Ten years changes everything.
Back in 2008, David Hernandez was considered by some to be the early favorite on the behemoth that was American Idol — then broadcast on Fox. Although he was the first member of the Top 12 to be eliminated, Hernandez persevered and evolved, both creatively and personally.
“Back then I was nervous, insecure, and scared,” Hernandez admits. “Today, I would say I am ballsy, excited, secured, driven.”
What got him to this point?
“Experience, honestly,” he’s quick to point out. “I struggle with the same things other people do every day — insecurities, doubt, and all that. But it’s been 10 years since American Idol, so I would hope that I would have grown.”
That he has.
Now 35, Hernandez has weathered his own shares of challenges, but all of it seems to have filtered into his impressive creative life.
In 2011, his debut album, I Am Who I Am, dropped to good reviews. He came out after the release of his robust anthem, “Beautiful” in 2016. More television gigs followed.
Flashforward to this year and Hernandez is doing something daring: Releasing his own work on a new 23-track album called Kingdom: the Mixtape, which teams the artist with Black Eyed Peas Grammy-winning producer, Printz Board. It also features a collaboration with fellow American Idol alumnus Blake Lewis.
“The sounds are different,” he says of the new material. “There are different producers. My writing style has really changed. A lot of the music has just been sitting on my laptop for years waiting for the right time to be put out. After all this time, I realized, nobody else knows what my fans want. So I decided to put this out independently.
“I grew tired of industry executives telling me when to put out this or that,” he adds. “Because really, there is no rhyme or reason. I wanted to do something to make me happy.”
Happy warrants celebration, something the performer is ready for locally — Hernandez joins Ada Vox and Effie Passero for “Encore: A Celebration Of American Idols,” a benefit concert for AAP—Food Samaritans of Palm Springs taking place Nov. 3 during Greater Palm Springs Pride (Nov. 1-4).
“The only thing you can do in this industry is sink or swim,” Hernandez says of his own career evolution. “You either dust yourself off or try again, or just buried deep in that hole. I was never raised to be a quitter.”
“Music has always been my passion. The industry has not.”
As for creating a good Pride performance, the easy-on-the-eyes hunk is quick to note that it takes “an open heart” and the ability to show a great deal of love.
“When people come to Pride, they want to celebrate authenticity and differences,” he muses. “Because in this political climate, there’s a lot of negativity floating around.
“When you go to Pride, you just let that go. You want to dress up and celebrate. Every year, the crowd gets younger and younger and younger and I love that. It’s educating people at an early age to know it’s okay to be who they are.”
Encore: A Celebration Of American Idols, takes place at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 3, at Zelda’s nightclub, 611 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. Tickets are available at celebritydoodles.com. For more information on AAP—Food Samaritans of Palm Springs, visit aapfoodsamaritans.org. For a full list of Greater Palm Springs Pride events, visit pspride.org.