The soft side of Anne Steele

The out songstress is ready to show Dallas ‘What’s Mine’

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Anne Steele

SCOTT HUFFMAN  | Contributing Writer
scott_in_dallas@yahoo.com

Anne Steele knew at an early age that she would be a performer, and she pursued her calling with success. Her musical career has included gigs as a recording studio artist, cruise ship entertainer and award-winning NYC cabaret performer. Career goals achieved, as expected.

What Steele never anticipated, however, was that she would also become a wife and parent. And about that, she simply couldn’t be happier.

Screen shot 2016-02-18 at 10.30.49 AM“There are not a lot of sad songs in me anymore,” says Steele, who brings her What’s Mine tour to Dallas on Feb. 27. “It’s funny: When Adele’s CD came out, I keep thinking about how she can still draw on so much sadness even though she’s with someone. She’s happy. She has a baby and life is good. She can still find that. I don’t know if it makes me a shallow person, but I can’t really find that anymore.”

For her Dallas debut, Steele intends to introduce herself as any singer might — through her song choices. Expect the vocalist, who is married to R Family Vacations co-founder and SMU alumna Kelli Carpenter, to perform mostly a selection of upbeat tunes, including pop covers, standards and original songs from her 6-track EP What’s Mine, some of which Steele wrote herself.

“This is all new to me,” Steele says of songwriting for the EP, a process which, incidentally, was influenced by the VH1 reality series Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project. “I had in my head that I wanted to write a gay anthem and I wanted to write a love song about Kelli. I ended up doing neither because she [Perry] kept saying, ‘Don’t force yourself to write something. Just write what you know.’”

On the spot, Steele took Perry’s advice to heart. She began thinking about her youth in a small Indiana town. She recalled feeling as if she didn’t quite fit in there, despite not being sure why. Steele’s payoff was shockingly immediate, and the exercise produced the EP’s title track.

“I turned off the show,” Steele recalls. “I sat down, and I literally wrote the song right there. I had been struggling to write, and I wrote it top to bottom, right there. That’s what What’s Mine is about — knowing eventually I would find what was mine: my people.”

And it is to her people that Steele attributes most of the credit for her career success. Through cruise ship gigs and cabaret performances, the singer has built an ardent LGBT fan base — interestingly, one more centered on gay men than lesbians.

“I hate to limit it because it’s certainly not only gay people, but I have a strong gay following,” Steele says. “I am super proud of that. I would say that it’s not so strong in the lesbian community. I am generally drawn to gay men. I feel like gay men sort of get me and my music.”

Currently, one of Steele’s favorite songs to perform is Sara Bareilles’ spunky anthem “Brave.” Steele believes it describes perfectly the way she feels. Moreover, she believes the song translates easily to each member of her audience, regardless of sexual orientation. Steele often uses the song to close her sets.

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“For a long time in my life, I was not happy with who I was,” Steele confides. “I worried about people finding out I was gay. I worried about being overweight or not having the right hair color. I worried about a number of things that are not important. Now I get on stage and tell people my story. If you don’t tell your story, who is going to tell it for you? That song to me is all about being brave. You don’t have to be gay to get it.”

Steele was recently a featured artist in the Cyndi Lauper & Friends: Home for the Holidays concert, an annual event benefitting the True Colors Fund for LGBT homeless youth. Steele was thrilled to perform and at one point shared the stage with Cyndi and Boy George. While she considers the evening a career highlight, another moment in her life is the one which Steele remembers most fondly.

“I was most proud of standing in front of my parents and Kelli’s parents and all of our friends and pledging to love her for the rest of my life,” Steele says with conviction.
“Kelli’s really good friend had just been appointed by President Obama to be a judge in New York. She is the first Filipino-American woman to be appointed as a federal judge. We were her first wedding. It was amazing to have her there and to think about her accomplishment and to see where we’ve come as a country in order to be married. Just to see those boundaries fall down.”

As for her career, Steele believes she is exactly where she is supposed to be. For that she is grateful.

“I think my career came out like this because it was meant to be like this,” Steele says. “I think that I’m built to do what I’m doing now. I used to have all these huge Broadway dreams. I’ve talked to people who work on Broadway and they are all very happy in the moment for the time they are working. But I don’t ever have to worry about losing my job. My job is controlled by me. The fact that I’ve been able to work travel into my life is amazing. I do have to work for money, but I have the freedom to pick and choose what I want to do. And that is a gift.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 19, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Clinton campaign staffer holding training tonight

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Hillary Clinton

Ok, all you Hillary Clinton backers, you won’t want to miss this.

Carlos Paz, Texas state organizing director for the Hillary campaign, will be conducting a brief training session — as part of the Hillary for America Organizing Academy — tonight (Monday, Jan. 25) in the Rose Room at S4.

The event starts at 6:30 p.m., and those attending should enter through the green doors off the back parking lot and go to the second floor.

RSVP here.

Dallas Democratic activist Jeff Strater encouraged Clinton supporters to make time to attend despite the short notice, adding, “It’s not often that a presidential campaign deploys staff to Dallas and conducts training like this.”

Strater also said that because the original location had problems with the H/AC, the event had to be relocated at the last minute, and offered his thanks to Caven Enterprises for allowing the use of S4 and The Rose Room.

—  Tammye Nash

Del Shores set to make ‘Sordid Lives’ sequel, shoot it in Dallas

0600 flashDel Shores is finally following up his hit play/movie/TV series Sordid Lives with an official sequel. His next feature film will be A Very Sordid Wedding, picking up 16 years after the original. Castmembers Leslie Jordan, Bonnie Bedelia and Caroline Rhea are set to reprise their roles, and as the title suggests, there’ll be a wedding … and a same-sex one, at that.

And the above-named folks won’t be the only familiar names in the cast — one of the scenes will take place in the Rose Room, and Shores has even written parts for some of the ladies there.

“I never felt, like much of the Sordid Lives fan base, that I was done with the denizens of Winters, Texas,” Shores says.

The film will be produced by Shores’ business partner (and Dallas Voice contributor) Emerson Collins, and there’s even a IndieGoGo website if you want to contribute to the making of it. Click here for that.

Shores was just in North Texas for the screening at Q Cinema of Southern Baptist Sissies, another of his Texas-based riffs on conservative, religion and homosexuality.

Here’s a video of Shores talking about the project filming in Dallas.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Outrageous Oral features four outrageous speakers

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Vivienne Armstrong (left) and Louise Young

The Dallas Way presents its 9th edition of Outrageous Oral on Thursday with speakers Louise Young and Vivienne Armstrong, Terry Loftis and, um, me.

I’ll be talking about my experiences writing for Dallas Voice and broadcasting Lambda
Weekly for the past 20 years.

Armstrong and Young were at the University of Colorado’s Gay Liberation Front in 1971 where Young was completing her Ph.D. Since then, their lives and relationship have been interwoven with the movement for LGBT rights.

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Terry Loftis

They moved to Dallas in 1976. In 1977 they joined the newly formed Dallas Gay Political Caucus (now the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance) and soon assumed leadership roles. They were the architects of the political arm of DGLA that established strong ties between the Dallas LGBT community and mainstream political parties.

In 1993, they represented LGBT Americans in President Clinton’s Inaugural Parade on the “Family of America” float. They are recipients of numerous awards, including the Black Tie Dinner’s Kuchling Humanitarian Award. Both have been featured in media throughout their relationship of over 42 years and have put a public face on long-term same-sex relationships. They were featured in the books, Uncommon Heroes: A Celebration of Heroes and Role Models for Gay and Lesbian Americans and Creating Civil Union: Opening Hearts and Minds and many articles on long-term relationships and domestic partner benefits.

Young has been especially active in the workplace equality movement. She retired after a 33-year career with Raytheon Company where she was instrumental in Raytheon becoming the first aerospace and defense company to score 100 percent on the HRC Corporate Equality Index. Armstrong retired after a distinguished career of more than 30 years with the Visiting Nurse Association, including leadership in HIV services.

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David Taffet

Terry Loftis is a brand strategist and was president of Verve Communications Group, a full service marketing communications firm, from 1997 until 2013.

A Dallas native, Terry’s life began in the North Dallas projects until his family moved into their first home in Oak Cliff where he grew up. He graduated from the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and moved on to Eastfield College as a jazz studies major.

His community work began when he joined the board of directors for the Resource Center, where he served for eight years and ultimately became board president. During his tenure at the Resource Center, Loftis was instrumental in the restructuring of Toast to Life, and he assisted in the creation of the Lone Star Ride and GayBingo.

His company donated over $100,000 in creative services to Resource Center that helped increase revenue across all programs and services. For his efforts, he was awarded the Lambda Legal Civil Rights Award for Leadership.

Loftis returned to Resource Center in 2012 as a member of the Capital Campaign Committee. Terry has served on the boards of Legacy Counseling Center, Friends of the Katy Trail and the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. In addition to his career and work in the community, he is a jazz vocalist and ordained minister.

The Rose Room inside S4, Jan. 30 at 6:30 p.m. Free.

—  David Taffet

Voice of Pride finalists selected

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Last night at the Round-Up Saloon, the contestants who have been vying all summer to be crowned the 2013 Voice of Pride got whittled down to a final 10. These 10 will compete on Aug. 11 at the Rose Room in the final showdown of the year; the winner gets bragging rights and the chance to sing at the festival in Lee Park following the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, plus $3,500 in cash and two round-trip airline tickets and a hotel stay at a luxury Hilton.

Congratulations to all the finalists, listed here in alphabetical below:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas drag diva Erica Andrews dies

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Erica Andrews, a nationally known trans woman and drag diva who headlined the Dallas-filmed indie flick Ticked Off Trannies with Knives, died last night in Chicago from a lung infection, according to reports.

Andrews, who was in her 40s, was the “drag mother” of RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Roxxxy Andrews. She appeared with former Drag Racer and Ticked Off co-star Willam Belli at his show at the Rose Room in December. “A Goddess just met God,” Belli tweeted last night when word broke of her passing last night — ironically, as the latest episode of Drag Race aired on Logo. “I love you Erica Andrews,” Belli added.

“I’m sad. It came as such a shock,” said Ronald Radwanski, a local painter and director of the ilume Gallerie on Cedar Springs. “I didn’t even know she was sick. The last time we talked was when my nephew moved to Chicago. She was loving living in Chicago with her boyfriend, Juan.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

GayBingo returns Saturday, with changes

On Saturday, Resource Center Dallas returns with another year of GayBingo, but it won’t be the same old game.

For tomorrow’s Fifty Shades of Gay theme, RCD will debut a new bingo machine, offering both a new look and making it easier to follow the game. And there will be new games, bigger pay-outs and more surprise guests.

Also on-deck this year: Two new offshoots of GayBingo. “GayBingo Presents” will be a series featuring music, fashion, dance and more; and Paul J. Williams has signed on (on behalf of his alter ego, Sister Helen Holy, pictured) to host “GayBingo North Dallas.”

It all starts tomorrow at 5 p.m. at the Rose Room inside Station 4. Get reservations and learn more here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

TBRU 17: Big D BearDance tonight at S4

Beef on the dancefloor

Former Soup Dragons leader Sean Dickson went from hipster waif to muscle bear DJ and brings his psychedelic house style tonight to the Big D BearDance. Taking on a more club ready moniker, HiFi Sean is used to a Dallas crowd, but more so when he was with his 90s alt-rocker band playing with the likes of The Flaming Lips and INXS. Now he plays to a far different crowd, but he’s ready to “give the bears a new experience.” The dance party is a fundraiser for area charities, but also the highlight club event of the weekend. DJ Rob opens the evening.

On a random note, Perez Hilton will make an appearance tonight signing autographs in the Granite Bar and shifting over later to the Rose Room.

DEETS: Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. 8 p.m. BearDance.org.

—  Rich Lopez

GayBingo tonight at the Rose Room

GayBingo 2.0

Before heading out to 2012’s first GayBingo, check out our online interview with new director Johnny Humphrey. He tells us some of the changes that are going down with this new version and they all sound good. Then, bust out that bingo marker and take no prisoners when your number comes up.

DEETS: The Rose Room (inside S4) 3911 Cedar Springs Road. 6 p.m. $25. RCDallas.org.

—  Rich Lopez

Prince Poppycock at Station 4 on June 30

Photos by Chuck Dube/Dallas Voice (MarceloMedia)

 

 

 

—  John Wright