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Published: Thursday, 6/3/2010

Adam Lambert's career-building path brings him to Toledo

BY ROD LOCKWOOD
BLADE STAFF WRITER
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It's difficult to imagine a pair of musicians with less in common than Adam Lambert and Crystal Bowersox.

He's a charismatic, theatrical performer with a powerful voice and a penchant for glitz and glam. His musical forefathers are David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, both of whom defined the role of frontman for several generations.

Bowersox has her own unique charisma, but it's that of the quintessential blues/folk singer standing stationary in front of a microphone with her guitar and her big, expressive voice. Her roots dig deeper into the musical firmament with artists such as Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt, a pair of singers whose sound was steeped in the blues.

But Lambert and Bowersox have one thing in common that's extremely important: both are American Idol runners-up. And both were generally expected to win, losing out to musicians who were considered “safer” picks.

Which makes a look at the last year for Lambert, who will be in Toledo at the Omni Tuesday night, a fascinating glimpse at how Bowersox may or may not use her Idol fame to kick her career into higher gear.

Lambert said in a telephone conference call with reporters that Bowersox can expect to work extremely hard over the next year.

“I remember being done with the finale of Idol and going ‘Whew, I can breathe now. That was a lot, that was really intense. Now onto my career.' ” he said.

“And what I didn't realize is that the career is even more work. In order to be a successful recording artist you have to put in tireless hours traveling and promoting, visiting radio stations, making appearances. Making the album itself is a really quick turnaround process given that the Idol tour is over the summer. This is serious work.”

Lambert, 28, was born in Indianapolis but raised in San Diego, where at an early age he became involved with theater. As Bowersox kicked around playing in bars, Lambert moved from theater production to theater production, honing his vocal chops and dramatic delivery.

He was in The Ten Commandments: The Musical with Val Kilmer, and was an understudy for the Broadway production company tour of Wicked.

At the same time, he was singing in various rock bands and he auditioned for Season 8 of Idol in San Francisco, beginning the intense process of working his way through the various performances and weekly critiques.

The Idol judges gushed over his performances of “Whole Lotta Love” and “The Tracks of My Tears” among others. He performed with KISS on the show and established himself as a performer with a powerful voice and the performing skills to front a rock band.

Lambert also attracted a bit of controversy when a photograph of him kissing another man was released during the competition. He announced that he is gay in a Rolling Stone cover story after the Idol competition was completed.

Next up for Lambert was the release of his debut disc, “For Your Entertainment” last year. It's a super slick production and thoroughly modern, with co-writing credits from a number of heavy hitters such as Rivers Cuomo of Weezer and Lady Gaga, and a wide swath of musical styles from electronic to pop, hard rock, and disco.

He said his stage show will feature songs from “For Your Entertainment” in addition to some covers. It will include dancers, choreography, and a strong emphasis on the look of the presentation.

“There is a surprise cover in there, one or two, but I'm kind of leaving them as wonderful surprises,” he said. “The show itself is being visually inspired by kind of like a turn-of-the-century New Orleans meets psychedelic classic rock.”

Selling nearly 200,000 copies in its first week of release, his disc has spawned several singles.

Touring with Lambert is his fellow season 8 Idol member Allison Iraheta, who finished fourth. She's promoting her new disc “Just Like You,” which has received strong reviews, especially considering she's only 18 years old.

Adam Lambert's 7:30 p.m. concert will be at the Omni, 2567 West Bancroft. Tickets are $30 from the Omni box office, Culture Club records, Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com, and by phone at 800-745-3000.



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