Talent shows are one of the most useful platforms in gaining recognition, popularity and a fan base, plus if things go well, maybe a professional contract too. Nonetheless, while most people who join these TV competitions are usually totally completely unknown, Drake Milligan was a rarity on his own for having a little bit of experience in the entertainment industry before he set foot on the “America’s Got Talent” stage in season 17.
As one of the most charismatic and talented performers of his season, Drake Milligan stole hearts everywhere, and was placed quite well in the show’s final. However, now that it’s been a while since then, many fans of the show have been wondering who Drake is and how much experience he had before debuting in “America’s Got Talent”.
So did he fool everyone, or was his past a good and inspiring one? Stay here to know more about Drake Milligan’s background story, his career from the beginnings to earning nationwide fame, and all the things which make him quite the memorable “America’s Got Talent” contestant.
What’s Up With Drake Milligan?
Season 17 of “America’s Got Talent” brought its audience many surprises and great moments, especially when it comes to Drake Milligan. When he stood on the show’s stage with his guitar and band, everybody knew they were up for a good moment, and that was just what he delivered with his original country music and captivating stage presence.
Nonetheless, while Drake was open about his past as an Elvis impersonator, not many were aware that his “America’s Got Talent” debut wasn’t his first time in a talent show. As it happened, back in 2018, Drake had already auditioned for “American Idol” and did so well that the show’s audience was expecting to see him later in the competition. That time never came as Drake dropped out of the show before the competition even started. The reason behind his exit was personal, as he thought he ‘wasn’t quite ready for that platform yet,’ as he stated on his Instagram back then.
Regardless of the audience’s surprise at finding out about Drake’s sting in “American Idol”, that fact alone doesn’t go against “America’s Got Talent” rules. That being said, having previous experience in talent shows played in Drake’s favor, as it made him feel more comfortable in such an important scenario.
Where Is He Now?
Even though Drake Milligan didn’t become the “America’s Got Talent” season 17 winner, his stint in the show was successful enough to gain him popularity, new fans, and great career opportunities for him.
Initially, his first album “Dallas/Fort Worth” was released in September 2023, which included original songs he performed in “America’s Got Talent” such as “Kiss Goodbye All Night”. The album peaked at number one on iTunes, and was strongly celebrated by his fans, even gaining him a nomination at the Country Music Awards for the music video of “Sounds Like Something I’d Do”.
Next The Kelly Clarkson Show Drake Milligan performs Sounds like Something I’d Do off his album Dallas/Fort-Worth.#TKCS #TexasConnectsUs
Posted by NBC DFW on Monday, January 30, 2023
Drake’s success extends to live concerts as well, even reflecting on the growing audiences of his live shows while it was still airing in late 2022: ‘As we would leave (the TV show) and go back out on the road, and every time the shows kept on getting bigger and bigger, and they still are,’ he told Forbes. Along with his band, Drake has performed on important stages such as “The Kelly Clarkson Show”, and the legendary live country music bar Billy Bob’s Texas.
Overall, it’s undeniable that “America’s Got Talent” played a huge role in the rising popularity of Drake Milligan, but his talent and charisma are definitely what have made it all possible.
Drake Milligan’s love for music started very early in his life. Native of Mansfield in Texas, the young Drake was always influenced by the likes of country music legends such as Merle Haggard, though the turning point in his life was at seven years old, when he watched an Elvis Presley impersonator perform and became completely enthralled by it.
From that point onwards, Drake not only became a huge Elvis fan, but also started impersonating The King from head to toe, despite his young age. It was also his interest in Elvis that prompted a 10 years old Drake to learn guitar and take singing lessons, keeping up with that for several years into his teens to the point of turning his performances from a beginner’s level to a professional one.
Having built his Elvis-impersonating skills for so many years, in 2014 at 16 years old Drake got his first professional role on screen, portraying a young Elvis in the biographical movie “Nobody”, and which focused on the formative personal relationships of the King.
Following his stint on the big screen, Draken went on to star in the 2017 TV series “Sun Records” based on the “Million Dollar Quartet” musical, centered in the legendary studio of the same name, which is also credited for Elvis’ early success. The series lasted eight episodes, but it was a great opportunity for Drake to share the screen with the likes of Chad Michael Murray and Kevin Fonteyne.
— NKD MAG (@NKDmag) April 30, 2017
In 2018 Drake went on to audition for “American Idol”, in which he recalled his background as an Elvis impersonator, but admitted a bigger interest in becoming a country musician and showing his real self for the world to see, not behind a costume: ‘I feel like it’s my calling’, he said in front of cameras.
After singing George Strait’s “You Look So Good In Love”, Drake was greatly praised by the judges, and right away received his golden pass to the next stage of the show. However, he later dropped from the competition, and decided to move to Nashville instead, insisting on focusing on his music first before taking that first step in his career.
Path In “America’s Got Talent”
While Drake’s decision not to participate in “American Idol” was a risky one, it played out great for him in the end. During his time in Nashville, he formed his live band and even dropped his first original music in 2021, starting with the single “Cowgirl For Christmas”, followed by his eponymous extended play (EP) a couple of months after. The latter was released under the label Broken Bow Records, which signed Drake in July of that year.
Only a year afterwards, Drake auditioned for “America’s Got Talent” with his original song “Sounds Like Something I’d Do” from his EP, instantly eliciting praise from judges and audiences. For his second appearance in the show, Drake performed his song “Kiss Goodbye All Night” which gained him compliments not only for his talent and stage presence. but also for the fact he’d come back to the show despite his increasing off-screen popularity: ‘The fact that happened, and you still come back to compete in this competition, you have my absolute respect,’ as Simon Cowell said that night, confessing he was concerned about Drake dropping out.
For the final night, Drake sang Jon Pardi’s “Last Night Lonely” in a duet with a fellow country singer. That performance wasn’t enough to gain the competition win, but Drake was already rising to stardom at that point.
Life After The Show
Drake Milligan’s career greatly changed after he participated in “America’s Got Talent”. It’s not only the fact that his music entered music charts everywhere, but also that his rising popularity gained him a place in the country music industry. Nowadays, Drake is not only a requested act in country music festivals in the US, but also in the United Kingdom.
This is a huge achievement for Drake, especially considering his beginnings as an impersonator, who slowly but surely found his way until becoming an artist with his own identity.
While it’s unclear what other future projects he already has in the works, the success of Drake Milligan’s eponymous EP and the album “Dallas/Fort Worth” speaks volumes about the bright future awaiting him.