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:: Early life
Lambert was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of Leila, an interior designer, and Eber Lambert, who works for program management at Novatel Wireless. Lambert moved to California shortly after his birth and grew up in Rancho Peñasquitos in northeastern San Diego. He attended Deer Canyon Elementary School, Mesa Verde Middle School, where he was a winner in the Airband competition (featuring Michael Jackson's "Thriller"), and Mount Carmel High School (MCHS), where he was in theater, choir, and frequently performed vocals with the school's jazz band "MC Jazz".Some of his memorable MCHS performances included Frederick in The Pirates of Penzance and "It's Only a Paper Moon" with MC Jazz. He has cited David Bowie, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Queen, and Led Zeppelin as influences.
Lambert, who is Jewish, performed in Hebrew at Jewish events, singing songs such as "Shir LaShalom". He goes to Temple of the Arts in San Diego and has performed at the Kol Nidre service on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.Lambert also performed in Jewish-themed The Ten Commandments: The Musical as Joshua, performing the song "Is Anybody Listening?
:: Early career
Lambert has been a stage actor since he was about ten years old. He was cast as Linus in San Diego's Lyceum Theater's production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Around age twelve, he was cast in a production of Fiddler On the Roof and continued performing throughout his teenage years including Hello, Dolly!, Chess, Camelot, The Music Man, Grease and played Captain Hook in Peter Pan. At age 19, Lambert left the U.S. to tour with Anita Mann Productions for ten months before returning to the U.S. to perform light opera in Orange County CA. He was then cast in the European production of Hair and U.S. theater productions of Brigadoon and 110 In The Shade, before being cast in the role of Joshua in The Ten Commandments: The Musical at the Kodak Theatre alongside Val Kilmer. Lambert was one of the only actors in the play that garnered a positive review.While acting, Lambert briefly moonlighted as the front man for rock band The Citizen Vein with Steve Sidelnyk, Tommy Victor and Monte Pittman. He was then cast as the understudy for the part of Fiyero in the Broadway production company tour and Los Angeles casts of the musical Wicked.Since 2004, he has regularly performed at the Upright Cabaret and the Zodiac Show, which was co-created by Carmit Bachar of the Pussycat Dolls.
Lambert auditioned for the eighth season of American Idol in San Francisco, California. In a Rolling Stone interview he said his decision to audition for the show came after a week at Burning Man where he experimented with "certain funguses." He went on to say that "I had a psychedelic experience where I looked up at the clouds and went, 'Oh!' I realized that we all have our own power, and that whatever I wanted to do, I had to make happen." During his initial audition, he sang "Rock With You" and "Bohemian Rhapsody." Lambert had cited several musical influences, including Madonna, Queen, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, and Led Zeppelin.In the semifinals, Lambert was voted into the Top 13, joining fellow Group 2 performers Allison Iraheta and Kris Allen. Lambert and Allen became roommates in the Idol mansion, with Allen stating it was due to their neatness.
During Michael Jackson week, he sang "Black or White" leading to praise from all four judges, with Paula Abdul predicting that he would go on to the finals.The following week, Lambert sang a version of "Ring of Fire". While Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi, and Abdul all liked his performance, Simon Cowell called it "indulgent rubbish".On Motown night, Lambert sang an acoustic version of The Miracles', "The Tracks of My Tears". The judges all liked it, and Smokey Robinson, the week's mentor and the original singer-songwriter, gave Lambert a standing ovation. For his Top 8 performance, Lambert sang the 2001 Gary Jules arrangement of "Mad World". Because the show had exceeded its time slot, only Cowell gave a critique, which he did by simply giving Lambert a standing ovation. During the results next night, the other judges agreed that a standing ovation was the best critique of Lambert's performance.For his second Top 7 performance, Lambert sang "If I Can't Have You", delivering what DioGuardi described as his "most memorable performance", while Cowell described his vocals as "immaculate". Abdul was reduced to tears, with host Ryan Seacrest joking that Lambert had melted her into a "pool of Abdul".In the Top 4, Lambert was the first to sing, performing "Whole Lotta Love". Cowell commented, "that was one of my favorite performances...nobody can top that now", while Abdul, punning on the song's title, described Lambert's performance as "a whole lotta perfect".
Photos of Lambert kissing a man surfaced while he was competing on American Idol. Initially shown and discussed by commentators on The O'Reilly Factor, the panel agreed that the images would likely have no impact on the competition.Lambert confirmed that the photos were of him, stating he had nothing to hide and has always been open about his life.Mainstream media speculation centered on Lambert's sexuality; presuming he was gay, he would be the first gay American Idol.[note 1] Much of the media focus regarded the readiness of American Idol voters for an openly gay winner.Asked by Rolling Stone whether the speculation surrounding his sexual orientation impacted the final vote, Lambert laughed and said "probably".He confirmed that he was gay in a Rolling Stone cover story interview shortly after he was named the American Idol runner-up.
For the top three show, where each of the three remaining contestants does a hometown visit and performance, Lambert sang both Michael Jackson's "Black or White", and the Gary Jules version of Tears for Fears' "Mad World" at his alma mater, Mt. Carmel High School.Afterwards, San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders declared May 8, 2009 "Adam Lambert Day."
On May 20, 2009, Lambert was announced as the runner-up for the eighth season of American Idol. Lambert performed a medley of "Beth", "Detroit Rock City", and "Rock and Roll All Nite" with rock band KISS during the final episode. His version of the winning single "No Boundaries" was later released on iTunes alongside American Idol winner Kris Allen's version. Before the results were announced, Allen and Lambert joined together with Queen’s original guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor to perform the anthem "We Are the Champions".
Upon winning, Allen said "Adam deserved this." Explaining this remark, Allen said that he thought Lambert deserved to win as much as he did, and that Lambert "was the most consistent person all year. He was seriously one of the most gifted performers that I've ever met."