If there is anyone who proves that you do not have to take first place to achieve greatness in your life, it is Adore Delano. The young drag queen managed to impress many with her charisma, unique nerve and talent during her run on season six of RuPaul’s Drag Race. The 24-year-old placed as a joint runner-up with fellow contestant, Courtney Act. She revealed during the reunion / finale of the competition that she was putting the finishing touches on her debut album, Till Death Do Us Party. Released on Tuesday, the album debuted at number one on the iTunes Dance Albums chart. A new audience, along with many from her past, adore the talented young star and have helped Delano obtain a strong resurgence in her ongoing career.
The birth of Adore, who is described as “a mermaid from the ocean,” came from her witnessing a performance of another past Drag Race contestant, Raven, at a nightclub in West Hollywood. Inspired by that performance, Noriega decided to enter a competition given by the nightclub, eventually taking home a top prize in 2011. Following her win, she performed for years at multiple clubs. With the experience gained, she attempted to audition for season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. She made it to an online fan vote, but was beaten out by another queen, Penny Traition. However, her persistence paid off and in December of 2013, it was announced by LOGO TV that she would be a part of the show’s sixth season.
Many were first introduced to Delano when she appeared as her “boy persona”, Danny Noriega, on the seventh season of American Idol. In what is now a famous exchange, Noriega shot back at a negative critique given to him by former judge and show creator, Simon Cowell. Many took notice of the spunk and charisma he possessed. One of the people who noticed him was former talk show host, Rosie O’Donnell. She invited him to perform on her R Family Vacations Cruise, following his elimination from Idol. It was one of his biggest moments, but he still regrets how he got there.
As he prepared for a music challenge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, he lamented that what America saw of him during the music competition was not who he really was.
“My mom told me to butch it up because she didn’t want people making fun of me,” he said. “They should’ve just let me go out there with pink hair. That would’ve been cool.”
Delano stumbled throughout much of Drag Race and had the tendency to doubt her strengths during many of the show’s challenges. There were moments where she excelled and she ended up winning three of the challenges throughout the competition. However, she was nearly eliminated twice. It was her tenacity to rise up following her failures that kept the show’s judges on their toes. She also kept viewers and fans mesmerized with her powerful lip sync performances.
During a later challenge, where the remaining contestants had to sew together an outfit made out of crystals and jewels, she had a bit of an emotional breakdown and an epiphany. She ended up winning that episode’s challenge and shined throughout the rest of the competition. Considering she believed she would never make it past the third episode, it was quite a powerful moment for her.
“I started applying myself to the challenges more,” she shared during the reunion episode, “and I really felt crazy. I was looking at myself in the mirror and I was like, “You got this”.”
Till Death Do Us Party is the gift provided from the amalgamation of everything Delano has been through in her young life. Songs about partying, being wild and even a bit messy at times are included on the album (with tracks such as the first single, DTF; Party and I F******g Look Cool with RPDR alum, Alaska ThunderF***). There are reflective moments that play out as well, including times where she shares how she attempted to figure out where her career and life were headed. One of the strongest tracks on the album with this theme is its closing track, My Address Is Hollywood.
“Hollywood Boulevard is where it was at back then,” she says regarding the song’s inspiration. “Where my dreams were like, boom, right in front of me.”
After managing to free herself from the self-secured shackles that held her back, many people have found their way to adoring Adore Delano. She is set to take the stage at her first concert for Till Death Do Us Party, next month in New York City. She has also released a video for the second single from the album, the ballad I Adore U. She may not be an idol or even “America’s Next Drag Superstar”, but Adore Delano is definitely a superstar in her own right. Till Death Do Us Party is available on iTunes and Amazon.
By Jonathan Brown