American (Stuttering) Idol

American Idol logo 2008–2011

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My family enjoys watching American Idol. Have for years. There’s something about watching these average people get thrust into the limelight that has that rags-to-riches curiosity about it.

This year there’s one contestant in particular that we pull for: Lazaro Arbos. Lazaro has a pretty severe struggle with stuttering and whenever he speaks it’s very obvious. And very obvious that he’s uncomfortable, stressed, and very aware that millions are watching him.

As a stutterer myself who used to struggle as much as Lazaro my heart goes out to him and I applaud his courage. For a stutterer, what he is doing is the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest. With a hand tied behind your back. Blindfolded. Seriously. It’s not easy stuff to stand before a camera on a stage like he has and let the world see what you perceive as your biggest weakness.

This past Wednesday night Lazaro sung a very lackluster version of the Beatles’ “In My Life.” Afterward the judges were pretty vocal about their displeasure. Then Ryan Seacrest asked him to talk and Lazaro did all he could do to not lose it in front of millions of viewers.

To understand this you have to understand the psychological struggle of a stutterer. Stutterers live in a constant state of stress, not knowing when the next time is they’ll be asked to talk, to introduce themselves, to ask for directions, to even say thank you. Unfortunately, for most stutterers stress causes things to get worse. Then, put someone on a stage in front of millions and criticize him for a song performance he knows is well-below par, and on top of that–you know it’s coming–ask him to talk about it.

Trust me, the pressure is unbelievable. For a stutterer it’s not unlike being overweight and having your clothes stripped off in public so everyone can see what you’ve been trying to hide. It’s no wonder Lazaro nearly broke down. The stress this guy is under is unbelievable. His courage is inspiring.

Okay, that’s all for the American Idol stuff.

Wait, quick question: Are you watching American Idol? If so, who are you pulling for?


About mikedellosso

Mike Dellosso is an author of wide-eyed suspense. He writes stories that not only entertain but enlighten.

Posted on March 22, 2013, in Life in General, Stuttering and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. I’m not watching this year. I watched for 9 years and finally got tired of the drama (and I can’t stand Nikki so I refuse to watch just because of her). I’m rejoicing for the measure of success Colton Dixon (last year contestant) is getting in the Christian music scene.


  2. Mike, you may recall that I didn’t know you were a stutterer the night we met at Blue Ridge. You’ve done a great job of dealing with the stress factor. I don’t believe I told you that it was a stutterer who led my wife and me to Christ. Through him, I’ve learned what a struggle it is for stutterers to fear speaking. But, as God did with him (he’s been a missionary in the Philippines for 30 years), God is using you in a mighty way. Keep writing, teaching and preaching. There’s a whole lot of people who need you in there lives.


  3. Great post Mike. Thanks for sharing your insight.


  4. Thank you for sharing, Mike. I worked with a guy who stuttered. When I could, I’d gently find the words for him. He was ok with that. He was such a nice guy, and I enjoyed helping where possible. Took the pressure off him.
    I’m not watching AI, though I’ve watched for years. Am struggling with my own personal demons of sort and spend as much time one that as possible. Prayers appreciated.


  5. Marilyn Watson

    I also watched American Idol and Lazaro’s performance. It was obvious that he struggled through the song. Yet, his struggle didn’t end there. The judges were extremely unkind with their criticism, There is a way to speak the truth in love, yet they refused to find it. I feel it was cruel and unfeeling to make him answer Ryan’s question after what he had just gone through. Whether he becomes the next American Idol or not, he has become a symbol of strength, courage and dignity to those who struggle daily with a handicap.


  6. Personally, I’m pulling for Angie. She’s amazing. I’ve not been a fan of Lazaro fro the start and I feel bad because it seems people expect others to be a fan of his simply because of his stuttering. While I think it is amazing how well he sings, and it blows me away that he can sing like that in spite of his handicap, I’m just not a fan of his style or something.

    I personally do not think the judges were cruel. I really don’t. He didn’t do well, and I don’t think he should skate by on a pity vote, which I believe he did, especially seeing he was not even in the bottom 3. He really hasn’t done better than anyone else in a few weeks now.

    I know, I know… how can I be so mean? Can anyone honestly tell me he did better than Amber? Or Paul? Forget the handicap. I’m talking just the performance. No. He just didn’t do well.

    But… let me also say this… the dude is inspiring. Seriously amazing courage that should inspire anyone struggling with their own personal views of themselves. He definitely has career ahead of him.


    • Gregg, I agree 100% with what you said. He’s not the best singer there. Period. I was just thinking this morning that I hoped he wouldn’t keep dodging the elimination because people feel sorry for him. I’m not sure if that’s the case or not. What I do know is that from the beginning AI has not been a true talent show. The winners are not always the best singers. It’s as much a popularity contest as it is a singing contest.


  7. I wish I could watch it. I’ve always enjoyed it in the past, but my work schedule changed and I have to be up at 3:15AM to get to work by 4 so odd as it sounds, it’s just on too late for me. I’ve seen lots about this guy and have been pulling for him in my thoughts. It’s sad to hear how awful that must have been for him.


  8. I don’t watch American Idol, but I did see this amazing young man, what talent! Do you remember Mel Tillis advertising for Badcock furniture? I looked up a list of famous people that stutter, it is a very long list! It includes writers, John Updike, Lewis Carroll, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jim Davis, creator of Garfield, journalist John Stossell. Some of the government leaders included are Joe Biden, and Winston Churchill, sports figures, Tiger Woods, Shaquielle O’Neal, and Hershal Walker. Actors and actresses are James Earl Jones, with his eloquent voice, and Nicole Kidman, Bruce Willis, Jimmy Stewart, Marilyn Monroe, and BB King. I only chose a few out of all the lists.

    I also remember William, a colored man, as we called people of color when I was a child, who worked for my granddaddy on his farm. William was very kind, all of the grandchildren liked him very much. I don’t think anyone knew his last name, I knew he lived somewhere in the woods. I believe everyone of us have fond memories of William and we will never forget him. He left his footprints on our hearts.


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