An interview with singer/actor Billy Porter
Billy Porter is a true hyphenate. He’s a singer. He’s a dancer (in high-heeled, thigh-high boots, no less). He’s an actor. He’s a songwriter. He’s a playwright. Is there anything he can’t do? Did I mention that he dances, nightly on Broadway, in high-heeled, thigh-high boots? Porter, who won a Tony (and several other awards) for his portrayal of Lola in the acclaimed stage musical adaptation of the British film Kinky Boots, has just put out his first new studio album, Billy’s Back on Broadway (Concord) in almost ten years. On it, Porter revisits the Broadway songbook, old and new, and comes up with refreshing and appealing interpretations of legendary show tunes. I spoke with Billy about the disc, Kinky Boots, and more. Porter performs songs from Billy’s Back on Broadway and more in Live From Lincoln Center airing on April 3 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS.
From every indication, 2015 has the potential to be great year for the British band Spandau Ballet. A recently released hits compilation, The Story (Rhino / Chrysalis) collects favorites such as “True,” “Gold,” and “Chant No. 1,” alongside 16 more tracks, including new ones “Steal,” “This is the Love,” and “Soul Boy.” A documentary, Soul Boys of the Western World, telling the story of the band from the beginning, has been playing in theaters. To top that off, the re-formed Spandau Ballet is embarking on a U.S. concert tour. I spoke with co-founding member and primary songwriter Gary Kemp about the band and more in early 2015.
Baltimore baby Elizabeth Hunter (born Elizabeth Hunter Gauvey-Kern) recently made her triumphant return to her hometown with a pre-Thanksgiving show at Germano’s Piattini in the heart of town. If you didn’t get the chance to catch her show, here is your chance to learn a little bit about the young songstress, how she feels about punk rock, Motown, and classical music.
Deborah J. Draisin: How exciting is that for you, to return to Baltimore?
Elizabeth Hunter: It’s really exciting, yeah. I definitely loved music, growing up, and I’ve played a lot of school things, but I’ve never played in the city before. I’ll get to see all of my friends from high school that are still in Baltimore, and my family, have always wanted to come, but can’t make the trek to New York.
National Coming Out Day is in October, but two country music artists waited until late November to share their good news. Ty Herndon was the first one out of the gate on November 20, followed shortly thereafter on the same day by Billy Gilman. Gilman, like fellow country diva LeAnn Rimes, got his big break when he was just a kid. Possessing a powerful voice and impressive vocal range, Gilman released his major-label debut album One Voice in 2000, at the age of 11. In addition to the titular hit, the album featured a shockingly spot-on reading of Tammy Wynette’s “’Til I Can Make It on My Own.” That cover, sung with amazing authority, might qualify as an early clue that Gilman would someday come out as gay. Seriously, listen to the song. Gilman, who continued to release albums through the early part of the 21st century, is in the process of mounting a comeback. I spoke with Billy about coming out and his career in late November 2014.
LGBT people have much to be proud of and few people appreciate that more than lesbian photographer B. Proud. Her stunning coffee-table book First Comes Love (Soleil Book, 2014), a collection of photos and corresponding essays, celebrates the enduring relationships of 60 same-gender couples who have been together between 10 and nearly 60 years. The cross-section of subjects, ranges from familiar faces such as the Prop 8 plaintiffs and the widow Edie Windsor, Houston Mayor Annise Parker and her spouse Kathy, as well as the late Barbara Gittings and her widow Kay Lahusen, to couples many readers will be meeting for the first time, all of whom will make lasting impressions. First Comes Love is the perfect gift for everyone, coupled or single, on your winter holidays list. If you are in NYC on December 19, Bureau of General Services Queer Division, located in The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, 208 West 13th Street, is hosting a book launch for First Comes Love.
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