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“I can be part of the change,” LGBTQ ally Country artist, Miranda Lambert

The Country music superstar talks about her LGBTQ friends & family and why it is important for her to be a vocal ally

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Country music superstar Miranda Lambert (Screenshot via YouTube Tequila Does)

NASHVILLE – In a new interview with Country music superstar Miranda Lambert, she talks openly about feeling inspired by her brother, Luke, and his husband to not only make her first ever dance remix, “Tequila Does (Telemitry Remix),” but to also step up and use her platform to call for greater acceptance of the LGBTQ community.

Lambert sat down in the ZOOM interview with GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos;

Miranda Lambert on feeling inspired by her brother, Luke, to make the remix and video:

“I was a little nervous because I had never done anything like that, so I sent it to my brother Luke, his husband Marc and all of their friends, because that is their vibe – they are dancers, they go to club…and I was like, ‘How is this, tell me the honest truth because if you hate it, it goes away forever.’ He said ‘I love this and you should put it out!’ So it gave me the confidence, they totally pushed me over the edge!”

“My brother and all of his friends came from Austin and a bunch of my Nashville friends came and we just partied and put it on film and it was really fun!”

Miranda Lambert on asking husband, Brendan McLoughlin, and his brothers to appear in the video:

“They literally asked me what to wear and I said ‘not a lot! If you’ve got it, flaunt it!’ I was worried about my brothers in law – I was like do you think Patrick and Casey will come and do this? But it was a lot of family and that made it more fun and more special. It was coming together with Brendan’s brothers, my brother and his LGBTQ family, and I also feel like as a country artist I get to lift them up and stand on that platform with them, and it makes me so happy! All kinds of kinds were in this video! It makes me really proud and humble.”

“I am really close with TJ (Osborne) and in fact I texted him about the music video. He especially liked the McLoughlin brothers!”

Miranda Lambert on learning from her brother and being a vocal LGBTQ ally:

“I do think we are in a moment of change and I have so much to learn. I am always sensitive, I always call my brother because I want to make sure I say the right things…I know I am uneducated, but I am full of love. Being in a family where I am surrounded by LGBTQ people, it has me learning and figuring out how I can be a part of the change and still be the same person I have been as an artist for 20 years. I don’t see why those worlds can’t mesh. I speak up about things I care about! If I can be a part of this change in any way…I always want to do that.”

“This is a point in my career, talking to (GLAAD) right now, it’s a mile marker for me. I’ve been doing it for 20 years, but certain things feel like a shift, and I love that feeling because it is a shift in a great direction!”

Miranda Lambert on her brother’s coming out:

“For a family, you all go through that together, you support in whatever way you can.  It is a journey. We have come a long way from him struggling and figuring that out to now being in this video with me. It’s been a really cool sibling bonding for us, and for our family.  It’s not an easy road all of the time, so this whole process of being with Luke and all of his friends, they come to my shows and they teach me a lot. More importantly, it is being with great people and loving them, no matter what shape, size, color, or anything!”

“I recorded a song a couple records back called ‘All Kinds of Kinds’  and I recorded that because of my brother, and I feel like I am getting to live that more and more every day and the song means more to me as the years go on, the more I learn.”

Miranda Lambert on Nashville becoming a more accepting place for LGBTQ artists:

It is very cool to me that there is change in the air and that these people are being so brave to say ‘this is who I am.’ I know Brooke Eden is another (out country artist). This is awesome! Why were we so bogged down, why did we care so much? It is just being people who they are and if you love their music, you love who they are. If I can be a teeny part of that, I am so thankful to my brother because he is the one who opened my eyes and is teaching me more about everything. Certain things feel like a shift, and I love that feeling.”

Miranda Lambert on states like Texas and Tennessee bringing forth laws that could restrict LGBTQ rights:

“I just think they should be equal, it shouldn’t even be a question. I never get into any kind of politics, but this to me is not political, it’s about people loving each other and supporting each other, and that has nothing to do with anything but your heart. I am full on ‘y’all do y’all!”

“Tequila Does (Telemitry Remix)” is a new spin on the fan-favorite standout from the star’s 2019 GRAMMY Award-winning album Wildcard and is available to stream now. You can watch the music video below and here.

Miranda Lambert – Tequila Does (Telemitry Remix [Official Video])

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Music & Concerts

Washington Arts Ensemble to host immersive concert

Creating a dialogue with D.C.’s history and culture

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The Washington Arts Ensemble will host an immersive concert experience on Saturday, June 18 at 7 p.m. at Dupont Underground.

This concert will show how distinct genres influence pop culture and articulate the commonality between classical, jazz, and electronic music while creating a dialogue with D.C.’s history and culture.

Some of the works that will be performed include “Switched-On Bach selections” by Wendy Carlos, “The Swan” from The Carnival of the Animals by Camile Saint-Saens, among other works.

Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased on the Washington Arts Ensemble’s website

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Music & Concerts

John Levengood releases anthem “Say Gay!” to protest discrimination

Slated to perform new song at 2022 Capital Pride Festival in June

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Recording artist John Levengood’s latest song ‘Say Gay!’ is out Friday. (Photo courtesy Levengood)

“Say gay! Say gay! Say gay!
“Say what? Say what?
“One little law won’t shut us up!”

Slated for digital release this Friday, recording artist John Levengood’s latest song “Say Gay!” confronts anti-LGBTQ legislation such as the “Don’t Say Gay” law by encouraging others to “profess their queerness loudly, proudly, and never in the shadows,” Levengood said in a press release shared with the Blade on Tuesday.

On June 12, Levengood is set to perform the song’s live debut at the 2022 Capital Pride Festival in Washington, D.C., to streets teeming with community members, food trucks, and local vendors, according to the press release.

“The rise in oppressive legislation and proposals have many in the LGBTQ+ community alarmed,” the press release says. Levengood “hopes this song can be used as a metaphorical weapon to blast holes in the argument that teaching children about acceptance and diversity is more appropriate at home than school.”

The bill, enacted by the Florida Legislature earlier this year but not yet in force, would limit teachers’ ability to teach LGBTQ topics in some school settings and obligate school officials to disclose students’ sexual orientation and gender identity to their parents upon request.

A D.C. resident himself, Levengood currently works over the weekends as resident host and karaoke emcee at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Arlington, Va., an LGBTQ bar and restaurant.

Levengood is no stranger to the music scene, in 2013 moving through multiple rounds of auditions for the third season of “The X Factor” before coming up short of formally appearing on the show, according to the release.

Growing up in the Shenandoah Valley of rural Virginia, the press release added that music has been an outlet for Levengood to express himself from an early age. The new song marks his seventh musical release.

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Music & Concerts

Tori Amos spins magic at Sunday night D.C.-area concert

First show in the area since ’17 finds Gen X icon vocally subdued but musically energized

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As with many veteran rock stars, it’s sometimes hard to get a handle on how hot or cold Tori Amos’s 30-year-old solo career is at the moment. It sometimes seems like she’s moving past the take-her-for-granted-because-she’s-never-away-for-long phase, and there certainly was that sense in the air Sunday night for her D.C.-area stop of her current “Ocean to Ocean Tour,” her first show here since 2017, which, with COVID, feels like a lifetime ago.

But there are also signs that it’s never been chillier for Amos in the overall pop culture landscape. It’s been a decade since she charted a single on any chart and there were no videos or singles from her “Ocean to Ocean” album last fall. It landed just outside the top 100 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album sales chart altogether, a new low that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago when her “regular” (i.e. non-specialty/concept) albums were almost guaranteed a top 10 debut. 

The slide has been swift, too: 2014’s “Unrepentant Geraldines” hit No. 7, the next album (2017’s polarizing “Native Invader”) only made it to 39, then came “Ocean’s” thud at no. 104. There’s a lot you could point to to explain it — streaming, her aging Gen X fan base, the endless undulations of the music industry itself — but in some ways it has started to feel like she’s getting less and less return on her artistic dollar than one would expect. 

Yeah, that always happens with veteran female pop stars once they hit their 50s and beyond, but Amos and her small but mighty fan base, who for decades exhibited a devotion of Grateful Dead-like proportions, outran the trend for so long, to see it finally catching up is a bit bewildering.

But then you go hear her live at a decent-size venue like The Theater at MGM National Harbor (which seats 3,000 and was about 97 percent full), and it feels nearly like old times. Sure, some of the excitement was just that we’re all gagging at being at concerts at all and having mask restrictions and vaccine requirements paused, but there was an electricity that, while mellower than it was at Amos concerts in the ’90s, still felt magical. I’ve never in my life seen so long a line for the merch table.

The concert itself was, for the most part, sublime. It was the first time since 2009 she’s toured with a band and while her solo shows are great too, there was pent-up yearning to hear her unleash full-on with a solid rhythm section (Jon Evans on bass, Ash Soan on drums) again. Beat-heavy songs like “Raspberry Swirl” and “Cornflake Girl” sounded tepid with canned beats the last few times out, so to hear everything truly live (save a few BGVs and effects) last night was heavenly.

It was Gen X queer night out Sunday night at the Theater at MGM National Harbor for Tori Amos’s first concert here since 2017. (Photo by Desmond Murray; courtesy Girlie Action)

The show had special poignancy too, as Amos grew up in the region. She has written and commented heavily on the immense toll her mother’s 2019 death took on her personally and artistically, so that the date happened to be Mother’s Day gave the proceedings added gravitas. “Mother Revolution” and “Jackie’s Strength” spoke, of course, to the holiday, though (and this is quibbling) I would have vastly preferred “Mother” from “Little Earthquakes,” a deep cut we haven’t heard live in eons. 

Tori Amos (Blade photo by Joey DiGuglielmo)

Highlights included the slinky, rhythm-loopy opener “Juarez”; “Ocean to Ocean,” one of three cuts performed from the new record, which shimmered with Philip Glass-like piano arpeggios; the vampy, slinky interplay between the three musicians on “Mother Revolution”; and unexpected fan favorite “Spring Haze.” Amos, overall, is varying up the set list quite a bit less than is her norm, so it was one of the few surprises of the evening. 

The lengths of several of the songs were drawn out considerably. At times — “A Sorta Fairytale,” the aforementioned “Revolution” — that worked well and gave the band time to languidly jam. At other points, it felt a bit self-indulgent and even slightly boring — as on “Sweet Sangria” and “Liquid Diamonds.” 

“Russia,” a bonus cut from the last album, sounded just how it did when Amos performed it here in 2017, but took on added resonance because of current events. Closing line “Is Stalin on your shoulder” was chilling.

Overall, the show — lighting, pacing, everything — largely worked. The sound mix, which fans have said has been muddy at some venues recently on the tour, was pristine. Pacing only lagged a few times in some of the mid-tempo cuts from later albums, but just when you felt some were zoning — the flow of those entering and exiting is a good barometer — Amos whipped things back together with a fan favorite like “Past the Mission” or “Spring Haze.”

It all came to a satisfying, audience-friendly climax with “Cornflake Girl,” then the two encore cuts, “Precious Things” and “Tear in Your Hand,” both from the first album. 

Vocally, the range was there and sounded lovely, but the oomph was considerably held back. Vocal preservation for the many dates ahead? Probably. It’s understandable. Amos, at 58, may lack the stamina she had 20 years ago, but it did feel underwhelming in passages that in years past would have been full on, balls out like the “Bliss” bridge or the “nine-inch nails” passage from “Precious Things.” 

Not one acknowledgment or mention by Amos of the female folk duo openers Companion. I’d have invited them out for a few numbers to sing BGVs. I mean, heck, they’re in the house, why not? And other than the welcome, a brief soliloquy on Mother’s Day was the only Amos comment of the entire night. 

Still Amos never came off as aloof. She seemed genuinely excited to be playing live again and the queer-heavy crowd responded in kind. 

Tori Amos (Blade photo by Joey DiGuglielmo)
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