The road to stardom hasn’t been easy for Diimond Meeks. Despite an electrifying five-octave vocal range and a thrilling James Brown-reminiscent stage presence, Meeks has been fighting for his moment before our eyes for more than a decade. But now that he’s doing things by his own rules, he’s finally on his way.
Thirteen years ago, Meeks auditioned for Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul on the fourth season of American Idol. Though Abdul convinced her fellow judges to bring him to Hollywood, Meeks didn’t last, and America eventually saw Carrie Underwood crowned the winner.
Six years later, Meeks reappeared on our TV sets auditioning for Howie Mandel, Sharon Osbourne, and Piers Morgan on America’s Got Talent. Though Meeks delivered captivating performances, America decided Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. deserved the million dollar prize and Vegas gig.
Fast forward to present day and Meeks is headlining residencies across Los Angeles, London, and Paris, and he’s no longer allowing anyone else to decide his destiny. And after a chance meeting with Grammy winner CeeLo Green, he’s signed to Sony Music Entertainment and ready to let loose.
You’ve had quite the journey since 2005 and that tough audition on Idol. Do you ever watch your audition tape?
I try not to, but sometimes I watch it for the nostalgia. It definitely serves as a good reminder of how far I’ve come in my career and as a performer.
The music industry has changed significantly since your Idol and America’s Got Talent days with streaming platforms and more diversity. Do you think things would have been different for you today versus then?
Absolutely. It would be totally different. There wasn’t social media then and no direct outreach, or support system for queer artists. Queer artists today have more opportunity for having structure thanks to social media. These platforms have made being a queer performer more accepted and more encouraged.
While there have been great strides, what obstacles do you think LGBTQ artists face in the industry today?
I think even as queer artists, that title can still put you into a box. We get taken out of one and put into another. The biggest challenge we face is the queer community. In the club scene, and in the gay world in general, we’re told to be free and authentic, but then we have to fit a certain image or style. I think that’s the biggest issue. If we can truly release from the box, we can start more of an impact and difference.
That sounds like the inspiration for a track like “Loose Me.”
CeeLo and I had been buddies for about three months. We did a show together in D.C. We were talking about not being put in a box and not being limited. So, we wanted to create a track that would express that feeling of being released from a cage.
Will we hear more of that theme on your upcoming album?
You will. I’m all about challenging others and myself to expand. I like to think I’m one of the ones who has broken through conditioning and have arrived at a place where I don’t want anyone or anything holding me back. I have a track called “Bad Attitude” where I say, I don’t fuck with people who fuck with people I don’t fuck with. You can also expect more collaborations. There will be another track with CeeLo. I also wrote a song with Jeremy Renner.
Jeremy Renner? Like, Oscar-nominated actor, Jeremy Renner?
Yup. He’s a great songwriter, and we recorded one of my sexiest tracks.