December 23, 2010 | by Juliette Ebner
Making musical memories

A promo still of singer Tom Goss with actor Ben Horen who plays his partner in the concept video 'Lover.' (Photo by Michael Key)

Two indie gay singer/songwriters are making memorable career strides. D.C. resident Tom Goss pulled out all the stops for his current video for the song “Lover” while Boston native Catie Curtis gave a two hour White House concert last week.

From his 2009 “Back to Love” album, Goss’s “Lover” has been 18 months in the making. It’s his fourth concept video.

“People have wanted a video for this song,” Goss says. “The song is so big and tells such a story, that I didn’t really want to do it. If I was going to do this video, I really had to do it right.”

“Lover” tells the story of the loss experienced by partners of gay servicemembers killed in battle.

The video was inspired by a friend telling Goss about his screenplay, quoting songs from his album, especially “Lover.”

“I called him back … and I said ‘Sorry, I’m stealing your idea,’” Goss says, laughing. “As it progressed, it became this thing that was so much bigger than the people involved.”

The video flashes from Goss singing in his house, to medics trying to help his partner, to moments between the two of them.

In the end, Goss is left in his living room, holding the crumpled picture of the two of them one of the medics pulled out of his partner’s pocket.

“Loved ones don’t know anything. If they’re partner dies, the U.S. government doesn’t show up at their house with a flag to tell them,” Goss says. “This person doesn’t exist to them.”

The video features three former servicemembers, Mike Almy, David Hall and Danny Hernandez, who were discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and played the medics.

“We wanted them to be in the video, but we also wanted to be really sensitive to their experiences and their desire to still be in the military,” Goss says. “Luckily when I asked them, they were really excited about it.”

Some of the scenes between Goss and the soldier were filmed in Goss’s home.

“It was more than just me making out with some other guy,” Goss says about the intimate scenes between him and actor Ben Horen, who played the soldier. “I kicked Mike out of my house and then transformed our house from a place where we have our life and our love into a place where I have this other life and this other love.”

The video can be found on YouTube and has been picked up by many news organizations and blogs including the Advocate, AfterElton.com, Towleroad and more. It will be on Logo next month.

Catie Curtis, second from left, with her musical comrades at the White House last week. (Photo courtesy of Catie Curtis)

Lesbian Curtis has released 10 albums in the past 15 years and performed at the White House Dec. 13.

“It’s surreal,” Curtis says about performing at the White House. “There is an energy [there] … during the holiday season, when everything is so festive.”

The show came about because Curtis has a few fans working for the Obama administration and a performance had been in talks for a while.

The show consisted of holiday songs and some of Curtis’s own work. She performed with other musicians John Jennings, Ingrid Graudins and Elana Arian.

“One of the cool things about playing at the White House is recognizing that for all the disappointments of the last few years of a democratic presidency, there are some things that are certainly different,” Curtis says. “And one of them is having an out lesbian invited to perform at the White House and playing Christmas songs with a Jewish fiddler who had never played Christmas music before.”

While rehearsing the night before, Curtis and the band playing with her were so into the holiday spirit, that they rushed to a recording studio in Virginia at 10 p.m. and laid down a few tracks in three hours.

“I think on Dec. 20 … we are going to offer five songs online … called ‘Twas the Night Before the White House,’” Curtis says. “Usually people make these CDs in March and release them in November, but we were totally in the spirit, practicing these songs.”

Curtis plans to announce when and where the tracks will be available on her website and Facebook page.

Curtis, who is ordained to perform weddings, whatever the legal status, announced on Dec. 7, that she had formed a partnership with GayWeddings.com.

Each couple will be able to decide how much they want Curtis involved. She’ll be available to officiate the ceremony and perform at the reception, as well as help couples plan different aspects including assisting them in writing their own vows.

“As a songwriter, I feel like I have the skills to put their thoughts and feelings into words that can help to communicate their perspective to each other … at a celebration,” Curtis says.

Couples who book a wedding with Curtis will receive a personalized dedication and their choice of signed and framed lyric sheet or their vows along with a photo taken with Curtis.

Curtis married her partner of 14 years in a big ceremony in 2000 and they were legally married by a Justice of the Peace in Massachusetts in 2005.

Curtis will begin work recording a new album next month.

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