When English singer-songwriter Benedict Cork was asked to help Adam Lambert write his newest track “Feel Something,” he was in awe. The 25-year-old songwriter watched as a teenager when Lambert broke through on American Idol and move into the pop world as an openly gay performer.

“I think he's one of, if not the, best male vocalist on the planet -- he's out of this world,” Cork tells Billboard. “He paved the way for people like Sam Smith and Olly Alexander and Troye [Sivan] -- and me. People are way more accepting of artists who are super open about their sexuality and their identity.”

Now, after working with the likes of Lambert, fellow songwriter MNEK and others, Cork is making his way back to his first love of performing -- the singer started out as a performer in piano bars around London at age 18, before signing with BMG at 19. What he lacked then, Cork says, is experience.

“When I was writing songs when I was 18, I didn't really know what love was, I didn't really know what heartbreak was… so I was a bit privileged in that way,” Cork says. “I guess I've just grown up a little bit.”

That is apparent on “Fear of Lonely,” Cork’s newest single detailing the feeling of moving to a new city and moving on from a relationship. “[The song] is about getting used to the idea of being on my own again, not just being in a long-term relationship,” he says. “That's sort of where it came about, talking about how after you go through a breakup, you have to get used to your own company again, and be OK with being alone again.”

Cork is certainly aware of his position as a queer artist trying to make it in the mainstream music industry. But he says that thanks to the likes of Lambert, Sivan and Smith, he no longer feels restricted by his sexuality. “Because of them, so many more artists can come forward and kind of share their stories and share their voices -- whereas a while ago, it was a bit harder to do so,” he says. “I'm so lucky that it's 2019 and I'm able to do this.”

Following the release of his new single, Billboard grilled Cork on everything from his love of Alicia Keys to why he tries to live by some choice Bonnie Raitt lyrics.


Last song that you listened to: It's a brand new artist called Gracey, the song's called "Different Things." She's incredible, she's a very talented songwriter, and this is her first release as a solo artist.

What color is your aura: I'm gonna say, like, a maroon. I have my dark moments, and that's kind of what I get out in my songs, but I also have a little internal fire, even though I don't show it as much, and that's sort of a red thing. So I think maroon is fitting.

Song you associate with coming out: I mean, as soon as you said it, all I can think of is Diana Ross. [Laughs.] There's a Maria Mena song called "Growing Pains," and it's basically about growing up and finding things out about yourself and identity, and it's... yeah, I can't get through it without crying.