Singer-activist to headline "An Evening With Women" at L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
LOS ANGELES -- Cyndi Lauper, fresh from a whirlwind world tour, is headlining "An Evening With Women" at the chic Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 16. We recently caught up with her to ask about why she loves her LGBT fans; her new album, “Memphis Blues”; what's next for the True Colors tour; and what we should expect when she takes the stage at "An Evening with Women."
Center: We’re incredibly excited that you’ll be performing at this year's "An Evening With Women.". What made you decide to accept the invitation?
Lauper: I wanted to do the event to show my appreciation for the work of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and the incredible work that you do on so many fronts. From the terrific youth programs to the women's programs, the Center has become a role model for community centers around the country and the world on how to provide far-reaching and broad-based services for a community. I look forward to being in L.A. to help pay tribute to that work and doing what I can to help support it. I also am very excited to play on the same bill as Cat Power and Juliette Lewis. I have always thought Linda Perry has done such an amazing job at this event every year and was very glad she asked me to help this year
Center: You've been a favorite of the LGBT community since you first debuted 25 years ago, so it’s clear your music has an impact on us. What impact, if any, does the adoration of the LGBT community have on you as a performer?
Lauper: I have had a very long and enduring love affair with the LGBT community. The community has been there for me throughout my career, and I hope that I have been there for the community whenever they have needed me. I am inspired by the community's unwavering ability to never give up, especially in light of so much discrimination and hatred in the world. That fortitude and commitment have impacted me both as a performer and a person.
Center: Everyone’s dying to know what you’ll perform at the event on April 16—can you tell us?
Lauper: Everyone's been asked to do a few tunes and I'm still trying to pick the right songs. Playing with just a guitar and piano means you have to be smart about what you chose to do. I will do an old favorite and maybe a song off my new CD, but I want you to be surprised.
Center: You have never stopped performing and recording. What are you up to now?
Lauper: I put a new CD out in June and have been doing a lot of touring Did about three months in North America. I've been on a 2.5-month tour of Latin America, Japan and Australia that I am just finishing up. I'm actually in Australia as I write this, was in Japan before I toured here. Me and my band made the decision to stay because we felt we couldn't leave the fans. We were in Tokyo and towns south of Tokyo and we felt that music can help heal, even if just for a moment. We also were able to raise money and do radio and TV there to help give people encouragement. It's so sad ... they are still suffering there so badly. Have a lot going on, but it feels a bit crass to talk about new books and TV and DVDs when there is so much suffering going on in the world right now ...
Center: Your musical repertoire has really broadened over the years, and even more so with your latest album, "Memphis Blues." What can you tell us about this collection of songs?
Lauper: I’ve been a fan of the blues since I was a kid. First heard a blues record after reading in an article that one of my favorite bands were heavily influenced by the blues so I went out to buy records by Muddy Waters and Ma Rainey and Big Momma Thornton and just got hooked, and really the Blues is the basis of all modern music not just rock but hip hop and rap too. My first band I was in was a Janis Joplin cover band. So it's been something I've wanted to do for a long time. I chose songs that I thought told great stories, that were a celebration of the blues because at the end of the day the blues is uplifting, it's about perseverance and moving forward. And given the world picture, we all have the right to sing the blues right now.
Center: For the last three years, your True Colors Tour has raised money for LGBT organizations, including CenterLink, the national association of LGBT community centers. Will there be a tour this year? If so, can you give us any hints on where you’ll be, when you’ll be there and what to expect?
Lauper: The True Colors Tour will be back, but in a new and exciting way. We are currently in the planning stages and hope to have something to announce soon. As for hints, think "one singular sensation."
Center: We love your “Give a Damn” campaign to promote equality for LGBT people – you had an impressive number of celebs tape video messages. Did any of them surprise you (because of their message or because they participated)?
Lauper: I am so glad you like the campaign; we just celebrated our first anniversary on April 1 and were looking back on what was accomplished in that time. It is amazing to see so many people take part in the campaign and tell their stories to their family and friends about why they support equality. We have been very fortunate to have many celebrities take part and we are deeply grateful for their support. It has been wonderful to see so many of my peers in the entertainment industry step up and help spread the message of equality. I have not been surprised, but I have been very moved by their commitment to the cause.
Center: We have a 30-bed homeless shelter for LGBT youth and it’s always full. We read about your plans to open a shelter for LGBT youth in Harlem this year. How is that coming along?
Lauper: Actually, it is not a shelter, it is permanent housing for LGBT young people 18-24 who are either aging out of the foster care system or coming off the streets. It is a brand new building with 30 studio apartments that will allow these young people to have an opportunity to learn to live independently with the necessary support from the staff at the True Colors Residence. It is the first type of housing like this in New York specifically for LGBT youth. It is almost built and will open this summer. We are very excited to finally open the doors.
Center: There was so much buzz and excitement last year about a possible duet between you and Lady Gaga. Any chance that will happen? We want to be first in line!
Lauper: I was very proud of the work Lady Gaga and I did for the Mac AIDS Fund. We raised almost 40 million dollars for AIDS research, the most ever that Mac has raised in a single year off one of their Viva Glam campaigns and I was very happy to get to do it with Lady Gaga because we did great work, got to know each other as friends and do something good at the same time. We never really discussed music. We were focusing our time together to get the word out about AIDS and AIDS prevention. But I am very excited for her and how big her career is. I hope it continues. She is a great artist and a sweet kid.
To buy tickets to “An Evening With Women – Celebrating Art, Music & Equality,” click HERE.
To read the original story published online by Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, click HERE.