Friday, March 6, 2015

Jimmy Kimmel – March 9th

Just got it confirmed that Bette Midler will be appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Monday, March 9, but will not be performing. So there you go!

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"Find your Light; They can't love you if they can't see you" ~ Bette Midler

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“Beyond The Lights” Used “The Rose” As Inspiration

Sacramento Bee
Talent in front of, behind camera in ‘Beyond the Lights’
BY CARLA MEYERCMEYER@SACBEE.COM
03/05/2015 8:00 AM 03/05/2015 4:00 PM

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In “Beyond the Lights,” now available on DVD and video on demand, British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw commands the screen as a Rihanna-like pop star. She exudes raw sensuality but also suggests an underlying vulnerability.

To create this combination – so common to real-life superstars – Mbatha-Raw and “Lights” writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood did their homework, Prince-Bythewood said in a phone interview.

Mbatha-Raw, at the director’s urging, read biographies about Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe, and watched “The Rose,” the 1980 film that starred Bette Midler as a Janis Joplin-like rock singer. Together, star and director attended performances by Rihanna, Beyoncé and Adele to gain a better sense of what makes musical superstars special.

There’s flash and sizzle to “Lights,” as well as a “Bodyguard”-esque love story between Mbatha-Raw’s character, Noni, and a cop (Nate Parker). The pair bond after the cop rescues Noni, who is troubled by career demands, from a suicide attempt.

Ultimately, the film is about Noni finding her own way – a Prince-Bythewood specialty. The filmmaker has been a friend to actresses since she made “Love & Basketball” in 2000, starring Sanaa Lathan.

In 2008, Prince-Bythewood made a fine adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd’s female-centric novel “The Secret Life of Bees” with Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo.

With “Lights,” which hit theaters this past November, Prince-Bythewood might have helped introduce the world’s next big movie star. A British TV veteran, Mbatha-Raw broke out earlier in 2014 in the period piece “Belle,” in which she played a mixed-race woman facing prejudice in 18th-century England.

Mainstream and of the moment, “Lights” does not fit the awards-fare standard the way “Belle” does. But Mbatha-Raw won critics’ awards for both films. “Lights” was also praised for Minnie Driver’s performance as Noni’s stage mother, who encourages her daughter to pose provocatively in skimpy outfits.

Driver’s character, a once-poor single mother who believes she is helping ensure Noni’s success, does not come off as a complete creep, and thus further testifies to Prince-Bythewood’s ability to create complex female characters.

Prince-Bythewood spoke about her film by phone from Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband, filmmaker Reggie Rock Bythewood, and their two boys.

Q: Why did you want to make a film set in the music world?

A: Some of my favorite films are music films. “Walk the Line,” “The Rose.” I also have a love of hip-hop and R&B. But right now, it is a bit of a love-hate relationship.

Q: Why love-hate?

A: R&B used to be about loving someone, and there has been this shift. There seems to be an anger within the music. It’s not about love. It is about disrespect. It is about being with more than one woman.

Also, you see this blueprint of young female artists following (the idea) that hypersexuality will get noticed. And it works.

But what happens to these young women who are then trapped in that persona, even when it is not authentic to them? That’s what the film is exploring.

Q: What qualities did Gugu Mbatha-Raw show, when you met, that inspired you to cast her?

A: Going in, I didn’t know that much about her. It was my casting director, Aisha Coley, who said, “You really should see this woman.” And within five minutes of the audition, I saw the movie.

She read four scenes, and every scene just got better and better. I am screaming in my mind, “Is this really happening?” I had seen so many other people, and nothing was clicking.

In the second part of her audition, she had to sing “Blackbird,” by Nina Simone, and she knocked it out.

Q: When Oscar nominations were announced, there was an uproar about director Ava DuVernay not being nominated for “Selma,” about a lack of diversity among acting nominees, and the overwhelmingly white, male quality of the best picture nominees. Have you faced challenges yourself, as a black woman directing feature films? And how did you feel about the nominations?

A: I have actually had many opportunities. Me being a black female director is not (what is) discriminated against. What’s discriminated against are my choices. Being a writer-director, and the things I want to write and direct focused on women, and women of color – that is the fight. That’s what is so hard to get made.

It was disheartening, absolutely, to look at the nominations. There was such a breakthrough last year (“12 Years a Slave” received nine nominations and won three Oscars, including best picture). It just felt like it had opened up.

It is twofold, because the industry has to green-light films that are on a level that deserve to be in the conversation, then those films need to be recognized. That is what happened last year.

Also, it’s interesting the Vanity Fair “Hollywood” cover last year was beautiful. It was a mix of black actors and white actors. And this year, you look at the cover, and it is David (Oyelowo, from “Selma”) and nobody else. Like, where’s Gugu?

(Editor’s note: Mbatha-Raw appears in a group shot inside, within a photo spread titled “British Edition.”)

She gave two phenomenal performances in one year that were 180 degrees from each other. … I thought with the two together, she would explode, the same way Jennifer Lawrence exploded after “Winter’s Bone.”

Q: There was a late surge of awards-season support for her for “Beyond the Lights,” but then she wasn’t nominated.

A: It is the reality of how the Oscars work. Coming out of (September’s Toronto International Film Festival), the same group of people who were talked about, it never changed, except that Marion Cotillard (an Oscar nominee for “Two Days, One Night”) was added to it. Once that group is set, it’s very hard to break into that.

Call The Bee’s Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118. Follow her on Twitter @CarlaMeyerSB.

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"Find your Light; They can't love you if they can't see you" ~ Bette Midler

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BetteBack December 31, 1989: Psychics were all wrong about 1989

Hutchinson News
December 31, 1989

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“The Iron Curtain has collapsed, the United States has invaded Panama and San Francisco is still rebuilding from a giant earthquake.

‘But if you think 1989 has been an amazing year already, listen to what’s going to happen in the hours before the year is out:

— All of the hostages in Lebanon wjll be released.
— Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev will seek asylum in the United States.
Fidel Castro will die when a building collapses on him.
“— Virtually all members of Congress will lose their jobs after ‘. flunking mandatory IQ tests. “Who says?

‘ The nation’s top psychics.

One year ago the people who claim to have supernatural powers i were predicting that 1989 would be the year an airliner crashes into the Vatican, the Statue of Liberty topples over and George Bush is impeached.

So far, all of the psychic predictions have a common theme: They’re wrong.

.For example, the “10 Leading Psychics” polled by the National Enquirer last January said that in 1989 Johnny Carson would quit “The Tonight Show” and announce that he’s running for governor of California, Dan Rather would lose his CBS news anchor job to Diane Sawyer and Ted Kennedy would announce plans to marry Donna Rice, Gary Hart’s former girlfriend.

Not to be outdone by the Enquirer, the supermarket tabloid Globe’s crack team of psych’cs said this would be the year Bette Midler publishes a best-selling book on breast enlargement and that UFOs would cause an hour-long nationwide
power blackout.

Globe psychic Alan Stevens predicted that “after a political revolution in Russia, Mikhail Gorbachev flees to the West, is granted U.S. citizenship by a special act of Congress and runs for office in California.”

The success rate of the psychics of Weekly World News has also been pretty weak.

Josef Klar, billed as “the world’s most accurate new psychic,” said “a space alien’s starship will be hijacked by Lebanese terrorists and flown to Moscow, where its occupant will be held hostage in December 1989. In response, hordes of flying saucers will invade the Earth.”

“Famed psychic Countess Sophia Sabak” predicted in the same publication that “lightning will singe off Fidel Castro’s beard at a baseball game in Havana. Unable to regrow any facial hair, he forbids all Cuban men to wear beards or
mustaches.”

Among the countess’s other predictions:

UFOs will shoot down a nuclear missile that is fired accidentally, “Tiny Tim will become one of America’s top singing stars,” and Vice President Dan Quayle would knock out Sugar Ray Leonard in a charity boxing match.

Psychics working for the National Examiner said that in 1989 a cure for AIDS would be found, Oprah Winfrey would quit her talk show, Princess Stephanie of Monaco would enter a convent, Mary Tyler Moore’s new TV series “will zoom to the top” of the ratings, nude phone booth stuffing would become America’s newest fad, and Dolly Parton would make a fortune with a new line of designer bras.

Also forecast for 1989 by various psychics:

— Iranian terrorists will try to disrupt the Super Bowl, but blow up the wrong stadium.
— Japanese scientists’ will discover how to teleport people and objects thousands of miles.
— “Hollywood will honor Ronald Reagan with a special Oscar for his performance as President and one for Nancy as best supporting actress in her role as First Lady.”
— “Thousands of people speaking a strange language will be found living in a huge underwater city covered by an immense dome under the Arctic ice cap.”
— Swedish researchers discover that corn chips are an aphrodisiac.

Not all was lost by the tabloid’s seers.

Psychic Penelope Fortune said 1989 would be the year Zsa Zsa Gabor would be in the news. But Zsa Zsa, she predicted, would achieve notability by joining “the Hare Krishna religious sect and sell all her jewelry to raise money for the poor. She will devote her life to begging for nickels and dimes on New York subway trains.

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"Find your Light; They can't love you if they can't see you" ~ Bette Midler

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Jimmy Kimmel just announced that Bette Midler will be on his show next week….

Jimmy Kimmel just announced that Bette Midler will be on his show next week….

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"Find your Light; They can't love you if they can't see you" ~ Bette Midler

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Former Harlette Shayna Steele Releases New Digital LP, “Rise” Check It Out!

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Video By Singersroom.com

Sacramento-born powerhouse Shayna Steele offers the premiere of her new music video, “Wear Me Down,” from her new album, Rise.

Featuring pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph (from the funk/soul colelctive Robert Randolph and the Family Band), the song is a bluesy throwback full of sass thanks to Steele’s dynamite vocals and on-screen personality.

Although Shayna has sung lead vocals for Moby and background vocals for artists ranging from Rihanna to Bette Midler, Lizz Wright to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kelly Clarkson and Natasha Bedingfield – the role of solo artist and band leader is where she feels most at home. The Jazz/R&B vocalist was born in Sacramento, CA to U.S. Air Force parents, and spent seven years in Ramstein, Germany. Upon moving to Mississippi in 1985, Shayna sought refuge in music from her day-to-day as a bi-racial child in the Deep South. She eventually moved to NYC, where she continued honing her sound and was on Broadway in Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Hairspray. Shayna’s performance of her song “Gone Under” with Grammy Award-winning band Snarky Puppy on their live CD/DVD Family Dinner led to live performances with the band in 2014 at the North Sea Jazz Festival, France’s Nice Jazz Festival and the Estival Jazz Festival in Switzerland.
Along with Randolph, Rise features appearances from jazz stars Christian McBride, Sachal Vasandani, Marcus Miller, and more Eric Harland.

To Purchase CD: Click Here

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"Find your Light; They can't love you if they can't see you" ~ Bette Midler

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NYRP: A Forgotten Park in the South Bronx Gets a Small Boost

New York Times
A Forgotten Park in the South Bronx Gets a Small Boost
By LISA W. FODERAROMARCH 1, 2015

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Pity St. Mary’s Park. Too small and too poor to be supported by a park conservancy that might fix up its faded charms. Too big to make it onto the list of 35 parks in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Community Parks Initiative, which is funneling $130 million in capital money into shabby parks in low-income neighborhoods across the city.

It is the largest park in the South Bronx, laden with the symbolism and expectations of its address. But while many of the surrounding neighborhoods have embarked on a turnaround in the past two decades, St. Mary’s Park, in the Mott Haven section, has lagged.

Its worn lawns and cracked courts have earned D’s and F’s on recent report cards for large parks created by the advocacy group New Yorkers for Parks. The bleachers overlooking its ball fields are without seats.

But now, St. Mary’s, which is unusual for its hilly terrain flecked with glacial outcroppings and mature trees, is poised to benefit from the city’s new focus on equality. Situated in one of the two poorest community board districts in the city (both in the South Bronx), the 35-acre park was just allotted $1.5 million from the City Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, for the renovation of one of its playgrounds.

On Wednesday, the parks department is holding a “scoping session,” or design workshop, for the community in which it will solicit ideas to improve not only the playground, but also the park as a whole. And the New York Restoration Project, a nonprofit group founded by Bette Midler that has transformed struggling parks in poor Manhattan neighborhoods, is now in talks with the parks department about helping St. Mary’s.

For parks advocates, the tattered appearance of many parks in low-income areas carries a profound social cost.

“If you are a child growing up in a community where everything around you is in disarray, with trash and broken things, it sends a message that you don’t count,” said Deborah Marton, executive director of the New York Restoration Project. “If you walk through a well-maintained open space, even in a low-income community, you feel like your city is investing in you.”

Ms. Marton’s group adopted Sherman Creek, a former illegal dump site on the banks of the Harlem River in Upper Manhattan. In the past 10 years, it has created an oasis there, building and maintaining a children’s garden, a boathouse and paths that wend through native plants.

In the past year, the New York Restoration Project has worked in Mott Haven on a plan to foster connections between the neighborhood and nearby Randalls Island, with its major athletic complex. In a phone interview, Ms. Marton said it would be premature to describe her discussions with parks officials.

The grant to fix up the St. Mary’s playground will not go far in the park, where a new bathroom can cost $2 million. The 35-acre park is the largest in the South Bronx. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Mayor de Blasio’s push to address park equity last year centered on small parks and playgrounds that had received little investment in recent years. Not far from St. Mary’s, the 1.3-acre Lyons Square Playground was chosen for the initiative.

But Lyons Square Playground, and most of the other parks getting the financing, range in size from a half acre to 1.5 acres. The city said that focusing on such small spaces enabled the parks department to tackle 35 renovations at once. But medium-size parks like St. Mary’s were left out.

Given the park’s problems, the $1.5 million allocated by Ms. Mark-Viverito will not have a broad impact. A new park bathroom alone can run $2 million, and the playground to be made over, at St. Ann’s Avenue and East 147th Street, is large, with tired-looking basketball courts, tennis courts and play equipment.

The parks department conceded that there was currently no money in place for renovations at St. Mary’s beyond the western playground. But at the community meeting on Wednesday, the department will nonetheless ask residents for their broader vision. “This is a departure from the more incremental approach we’ve taken in some larger parks,” said Jennifer H. Sun, the department’s director of project development.

A comprehensive plan for St. Mary’s might address the balance between passive and active recreation areas within the park, as well as safety and access. “This will provide a basis for us to steer funding to the right places within the park,” she said.

Ms. Mark-Viverito said she hoped that her contribution would encourage the city to step up its commitment. “Open spaces and parks make our neighborhoods more sustainable, vibrant and livable places to call home,” she said, adding that the money would bring “much-needed improvements to a well-loved but under-resourced” park.

In mid-February, as temperatures hovered in the teens, few residents were in the park. But a handful of boys were taking advantage of the icy snowpack by sledding — or, rather, hurtling themselves down a hillside on a piece of plywood, or simply on their backs.

Jaivon Ramirez, 14, said he would like to see more exciting playgrounds, perhaps with seesaws, and new bleachers around the baseball field. His friend, Francisco Crespo, also 14, wished the park did not close at 10 p.m., an early curfew. (Most parks close at 1 a.m.) “Instead of closing down so early, they should hire more security guards,” he said.

But Tupper Thomas, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks, said St. Mary’s, with its rugged landscape, had tremendous potential. “The landscape is really rundown and every staircase has been redone in different generations, so there’s no overall look that says St. Mary’s Park,” she said. “But it’s still one of the loveliest parks in the system. It’s such an essential park to that community.”

Michelle Colon, 42, who works at a McDonald’s in Queens, said the park was the backdrop of her childhood. It was also the reason her mother chose her current townhouse, across the street from the park’s southern end.

“I love the park,” she said, finishing a cigarette outside her mother’s house. “I’ve been coming here since I was 8 years old. When I’m having a bad day, I go there to clear my head.”

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"Find your Light; They can't love you if they can't see you" ~ Bette Midler

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Kelly Clarkson Goes After Pop Singers Who Use Sex To Sell…Uh Huh!

New York Daily News
Kelly Clarkson‘s ‘Piece By Piece’ review: New album is weighed down by overbearing production
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Tuesday, March 3, 2015, 2:00 AM
by Jim Farber

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On her new album, Kelly Clarkson blows away the long line of female pop stars who use sex to sell.

“It’s too bad you can’t see what you’re worth/spreading your legs ’stead of using your words,” she sneers in the song “I Had a Dream.”

“Anyone can sell/when they’re selling out,” she quips.

It’s a good line — not to mention an echo of Bette Midler’s recent “put-down read round the world” of Ariana Grande for pushing her sexual allure ahead of her pipes. But you have to wonder why Clarkson decided to fire this broadside right now.

Clarkson, the original “American Idol,” has never used sex to sell — and never had to. It’s her battering-ram voice that excites people — that, and her team’s ability to find songs hot-wired for radio play. On the other hand, it’s a crowded diva field these days, and putting down the competition can’t help but carve you a high profile.

As it turns out, Clarkson’s new album, “Piece by Piece,” needs all the profile it can get. It’s a strictly off-the-rack affair, a cynical run through current femme-pop clichés that does everything it can to bland Clarkson’s essential talent.
Several albums ago, the singer famously went to war with her record company, chafing at their cookie-cutter approach to pop. Promotion folks went nuts and her sales suffered. But at least Clarkson made her point — if briefly.

By the time she put out her 2011 album “Stronger,” the star had seemingly thrown up her hands, giving herself back over to corporate demands. Predictably, her acquiescence resulted in a huge hit with the title track — but at a cost. The album did little to display the more nuanced talent Clarkson can reveal live.

The singer’s latest album lacks the pay-off of a guilty-pleasure hit like “Stronger.” Worse, it doubles-down on her last album’s over-heated production. “Piece By Piece” piles on the gloss and glop. It’s a fat sounding recording that fights with, rather than enhances, Clarkson’s to-the-rafters vocals.

It’s left to the lyrics to reveal some of the star’s character. Two interesting songs — “Someone” and the title track — repeat Clarkson’s flair for the passive aggressive put-down. In “Someone,” she offers a classic non-apology-apology, saying she wishes she didn’t have to say such awful things to a foe. “Piece By Piece” repeats the theme of her smash, “Because of You.” Both offer rebukes to neglectful and/or abusive parents.

Together, such songs help focus Clarkson’s persona. But the rigid music, and assembly-line production, make a sad fact clear: Clarkson has never fully escaped the “American Idol” machine.

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"Find your Light; They can't love you if they can't see you" ~ Bette Midler

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I Will Not Be Attending Any Of Bette Midler’s Shows! Color Me Disappointed!

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Due to health reasons I won’t be attending any of Bette Midler’s Bette Midler: It’s The Girls Tour 2015​ shows. No questions please! I’ve seen her in concert since the “Clams” days in 1975, so color me disappointed. However, on the upside, I will live and see the concert through your eyes. So don’t forget to share your experiences and photos with me if you so desire. I’ll post them on Bette Midler: Bootleg Betty​ or something. Thanks for listening. xx

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"Find your Light; They can't love you if they can't see you" ~ Bette Midler

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Kelly Clarkson Is A BetteHead Since For The Boys!

PrideSource
Q&A: Kelly Clarkson Talks Lesbian Groupies (‘Kezbos’!), Gay Bars & Her Problem With ‘Risqué’ Pop Peers
‘It’s Silly That We’re Still Talking About Gay Rights’
BY CHRIS AZZOPARDI
Originally printed 3/2/2015 (Issue 2309 – Between The Lines News)

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Before catapulting to pop stardom, Kelly Clarkson was one of us. In many ways, she still is.

The original “American Idol,” who memorably erupted into waterworks when she championed the first season of the reality show in 2002, wasn’t always able to muster the willpower she’s instilled in the gay community through her uncompromising persona and liberating pop anthems, including those on her latest album, “Piece by Piece.”

That’s just the charm of Clarkson, who opens up in our new interview about overcoming teen inferiorities, diehard lesbian fans who call themselves “Kezbos,” driving Bette Midler to “suicide,” and that night she sipped some wine, felt “sad” for our generation and wrote a powerful song about it.

OK, Kelly, take my hand. I wanna go back with you.

The imagery!

Tell me the moment in your career you first knew gay people worshipped at your altar.

(Laughs) Oh my god – that’s amazing! It was the Breakaway World Tour (in 2005) – the first tour for the “Breakaway” record – and it was so awesome. One girl on tour came up and just introduced herself and was like, “I’m a Kezbo,” and I was like, “What?!” She was like, “A Kezbo – your lesbian fans.” And I was like, “Wait – there’s enough of you to have a group? That’s amazing! Awesome! Go me!” And she was like, “Yeah, we just love you. We’re gonna bring you to the other side.” And I was like, “All right, well, keep trying!”

Then, on the same tour, I had this guy, and he was so funny! Because, you know I’m a huge fan of Bette Midler and have been since I saw “For the Boys” when I was a kid, and he’s like, “You’re our new Bette!” (Laughs) I was like, “You need to aim higher. Bette Midler just shot herself! I’m not that cool, but I will work on gaining the respect of that compliment.”

Is it hard to fathom yourself a gay icon?

I guess it’s hard to fathom you can be an icon in general. I don’t consider myself an icon at all, but no – I have a lot of gay and lesbian friends and they like my stuff, so I guess it’s not so hard for me to think (the gay community) might like my music. But I don’t know … I’m not an icon. I’ve only been doing this for 13 years. You’ve gotta be doing it for a good 20 to gain that status.

When it comes to your strong bond with the gay community, how do you explain that connection?

I have a connection, but I don’t look at it differently. I don’t ever look at a fan as a gay fan or a lesbian fan or a straight fan – I don’t ever look at that. Fans are fans, and no matter what our lives are like, no matter what path we’re on, music is the one thing that connects us. I mean, I had so much fun at this club recently. It’s called G-A-Y – this club in London – and everybody knew all the words to every song. Even the new one! And they were gay and straight and lesbian – everybody was there. It didn’t matter, and it was just really cool. It was a cool event, and it was fun. And it’s what I love about music – that it doesn’t matter. That’s what connects us.

What was your very first time at a gay bar like?

Oh gosh – that would’ve been in LA, and I was probably 22. I went with some of my friends and a couple of my gay friends, and they were like, “You’re gonna love this! But you’re gonna need to wear a hat.” They played “Since U Been Gone,” and it was so funny because nobody knew I was there. I had a blast!

The awesome thing, for girls especially: Because most gay bars that I’ve been to – and I guess I’ve been to four or five – are all gay men and not lesbians, and being a straight female, you don’t get hit on the whole time, you don’t get people grabbing you or, like, being gross. There’s no judgment, and it’s just fun. You’re not worried about going, “No, thank you, I can buy my own drinks.” It’s the most fun club and fun time you’ll ever have in your life.

The song “Invincible” alludes to overcoming self-doubts and insecurities. In your own life, when did you most experience those hurdles, and when did you finally accept yourself for who you are?

In high school, and you know, I was having a hard time. I guess all people go through it – it’s just a different time period for all of us. When I was a sophomore in high school, it was the one time (in my life) I felt like I was insecure. It was just an awkward stage for me. Well, as was junior high, but I just wasn’t aware of it yet. (Laughs)

I’ve always been different. I’ve never been the girl that has to feel like she has to get all dolled up every day. I’ve always been kind of a tomboy. I’ve always been very outspoken, and, you know, my mom is too. I don’t know any other way to be. It’s just my personality.

In my sophomore year of high school, I got a little insecure about (my personality), because girls can be mean and I got the lead in this role in choir. No sophomore was ever supposed to get it, so people were just really mean about it. And, like, mean. Worse than the movie! (Laughs)

It made me insecure, and not so much (in regard to) my music or as a singer or an artist – just me as a person. I was like, “Is there something wrong (with me)?” I would go, “But I think I’m a good friend.” That was the only time that I was really doubtful of my person. But I got over that real quick!

Growing up in small-town Texas, when did you get your first taste of gay culture? Did you even know gay people then?

Oh yeah. Yeah! I don’t think nobody was outspoken like they are now. I think it’s a more comfortable – well, I don’t know. A couple of friends of mine just recently came out to their parents and one was just about the most horrible situation ever. So I think that still happens, unfortunately. But when I was a kid, I had a couple of my friends in choir with me. I think everybody knew (they were gay), but it wasn’t talked about or anything.

Honestly, I grew up in such a creative environment. Even in our choral group – even with my friends – nobody really talked about it, nobody was against or for it. There were no flags of any kind – of race, of who liked who. I feel like I grew up in a really incredibly good bubble. I never experienced people hating – no hate crimes or anything like that – until well into the industry. With “Idol,” people would say hateful things about certain contestants on the show, and I was like, “What in the world?!” I, fortunately, grew up in a world where that wasn’t a huge issue.

But you were raised Southern Baptist, a denomination that condemns homosexuality. What was the journey like to get to where you are now – a staunch supporter of gay marriage?

At my church, whenever I did attend Sunday service, that was never talked about. I know that is what the doctrine of Southern Baptist is, but they also said don’t drink and dance, but we drank and danced! (Laughs) I don’t think I grew up in some hardcore community where people were like that. I grew up in a very accepting household. I was taught to accept everybody how they are, and I admire my mom for that. She’s never taught me hate.

I gotta ask about your baby girl, River Rose.

Because she’s magical. She’s a magical unicorn.

You know, in some circles, the unicorn is a gay symbol.

Oh, I didn’t know that! But I love it. That’s what I call my baby!

Speaking of which, how might you and your hubby handle it if River turned out to be lesbian?

Oh, I don’t care. I mean, here’s what I hope for her: I just hope she finds love. It took me a while, man. And there was a lot of heartache throughout those years. You know, as long as she’s happy, I don’t care either way, and neither does my husband. And we have two other kids as well, and we don’t care either way for all of them.

If one of them were to come out to you, what would you say?

I’d be like, “Awesome! When do we meet him or her?” Honestly, it’s so funny, it doesn’t even register in my world as different. I don’t know why. But yeah, it doesn’t. I’m glad it doesn’t!

During the song “I Had a Dream,” which you wrote about setting an example for future generations, you say, “Spreading your legs instead of using your words.” Older generations often criticize the industry for peddling so much sex. When you look out at pop culture currently, where do you stand concerning its use of sex? And how satisfied are you with the examples these artists are setting for people like your kids and future generations?

There’s a reason why women have been revered as long as we have been – even back in the day most statues are of us; most paintings are of us – (and it’s because) we’re a beautiful form, and I get it. I get that that is sexy and I’m so in support of that. I love a sexy video. I don’t even mind raciness. I don’t mind that at all.

I just mind when people use that as the entire basis of their career. The only reason that I say that is because I feel those people are short-sighting themselves. I’m like, “You’re far more talented than that.” Yes, you can be sexy and risque, but some of these women have these amazing voices and these amazing ideals, and they have more to offer than just that.

The song actually came about because I was sitting around with some friends – we were all drinking some wine – and I was like, “Man, when you were 10 were you not just so excited about our generation and what we were gonna accomplish?” And then you look now and we’re still talking about race and we’re still talking about equal rights for everyone – didn’t you think we’d be past that? Didn’t you think we’d be more? I ended up writing a song about that because it’s just kind of a sad thing. I just felt like our generation – I think we could’ve been more. It was just a sad moment for me, reflecting.

Gosh. That’s real deep, Kelly.

(Laughs) I can go dark real quick!

Why was it important for you to include a gay couple getting engaged in the “Heartbeat Song” video?

What’s funny is, I wasn’t even actually the one who picked all the people! Marc (Klasfeld), the director, and his team did. But it was funny, because I was doing an interview here in Nashville at one of the radio stations and one of the DJs there was like, “I’m gonna be in your video tomorrow!” And I was like, “Whaaaat?” And he was like, “Yeah! I asked if I could bring my boyfriend and they said yes.”

We had no idea that his boyfriend – I mean, he didn’t know either – was gonna propose to him on the set! At first he thought it was part of the video. He didn’t get it at first, and that’s why he was like, “Are you for real? I don’t get it.” But it was the coolest thing that ended up happening, but none of that, honestly, was planned. It just kind of happened, and it was a beautiful thing.

And it’s sending an important message, don’t you think?

I think it’s silly that we’re still talking about gay rights. I just live in this world where people are accepted, so it’s very hard for me to even realize that that still exists. It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around it. That (gay couple) was a no-brainer, and I didn’t even think, “Oh, I’m making a statement for gay rights.” I was making a statement for the loss of love and the hope that you can still find it, regardless of what form that comes in. It wasn’t a purposeful thing. Love is love in whatever relationship it may be in.

Chris Azzopardi is the editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBT wire service. Reach him via his website at http://www.chris-azzopardi.com.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Bette-Toons by Scott Clarke

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