David Archuleta of American Idol Woos Washington

It may have taken a year, but Washington has a crush on David Archuleta.

By and SHARE

By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

2008 American Idol runner-up David Archuleta, the 18-year-old who's scored big with his song "Crush," can now add Washington to his list of cities with a crush on him.

What the rest of the country saw on Fox last year, he brought to town to help draw attention to the fourth annual Keeping the Promise to Our Children conference, sponsored by hip-hop's Russell Simmons and Hollywood philanthropist, moviemaker, and punk promoter Daphna Ziman.

Archuleta capped his two-day stay at a dinner for the conference last night. And while stars Shawn King and Terrance Howard performed, too, it was young Archuleta who earned a State Department standing O in the Benjamin Franklin Diplomatic Reception Room. "I'm going to try and accompany myself," the young star nervously told the crowd. Then he sat down at the piano and played an almost-perfect rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine," belting out the song in that powerful but youthful voice that allowed him to get so far on Idol. He then performed Kurt Bestor's "Prayer of the Children" a cappella. The vocal powerhouse told Whispers that he would have been "a little more nervous" if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had shown up.

The night before, Archuleta and several other stars of the kids conference were feted at Washington's Teatro Goldoni, just named the city's favorite by Washington's restaurant association. Check out our photo gallery of the event.

I'm an Idol fan, so I sought David out and got to sit with him and his dad, Jeff. I knew immediately that he is just as genuine and shy as he appeared to be on the show. He blushed and giggled when people praised his work. He covered his mouth when eating and trying to talk. He gave out autographs. And he dressed the part of a kid, right down to his black Chucks. He described his life since Idol as something of a blur, with little time at home. But he's been a hit on the music and tour scene, selling some 700,000 copies of "Crush." And he and his dad are just beginning work on a Christmas album. Jeff, who did not appear any bit of the ogre he was said to be behind the Idol curtain, is a coproducer. He said the album will include traditional songs like "Silent Night" and up to three written just for David.

With Nikki Schwab

Check out our gallery of Whispers political cartoons.

Follow Paul and Nikki on Twitter.

Read more Washington Whispers.