Chatting up the Secret Sisters before tonight’s benefit for The Women’s Chorus of Dallas

Tonight, the Secret Sisters headline The Southern Harmony Party at the Lakewood Theater, which also features local band The King Bucks and Audrey Dean Kelley. The night benefits The Women’s Chorus of Dallas, a very gay-friendly organization. In a recent interview with Dallas Voice, real-life sisters Lydia and Laura of the Secret Sisters talked up their connection with the gay community and how growing up Church of Christ never stopped them from accepting people as they are:

So first, how did you get hooked up with The Women’s Chorus of Dallas? We were playing a show in Birmingham, AL several months ago, and met a really nice promoter named De Foster, who loved our sound and was determined to have us play a show in Dallas.  We agreed that we would love to come there and play, and so not long afterwards, he contacted us about playing a show that would benefit the Women’s Chorus.  We love playing shows that are in conjunction with positive organizations, and especially those that are connected to our favorite hobby:  music.  So when we got the invitation to play, we were thrilled!  We are so excited to meet everyone involved with the chorus, and very excited that the focus of the evening will be on women and music.  We both feel that there just aren’t enough strong women in the music industry, and we know that the evening will be positive one, that’s also a lot of fun.

What do such groups mean to you? Any time that we can use our music to highlight organizations that do good things, we are eager to do so. Both of us were in our high school choruses when we were younger, and we know just how much fun it is to be surrounded by your friends, enjoying music that you are making together.  Music means so much to us, and to be able to spend the evening with others who are passionate about it as well is going to be an honor.  We’ve been looking forward to this show for a while now.

More after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Houston based homo-hop gets air time on ‘OMI’

Sir Rah Pro hosts an interview with queer hip-hop artists every Tuesday. On the BlogTalkRadio‘s show Outing the Music Industry, they gave what looks like coincidental airtime to a couple of Texas artists. We don’t have a huge queer presence of hip-hop in Dallas, but Houston seems to be jumping with a scene as I’ve written a bit about before.

This month on OMI, the show featured H-Town duo The Qure who talk about their latest release The Virus. They gave us a sneak peek of it back in April, but the full album dropped on Monday this week. They don’t appear until about an hour in so if you’re just interested in the Texas stuff, skip ahead.

Rapper, activist, teacher and author Tim’m West was also featured on OMI this month. West, who came to Dallas last October, reflects on his career and being queer in the industry. The show features DaQuan and his first solo work in the first half and then West takes over the second.

Check it out.

—  Rich Lopez

Lesbian rappers belt it out with RainbowNoise

I am not hip. I hate to admit it, but it is true. But I still enjoy “hip” music, including a lot of rap, and this video for “Imma Homo” from RainbowNoise Entertainment is one rap song I definitely like.

Still, the “unhip” factor comes into play because even though some of the artists in the video look to be teenagers themselves, or at least not far out of their teens, I surely wouldn’t want my teenage sons using this kind of language!

Anyway, the video features the combined talents of artists signed to RainbowNoise, a record label “out of Vancouver, Washington/Portland, Oregon specializing in GLBTQ music artists with mainstream commercial appeal,” according to the RN website. “As Gay and Lesbian images continue to grow in popular media, RainbowNoise seeks to set forth responsible and accurate representations within the music industry.”

The site also notes that the label is seeking to expand its roster of talent, and is especially looking for “studs, doms, tombois and bois.” I don’t expect to be auditioning for them soon, but I will be paying attention to who does.

Check out “Imma Homo”:

—  admin

Backtracking

THE U WORD | Texan Camila Grey, left, teamed with ‘L Word’ star Leisha Hailey to form indie duo Uh Huh Her.

As they make their way to SXSW, queer duo Uh Huh Her scales back for sophomore release

The dream of most bands might be to find a label and release a well-produced debut album. Hustling to keep it afloat? Not so much. Job security is still a nice thing, even in the music industry.

Uh Huh Her sees things differently. You might even think they just took two steps back after a major leap forward.

“Yeah, we are weirdly going the other way,” laughs Camila Grey, half of the  indie duo. “Our success was immediate: We got picked up by a label right away and had this glossy pop album under our belts.” But despite that welcome mat, Grey and her music-making partner, Leisha Hailey, wanted to work for their success. So they did what any new band starting out would do. They dumped their label.

Uh Huh Her’s 2008 debut, Common Reaction, was a stellar disc of well-constructed songs that hinted at ’80s New Wave with alt-rock sensibilities. Recalling the likes of Ladytron and Le Tigre, UHH was poised to become the Next Big Indie Thing. They were far from hurt by the built-in audience brought in by Hailey, star of the lesbian drama The L Word.

“That was our core fan base because the audience did follow her,” Grey says. “That was also part of the immediate success. But we’ve been able to grow it from there. Now our audience is all over the place, from straight couples to gay kids. And it’s just widening.”

Having been off the radar for most of the past year, UHH is set to release their second full-length album, Nocturnes, later this spring. Grey promises a grittier, edgier, more personal sound.

“The beauty of this album is we did it all on our own,” she says. “I produced and we recorded it in our own studios. I think it’s bringing us back to our roots. We want to focus on this again and give it another go.”

With a liberated approach, Grey didn’t feel the pressures to sound a specific way as “encouraged” by her label.

“We have lives aside from the band and the realistic situation was knowing we can do this on our own terms,” she says.

Grey and Hailey produced an EP at breakneck speed and took it on the road. Six tracks made up Black and Blue, recorded and packaged in less than two weeks to use as a promotional tool for the tour. They have taken their musical destiny into their own hands.

“We work really well under pressure,” Grey laughs. “The whole thing has been labor of love and we put more care into these two things. There’s no pressure from The Man anymore.”

UHH is on the road now, and will play in Dallas after coming off gigs at Austin’s South By Southwest Festival, where they could easily be cited as the next It band if the right people see, blog and tweet them well. But Grey isn’t concerned about being that band; she’s a musician at heart and creating music is her primary goal.

UHH played SXSW two years ago, but Grey is throwing expectations out the window to just have fun. They have four days of gigs lined up before heading to Dallas, where she was born (she grew up in Austin). What surprises her most is the Dallas audience.

“Texas always gives us more love,” she says. “It’s so weird the markets that we’re popular in are more conservative ones. We’ve always had a packed audience with great energy in Dallas. Houston’s the same. You’d think that would be more so in a city like Austin.”

Guess Austin hasn’t cornered the market on knowing good music after all.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Jennifer on nice

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS DREAM Recently celebrating her 50th birthday, Jennifer Holliday has returned to the recording studio. But first, she sings with the Turtles on Wednesday.

Broadway legend Jennifer Holliday is telling us she’s not going … to miss a concert with the Turtle Creek Chorale

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer
stevencraiglindsey@me.com

Every since her debut nearly 30 years, when she originated the role of Effie White in the Broadway musical Dreamgirls, introducing the now-legendary showstopper “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” Jennifer Holliday has had a voice that many people dream about. Even after another Jennifer (Hudson) performed the role in the 2006 film version of Dreamgirls (winning an Oscar for it) and following countless imitators who use the song as their go-to anthem for showcasing vocal prowess, it’s Holliday’s electrifying version that lingers in the mind.

She’s flattered of course that, decades later, people continue to perform her signature song on shows like American Idol, though she has some ideas about the changes in the music industry in general.

“I think it’s a different standard these days in what they’re looking for in terms of talent,” she says of show business in general, but while discussing the Fox singing competition directly. “I’m not knocking it. I’m glad that American Idol let them sing it again this year because I get paid! If they sing it or play it, I get paid. So it’s all right with me!”

You might expect her to cringe at the often-horrendous attempts to belt out like only she can, but Holliday’s perspective is far more positive.

“You can say, on the one hand, why would they do something so stupid to try to sing it? But on the other hand, you’ve got to have something in you — you’ve gotta have balls,” she says. “You’ve gotta have some guts to be in show business and if you can start there, if you’ve got enough inside of you to say, ‘I want to reach to those type of heights, this is the only song I know that means success, that means that you’ve arrived, so I’m gonna try it.’”

You don’t need to settle for imitators anymore, though; Holliday joins the Turtle Creek Chorale on Wednesday for a concert called, appropriately enough, One Night Only. (That’s also a song from Dreamgirls.)

Holliday continues to stress how going for your dreams is to be admired from young singers.

“I think it says a lot about a person that they try [a difficult song,” she says. “That’s a bar of excellence and that’s where [they] want to be. I very seldom laugh at the people who try, because their courage inspires me more. So if they think that they can arrive singing a Jennifer Holliday song, I can’t help but be flattered.”

Holliday herself pursued her dreams, much like Effie White, and it certainly paid off. The winner of a Tony Award and two Grammy Awards, Holliday has enjoyed a successful Broadway and recording career, though she admits she’s not as prolific as some other singers when it comes to albums.

“It’s a lot different for me,” she says. “I haven’t actually recorded in about 17 years. A lot of stuff people are buying online has been reproduced and put back out, so I run into people who say, ‘I bought one of your new songs on iTunes,’ and I’m like, ‘Honey, that ain’t new, but I’m glad you like it!’ I feel really fortunate for the few recordings I did make. I don’t have a lot — I only have five CDs. For people to hear that music now and still think that it’s something new, I’m grateful. People miss my voice being out there, I guess. It’s also that the people who worked on my CDs in the past put out a quality recording that has stood up to time.”

Fans no longer have to wait, thanks to two new albums dropping this year. The first, arriving next month, is a gospel music project called Goodness & Mercy she completed with her pastor, Dr. Raphael G. Warnock.

“It’s a unique kind of project in that it actually has a sermon on it from the pastor of my church, so it’s spoken word and music together,” she says.

“We collaborated on it and it’s a very hopeful CD in a sense that it’s going to really target trying to get people through some hard times, the recession and everything. Things are getting better, but I really wanted to do something that would really give people hope.”

Her second album, coming out in the summer “or fall at the latest,” returns to some classic territory.

“It’s all love songs, jazz standards,” she says. “It’s called Love is on the Way. I did cover tunes of ‘The Look of Love’ by Burt Bacharach, ‘At Last’ by Etta James, quite a few of those types of classics.”

Both albums were the result of a milestone life event last October: Turning 50.

“I was trying to think of a gift to give myself — nothing silly like diamonds or anything like that. I thought, what if I start singing again? So I went into the recording studio and the music just started pouring out to me. I think this is what I want to give myself, but hopefully give to others. I hope that they like it.”

In fact, it’s been so long since her last stint in a recording studio, she was taken aback by technology.

“I didn’t even know they didn’t use tape any more!” she laughs. “They record everything in a little box. So I have my whole future in a little tiny box that I have in a fireproof safe in my home. But I feel like my voice is better than ever, still strong and powerful and high. I guess I look at that as being most fortunate of all, that I still have my chops and that’s still intact.”

Those chops will be on display at next week’s concert with the Turtles.

“While there is no actual theme to this concert, the subtext is all about heart and soul,” explains Jonathan Palant, artistic director of the chorale. “Of course, we want to feature some of the hits from Dreamgirls, so Jennifer will perform ‘One Night Only’ and ‘I Am Changing.’ She’ll also join the Chorale for Gloria Estefan’s ‘Coming Out of the Dark’ and Bill Withers’ biggest hit, ‘Lean on Me,’ among others.”

Performing with gay men’s choruses is just one of the things that keeps Holliday busy, but turning 50 was only the beginning.

“I’m holding up, all my old stuff is being re-circulated, and thank God I’m young enough that I can still make something new.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Show vs. Show • 03.26.10

By RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

Dallas doesn’t find itself too often in the middle of a gay live music dilemma. This weekend, two musicians might get to bring their sounds to the masses. That is, if LGBT Dallas heads out to support their own.

Tommy Hernandez was mostly on the local music scene as a solo artist but his latest venture takes him away from pop music into a trancey realm. As one half of Museum Creatures, he and Stephen Holmes go the electronica route.

Museum Creatures is part of the Mercy for Animals Benefit at the Cavern on Lower Greenville. They share a heavy bill with Soft Environmental Collapse, Division of Power and more for the Rockout for Animals show.

Patrick Boothe approaches music with a raw attitude. In his latest release, Jump In, a five song EP, he explores his darker side.

Boothe relocated from Dallas to Austin partly to be near the music industry there. A lonely spell set in and provided inspiration for his newest set of songs. But he’s confident his gay audience will relate.

“I do have a mostly gay audience and they don’t listen to just the poppy music at gay clubs and bars you always hear.”

He’s alt-rock with a piano but more in the vein of Tori Amos. Yet, maybe a bit louder.

“It’s just me and a piano but it’s gonna be loud. I sing pretty loud and I’m not a classically trained pianist so it can get intense at times.”

He’s alt-rock with a piano but more in the vein of Tori Amos. Yet, maybe a bit louder.

“It’s just me and a piano but it’s gonna be loud. I sing pretty loud and I’m not a classically trained pianist so it can get intense at times.


— Rich Lopez

 


This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 26, 2010.


—  admin