100% me

Vocalosity a cappella concert takes cast, audience on a journey back, and a journey forward


Nicole Weiss, left, tells her personal story as part of the Vocalosity performance.

TAMMY NASH  | Managing Editor

Even the longest journey starts with a single step. But perhaps, in this case, it’s more appropriate to say, with a single note.

Nicole Weiss and her fellow performers in Vocalosity spent some eight hours on a bus last Wednesday, headed to Greenville, N.C. It was just the latest leg in their journey, which launched in January and will wind up, some two months later, in Galveston, Texas in the first week in March — including a March 2 stop in Dallas for a concert at McFarlin Auditorium on the SMU campus.

“Luckily, we don’t have to perform tonight,” Weiss said in a phone interview from the bus. “Tonight, we get to just go to the hotel and relax.”

Vocalosity is the brainchild of Deke Sharon, vocal producer of the movie Pitch Perfect and musical director of the TV show The Sing-Off. The idea of the all-a cappella show is to put together 12 “all-star singers” into a group with would “go into people’s home towns, to sing and connect with people, to feel that joy of music and to inspire them to bring music back into their own lives.”

It was a concept that resonated deeply with Weiss.

Weiss is one of several — how to put it? — non-straight performers in the Vocalosity cast. She describes herself as “queer, bisexual, pansexual — any of the above,” and says that coming to terms with her identity has played a big role in her own journey.

Weiss says that when she first heard about Vocalosity and heard the names of Sharon and others who were involved in its creation, she knew right away she wanted to be a part of it. “I personally went to the open call in New York Center. I was the first person in line at the open call at 7 a.m., and I made it. That’s pretty rare, as far as my experience goes,” she notes.

The concert covers a “wide range of genres of music,” Weiss says. “But the journey of the show, the music, is so deliberate. Deke’s vision, his life’s work, he would say, is to get people to sing, whether they are singers are not. The point is not just for us to get to sing songs pretty, but to get the average person — someone who might have been told they can’t sing — to sing because they want to.

“There’s so much joy — in singing, in being part of a community that way,” she continues. “And we sing in the show, of course, but there’s also a section of the show where we tell her stories about how music has changed our lives, and made us who we are. We get such incredible feedback from the audience about how inspired they are by our stories.”

Weiss is one of four Vocalosity cast members who tell their stories during the show. Her story, she says, begins when she was born.

“I exited the womb singing, really,” she laughs. “I was always really confident about it. I sang all the time.”

And then came that one vocal teacher who “was not the kind of supportive person I needed, and I kind of shut down. Because of that, I started having a lot of insecurities around singing. And that bled into the rest of my life,” Weiss says. “I was afraid to be who I was. I so desperately wanted to fit in.”

And then came high school, and a show choir director who “was so kind to me, and who took me under his wing. He told me to sing like me, to be myself and to celebrate who I am.”

That choir director, she said, had her sing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in a competition, and now, she gets to sing that same song at the end of her monologue in each performance of Vocalosity. And she gets to her from audience members who connect with her story and are empowered by it.

“When I was a teenager, I was bullied. I was made to feel I wasn’t enough,” she says. “So when I hear people who are like me, who went through those same things, telling me that hearing me tell my story inspires them to be themselves and live their lives — I can’t describe the feeling that gives me.”

While Weiss’s monologue in the show doesn’t reference her sexual orientation — another cast member does talk about being a gay man — that is a big part of her personal journey as well, she says.

“It’s just been in the past few years that I’ve really been able to own it,” she says of her sexual orientation and her identity as bi/pansexual. “I am really passionate now about having those conversations with people. There’s really a lot of bi-phobia out there. You’d think someone who is gay themselves would automatically understand. But it’s not that simple.”

Weiss says her personal journey helped her land her role in the musical journey that is Vocalosity. “I am who I am, and I am proud of that,” she declares. “There has definitely been a shift in the last few years in my confidence and I think that came through in my audition. I went into it with the mindset that I was going to be 100 percent myself, and if that was what they wanted then good. And if it wasn’t, I was going to be ok with that, too.”

“As it turned out, that’s what they wanted. They wanted people who were 100 percent themselves, people who would be that, own it.”

Weiss says that she hopes the Vocalosity concert — and the journey it represents — helps those who come to see it take the next steps in their own journeys, too. “I hope people leave wanting to go sing, feeling like they can go sing and do whatever else they want to do. I hope they leave knowing that they can go be themselves and that being themselves will make them the most successful person they can be.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 26, 2016.

—  Tammye Nash

Morrissey in concert tonight at McFarlin Auditorium

The man still is a “Work of Art”

Even with more than 30 years in the music industry, Morrissey still retains an air of mystery. That’s part of his allure. Sure we’ve discovered tidbits about the former Smiths singer, but his hidden side is part of his odd sex appeal that fans can not get enough of. Just don’t eat a hamburger around the guy.

DEETS: McFarlin Auditorium, 6405 Boaz Lane. 8 p.m. $40–$50. Ticketmaster.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Best bets • 12.03.10

Friday 12.03

Weekend forecast: lotsa leather
Mr. Dallas Eagle Jack Duke has a busy weekend ahead. First he’s hosting the Used Leather Silent Auction on Friday. Then he takes part in the Kickoff Party that same night, all gearing up for Saturday’s Mr. Dallas Eagle contest. Hard to believe it’s already been a year since Duke started his successful run at leather domination by going on to win Mr. Texas Leather and then placing third in Mr. IML. Now it’s time to pass on the torch — or is it paddle?

DEETS: Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave. Friday–Saturday at 8 p.m. DallasEagle.com


Friday 12.03

Get folked up with SONiA
Lesbian folk singer SONiA and Disappear Fear head back to North Texas in support of their latest album Blood, Bones & Baltimore. Just don’t let the folk part scare you. She refreshes the granola vibe of ’60s folk by fusing it with a reggae touch. Plus, her dreadlocks are killer up close.

DEETS: Uncle Calvin’s Coffeehouse, 9555 N. Central Expressway. 8 p.m. $12–$15. UncleCalvins.com


Saturday 12.04

Boogie woogie meets ballet – for real
Only the Contermporary Ballet of Dallas would we trust to mix ballet with disco, jazz and swing music. In Boogie Woogie Christmas Carol, the CBD offers a different take of the Dickens classic by throwing in some Tommy Dorsey, The Trammps and even Linkin Park. Ballet is starting to sound kinda cool, huh?

DEETS: McFarlin Auditorium, 6405 Boaz Lane. 7:30 p.m. $27. ContemporaryBalletDallas.com


Tuesday 12.07

Good things can come from a trailer
The Sam Houston School Holiday Project will be offering thanks to a slew of drag queens this season. Edna Jean Robinson brings back her annual Trailer Park Christmas which benefits the project. Onyx and Chanel are among the drag fabulous who will lend a manicured hand to the night. Those kids will be so happy. It just warms the heart.

DEETS: JR.’s Bar & Grill, 3923 Cedar Springs Road. 11 p.m. Caven.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Melissa Etheridge at McFarlin Auditorium

—  Rich Lopez

Word association with Melissa Etheridge before her show tonight at McFarlin Auditorium

On the newsstands now, you’ll find Melissa Etheridge gracing DV’s front page. This was to get you in the mood for her show tonight at McFarlin Auditorium at SMU. She spoke about her newest album Fearless Love and her current tour with contributing writer Gregg Shapiro for the majority of our published interview, but she also gave me 10 minutes to chat about other stuff last week. We talked about the tour and how the media has handled her with her personal life being aired for all to see. But she was also game for some word association and I was able to get her thoughts on a random list of topics. With two minutes left to go, I was surprised and definitely grateful, how much she gave me in such short time. Read our session below.

Again, Etheridge performs tonight at McFarlin Auditorium, 6405 Boaz Lane, on the SMU campus at 8 p.m. $55–$100. Ticketmaster.com. The clip above is from her show on July 22 performing “Indiana” from Fearless Love. Consider it a preview of her show tonight.

Here are Etheridge’s word-association responses:

Twitter — “I find the whole Internet fascinating. It’s both good and bad. I think it’s great that we as a people are finding ways to communicate with each other and connect with each other without having to do it on our own. The Internet is a conduit. Now, I don’t want to sit around and find out if people have eaten their toast. I think it’s a cool way to reach out for young folks. But I don’t do it.”

Lady Gaga — “She’s a very talented gal. My impression is that she’s very smart really understands the music business. She’s been able to create this image and make a splash. I wish her the best of luck in this weird pop culture world out there.”

The comeback of vinyl — “I’ve been listening to some lately. If you’re real deep music listener, there is a sound you don’t get from digital. We’re researching this album to see if we should release it on vinyl.”

Mel Gibson — “I don’t judge people and I don’t like to gossip. I believe everyone has a journey and path and I believe what you put out comes back to you. I think we’re witnessing that right now with him.”

Dallas — “I love Dallas! I have such a connection with there. I find Texas to be very gay. Yummy gay! There is a a strong out community there. I really enjoy it there.”

—  Rich Lopez

Letting the music speak

Despite a very public and nasty break up, Oscar-winning rocker Melissa Etheridge finds solace and confidence in her career

GREGG SHAPIRO  | Contributing Writer greggshapiro@aol.com
RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

Melissa Etheridge
GUITAR HERO | Right now, Etheridge focuses on her music and new album, staying mum about her personal life.

McFarlin Auditorium, 6405 Boaz Lane on the SMU
campus. Aug. 3 at 8 p.m. $55–$100. Ticketmaster.com.

Longtime Melissa Etheridge fans who miss the harder sound of her early years will find much to like on her new album, Fearless Love. Etheridge hasn’t rocked with this much   passion in years and it’s clear that she hasn’t forgotten how to do it.

Such rock-n-roll fury could be a way for her to be working out some personal issues, including the recent public ending of her relationship with longtime partner Tammy Lynn Michaels. Whatever it is, Etheridge is back in ass-kicking mode.


Dallas Voice: Your new disc, Fearless Love, is co-produced by John Shanks who also produced your Breakdown album. What do you like about working with John? Etheridge: We played in my first band and we played together on the road for years and years and years before he became mister mega-producer. I know him like a brother. He can tell me anything and I can tell him anything. He knows, musically, what I’m about. I think he’s incredibly talented. It’s a perfect fit.

Is it hard to believe that it’s been more than 20 years since your self-titled major-label disc was released? Yeah! The passage of time has been kind of freaky. And feeling like I do in the entertainment industry now, looking back [I’m] going “Wow, it’s been over 20 years!” There’s a certain amount of, “Oh, I think I can relax. I’m still selling tickets. People are coming to see me.” It’s a good feeling and it’s also a “time flies” feeling.

You do some serious rocking out on songs such as “Miss California,” “Nervous,” “The Wanting of You,” “Drag Me Away,” “Indiana” and the title track. How did it feel to rock like that again? Oh, it feels so good, and it’s really reflected in the live show. I plug those songs in and then I do all the other songs around them. It’s like, “Whoa!” That’s a couple of hours of rock and roll right there. It feels really good; I like it.

You’ve been on tour in support of Fearless Love for a few months — are the new songs being received by your fans the way you want them to be? Even more so. I have to tell you, when I start “Indiana,” [it gets] a huge response. It’s really nice. And everybody’s singing along. That means so much, especially for the new material to reach people like that. That’s what you want.

“Miss California,” like “Tuesday Morning” from Lucky, “Scarecrow” from Breakdown and your Oscar-winning tune “I Need To Wake Up,” is an example of your political voice in your work. What does it mean to you to be able to combine your music with causes and issues about which you feel strongly? That’s been quite a journey for me. That started on my second record [Brave And Crazy] with the song “Testify,” which was an awakening of that part of me. Realizing that I have a voice and that I’ve been gifted with the ability to maybe make people think or do something socially through my music. I’m always very conscious when I do it. I never want to preach from my personal perspective.

Rock musicals have been dominating Broadway stages in recent years. Is there any chance that there is a Melissa Etheridge Broadway musical in the pipeline? I have been thinking about doing a Broadway show even before the rock musicals were in. When I saw that U2 was doing something and Green Day, I was like, “Aw, come on! I’m putting mine together!” But, no, it’s good. I’m glad that they’re doing it and they’ve been successful. Yes, I am actually in the process now. It’s very near to being written.

Did you do theater in high school, too? I did! Love theater. Of course, I’m gay! Theater!

Lilith Fair is going on and Lollapalooza is right around the bend. Have you considered organizing a music festival either of LGBT musicians or one in support of a cause that is near to you? Those thoughts pass by me. I tried to get something together Dinah Shore Weekend [but] it’s hard: It’s hard to find people who want to do it with you. It’s just hard, especially with the economy right now. I’m doing well and I’m very grateful. When people are feeling a little better, it’s might be something I’d be in to, but not right now.

You helped pave the way for artists such as Chely Wright (a fellow Kansan), Ricky Martin and Christian singer Jennifer Knapp to come out publicly this year. How do you feel about that? I love it, because coming out publicly when you are a public figure is such a personal choice. It’s a big thing and it’s [a] huge responsibility. To help and inspire and be a part of anybody’s experience in that, I’m honored. Because I know it’s the best thing to do for yourself because you can never feel your success all the way in to your bones if you don’t. You feel like you’re living a lie and it’s unhealthy.

Your break up with Michaels has been publicized across magazines and blogs. Do you think that the media has been fair in its coverage of you? There is no way that the press can be fair because they can never know everything. You basically are listening to one person and that’s the one person’s perspective. Because of that, I’ve chosen not to go into too much detail.

With all that’s been going on personally, how has the tour been for you? Is it a difficult endeavor or is it possibly therapeutic?  It’s a bunch of different things. For me, it is this great safe place. People come to a show and look for a good time and that gives me a wonderful feeling. And it is cathartic and therapeutic. Music has always been that for me. This  is what I have to do.  I do miss my kids when I don’t see them but I get back enough.

Would the album have been any different had it come out last week as opposed to before everything came out in the open? I wrote this album last year and so I can’t say it would have. Of course, it would have sounded different if I was writing after everything happened, but I wouldn’t have changed anything here and I wouldn’t have rescheduled its release because of it all. Music is the one thing I feel really confident in. It feeds me and it’s my work. Music I can do — everything else, maybe not so much.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Concert notice: Melissa Etheridge comes to McFarlin Auditorium Aug. 3

Just saw that LiveNation announced Melissa Etheridge is making her way to Dallas. She’s on the road to support her album, Fearless Love, which comes out next Tuesday. She’ll perform at McFarlin Auditorium at SMU, Aug. 3 at 8 p.m. Tickets go on sale Friday, April 30 and range from $55–$100.

Earlier this month, Etheridge and partner of nine years, Tammy Lynn Michaels, announced their mutual separation. But today on Oprah, Etheridge mentioned Michaels “will always be in my life” and they will co-parent their children amicably.

Check her video for the title track here.проверить статистику сайта

—  Rich Lopez