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David Archuleta shares how childhood holiday traditions shaped his feelings about music during Christmas concert tour

The 28-year-old singer and “American Idol” finalist talked family traditions and dealing with negativity during his Christmas concert at Salt Lake City’s Capitol Theatre on Saturday.

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David Archuleta brought his Christmas concert tour to Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City on Saturday.

Cyrus Panganiban

Every family has their own unique holiday traditions. For David Archuleta, growing up with his four siblings, it was dressing in his mother’s homemade and sequined Jackson 5 outfits and going to perform at hospitals to bring Christmas cheer to patients.

During his Christmas concert at Salt Lake’s Capitol Theatre on Saturday, Archuleta joked that he had long since outgrown the sequined outfit but discussed how he had been able to learn from the experience. Even as a child, he could see how music can have a positive and powerful impact on people.

“I love the beauty in music,” Archuleta told the Deseret News in a recent interview. He explained that, to him, music is about “getting to say something that’s important, that’s deep within you, and let it out, and let people connect to that and help them discover a part of themselves.”

“I love that process.”

This theme, of positively affecting others through music, was one that he carried through his concert on Saturday at his Salt Lake City concert, taking breaks between performing holiday songs to talk about mental health and the spirit of the Christmas season.

Throughout the concert, Archuleta made it clear that he is comfortable communicating through his music. Though he occasionally seemed uncomfortable speaking in front of the packed Capitol Theatre crowd, he appeared immediately at ease as soon as he began to sing.

Archuleta moved easily through a variety of genres, like an upbeat pop cover of NSYNC’s “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” — which just got a music video last month — and jazzy renditions of “White Christmas” and “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.” And as always, Archuleta nailed the ballads, including an acoustic “Mary, Did You Know?” accompanied only by a guitar, and his soaring finale of “O Holy Night.”

But he didn’t only perform Christmas songs. No David Archuleta concert would be complete without a performance of “Crush,” the pop hit that propelled him further into stardom immediately following his time on “Idol.” Archuleta delivered with a mellowed, acoustic rendition that was a crowd-pleaser to fans in the audience.

A more surprising inclusion was a mashup of Stephanie Mabey’s song “Glorious” with Lauren Daigle’s hit “You Say,” though this performance seemed on-the-nose for much of Archuleta’s message for the evening.

Archuleta was open in discussing his mental health throughout the night. He talked about how he has dealt with “negative thoughts” that have made him feel inadequate or sometimes hopeless. He said going to therapy has helped him to confront these negative thoughts and move past them.

As Archuleta sang Daigle’s “You Say” later that evening, the openings lyrics of the song (“I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough/Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up”) seemed to take on more resonance.

He also shared with the audience just one of the things that he said he has learned from therapy that has helped him cope with negative thoughts.

Whenever a negative thought comes, such as “you’re not good enough” or “don’t bother trying,” tell that thought “thank you for the information,” but then set it aside and keep moving forward, Archuleta said.

The tactic appears to be working for Archuleta, who described himself as “socially awkward” at one point during the concert, though you wouldn’t know it to see him performing. He exuded genuine enthusiasm for the holiday songs he was performing, giving each of them his own unique twist.

Archuleta, whose album “Winter in the Air” is his second Christmas album, talked about the broad appeal of Christmas music and the feelings of joy that it can bring people, with some people seeking out that music and those feelings earlier every year.

“It’s still November right now,” Archuleta pointed out with a laugh. “But we’re here.”

Correction: This article previously identified “Glorious” as a song by David Archuleta. It was actually performed by Stephanie Mabey.