Original traveller: Adam Lambert
He’s been serving Big Frontman Energy since he blew the roof off American Idol in 2009. Adam Lambert looks back on his musical journey and tells Helen Whitaker about his most memorable travel moments
Adam Lambert is where pop royalty and actual royalty collide. For our interview, he calls from Westminster Abbey before the soundcheck for Royal Carols: Together at Christmas, which aired on Christmas Eve, and was attended by the Prince and Princess of Wales. In 2022, he also performed at Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Concert – with musical national treasures Queen, with whom he’s been collaborating since he performed ‘We are the Champions’ with Brian May and Roger Taylor as a contestant on American Idol in 2009.
It’s an ongoing collaboration that came about because 15 years ago, viewers weren’t the only ones impressed by Lambert’s vocal range and showmanship (although, mind-bogglingly, he came runner-up in the final). Their first world tour together was in 2014 and they’ve played international gigs together ever since. This month, they have a string of dates in Japan.
Lambert’s Queen collab sits nicely alongside his solo work, which has been similarly full throttle. The 42-year-old has so far released five studio albums, racked up three million album sales and earned a Grammy nomination. And in 2012 he became the first openly gay artist to get to number one of the Billboard 200 with his album Trespassing. His 2023 covers album, High Drama, showcased his stellar voice on a mix of tracks that ran the pop gamut from Kings of Leon’s ‘Sex on Fire’ to Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Holding out for a Hero’, and this year, he’ll release an ITV documentary, currently titled Loud: An Adam Lambert Documentary, exploring the history of Queer artists in the music industry.
This year marks 15 years since you were on American Idol. Since then, you’ve released five albums, opened the Oscars ceremony, performed at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Concert and sold millions of records. What’s been your greatest career moment to date?
I definitely think the collaboration with Queen has been such a crowning achievement for my career, but in general I’m proud that I get to keep creating and performing for people and travelling. There are never any guarantees that these types of careers will continue, so I feel very lucky that I’ve steadily been able to keep working and create now for the last 15 years.
Tell us about your Feel Something foundation.
For the past 15 years, I’ve been moonlighting for various LGBTQ+ organisations and in 2019 I felt that it was time to take things to the next level, so I continue to do the same thing, but with my own foundation. We raise money for certain causes, and we collaborate with more established organisations. I’m lucky enough to have an amazing fanbase and they’re interested in what I’m interested in. There’s been a lot of progress made in terms of equal rights and visibility for the LGBTQ+ community around the world, but there continue to be a lot of challenges, so I think it’s more important than ever to get up there and try to make a difference.
What was your first trip abroad?
Other than a high school trip to Mexico, the first time I left the country was when I started working professionally – I worked on a cruise ship for almost a year. It was a full international tour, so I got to see a lot of places at a young age. It was very educational, both from a professional point of view and in seeing the world. Different departments in the crew were sourced from different countries, and we would all socialise after hours in the little crew lounge. Not a lot of 20-year-olds from California were getting the opportunity to really get to know people from ten different countries in one small space.
What sort of holidays do you like?
If I’m trying to do a vacation, I enjoy a tropical experience. I’ve been to Tulum in Mexico, that’s lovely. I was in Curacao in the Caribbean and that was really pretty. I’ve been to Bali. I like a tropical island experience. A little bit of both. I like to relax and, if we’re in the island type of environment, I might rent a kayak for the afternoon or go snorkelling. I try to experience some activities. I’ve been to Hawaii a handful of times. I’ve done zip-lining. I like adventure, I like doing things.
What’s been your most memorable work trip?
I recently did a private event in the Maldives where I sang at a wedding, and it was just beautiful. I’ve never been to the Maldives before, and it was stunning. When we arrived, I had the next day off, so I relaxed and soaked up the sun. Then I had the gig, and then I had the next day off as well. Those are the best types of professional opportunities – when you can build in a little free time around work. That’s my favourite.
Where’s home for you?
I live for the majority of my time in LA, but I recently got a small condo in New York, so I have a pied-à-terre now in Dumbo. It’s such a cool neighbourhood. Technically speaking, I’m an Angeleno and a New Yorker now, but I’m a new New Yorker. I like the culture in New York. Obviously, all the theatre is amazing, and that’s my background. Theatre was the world that I was a part of before I got into the music industry, so it feels familiar and nostalgic, and I have a lot of friends that do theatre.
What destinations are on your bucket list?
I haven’t been to Egypt yet and that is definitely on my bucket list. I’ve always been really fascinated by ancient Egyptian art and history. I want to see the pyramids, I want to see the hieroglyphs. I’ve always found it very intriguing. I will tick it off at some point. One of these days.
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