surely make him a fan favorite and front-runner to win it all. If that were to happen, Durbin would join a growing list of individuals (i.e. Jason McElwain, Temple Grandin, etc.) who have shattered many of the stereotypes and misconceptions about what it means to have autism and what those who have it are capable of accomplishing.
After his performance, James Durbin admitted to the judges that when he sings, his Tourette’s "all goes away." Hopefully, Durbin doesn’t anytime soon and is eventually crowned the Season 10 winner.