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Jewish Journal

Tour Keeps ‘American Idol’ Runner-up on the Run

by Keren Engelberg

August 10, 2006 | 8:00 pm

Elliott YaminElliott Yamin is on the summer road trip of his life, but it's no vacation. The second runner-up on the most recent "American Idol" has been performing as part of the "American Idols Live Tour 2006" since early July -- not to mention promoting the heck out of it -- when he's not on the bus.

The lifestyle has proved trying for the Jewish R & B singer (his real name is Ephraim), as he works to adjust to his new celebrity -- and schedule.

"If you take away all we do -- the media, the shows -- just the traveling alone is pretty grueling," Yamin said, speaking from Duluth, Ga. "There is no schedule. Unless we have a day in town, we're moving on to the next venue."

That means sleeping on the tour bus quite often, one talent Yamin said he has not perfected. It caught up with him on a recent stop in Washington, D.C., where the American Idols were to meet the American president. Yamin showed up late to the White House, having overslept after getting into D.C. very early that morning.

"I got there just in time to take some snapshots with him," Yamin said. Before he arrived, Yamin's fellow performers, including "Idol" winner Taylor Hicks and runner-up Katherine McPhee, received a tour of the White House by the first lady's press secretary, Susan Whitson, who was once Hicks' ninth-grade English teacher and had helped arrange the visit.

In addition to trying to keep up with his work schedule, Yamin said he keeps abreast of the political situation in Israel, a matter of personal concern to him because so much of his family lives there.

"I have a huge family out there, some of whom are ... fighting this battle. I just want to tell them how much I love them and God keep them safe," he said. And while he may be suffering from midtour fatigue, Yamin says the love shown by Jewish fans has meant a lot.

The Jewish community of Richmond, Va., his hometown, has proved to be a hotbed of "Yaminion" activity. An early effort that received national attention came from Jordan Shenker, executive director of Richmond's Weinstein JCC, who sent out a mass e-mail urging the community to vote for the "nice Jewish boy."

Support has also come in the form of Passover seder invitations when Yamin was in Los Angeles taping the show, and even a bat mitzvah invitation Yamin recently received on tour in Bridgeport, Conn.

And then there's the "great T-shirt" Yamin received from an 11-year-old boy one night on the show. With the Star of David superimposed on the Superman emblem, it reads "You're My SuperJew."

"All the guys call me SuperJew when I wear it," Yamin said.

The SuperJew and the rest of the "American Idol" top 10 will perform at Staples Center Aug. 26 and at Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim Aug. 27.

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