David Hernandez Gets Real in the Remake of his First-Ever single, “I AM”
By Jamie Booth

“So much of what I sang about in my first album still rings true today,” David Hernandez reflects from his home in Los Angeles.  It’s been fifteen years since the singer-songwriter first emerged on the world’s stage in the seventh season of TV’s American Idol and was then scandalized for his work as a male stripper.  “I’ve worked so hard to overcome the traumas of my childhood, and by the grace of God, I have managed to heal so much, but I would be lying if I said that some days weren’t still a struggle.  I think I will always be discovering who I am until my dying day. There’s a beauty in that.”

This month, David Hernandez is out with a re-imagined version of the title track from his first EP.  The single has been shortened to “I AM” and revamped for the modern era.  It still tells the story of David’s turbulent past but also serves as a nod to all that he has been through since hitting the big time.

Can you still relate with that young man who competed on American Idol?
David Hernandez:  Oh yes.  I’m still that same person in a lot of ways, but I was a baby then! I was naïve and had no idea what I was getting into and, rightfully so. I had never been on that major of a platform before. I mean, I had never been on any platform at that point.

You had to be all nerves competing on such a big show.
I remember driving to San Diego for the audition.  I had just parted ways with my very first record label and I had also dropped out of college one year prior to graduating. On top of that, I felt the weight of taking care of my family.   I should have been all nerves, but truthfully, I don’t recall feeling nervous or excited.

Has fame made life more or less complicated for you? 
At first, it made life way more complicated. I remember TMZ following me around after the scandal of my being a stripper first came out.  It was a crash course in how ruthless the media can be. I can’t really complain though because this is the career I chose.  The alternative would be getting a regular job and never interested me. The real complicated part about fame is that people think that just because you’re famous, you’re rich. That isn’t the case for me. 

Why did you decide to re-release a reimagined version of your first solo single? 
I AM is really special to me, and I think its message is relatable to everyone. Trying to remain true to yourself through all the traumas that life throws your way can be really challenging. I originally re-recorded it just for fun.  I didn’t plan on releasing it or shooting a music video for it. But after hearing the final version, I knew I had to.

Would you say the new version reflects who you are now?
Yes, it pulls away the veil on how it felt to always put up this public persona that everything was OK when in reality, throughout my years in Hollywood, there have been times where I’ve struggled with who I am and where I belong. I’ve made some mistakes and ran in the wrong crowd at times, which made me even more lost in a city full of fake people. But the road always leads back to that little boy with big hopes and dreams who believed in himself when no one else did.

It also reflects on your relationship with your mother. 
Absolutely. My mom was 17 when she gave birth to me. She was a baby raising a baby. Over the years I’ve come to understand the choices she made with the tools that she had. She went through a lot. I remember during a visitation weekend with my dad, when my mom was to drop me off, my stepmom confronted her with friends in the neighborhood and physically assaulted her in front of my sister and me. Seeing that as a child was really damaging.

That’s horrible!
It is.  It was.  I AM takes me back to my roots. It’s special.  I wouldn’t be the person I am today without everything that I went through.  The song is the story of me always trying to do the best that I can. 

What did you learn about yourself in your thirties? 
The end of a relationship isn’t the end of the world.

Aging is hard enough for a gay man… is it even harder being a public person? 
Everyone has something to say about the way you look. Is it hard? Sure. But another thing I learned in my thirties is that people’s opinions don’t matter. The only opinion that matters is how you feel about yourself. 

What is something you enjoy doing in your free time? 
I love waking up on a Saturday and Sunday morning with iced coffee. 

Is there anything you wish you could say to the David from fifteen years ago?

It’s ok to carry tenacity, audacity, discipline and drive, but don’t feel the need to white knuckle things.  Don’t feel pressed for time.  What the universe has for you, won’t miss you.   Work hard to enjoy the short journey called life.

David Hernandez’s “I AM” is available on Apple Music, Spotify and all major streamers.  Visit  www.OfficialDavidHernandez.com.  Follow David Hernandez on Instagram, Facebook and X @ DHernandezMusic