Denise Lee


When Simon Cowell used to criticize contestants on American Idol for being “too cabaret,” many in the gay community cocked their heads. Cowell made it sounds like a   bad thing. Gays have long loved their piano bars, their cabarets and the divas who make them live… probably because, for decades, that’s how we gathered for entertainment.

But cabaret has gone more mainstream and will continue to grow… at least if Denise Lee has anything to say about it.

Long one of North Texas’ top talents and a consistent draw, Lee is returning for her third season of the Life Is a Cabaret Series, and it’s the biggest yet. And there’s not even a cover charge.

“Cabaret has taken off,” Lee says. “When I started this journey about five years ago, very few venues offered this type of entertainment. Now you see the word ‘cabaret’ listed on the schedules of several music establishments. Engaging with the audiences is part of the magic.”

The season is actually two seasons. The mainstage series returns to the spacious Women’s Building at Fair Park. It launches Tuesday with a show entitled “Together We Can — Love Is the Key,” which reunites frequent co-stars (and best buds) Denise Lee and Gary Lynn Floyd, pictured below. It continues approximately monthly with Lee returning on Valentine’s Day, followed by Terry D. Loftis (Feb. 28); Angie McWhirter (March 28); Paul J. Williams (April 25); Heather Paterson (May 23); and Sheran Keyton (June 27).


Gary Lynn Floyd

A second, more intimate series will take place right in Uptown, at Two Corks and a Bottle in the Quadrangle. Lee returns for that on Feb. 21, followed by Anton Shaw (March 21), Shelley Kenneavy (April 28), a surprise guest in May and Stephanie Riggs (June 20).

The series will be topped by the Second Annual Dallas Cabaret Festival, July 27–29. The lineup will include already-named headliner Cynthia Scott, as well as performers to be revealed later.

— A.W.J.

For more information, visit

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2017.