Christian singer Ray Boltz talks about his choice to come out to the world one year ago
TIME TO BOLTZ
The Rose Room inside Station 4,
2911 Cedar Springs Road.
Sept. 12 at 7:30 p.m. Free.
One moment can define a man forever. And for Ray Boltz, that moment might have been one year ago.
On Sept. 12, 2008, Boltz told the Washington Blade newspaper he was gay.
Coming out can be a big deal, but it’s rarely news. But for Boltz, an award-winning Christian recording artist, the article sent shockwaves across the Internet and Christian music circles.
"That day is probably the only time in history that Christian fundamentalists ever read the Blade," Boltz says with a laugh.
Boltz’s decided to come out to a single source so he could avoid being misquoted and could control his message.
"It was a real defining moment. I knew I wanted to come out but I only wanted to do the interview one time," he says.
Despite being comfortable with his decision, Boltz, 56, never intended to become the "gay Christian spokesman." He came out privately to his family in 2004 but opted not to record or tour since then. Now he’s working on his first album of original material since 2004’s The Unchanging Story.
"I am focusing on a new record and writing songs that express what I see in the world around me. I can say listen to my music, you’ll see my heart and how I feel," he says.
So how does he go from selling some 4 million records and winning Dove Awards to risking potential exile from the industry that made him a star? It doesn’t worry him too much. In fact, he sees it as an opportunity to be even more genuine to his audience.
"There’s a possibility that fewer people will hear the music. But people who do are hearing something very honest and true. That’s more important than sheer numbers. I sang at Promise Keepers in D.C. and I was told there were about a million people in the mall. You can’t aim much higher than that. I have no regrets at all with the numbers," he says.
He insists, though, that none of his previous records were insincere — although some songs may make a little more sense now.
"I’ve always been authentic in each record. There are songs about personal struggles that were in my mind or my heart. In older records, people will hear references to that struggle. There’s song after song about how I’m gonna change," he says.
Pastor Bob Barker with Crossroads Church, who is bringing Boltz to Dallas for a concert Saturday, wanted to approach the Pride festivities over the next week differently.
"We wanted to start Pride off with a spiritual touch. So many people have been beaten up by church. We thought it would be nice way to start for those Christians who have come out," Barker says.
When Boltz discovers he would be playing at a venue known mostly for drag shows, he laughs with excitement. This is a far cry from the arenas and super-churches he’s played in Dallas before. And he feels its perfect timing to play his new song "American Queen."
With titles like "Queen" and "Don’t Tell Me Who To Love," Boltz’s music has shifted from a religious perspective to a spiritual one. He’s not pulling a K.D. Lang by changing genres altogether, but he is addressing that part of his life now in his music. His coming out has given his writing much more liberty.
"The music has definitely changed lyrically. It’s freeing as an artist and I think the music reflects that. There’s even a difference when I’m on stage because it’s much more honest and connected," he says.
With positive responses to his coming out, a new album in the works and a supportive family (his ex-wife is on the board of Soulforce), this past year has been a good one. Even when he thought it wasn’t.
"When that story came out, I thought it was all over," he admits. "Record companies and secular artists railed against me. It’s taken me 50 years to accept myself. I can’t expect people to accept me in five minutes. I have to give them time to grow and think about it. I’m just trying to express myself as an artist. My music will find its way to the people who need to hear it."
Ruby and a mocha, please
Take singer-songwriters Erika Luckett and Lisa Ferraro and mix them with classic Persian poetry and you have the duo they call Ruby. The twosome teams up to perform songs from their CD On the Way of Love: Songs Inspired by Rumi — coffeehouse style. They’ll sing "songs that nourish the soul while delighting the ears." Don’t forget the lattes.
— Rich Lopez
Heart & Soul Coffeehouse, 4615 E. California Parkway, Fort Worth. Sept. 12 at 7:30 p.m. $18.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 11, 2009.