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Love and joy come to you

Legendary singer brings Christmas cheer to the Howard



Darlene Love, gay news, Washington Blade
Darlene Love, gay news, Washington Blade

After many years in the background, singer Darlene Love is enjoying her moment in the sun. (Photo courtesy Project Publicity)

Darlene Love


Saturday, Dec. 19


8 p.m.


The Howard Theatre


620 T St., N.W.


VIP tickets: $80


General admission $45 in advance/$50 day of


With Christmas on the horizon, chances are if Christmas music is being played, Darlene Love’s 1963 “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” is in the rotation, as the song has been one of the most popular songs of the season for decades. David Letterman calls it his favorite song and before retiring, would have Love come on his show and kick-off the Christmas season with a live rendition.

“Dave is the one who made it so popular around the world,” Love says. “When it’s this close to Christmas, I think the song means even more to people. I love this time of year. I really enjoy the closeness of family and people are in a giving mood, are happy and jovial. It’s a very special time for me.”

Love rose to prominence in the ’60s as a session vocalist and although she supported all the great singers in Phil Spector’s arsenal of performers with her glorious background vocals—including tunes such as “He’s a Rebel,” “He’s Sure the Boy I Love,” “Be My Baby” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”—she was rarely credited on the liner notes of the records.

The performers all knew and adored her, but the public wasn’t privy to just how incredible she was.

“I wasn’t the first one that it happened to; you just never heard about it with a lot of us. Phil Spector was a rising producer who became incredibly successful who started his own empire and knew how to succeed,” she says. “I couldn’t sign work because of him recording my voice as the Crystals and I couldn’t claim ‘He’s A Rebel’ or ‘He’s Sure The Boy I Love’ as my own, because my name wasn’t on there. That kept me from finding work.”

Then Letterman began championing the Christmas tune, she took a role as Murtaugh’s wife in the “Lethal Weapon” movies, and did a turn on Broadway in “Leader of the Pack,” and Love eventually skyrocketed to the fame she deserved.

Love is ranked No. 84 on Rolling Stone’s top 100 singers of all-time; she was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 and was one of the subjects of the 2014 Oscar-winning documentary, “20 Feet From Stardom,” which showed an in-depth illustration of Love’s storied musical career as a background singer. Her speech at the Oscars was one of the most memorable of the last decade and the soulful singer has never been in greater demand.

“When I started, I thought I would be done singing by the time I was 50. You don’t think you could keep it up or that people would still love the music, but they do,” the 73-year-old says. “I think the biggest reason they still come out is that I stay true to the songs. I don’t change how I sing them and they are even more powerful today because my voice is more powerful.”

Fans can check that out for themselves when the legendary Love plays the Howard Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 19.

“We’re having so much fun with this show, everywhere we’ve been,” Love says. “My show is very energetic. Many women don’t do these high-energy shows—maybe Tina Turner or Joan Jett—but mine it so high energy. We play some new songs, do some Christmas songs and of course, many of the classics people love.”

Her favorite thing about being on stage is seeing the generations of fans who come out and sing along with her.

“It’s so great to see people are bringing their children and they are bringing their children, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Love says. “I think the younger generation wants to hear great songs, great lyrics and great melodies that they want to sing along with. They do that when they come to my show.”

Last year, the singer released new material with the album, “Introducing Darlene Love,” produced by Love’s longtime friend and advocate Steven Van Zandt.

“It’s been time to do this for a while, but I couldn’t find anyone to do it, that was the problem. Record companies don’t want to record older artists because they think there’s no place for them,” she says. “Steve wanted to record to sound like the music I recorded in the ’60s, and that’s the beauty of it. People may think they have heard these songs before because they sound as if they are from that era.”

Love will be opening her show at the Howard with one of the new tunes and hopes to see many people come out and celebrate Christmas with her.

“I always tell my audiences to come with the sense that they’re going to be entertained and I will life their spirits up. It’s my job to life their spirits up, so they will leave the show saying we had a good time,” Love says. “If I’m having fun, they will have fun. They know just how far to go with me.”


Music & Concerts

Musical icons and newer stars to rock D.C. this spring

Brandi Carlile, Bad Bunny, Nicki Minaj, and more headed our way



Brandi Carlile plays the Anthem this month.

Bands and solo artists of all different genres are visiting D.C. this spring. Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight will team up to perform at the Wolf Trap in June, and girl in red will play at the Anthem in April. Some artists and bands aren’t paying a visit until the summer, like Janet Jackson and Usher, but there are still plenty of acts to see as the weather warms up. 


Brandi Carlile plays at the Anthem on March 21; Arlo Parks will perform at 9:30 Club on March 23; Girlschool will take the stage at Blackcat on March 28.


Nicki Minaj stops in D.C. at Capital One Arena as part of her North American tour on April 1; Bad Bunny plays at Capital One Arena on April 9 as part of his Most Wanted tour; girl in red performs at the Anthem on April 20 and 21; Brandy Clark plays at the Birchmere on April 25; Laufey comes to town to play at the Anthem on April 25 and 26. 


Belle and Sebastian play at the Anthem on May 2; Chastity Belt performs at Blackcat on May 4; Madeleine Peyroux stops at the Birchmere on May 5; The Decemberists play at the Anthem on May 10; the rock band Mannequin Pussy performs at the Atlantis on May 17 and 18; Hozier plays at Merriweather Post Pavilion on May 17 as part of the Unreal Unearth tour. 


Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight will sing soulful melodies at Wolf Trap on June 8; Joe Jackson performs at the Lincoln Theatre on June 10; the Pixies and Modest Mouse are teaming up to play at Merriweather Post Pavilion on June 14; Maggie Rogers plays at Merriweather Post Pavilion on June 16 as part of The Don’t Forget Me tour; Brittany Howard headlines the Out & About Festival at Wolf Trap on June 22; Sarah McLachlan plays at Merriweather Post Pavilion on June 27; Alanis Morissette performs at Merriweather Post Pavilion on June 29 and 30

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Music & Concerts

Grammys: Queer women and their sisters took down the house

Taylor Swift won Album of the Year



When the late, great Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked when there will be enough women on the Supreme Court, her answer was simple: Nine. She stated: “I say when there are nine, people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.” RBG did not attend the Grammy’s last night, but her spirit sure did. Women, at long last, dominated, ruled and killed the night.

Cher, in song a decade ago, declared that “this is a woman’s world,” but there was little evidence that was true, Grammy, and entertainment awards, speaking. In 2018, the Grammys were heavily criticized for lack of female representation across all categories and organizers’ response was for women to “step up.”

Be careful what you wish for boys.

The biggest star of the 2024 Grammys was the collective power of women. They made history, they claimed legacy and they danced and lip sang to each other’s work. Standing victorious was Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, SZA (the most nominated person of the year), Lainey Wilson, Karol G, boygenius, Kylie Minogue and Victoria Monét. Oh, yes, and powerhouse Taylor Swift, the superstar from whom Fox News cowers in fear, made history to become the first performer of any gender to win four Best Album of the Year trophies.

In the throng of these powerful women stand a number of both LGBTQ advocates and queer identifying artists. Cyrus has identified as pansexual, SZA has said lesbian rumors “ain’t wrong,” Phoebe Bridgers (winner of four trophies during the night, most of any artist) is lesbian, Monét is bi and Eilish likes women but doesn’t want to talk about it. Plus, ask any queer person about Swift or Minogue and you are likely to get a love-gush.

Women power was not just owned by the lady award winners. There were the ladies and then there were the Legends. The first Legend to appear was a surprise. Country singer Luke Combs has a cross-generational hit this year with a cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” When originally released, the song was embraced as a lesbian anthem. When performing “Fast Car,” surprise, there was Chapman herself, singing the duet with Combs. The rendition was stunning, sentimental and historic.

Chapman, like many of the night’s female dignitaries, has not been public with her sexuality. Author Alice Walker has spoken of the two of them being lovers, however.

The legend among legends of the night, however, was the one and only Joni Mitchell. Not gay herself, she embodies the concept of an LGBTQ icon, and was accompanied by the very out Brandi Carlile on stage. On her website, Mitchell’s statement to the LGBTQ community reads, “The trick is if you listen to that music and you see me, you’re not getting anything out of it. If you listen to that music and you see yourself, it will probably make you cry and you’ll learn something about yourself and now you’re getting something out of it.”

Mitchell performed her longtime classic “Both Sides Now.” The emotion, insight and delivery from the now 80-year old artist, survivor of an aneurism, was nothing short of profound. (To fully appreciate the nuance time can bring, check out the YouTube video of a Swift lookalike Mitchell singing the same song to Mama Cass and Mary Travers in 1969.) In this latest rendition, Mitchell clearly had an impact on Meryl Streep who was sitting in the audience. Talk about the arc of female talent and power.

That arc extended from a today’s lady, Cyrus, to legend Celine Dion as well. Cyrus declared Dion as one of her icons and inspirations early in the evening. Dion appeared, graceful and looking healthy, to present the final, and historic, award of the night at the end of the show.

Legends did not even need to be living to have had an effect on the night. Tributes to Tina Turner and Sinead O’Conner by Oprah, Fantasia Barrino-Taylor and Annie Lennox respectively, proved that not even death could stop these women. As Lennox has musically and famously put it, “Sisters are doing it for themselves.”

Even the content of performances by today’s legends-in-the-making spoke to feminine power. Eilish was honored for, and performed “What Was I Made For?,” a haunting and searching song that speaks to the soul of womanhood and redefinition in today’s fight for gender rights and expression, while Dua Lipa laid down the gauntlet for mind blowing performance with her rendition of “Houdini” at the top of the show, Cyrus asserted the power of her anthem “Flowers” and pretty much stole the show.

Cyrus had not performed the song on television before, and only three times publicly. She declared in her intro that she was thrilled over the business numbers the song garnered, but she refused to let them define her. As she sang the hit, she scolded the audience, “you guys act like you don’t know the words to this song.” Soon the woman power of the room was singing along with her, from Swift to Oprah.

They can buy themselves flowers from now on. They don’t need anyone else. Cyrus made that point with the mic drop to cap all mic drops, “And I just won my first Grammy!” she declared as she danced off stage.

Even the squirmiest moment of the night still did not diminish the light of women power, and in fact, underscored it. During his acceptance of the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award, Jay-Z had a bone to pick with the Grammy voters. He called out the irony that his wife Beyoncé had won more Grammys than any other human, but had never won the Best Album of the Year. Yeah, what’s with that?

But then, it brought additional context ultimately to the fact that the winner of the most Grammys individually … is a woman. And to the fact that the winner of the most Best Album of the Year awards … is a woman.

Hopefully this was the night that the Grammys “got it.” Women are the epicenter of The Creative Force.

Will the other entertainment awards get it soon as well? We can hope.

Most importantly, in a political world where women’s healthcare is under siege. Will the American voters get it?

A little known band named Little Mix put it this way in their 2019 song “A Woman’s World.”

“If you can’t see that it’s gotta change
Only want the body but not the brains
If you really think that’s the way it works
You ain’t lived in a woman’s world

Just look at how far that we’ve got
And don’t think that we’ll ever stop…”

From Grammy’s mouth to the world’s ear.

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Music & Concerts

Janet Jackson returning to D.C, Baltimore

‘Together Again Tour’ comes to Capital One Arena, CFG Bank Arena



Janet Jackson is coming back to D.C. this summer.

Pop icon Janet Jackson announced this week an extension of her 2023 “Together Again Tour.” A new leg of the tour will bring Jackson back to the area for two shows, one at D.C.’s Capital One Arena on Friday, July 12 and another at Baltimore’s CFG Bank Arena on Saturday, July 13.  

Tickets are on sale now via TicketMaster. LiveNation announced the 2023 leg of the tour consisted of 36 shows, each of which was sold out. The 2024 leg has 35 stops planned so far; R&B star Nelly will open for Jackson on the new leg. 

Jackson made the tour announcement Tuesday on social media: “Hey u guys! By popular demand, we’re bringing the Together Again Tour back to North America this summer with special guest Nelly! It’ll be so much fun!”

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