Karla News

David Burnham: He Speaks to Your Soul

Some people have it all: fantastic looks, incredible talent, awesome intelligence and a singing voice that is simply perfection. David Burnham is one of those rare people – he’s got it all.

He grew up on a small farm outside of Los Angeles; in a town he affectionately calls “Farmtucky,” where he occasionally serenaded the pigs with their favorite tune from “West Side Story.”

David has come a long way from singing to pigs. He is an accomplished stage performer, frequently on national tour or hitting the Broadway stage. He performs to sold-out theaters, works with young performers to enhance their voice, and generally just loves to perform in front of an audience. And they do love him for it.

On top of all that, he finds time to do charitable engagements, and even a few holiday shows around town. When he’s not on the road, he’s in the studio laying tracks for his next album.

Singing wasn’t something he thought about much — that is until a crowded high school class gave him some focus.

I didn’t even know I could sing until I was 16 years old,” he told me in a telephone interview. “I went to sign up for wood shop class and it was full. So, I had to take choir instead.”

David’s high school music teacher, Dan Freeburg, was quick to recognize the young man’s abilities.

“He took my under his wing right away,” David said. “He was incredibly supportive in those early years and it just led me to want to perform even more.”

After attending California State University – Long Beach, David went to an open audition call for Ragtime. “I had the long hair and kind of looked like a rocker,” he said. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but I went anyway.”

The audition certainly didn’t go as he expected, but producers had other – better – plans in store for the young performer.

“They told me I wasn’t right for that show, but I would be perfect for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Within a day, David was at the airport and on his way to Canada for an audition. Ten minutes after the audition was finished he was sitting in a costume fitting. Thirty minutes later — he was in a photo shoot.

The producers didn’t see him in a supporting role – they cast him in the lead role, one that the Donny Osmond had just completed.

“It was just the most incredible time of my life,” David said. “Things were happening so fast. One day I was in Los Angeles, the next day I’m getting fitted out for a costume to take over a role from an awesome performer (Osmond).

The transition may have been moving quickly, but it didn’t come without a support network.

“You meet some great people while doing a show,” he said. “It was just the most incredible thing that had ever happened to me…and it happened so fast.”

When the tour ended, David returned to LA to attend some acting classes and work on a few regional theater productions. But, his focus was clearly on becoming a better actor and performer.

“I just really needed to further develop my craft,” he said. “So, I used the downtime to do just that. It was what I needed…and when I needed it.”

His part in Dorian Gray drew a darker side of his personality to the stage – something that stuck with him after the night’s performance ended.

“It’s tricky when you have to play a role that is so different then you thought it would be,” he said. “I was always ‘in a mood’ during that one…even my friends noticed.”

As luck would have it, when he returned to Los Angeles, David was walking down the sidewalk when an agent approached him with another job offer.

“Yep, I admit it,” he said with a laugh. “I was Mr. February.”

That’s right: David Burnham was a calendar model and a pretty successful one at that. The calendar was an instant success, so much so that they made him into a full-size, full-color pin-up poster too.

“I guess I’d say it was fun,” he said with a thunderous laugh when I raised the subject. “I kind of wanted to forget about that.”

His talents extend beyond stage and print work. He has lent his voice to many animated projects, including a recent episode of South Park.

David played the Lincoln Center for two and half years in 2007, during a national tour of Nights of the Piazza, which earned him the 2007 Helen Hayes Award for Best Leading Man. But, performing eight shows a week with just one day off started to take its toll on his voice.

“It can be a really rough schedule day after day.”

In order to preserve his voice for performances, David spent a lot of his off time in relative silence. “I didn’t speak much during the days to save my voice for night performances,” he said. “I lived like a monk for two and half years…it’s really like an athlete in many ways.”

A touring schedule can be exceptionally grueling, especially without the support of family and friends.

“You feel very focused when you’re on tour,” he said. “Your entire world revolves around the production…the cast becomes your family and friends…you develop intense relationships very quickly.”

It was during that tour that an investor approached him about recording his first CD. “We did a lot of familiar songs and it was fun to put it together,” he said.

But it is his second project that made him especially proud. Working with music producer Mark Vogel, David began working recording some more contemporary pop songs into album called, One Day. Released in 2011, One Day has four of his original songs included.

“It’s in the style of Josh Groban and Michael Buble,” he said. “It’s really beautifully produced and was amazing fun to put together.”

The album contains an extra special song called Fly Away, which he wrote for an extra special lady.

“Its dedicated to my mom…she was so supportive of me.”

David said his mother died 10 years ago, but he still feels her love and support deep in his heart. “My mom played such an important part in encouraging me to pursue my career,” he said. “I think she is smiling at me.”

After the holidays, David plans some down time to promote his CD and just enjoy life. “It’s really great to just watch things happen sometimes…it is amazing!”

He won’t get to watch for very long. Early in 2012 he will begin work on a Christmas album that will – hopefully – be ready to launch before next Christmas.

“I’m really excited about doing this project…it’ll be great to do a lot of my Christmas favorites and share them with everyone.”

This guy is really, really good – more so then he even knows. He’s fans love him and once you hear him sing, you’ll love him too. Thanks David for sharing your gift! And what a gift it is.