In what's been called one of the biggest TV upsets ever, front-runner Adam Lambert lost out on the "Idol" crown. Momlogic spoke with Adam's mom, Leila, about her son's loss, his talent, and the advice she has for moms of aspiring singers.
momlogic: As Adam's mother, what was going through your mind before and during the finale?
Leila Lambert: It was probably the night I was most nervous, excited, and emotional. I knew if he were to win it would be an amazing opportunity, and I knew if Kris won, it would be the same for him. Our families have become very good friends. Kris's mom, Kim, and I looked to each other for support and I knew either way, either of the kids would be okay. Kim and I had a lot of talks and we knew they were both strong kids and they'd both be given wonderful opportunities, whatever the outcome. I was nervous, felt a lot of anticipation, but I was also excited because it was all good.
ml: What was going through your mind when they announced Kris Allen as the winner?
Leila: I think everyone wants to be a winner, no matter what you're doing. Whether you're playing cards or in this competition, whatever you're doing in life, you want to win. Adam is a winner. He's still a winner even though his name wasn't called -- as much as it's wonderful to say, "I did win 'American Idol.'" I felt great because I knew Adam was still a winner. I didn't know how I was going to react but when it happened, the pressure was gone and I was very happy for Adam.
ml: At what age did you know there was something special or unique about your son? When did you discover his talent?
Leila: I would say as early as 3 years old, when I realized Adam could recite books verbatim and could make character voices even before he could read. He loved Halloween and taking on different characters. Then, I started putting him in theater groups. He thrived and loved the interaction with the other kids. At age 10, Adam sang for the first time. We knew there was something very unique for such a young boy to sing the notes he was reaching, so he began taking lessons.
ml: When he first told you he wanted to audition for "American Idol," what was your reaction?
Leila: His friends from "Wicked" encouraged him to audition. He called me and said, "I know it's a long shot..." Adam was down in Los Angeles and the audition was up by me in San Francisco, where I live. I said he should go. He's always successful when he does something, so I thought he should go for it. It sounded great. Everything in life is an adventure and it's a new journey, so why not?
ml: When he first auditioned, did you ever think he'd make it this far?
Leila: Never! You know what the odds are, and to me, you have to be in the right place at the right time. You have to be there at that moment when someone is actually listening really closely. I never thought it would go this far. Not that I didn't believe he was talented, but there is such a process, with so many people trying to get there as well. When he got home, I remember him telling me he was standing in line for hours. He and two friends left the house so early in the morning and didn't get home until so late at night. They just stood there in line -- and then they were heard after such a tiring day -- I remember Adam was just hoping he sounded okay because he hardly got any sleep the night before. He was in the right place at the right time and it worked.
ml: As a mother, how has your life changed? And how has your son Adam's life changed?
Leila: I would always say to people when he was younger, "I have a son who's very talented ... he's a singer." A parent is always proud of their child and I knew Adam was unique. But this opportunity has changed both of our lives. I came to Los Angeles every single week because I didn't want to miss any of the competition. I liked being there. I took a backseat and watched. It's the most amazing gift. It wasn't easy working 50 hours a week and then traveling to Los Angeles on my days off, but it changed my life. Now I see what the opportunities are for Adam and it's like a whole new life. A new life for him and me. I am just so excited to be part of this. My life is very different now, in fact I am going to be moving to Los Angeles from San Francisco. I am doing it because it's a new life for all of us. I am very excited about it. His life is different because he was struggling to get by. Adam had a job in "Wicked," but it was a paycheck and paid bills. He was working hard, but it wasn't what he always wanted. Again, he was in the right place at the right time. But now, this is what he always wanted. His life will never be the same and it's great because it's his dream. To perform like this and be creative -- it's an amazing opportunity.
ml: Have you spent time with the other "Idol" moms? Was there ever a sense of competition or rivalry?
Leila: I didn't get to know many of the "Idol" moms except for Kris's mom. I can't even remember when we started becoming friends, but we both knew our kids were very talented and very different in their styles. Even though it was a competition, they were so different. The ability to have someone who's going through the exact same thing you're going through (and it goes for Kris and Adam, as well as the Allens and us) was so great. We just kept saying, "Whatever happens, it's all going to be great and right for them." Having that bond and bouncing off each other like that really helped us all. We took a limo to the show together Tuesday. We all had dinner together last night. The Allens, myself, my son. It was my birthday yesterday and we wanted the Allens to be there. We told stories of our sons from when they were little and we have so much in common, it's mind-boggling. We will be friends for a very long time. You do want your kid to win, but just like in the theater, your kid is a shining star, but you can't make that happen without everyone else around them. I feel this connection with everyone else and never felt a competitive edge. It sounds crazy, but it's because we have a friendship. Maybe if we were different -- if we were more to ourselves and standoffish, maybe we would have had that competitive feeling. But we are open as people and it's refreshing. I was so genuinely happy for the Allens when Kris won. We went right over and I gave Kim the biggest hug. We stood there hugging and looking onstage at our kids. It changes competition when you have that kind of support.
ml: What advice would you give to moms whose children want to audition for AI or who have a gift and aspire to be famous?
Leila: That's easy ... What I did as a mom and what I would tell other people is that if your child wants to take guitar lessons, ballet, singing lessons, or play a sport, you should do whatever it takes to get them there and help nurture it. Whether or not they become a soccer player or ballerina, they will take that confidence with them. They will learn they can do it, and they can do anything. Allow your kids to dream and provide them with whatever they need to fulfill their dream. If it's a sacrifice and you have to drive them two hours away to a competition, you just do it. That's what it takes to build confident children who then become confident adults.Dying to get up close and personal with Adam? You can catch him -- in concert! Tickets for the "American Idols Live!" Tour are on sale now. This season's American Idol top 10 contestants Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta, Anoop Desai, Danny Gokey, Kris Allen, Lil Rounds, Matt Giraud, Megan Joy, Michael Sarver, and Scott MacIntyre will launch their tour in Portland, OR, on July 5th, 2009. Click here for all the details.
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