Conchita Wurst

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About Conchita Wurst

The alter-ego of Austrian singer, activist, and drag queen Tom Neuwirth, Conchita Wurst rose to worldwide fame as Austria's somewhat controversial entry into the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. Affectionally dubbed "the bearded lady," Wurst used her newfound celebrity to champion LGBTQ rights and went on to enjoy a successful career as a pop singer with albums like her chart-topping 2015 debut and 2017 classical crossover follow-up, From Vienna with Love. In 2019, Neuwirth released a third album featuring his more masculine material, billed simply as Wurst, while the Conchita Wurst character joined the German drag queen talent show Queen of Drags as one of its judges. The Wurst character had originally come to life after Neuwirth's short-lived boy band Jetzt Anders! disbanded after just a year, following his previous brush with fame as second place finisher in the 2006 edition of Austrian TV show Starmania. Neuwirth, who identifies as a cisgender gay man, established feminine pronouns to describe his new drag queen persona. Wurst's first appearance on national TV occurred in 2011 on Die große Chance, a program that saw artists competing to represent Austria in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. Coming in second, Wurst followed up the show with appearances on the reality shows The Hardest Jobs of Austria and Wild Girls. In 2013, Wurst was named Austria's official entry into the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. Sparking condemnation from conservative groups, particularly across Eastern Europe, she became the bookies' favorite to win and eventually took the trophy at the finals in Copenhagen. In a dig at the right-wing political elite, Wurst stated "we are unity and we are unstoppable" when receiving the trophy, confirming the message was aimed at conservative Eastern Europe in protest of the lack of LGBTQ rights. Wurst's Eurovision entry, "Rise Like a Phoenix," was released as a single and reached the top of the Austrian chart, while also placing in the Top Ten throughout most of the rest of Europe. It appeared on her eponymous debut album the following year, which also topped the Austrian chart. Over the next few years, Neuwirth frequently used his Wurst persona for social activism, fighting discrimination, and speaking out for LGBTQ rights throughout Europe. A powerful singer with a rich, dramatic voice, Wurst later collaborated with the Vienna Symphony for a concert in 2017, leading them to release a joint album together, 2018's From Vienna with Love, which again topped Austria's pop charts. In 2019, Neuwirth announced that he planned to split Conchita Wurst into two characters, with Conchita representing his more feminine work and Wurst, his more masculine. That same year, he released the album Truth Over Magnitude and credited it simply to Wurst. Meanwhile Conchita joined the German television show Queen of Drags as a permanent judge. ~ Rich Wilson

Gmunden, Austria
November 6, 1988

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