A drag queen has a chance of winning American Idol.
Ada Vox, the stage name of Adam Sanders, has delivered a succession of star-making performances on season 16 of the ABC reality competition. On Monday night, Vox even outshone Glee's Lea Michele, who joined her for a duet of "Defying Gravity" from the musical Wicked.
"This talent is out of control," exclaimed Michele. "Can you handle this? Getting to sing with someone of this vocal caliber was a real honor. It was so fun to get to sing together."
The judges were similarly impressed. "A star is born," said Lionel Richie. "Your sound transcends words," said Katy Perry.
The performance was no fluke. Episode after episode, Sanders has delivered show-stopping performances of songs like "Creep," "Feeling Good," and "House of the Rising Sun." As a result of this talent, the San Antonio native has been given a place in the Top 14, becoming the first drag performer in American Idol history to reach this level.
Celebrities have taken notice. Courtney Act, an alumnus of RuPaul's Drag Race and Australian Idol, is one of the drag performer's biggest cheerleaders.
— Courtney Act (@courtneyact) April 4, 2018
Previously, Sanders had competed on season 12 of American Idol — but out of drag, which makes him the first contestant in Idol's running to compete as two different personas.
But fame had its downfalls. Before his audition in the new season, Sanders revealed how he was bullied for being queer after his first experience on the competition, which led to dark thoughts.
"After American Idol, I started getting messages on social media every day," Sanders said. "People attacked my weight, my sexuality, telling me that I was horrible, that I sucked, that I don’t deserve to be here, that I shouldn’t be who I am. And I let it get to me in a wrong way. It killed me inside. It killed me inside almost as much as people were telling me that I should kill myself … I was contemplating lots of things that I shouldn’t have."
Historically, LGBT contestants have gone a long way on Idol, which has made stars of musicians like Adam Lambert and Clay Aiken. But none has yet won the competition. However, Sanders, with the help of Vox, appears up to the challenge.
"I am so ready to show everybody, to show America, to show these judges, who I am now, and I can take anything and everything that comes my way," Sanders said.
Watch Sanders as Vox perform "Creep" below, and don't miss American Idol Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC.