James Durbin, a 21–year–old from Santa Cruz, California, has made the top 13 on Season 10 of American Idol. The singer with the high–octane voice and rocker look has overcome a lot of obstacles to get to this point in the reality TV singing competition, which is the nation's most watched television program. When Durbin was young, he was diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome and Asperger's syndrome. Durbin is the only remaining Idol contestant with Tourette's.
Durbin's musical talent may stem in part from his father, who was a musician. Unfortunately, Durbin's father died of a drug overdose when he was 9. Shortly thereafter, Durbin was diagnosed with Tourette's and Asperger's syndrome, which are debilitating neurological disorders that can result in behavioral tics and social awkwardness. Durbin has mild forms of these disorders and has been classified as a "high–functioning" individual.
Durbin's back–story is inspiration to many. Durbin was bullied and made fun of while in school. He described himself as "lost", until he met his wife, Heidi. Heidi provides him with messages of encouragement around the house such as "I believe in my music" and "I believe in my gift". Durbin and Heidi have a baby boy and Durbin was unemployed prior to being on Idol.
While Durbin still struggles with facial and vocal tics in his day–to–day life, when he takes the microphone, it is as if he is free of his disorders. Durbin's vocal range and dynamic talent has been compared to American Idol Season 8 runner–up Adam Lambert. Lambert has since gone on to become an international pop star. His debut album, which included the single What Do You Want From Me? has sold more than 600,000 copies and has hundreds of thousands of downloads.
Durbin first gained recognition performing with a Santa Cruz–based children's theater group Kids On Broadway starting in 2006. He played the lead role in Beauty and the Beast , Singin' in the Rain, and also starred in a community theatre production of West Side Story. Durbin also cut his teeth as lead singer in a metal band called The Hollywood Scars.
Durbin has advanced on Idol with strong performances which include singing You Shook Me by Muddy Waters, Dream On by Aerosmith, I Don't Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith, A Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke, and Maybe I'm Amazed by Paul McCartney. Steven Tyler, the lead singer of Aerosmith who is one of the Idol Judges, commented that Durbin might sing Dream On better than he did.
Durbin is another example of a person who has overcome significant challenges from Tourette's syndrome to find success. Other well–known people with Tourette's syndrome include baseball player Jim Eisenreich and U.S. soccer player Tim Howard. With hard work, dedication and talent, people with Tourette's can still fulfill their dreams. A lot of people are pulling for Durbin to be the next American Idol.