Vocalist Elliott Yamin first gained recognition as the second runner-up on the fifth season of the reality show American Idol. Born in 1978 in Los Angeles to a painter father and former professional singer mother, Yamin eventually moved with his family to Richmond, VA, where he attended middle school and high school. Around the time he turned 14, Yamin's parents divorced, and thus began a period of some personal difficulty for the singer. Already close to 90 percent deaf in his right ear, Yamin was also diagnosed at 16 with Type 1 diabetes. In his sophomore year of high school he dropped out and began working at a Footlocker and later as a clerk at a pharmacy. Though Yamin ultimately earned his GED, his focus had already shifted full-time to pursuing a singing career, and he found various performance opportunities including work with a jazz band on a local radio station under the moniker E-Dub.
In 2006, Yamin quit his job at the pharmacy to audition for American Idol in Boston, MA. Singing Leon Russell's "A Song for You"—made famous by Yamin's personal idol, soul singer Donny Hathaway—Yamin made it through the first round of auditions and moved on to the second and all-important Hollywood round. A likable performer with a knack for romantic soul ballads and a laid-back stage presence, Yamin was a fan favorite from the start and ultimately made it to the final-three round along with eventual runner-up Katharine McPhee and eventual winner Taylor Hicks. In December of 2006, Yamin announced he had signed a publishing deal with Sony, and he released a cover of Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas" on iTunes. In 2007, Yamin released his self-titled solo album. The soul-oriented holiday album My Kind of Holiday appeared in 2008. In 2009, Yamin released his sophomore effort, Fight for Love, featuring production help by Stargate and Dave Tozer. Two years later, his third album Let's Get To What's Real (also known as Gather Round in Japan) was released.