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LGBT ally Kacey Musgraves wins big at queer-dominated Grammys

Brandi Carlile, Lady Gaga also rack up wins

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Kacey Musgraves accepts Album of the Year at the 2019 Grammys. (Screenshot via YouTube)

Country singer Kacey Musgraves won the coveted Album of the Year award for her album “Golden Hour” marking the end of a Grammys award show filled with plenty of queer women representation.

Musgraves, who also won Country Album of the Year, has emerged as an LGBTQ ally in the country music world. She has spoken up for more LGBTQ inclusion in country music and her song “Follow Your Arrow” was hailed as a pro-LGBTQ anthem. Musgraves also served as judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Musgraves also took home Best Country Solo Performance (“Butterflies”), and Best Country Song (“Space Cowboy”) Awards for a total of four winning categories.

Lesbian singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile won three awards during the pre-telecast including Best Americana Album for “By the Way, I Forgive You” and Best American Roots Song and Best American Roots Performance for “The Joke.” She received the most nominations of any woman this year and became the first LGBTQ person to win awards in those categories.

While accepting the award for Best American Roots Performance, she shared that she came out in high school at age 15. She says she never was invited to high school parties or dances.

“I never got to attend a dance. To be embraced by this enduring and loving community has been a dance of a lifetime,” Carlile said. “Thank you for being my island.”

Carlile also received a standing ovation for her vocal powerhouse performance of “The Joke” during the televised ceremony.

Other queer artists with impactful Grammys performances were Ricky Martin who performed with Camila Cabello, J Balvin, Arturo Sandoval and Young Thug for a Broadway musical-inspired Grammys opener to Cabello’s song “Havana.”

Miley Cyrus, who identifies as pansexual, dueted with Shawn Mendes on his song “In My Blood.” She later also teamed up with Katy Perry, Maren Morris, Musgraves and Little Big Town for a tribute to Dolly Parton.

Janelle Monáe performed her bisexual anthem “Make Me Feel” off her album “Dirty Computer,” mixed in with her feminist song “Pynk.”

She didn’t win for either category she was nominated for (Album of the Year and Best Music Video) but she did dedicate her nominations to her “trans brothers and sisters.” In an interview with Variety, the singer was asked about coming out as queer last year.

“People do it everyday,” she replied. “My trans brothers and sisters, they do it everyday. And they are shunned from these sorts of events. So this one is for them.”

Lady Gaga scored two wins (Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Song Written For Visual Media) for her “A Star is Born” duet with Bradley Cooper, “Shallow,” which she also performed.

Dua Lipa and St. Vincent, who is sexually fluid, did a steamy joint performance of her song “Masseducation” and Lipa’s “One Kiss.” St. Vincent and Jack Antonoff won Best Rock Song for “Masseducation.”

History continued to be made with Cardi B becoming the first woman to win Best Rap Album and “This is America” by Childish Gambino winning Best Song. This is the first time a rap song has won in that category.

Jennifer Lopez also gave a dance-filled tribute to Motown while Diana Ross honored her own birthday, which is in March, with a performance. Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Lopez also made appearances at the top of the show to help host Alicia Keys reflect on the importance of music.

Check out the complete list of winners below.

Album Of The Year — “Golden Hour”- Kacey Musgraves

Record Of The Year — “This Is America” – Childish Gambino

Best New Artist — Dua Lipa

Best Rap Album — “Invasion Of Privacy”- Cardi B

Best R&B Album Winner — “H.E.R.”- H.E.R.

Best Rap Song — “God’s Plan”- Drake

Best Country Album — “Golden Hour”- Kacey Musgraves

Song Of The Year — “This Is America”- Childish Gambino

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance — “Shallow” Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper

Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical — Pharrell Williams

Best Rap/Sung Performance — “This Is America”-Childish Gambino

Best Rap Performance — “King’s Dead”- Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future & James Blake / Bubblin, Anderson .Paak

Best Rock Album — “From The Fires”-Greta Van Fleet

Best Rock Song — “Masseduction” – St. Vincent

Best Metal Performance — “Electric Messiah”- High On Fire

Best Rock Performance — “When Bad Does Good”- Chris Cornell

Best Urban Contemporary Album — “Everything Is Love”- The Carters

Best R&B Song — “Boo’d Up”- Ella Mai

Best Traditional R&B Performance — “Bet Ain’t Worth The Hand”- Leon Bridges / “How Deep Is Your Love”-Pj Morton Featuring Yebba

Best R&B Performance — “Best Part”- H.E.R. Featuring Daniel Caesar

Best Latin Jazz Album — “Back To The Sunset”- Dafnis Prieto Big Band

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album — “American Dreamers: Voices Of Hope, Music Of Freedom”- John Daversa Big Band Featuring Daca Artists

Best Jazz Instrumental Album — “Emanon”- The Wayne Shorter Quartet

Best Jazz Vocal Album — “The Window”- Cécile Mclorin Salvant

Best Improvised Jazz Solo — “Don’t Fence Me In”- John Daversa

Best Reggae Album — “44/876”- Sting & Shaggy

Best Dance/Electronic Album — “Woman Worldwide”- Justice

Best Dance Recording — “Electricity”- Silk City & Dua Lipa Featuring Diplo & Mark Ronson

Best Contemporary Classical Composition — “Kernis: Violin Concerto”- James Ehnes, Ludovic Morlot & Seattle Symphony

Best Classical Compendium — “Fuchs: Piano Concerto ‘Spiritualist’”; Poems Of Life; Glacier; Rush”- Joann Falletta

Best Classical Solo Vocal Album —” Songs Of Orpheus”-Monteverdi, Caccini, D’india & Landi, Karim Sulayman

Best Classical Instrumental Solo — “Kernis: Violin Concerto”- James Ehnes

Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance — “Anderson”- Laurie: Landfall, Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet

Best Choral Performance — “Mcloskey: Zealot Canticles”- Donald Nally

Best Opera Recording — “Bates: The (R)Evolution Of Steve Jobs”-Michael Christie, Garrett Sorenson, Wei Wu, Sasha Cooke, Edward Parks & Jessica E. Jones

Best Orchestral Performance — “Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 11”- Andris Nelsons

Producer Of The Year, Classical — Blanton Alspaugh

Best Engineered Album, Classical — “Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 11”- Andris Nelsons & Boston Symphony Orchestra

Best Pop Vocal Album — “Sweetener”- Ariana Grande

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album — “My Way” -Willie Nelson

Best Pop Solo Performance — “Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Goin’?)”- Lady Gaga

Best Country Song — “Space Cowboy” – Kacey Musgraves

Best Country Duo/Group Performance — “Tequila”- Dan + Shay

Best Country Solo Performance — “Butterflies”- Kacey Musgraves

Best Music Film — “Quincy”- Quincy Jones

Best Music Video — “This Is America”-Childish Gambino

Best Regional Roots Music Album — “No ‘Ane’I”- Kalani Pe’a

Best Tropical Latin Album — “Anniversary”- Spanish Harlem Orchestra

Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano) — “¡México Por Siempre!”- Luis Miguel

Best Latin Rock, Urban Or Alternative Album — “Aztlán”- Zoé

Best Latin Pop Album — “Sincera”- Claudia Brant

Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Storytelling) — “Faith – A Journey For All”- Jimmy Carter

Best Children’s Album — “All The Sounds”- Lucy Kalantari & The Jazz Cats

Best Folk Album — “All Ashore”- Punch Brothers

Best Contemporary Blues Album —” Please Don’t Be Dead”- Fantastic Negrito

Best Traditional Blues Album — “The Blues Is Alive And Well”- Buddy Guy

Best Bluegrass Album —”The Travelin’ Mccourys”- The Travelin’ Mccourys

Best Americana Album — “By The Way, I Forgive You”- Brandi Carlile

Best American Roots Song — “The Joke”- Brandi Carlile

Best American Roots Performance — “The Joke”- Brandi Carlile

Best New Age Album — “Opium Moon”- Opium Moon

Best Song Written For Visual Media — “Shallow”- Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper

Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media — “Black Panther”- Ludwig Göransson

Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media — “The Greatest Showman”- Hugh Jackman (& Various Artists)

Best World Music Album — “Freedom”- Soweto Gospel Choir

Best Roots Gospel Album — “Unexpected”- Jason Crabb

Best Contemporary Christian Music Album — “Look Up Child”- Lauren Daigle

Best Gospel Album — “Hiding Place”-Tori Kelly

Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song — “You Say” -Lauren Daigle

Best Gospel Performance/Song — “Never Alone”- Tori Kelly Featuring Kirk Franklin

Best Contemporary Instrumental Album — “Steve Gadd Band”- Steve Gadd Band

Best Immersive Audio Album —” Eye In The Sky – 35th Anniversary Edition”- The Alan Parsons Project

Best Remixed Recording — “Walking Away (Mura Masa Remix)”- Haim

Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical — “Colors”- Beck

Best Historical Album — “Voices Of Mississippi: Artists And Musicians Documented By William Ferris”

Best Album Notes —” Voices Of Mississippi: Artists And Musicians Documented By William Ferris”

Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package — “Squeeze Box: The Complete Works Of ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic” Weird Al Yankovic

Best Recording Package — “Masseduction”- St. Vincent

Best Arrangement, Instruments And Vocals — “Spiderman Theme”- Randy Waldman Featuring Take 6 & Chris Potter

Best Arrangement, Instrumental Or A Cappella — “Stars And Stripes Forever”- John Daversa Big Band Featuring Daca Artists

Best Instrumental Composition — “Blut Und Boden (Blood And Soil)”- Terence Blanchard

Best Alternative Music Album — “Colors”- Beck

Best Musical Theater Album — “The Band’s Visit”- Original Broadway Cast

Best Comedy Album — “Equanimity & The Bird Revelation”- Dave Chappelle

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Arts & Entertainment

After COVID hiatus, John Waters resumes touring schedule

‘Every single thing is different after COVID’

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John Watersis on the road again. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

For the first time in nearly two years, writer and filmmaker John Waters will be appearing on stage this fall before live audiences in the Baltimore-Washington area, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Waters, who lives in Baltimore, is scheduled to bring his spoken-word holiday show, “A John Waters Christmas,” to The Birchmere in Alexandria, Va., on Dec. 15, and Baltimore Soundstage on Dec. 21. He’ll also be at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on Nov. 29 and The Vermont Hollywood on Dec. 2.

Waters’ holiday shows were cancelled in 2020 due to the theater closings and travel restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some book signings for fans were converted to Zoom sessions. He last toured the country in November and December of 2019.

This year, with vaccinations on the rise, Waters has made a few in-person appearances, including a concert with gay country crooner Orville Peck in Colorado in July, where he was “special guest host”; a Q&A session with fans in Provincetown in August and a music festival last weekend in Oakland, Calif. He’s scheduled to visit another 18 cities between now and the end of the year, including a weekend in Wroclaw, Poland, where he’ll be honored during the American Film Festival there in November.

Waters said he has completely rewritten his spoken-word shows to reflect changes brought about by the COVID pandemic. “I haven’t done it in a year and a half,” he said in an interview with Town & Country magazine. “Every single thing is different after COVID. You cannot do the same show. Nothing’s the same.”

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Theater

‘Hadestown’ comes to the Kennedy Center

Levi Kreis discusses return to live theater

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Levi Kreis is an out actor who plays Hermes in the national tour of ‘Hadestown’ soon opening at the Kennedy Center. (Photo courtesy of Levi Kreis)

Hadestown
Through Oct. 31
The Kennedy Center
$45.00 – $175.00
Kennedy-center.org
For Covid-19 safety regulations go to Kennedy-center.org/visit/covid-safety/

Early in September at New York’s Walter Kerr Theatre, out singer/actor Levi Kreis was in the audience for the long-awaited Broadway reopening of “Hadestown,” Anaïs Mitchell’s rousing musical reimagining of the Orpheus myth in which the legendary Greek hero descends into the underworld to rescue his lover Eurydice. 

After almost 18 months of pandemic-induced closure, the Tony Award-winning folk opera was back and the house was full. In a recent phone interview, Kreis describes the evening as “love-filled, and electrifying and emotional after such a difficult time.” Now, Kreis is onstage in the national tour of “Hadestown,” currently launching at the Kennedy Center. As Hermes, the shape-shifting god of oratory, Kreis is both narrator and chaperone to the story’s young lovers. 

A Tennessee native, Kreis, 39, has triumphantly survived turbulent times including a harrowingly prolonged coming out experience that included six years of conversion therapy, education disruptions, and music contract losses. He officially came out through his acclaimed album “One of the Ones” (2006), which features a collection of piano vocals about past boyfriends. And four years later, he splendidly won a Tony Award for originating the role of rock and roll wild man Jerry Lee Lewis in the rockabilly musical “Million Dollar Quartet.” 

Throughout much of the pandemic, Kreis leaned into his own music and found ways to reconnect with his largely gay fan base. But he’s happy to now be touring, noting that all the “Hadestown” cast have been hungering to perform before a real live audience.

When not on the road, he’s based in New York City with his husband, classical-crossover recording artist Jason Antone. 

WASHINGTON BLADE: Hermes is the same role for which André De Shields—the brilliant African American actor, also gay, and some decades your elder won a Tony and has resumed playing on Broadway, right?

LEVI KREIS: That’s right. It’s really a testament to the creative team. Rather than laying us over what Broadway created. They’re creating a tour that’s uniquely different; still true to the beauty of the story but with a different flavor. 

BLADE: What attracted you to the part?

KREIS: First, I fell in love with the show. My own musical sensibilities understand the origins of where this music comes from. It’s very bluesy and gospel. Southern and rootsy. And that’s everything I’ve created in my career as a singer/songwriter.

BLADE: With your life experience, do you feel called to mentor?

KREIS: The biggest effort I’ve given to this narrative is being a pioneer of the out-music movement starting in 2005 which was a moment when gay artists were not signed to major labels. I want through eight major labels—when they found out I was gay things always went south. 

It’s been amazing to be a voice in LGBTQ media when no one was speaking about these things. It’s popular now, but back when it mattered it was a lot harder to start my career as an openly gay artist and speak about these issues rather than keep quiet, cash in, and only then come out. 

BLADE: Where did that nerve come from?

KREIS: Less about nerve and more about being beaten down. How many things have to happen before you give up and decide to be honest?  

BLADE: For many theatergoers, “Hadestown” will be their return to live theater. Other than it being visionary and remarkably entertaining, why would you recommend it? 

KREIS: We need encouragement right now. But we also need art that facilitates a lot of important conversation about what’s happening in the world. This has both elements.  

“Hadestown” is not a piece of art that you easily forget. You’re going to walk out of the theater with a story that sticks with you. You’ll realized that your own voice matters. There’s a part in the show, Orpheus’ song, when the gods encourage him to get the balance of the world back again by telling him that his voice matters. 

BLADE: Is it timely?

KREIS: Art is here to change the world. And this piece of art hits the nail right on the head. I’m a purist when it comes to art and song. There’s a reason why we do it. people are listening now in a way they haven’t listened before. To miss that is to miss the role of society, I think. 

BLADE: And going forward? 

KREIS: It’s going to be interesting. We could double down on super commercialized theater or we may decide to really go the other direction and reclaim innovation. That remains to be seen. 

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Books

Book details fight to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Clinton-era policy was horrific for LGB servicemembers

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‘Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
By C. Dixon Osburn
c.2021, self-published $35 hardcover, paperback $25, Kindle $12.99 / 450 pages

When Senior Airman Brandi Grijalva was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, she talked with a chaplain’s assistant about some problems she had at home. The chaplain’s assistant said what she told him would be confidential. But when she revealed that she was a lesbian, the chaplain’s assistant no longer kept her conversation with him confidential. Grijalva, after being investigated was discharged.

Craig Haack was a corporal in the Marines serving in Okinawa, Japan. Haack, who had made it through boot camp, felt confident. Until investigators barged into his barracks. Looking for evidence “of homosexual conduct,” they ransacked everything from his computers to his platform shoes. Haack was too stunned to respond when asked if he was gay.

In 1996, Lt. Col. Steve Loomis’ house was burned down by an Army private. The Army discharged the private who torched Loomis’ house. You’d think the Army would have supported Loomis. But you’d be wrong. The army discharged Loomis for conduct unbecoming an officer because a fire marshal found a homemade sex tape in the ashes.

These are just a few of the enraging, poignant, at times absurd (platform shoes?), all-too-true stories told in “Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by C. Dixon Osburn.

As a rule, I don’t review self-published books. But “Mission Possible” is the stunning exception that proves that rules, on occasion, are made to be broken.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was the official U.S. policy on gay, lesbian and bisexual people serving in the military. Former President Bill Clinton announced the policy on July 19, 1993. It took effect on Feb. 28, 1994.

Sexual orientation was covered by DADT. Gender identity was covered by separate Department of Defense regulations.

Congress voted to repeal DADT in December 2010 (the House on Dec. 15, 2010, and the Senate on Dec. 18, 2010). On Dec. 22, 2010, Former President Barack Obama signed the repeal into law. 

DADT banned gay, lesbian and bisexual people who were out from serving in the U.S. military. Under DADT, it was not permitted to ask if servicemembers were LGB. But, LGB servicemembers couldn’t be out. They couldn’t talk about their partners, carry photos of their girlfriends or boyfriends or list their same-sex partner as their emergency contract.

It took nearly a year for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to go into effect. On Sept. 20, 2011, Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “certified to Congress that implementing repeal of the policy {DADT} would have no effect on military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion or recruiting and retention,” Osburn writes.

Before DADT, out LGBT people weren’t permitted to serve in the military. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was intended to be a compromise—a policy that would be less onerous on LGB people, but that would pass muster with people who believed that gay servicemembers would destroy military readiness, morale and unit cohesion.

Like many in the queer community, I knew that DADT was a horror-show from the get-go. Over the 17 years that DADT was in effect, an estimated 14,000 LGB servicemembers were discharged because of their sexual orientation, according to the Veterans Administration.

But, I had no idea how horrific “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was until I read “Mission Possible.”              

In “Mission Possible,” Osburn, who with Michelle Benecke, co-founded the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), pulls off a nearly impossible hat trick.

In a clear, vivid, often spellbinding narrative, Osburn tells the complex history of the DADT-repeal effort as well as the stories of servicemembers who were pelted with gay slurs, assaulted and murdered under DADT.

Hats off to SLDN, now known as the Modern Military Association of America, for its heroic work to repeal DADT! (Other LGBTQ+ organizations worked on the repeal effort, but SLDN did the lion’s share of the work.)

You wouldn’t think a 450-pager about repealing a policy would keep you up all night reading. But, “Mission Possible” will keep you wide-awake. You won’t need the espresso.

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