By Andrew Moreno

    This time around, American Idol Alum, AJ Tabaldo
    sits down with De novo Magazine to discuss life
    after American Idol.  As you will read, AJ is eager
    and busy working on networking and working on
    his music career.

    AJ Tabaldo was a contestant on the mega-hit
    show, American Idol.  Here, AJ performed
    alongside Jordin Sparks, Blake Lewis, and
    Sanjaya Malakar.   Destined to greatness, AJ
    crafted his music and voice in Santa Maria, CA.  
    From small-town dreams to instant recognition, AJ
    Tabaldo just may have it all.

Tabaldo didn’t see his dreams come to pass with American Idol, but he is hopeful  that
his voice and charisma will take further.  We think so too.

Moreno: AJ, thanks for joining me. Now that you have appeared on American
Idol, I’m curious, what encouraged your interest with entertainment?

Tabaldo: I've been singing since I was 5 years old, so music and singing have always
been an interest.  I've never ever wanted to be anything else but a singer.  I knew since I
was 5 that it was what I wanted to do.  I had my first performance when I was 12 at a
local concert in my hometown, and since then I've been pursuing a career in music.  I'm
part Filipino, so as a kid I tried my luck in the Filipino industry as well as attempting to
establish a career here in the states.  So I've been interested and working at it for years.

Moreno:  I guess your efforts have come to pass. However, didn’t you grow up
in Santa Maria, CA?  What was that like?

Tabaldo: I led a very good and happy childhood.  Santa Maria is a fairly small town, so I
would say that I was a little sheltered.  I attended private school from Kindergarten all
through High School, so I grew up with traditional Christian/Catholic Values.  My
childhood was pretty normal.  Nothing too drastic or life changing happened to me.  I
also come from a HUGE family and I'm very family oriented.  I was raised in a pretty
stable environment throughout my whole life.  I've got good parents!   They raised me
well and they provided for me and my sister.

Moreno: Have they always been supportive of your dreams?

Tabaldo: I personally think I've got the BEST family in the world! They are my number
one supporters in everything I do.  Never once did they discourage me in my choice to
pursue music, my parents especially. They are my biggest fans and they want nothing
more than to see me succeed.

Moreno: Success has a lot to do with personality and charisma in the music
industry. What differentiates you from other artists?

Tabaldo: I think I'm different than other artists today because I like to think that I bring
back that "feel good" sound.  You know, the type of R&B music that just makes you feel
good.  Not the cookie-cutter sound that when you turn on the radio, everything sounds
the same.  I miss those days when it was all about making timeless music. Also, I think
my ethnicity makes me a little different from what’s out there in mainstream music right
now.  I consider myself an "ethnic mutt", but I'm primarily Filipino.  At the moment, the
mainstream industry has yet to embrace an artist of Filipino/Asian decent, and I'm ready
to break that barrier.     

Moreno: How do you define success?

Tabaldo: To me, success mirrors happiness.  If you are happy doing what you do, then I
think that means you are successful.  It doesn't matter how much money you make if you
aren't enjoying what you are doing.  Achieving your goals and doing what makes you
happy is my definition of success.

    Moreno: Let’s talk about your American Idol
    journey. Was it what you expected?

    Tabaldo: Being on that American Idol stage was
    one of the best feelings I've ever felt in my life.  
    The only tough part for me was performing for the
    cameras.  I've been performing all my life, and I'm
    all about working the audience and connecting
    with the audience, so it was a little new for me to
    work the audience AND the cameras.

Moreno: What about the judges?

Tabaldo: I personally like the judges.  They're normal people just like me and you.  Of
course they play a character for the show, so I remembered not to take them too
seriously.  They were actually pretty nice to me on and off the show.   

Moreno: Describe the moment when Ryan informed you that your Idol journey
was over?  Did you see it coming?  Or were you surprised at the results?

Tabaldo: It was so up in the air for me.  A part of me was shocked, and a part of me had
a feeling it was me going home.  Based on the comments from the judges, I felt that I
should have been safe.  But at the same time, it’s a TV show.  Not only was it a singing
competition, it was a popularity contest too.  I was officially "Sanjaya-ed.”  Plus, I realized
that I didn't get as much exposure in the beginning of the show, so it was a little hard for
me to compete with other contestants who had more show time and established fan
bases.  I saw it coming.   

Moreno: For the American Idol fans who can’t get enough, tell us what life is
like behind the scenes. What’s a typically Idol day?

Tabaldo: I would describe it as fun hard work.  We always had something going on.  If
we weren't rehearsing, we were shopping for our performance outfits.  If we weren't
picking songs, we were doing some kind of press interview.  It was a job, but a fun job
that we all had dreamed of finally doing.   

Moreno: What do/did you make of the Sanjaya hype?

Tabaldo: No comment. Sanjaya was actually a really cool kid.  I'm proud of him for
making it as far as he did.  He handled the public scrutiny and ridicule really well.  Did I
mention that he had great hair too! He probably doesn't even realize how famous he is.  
EVERYONE knows who he is.  I don't get approached by a fan without a question or
statement about Sanjaya.   

Moreno: Who did you think was going to win Idol?

Tabaldo: To tell you the truth, a couple of contestants and myself called Jordin from the
beginning.  I think some of the talent this season was phenomenal, but there was
something about Jordin.  She had "it".  From the voice to the name to the look.  She had
the whole package.

Moreno: Before you auditioned for American Idol, what were you doing?

Tabaldo: Before auditioning for Idol I was auditioning for Idol! This was my 5th year
trying out, so it had been a long time coming for me.  Before Idol, I was a Supervisor for
UPS and I pursued my music on the side.  Also, right before making Idol, I was
scheduled to attend California State University Northridge.  But I obviously had to put
that one on hold.

Moreno: What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Tabaldo: I think my strengths are my voice, my music, and my song writing.  I feel my
weakness at the moment is my fear of taking risks.  I'm terrified to make the wrong
decisions or direction and see my career in music go down the drain.  I need to learn to
just "go for it" sometimes.  .   

Moreno: Is there anything in the entertainment industry that bothers you?

Tabaldo: Image.  Not that I'm unhappy with my image, or feel that my image isn't good
enough for the entertainment industry. I just think that at this day it’s starting to
overpower talent.  And quite frankly, I think talent should come first.  

Moreno: Outside your popularity, what does AJ ponder about?  What questions
about life do you struggle with, if any?

Tabaldo: I always wonder and question why things happen the way they do.  They say
things always happen for a reason, and I'm that person that wants to know that "reason"
right away.  All my life, things have come so easy for me.  I was raised well, did good in
school, had a really good job... but the ONE thing that I wanted to achieve was the
hardest thing to get.  I guess perhaps I'm being tested on how bad I want it, but it gets a
little frustrating at times.  I try to keep the faith and remind myself that God has a specific
plan for me.

    Moreno: In general, what annoys you?  What
    brings you pleasure?

    Tabaldo: What annoys me?  Well a few pet peeves of
    mine are Fake/Ignorant people, dirty bathrooms, alarm
    clocks, and traffic!  I HATE traffic!  Especially in L.A.  I
    just moved out here not too long ago, and I'm STILL not
    used to it.  Oh and parking too, don't get me started!  
    But on a brighter note,  Music, spending time with my
    friends and family, and FOOD bring me pleasure.

Moreno: Do you still keep in contact with other idol members? If so, who?

Tabaldo: I still talk to almost everyone, but I've mostly kept in touch with Chris
Richardson, Brandon Rogers, Paul Kim, Alaina, Sabrina, Jared.  Everyone is so busy
doing their own thing, so it’s a little hard to keep in touch.  When things slow down for us
I'm sure we'll have a reunion!

Moreno: AJ, you seem to know where you want to go and achieve, but is that
ultimately what you want from life?

Tabaldo: I want happiness, noot only for myself, but for my friends and family as well.  I
want to have a successful music career, a family of my own, and a care-free happy go
lucky life!  Life is too short to stress over non-sense.   

Moreno: Is this what you pray for?

Tabaldo: I ask God for strength, guidance, health, happiness and forgiveness.  No one
is perfect, and I'm glad that I have a God who is aware of that.  I am grateful for all He
has blessed me with, and I can't thank him enough for that.  No matter what I am going
through in life, I know that He is there for me every step of the way.  What more could I
ask for?   

For more information on AJ Tabaldo, you can visit him at


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