Friday, June 28, 2013

Pride Celebration • Five Decades of Great Dance Music

Sylvester photo Sylvester_zps49363bbe.jpg Pride Musical Notes photo GayNotes_zpse6bafcf1.jpg
Soft Cell photo SoftCell_zpsf2a79c5f.jpg Jimmy Somerville photo jimmy-somerville_zps3a973965.jpg
Sir Ari Gold photo ari-gold_zps02b7d7f7.jpg Jason Walker photo JasonWalker_zpsc49e2cd9.jpg
Clockwise: Sylvester, Musical notes, Jimmy Somerville, Jason Walker, Sir Ari Gold, and Soft Cell.

As we are coming into the final weekend of Gay Pride Month, I thought I would go out with a mini-celebration or retrospective, how ever you'd like to look at it. I am looking to a few out and proud gay artists who managed to make music that was amazing and exhilarating. These are artists that were an inspiration then, and still inspire me whenever I hear their music. I will start with the brilliant and amazing Sylvester. At a time when America was not as accepting of gays and lesbians, this wonderful black man with a big voice started performing, often taking on an androgynous appearance, and using his strong falsetto to deliver songs like "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)", and make them a hit. That particular song made it to the Top 40 in 1978, and became Sylvester's second #1 Dance Hit. Celebrate the season with the great Sylvester singing "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)".

Now Sylvester might have owned the 1970s, but the 1980s were really the property of several acts from the UK, many part of the New Wave invasion that brought together parts of Punk, Rock, and Pop, and a great freedom to carve out your own style. Bands like Bronski Beat, Erasure and Culture Club never shied away from standing out, not willing to fall into the preconceived sexual roles. Another of those bands was Soft Cell. The duo were David Ball and Marc Almond, who rich voice gave such depth to every song he sang. They are perhaps best known for their 1981 hit, "Tainted Love". The song was written by Ed Cobb and first recorded by American singer Gloria Jones in 1965. The record didn't chart, but became popular a decade later in British clubs. Soft Cell eventually decided to record it themselves, only to put a new spin on the production. Well, they certainly did, and it became a world-wide hit for them. Check out the music video for Soft Cell's cover of "Tainted Love".

In the early 1980s, he was with the Bronski Beat. Later, he became a part of The Communards, another band who never shied away from their sexuality, and at times poked fun of the conventional thoughts of it. By the time the 1990s rolled around, Jimmy Somerville had launched a solo career, using his distinctive voice and style to make music I found irresistible. I still listen to whatever he puts out, and love it. But in 1995, he released the beautiful album 'Dare To Love', the second in his solo career. It included the song "Heartbeat", co-written by the Glaswegian himself. I loved it then, and still love it today. Enjoy "Heartbeat".

The new millennium saw even more LGBT artists making music that was perfect for the clubs. There was a new movement with Dance/Pop artists tarting to release their own music, allowing the different cities to have their own wonderful sound. New York had several really talented artists in the forefront, with SIRPAUL making some great music, as well as Jason Walker, who was working with renown DJ Junior Vasquez. The time also saw the rise of a talented New Yorker by the name of Ari Gold, writing and producing his own brand of ElectroPop that often seemed ready to the clubs. In 2004, he released his second album, the wonderful 'Space Under Sun'. It wasn't long before "Love Will Take Over" was playing everywhere, from radio to the clubs. The music proved a great follow-up to his self-titled debut, and the great song "Wave of You", the song that first stole my heart. And I continue to love his music, proving some artists remain relevant, and can, in fact, get better with age. Check out the music video for "Love Will Take Over".

And, finally, I want to pick something very current, showing that LGBT artists are still going strong. Of course, I have to admit that other than the late Sylvester, all these artists are still making music. SIRPAUL is making great music, and I featured two singles just this morning. But I decided to feature C-Rod featuring Jason Walker and the single "Beat Don't Stop", a song that continues to be near the top of the Dance charts, months after it was released. The song is infectious, and after listening, stays in my head and keeps me smiling. So have fun watching the music video for "Beat Don't Stop", the song by C-Rod and featuring Jason Walker.

All this music is available where ever music is sold, including iTunes and Amazon. The songs are great reminders of the time, but they are also just fantastic performances that I still like listening to now. So over the last few days of Gay Pride Month, enjoy these gay artists, and think about supporting them and others, to ensure their music continues to be made.

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