This year's "American Idol" has already seen the passing of the torch from Jason to Michael Castro, the first legacy to make it to Hollywood. But during the Utah auditions that aired on Wednesday night, the program got what might be its first bona fide über-ringer, David Osmond.
The Provo, Utah, native is the son of Alan Osmond, the eldest brother of the squeaky-clean Osmond singers, best known for their tight harmonies, wholesome family values and the "Donny & Marie" variety show of the 1970s.
David Osmond, 29, began performing with his family at age 4 in a barbershop quartet and has appeared in the Broadway touring version of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," as his uncle Donny's understudy. According to his Web site, he's recorded albums as part of the Osmonds: 2nd Generation band with brothers Michael, Nathan and Douglas and has been working on his solo debut for several years.
The soul-patch-sporting David, one of Alan Osmond's eight children, won the judges' hearts with his bright smile and a version of Take 6's "Something Within Me." His calm, cool audition impressed the judges, but Simon Cowell worried that "if you think you're contemporary, you're going to make a huge mistake, David ... massive mistake, because that will not work." And Paula Abdul wondered if he would be able to shine as a solo artist after singing multi-part harmonies for so many years. "You need to start thinking of yourself as one solo artist," she said. But, seeing his potential, the judges voted him through.
One of the most dramatic parts of Osmond's story was the revelation that, like his father, he suffers from multiple sclerosis, which had confined him to a wheelchair until just before his audition last summer. In the three years he's had MS, it has sometimes made him unable to sing or play guitar. And while Osmond knows it could strike back at any time, he told host Ryan Seacrest that he was feeling good and strong during the audition process.
"It's like a roller coaster," he said of the disease that attacks the nervous system. "It has a remittance and a relapse. It's very likely that MS ... could flare up, and I could go back to that wheelchair."
Osmond said he feels his dad with him at every step, and father and son shared a touching moment when a weepy Alan Osmond said, "He's got a challenge and he's whipping it, because he's tough ... and he's not doing it because he's an Osmond."
"So genuine," judge Kara DioGuardi said after David celebrated getting his Hollywood pass with his large, adoring family.
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