By Ana Egge, for Folk Alley
As part of Folk Alley’s Pride Month feature, we’ve asked a handful of LGBTQ+ artists to make a list of the songs or artists who most influenced them.
Tracy Chapman – “Fast Car”
I first saw Tracy Chapman perform on the Grammys in 1988. I think I was stunned. Shocked by the power of her voice, the song, and the fact that she was being so much herself. She wasn’t pushed into wearing something fancy or anything. She played solo in a black shirt and jeans. For the first time as a non-conforming woman, I saw that that was possible.
Boy George – “Karma Chameleon”
I remember being at my friend’s house seeing the video for “Karma Chameleon” on MTV (my family didn’t have cable or a satellite dish). I remember my friend’s mom saying that Boy George must be gay.mKind of off-hand but with some judgement. That was the first time I heard that word. I didn’t know what it meant. I was 7 or 8 at the time.
kd lang and Roy Orbison – “Crying”
I think this was the first time I heard kd lang. I knew of Roy Orbison through my parents, and I remember watching her on the Grammys and being entranced by her voice. I basically wanted to be just like her. I became a superfan and got all of her old records, her biography, and everything else I could get my hands on.
Bonnie Raitt – “Thing Called Love”
My parents and their friends had some Bonnie Raitt records, so her voice was kind of familiar. When I saw her on the Grammys playing “Thing Called Love,” I was hypnotized. I’d never seen a woman play the guitar like that. Maybe I’d actually never seen anyone play the electric slide guitar? She blew my mind. I got all of her old albums and started learning her songs.
Doris Day – “Secret Love”
My mother loved old movies. When I first saw “Calamity Jane,” as a middle schooler, I identified with her character and loved Doris Day’s voice. I imagined (even at such a young age, not even knowing that I was gay) that her “secret love” was for another woman. Projecting!