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Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Mad About the Boy"....Who Is Singing This Version???

I adore the Noel Coward song "Mad About the Boy," and over the years have collected many, many versions of it. But I have one that's a mystery to me, and I need help!

Years ago I acquired a mp3 of a Very camp version, sung by a man, and it was identified as sung by Yul Brynner, from the 1969 film "Magic Christian." Well, I just realized that's not correct, by comparing it to a Youtube clip from the film. It's not the same voice at all. So that leaves me with not knowing who is singing the version I have...that sort of thing drives a collector crazy (not a long drive in my case).

Can someone please tell me who is singing this, and any other info about it (year, etc) would be helpful. Thanks!

I am including the song on my March Queer Music Heritage radio show on "Camp Music" and would really love to be able to identify the singer.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Willmer "Little Axe" Broadnax: Gospel Singer and Secret Transman

And here's some history I learned only last year, of the transgender kind. It may remind you of the story of Billy Tipton, a jazz musician who only at his death it was found that he was a woman, passing as a man for decades (see my blog entry and website page). The same secret truth existed for Willmer Broadnax, known as Little Axe. Born and raised in Houston, he started his career young. During the 1940s and 50s he sang with some of the finest groups in gospel music, including the Golden Echoes, the Fairfield Four and the Blind Boys of Mississippi. By the 1960s the popularity of the gospel quartets was fading and he retired to Philadelphia, though he did perform once in a while during the 70s and 80s. He met a violent death at age 75 in 1994 when he was stabbed by his girlfriend. It was only then discovered that he was a transman.

I believe racism plays a hand when you compare the Tipton and Broadnax stories. Tipton's death received a lot of publicity, a big article in People magazine, and a book on him was written, despite him being almost unknown as a musician when alive. Tipton released only two albums, on a budget label. Broadnax, in his genre of gospel, performed in several very prominent groups, recorded for decades, and died five years after Tipton. Little publicity, no book...but then he was black.

I learned about Willmer Broadnax from Transgriot, the wonderful blog
of Monica Roberts. Check out her much more detailed telling of his story.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Jennifer Leitham's "Future Christmas"

In 2002 John Leitham became Jennifer Leitham, and of course her talent transcended that journey. Since 1979 this artist has performed with a who's who of the jazz world, from Mel Torme, Woody Herman, George Shearing, Doc Severinsin, Peggy Lee, Cleo Laine, and on and on. She has played on over 125 albums. You've got to be pretty talented to work that long in those circles. Her very public transition was difficult enough without also facing the unknown reception she would get in the less than liberal jazz world. It hasn't always been easy, for a left-handed bassist, and a woman. That hasn't slowed her down though, as she's just released her eighth solo album.

And it's a holiday one and I think it's up to her high standards. Leading the Jennifer Leitham Trio, the album mixes a blend of instrumentals and vocals, and classic holiday songs with originals. One original in particular, that she wrote, is "Future Christmas (The Global Warming Winter Holiday Blues)." I'm very pleased that she did a video of this one that I can share with you.

Other tracks, like Randy Newman's "Feels Like Home For Christmas," "Christmas Time Is Here," and a concoction of "Little Drummer Boy / Big Bass Girl" provide other highlights.

Also, check out the interview I did with her on my QMH show for August 2007

Friday, December 12, 2014

Jesse Hultberg - 20 Years Old

If ever there was a CD that I was predisposed to absolutely adore before hearing it, well, it's this one. And I do. Jesse Hultberg has remained a favorite artist of mine for many, many years, despite accomplishing that by only releasing one CD, in 1994. That CD was just called "Jesse Hultberg" and I loved his style, his voice, and those out-of-the-closet lyrics, especially in the song "Constant Thing (I Was Raised a Straight Boy)." A bonus was a just gorgeous cover of the Bee Gees song "If I Can't Have You."

But, like I said, that was 1994, before I even had a radio show. It took me several years after I started producing Queer Music Heritage to track him he had moved to France and pretty much dropped out of the music scene, but I finally got to interview him for my May show in 2005. Click to hear it.

He did have some music output before that, in 1982, though quite founding member of the band 
3 Teens Kill 4. I've seen their music described as "post-punk" and it is quite a departure from the folksinger style that came later. And he appeared in the 1989 film "Longtime Companion," where as part of the fictional group The Fingerlakes Trio he did an amazing ballad cover of "YMCA."

But I've digressed, it's the new music that has me very excited. It's everything I loved about the 1994 album, and more. And I guess it should. It's title "20 Years Ago" actually tells us that he wrote and recorded this music shortly after making the first album. So, it's the buried treasure, the lost basement tapes, and to me golden.

You can hear and download the album on Jesse's Bandcamp Page.

But he already has a couple videos to watch, done by his friend Rachel Wolf.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Deidre McCalla - Everyday Heroes & Heroines

Deidre McCalla is a long-time favorite recording artist of mine, and I was listening to the title track from her album "Everyday Heroes & Heroines" and realized that to me, though the song is from 1992, it spoke to the recent (and ongoing) efforts of countless people to pass and defend the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

The ordinance, which became known as HERO, was passed by City Council last May and before that Houston was the largest city with no laws protecting its citizens against discrimination.

For the Council sessions over 300 people from both sides spoke passionately, and many at home were glued to their television and internet screens to take it all in. I was proud and often quite moved to watch members of the LGBT community and our allies state our case from a variety of viewpoints, and that included several brave folks who were moved enough that they summoned up their courage to come out in that setting.

Then the usual cast of hate-driven bigots gathered thousands of signatures to try to force the issue onto the November ballot. Our community rallied again to undertake the massive effort to work with the City in determining if enough valid signatures were gathered. As a result of sloppiness, and perhaps fraud, the number came up short, and of course its proponents then filed a lawsuit, with the case now set to come before a judge in January.

My point is that our community should be very proud of our ground-swell of work, and it is encouraging indeed that spear-heading the effort is not the usual cast of activists. Yes, they were part of it, but this cause moved folks into activism who had never spoke up and/or volunteered before. We found that we indeed have a large community of heroes and heroines.

Find out more:
Deidre McCalla Website
Equal Rights Houston
Equal Rights Houston on Facebook


Monday, May 26, 2014

Tona Brown: Black Transgender Mezzo-Soprano & Violinist Sings Langston Hughes

Tona Brown checked off a lot of boxes as she got my interest in covering her in this blog entry. One, I love featuring the music of transgender artists, and I don't do enough to feature Black artists, and I certainly should showcase more artists who do classical music. Add to that three songs on her 2012 EP of the poems of Langston Hughes set to music. And, that poetry was set to music by Margaret Bonds, one of the first African-American composers, who collaborated with Hughes.

Brown has been getting a lot of recognition, including being asked to perform for President Obama, and she's going for her dream...a concert at Carnegie Hall, to be appropriately called "Stonewall to Carnegie Hall." To be accepted to perform at that famous venue is an honor itself, but it also takes raising a sizable amount of money, and she has been doing that by social media fundraising. She currently has a fund drive at GoFundMe.  And, a lengthy article at Huffington Post gives more of her background, links to videos...the article's headline says she's the "First African-American Transgender Performer to Take the Stage at Carnegie Hall." And you can find more videos at her YouTube Channel, along with her video blog. The vlog gives her "It Gets Better" message and many interview clips. And she has a regular blog.

The first CD release by Tona Brown was a 6-track EP called "This Is Who I Am," and is from 2012. The poetry by Hughes are all represented by short tracks, none over two minutes, and you can hear those three at the link.

 And, this EP can be found on iTunes, CDbaby, Amazon and the usual suspects.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Montrose Men, a 1979 Houston Singing Act

The Montrose Men were a short-lived local Houston group, and at least on this rare recording they were Very influenced by The Village People and the disco sounds of the day. Below are every mention of them from the publication This Week in Texas (TWT), spanning 9/21/79 to 3/21/80. The flip side was an instrumental version. You can't get much more "gay Houston" than this 45.


Members were: Bo, Calvin, Charles and Greg
I've not seen any mention of last names, if you can provide
them, or any additional information, photos or clippings,
please let me know, at

 Members were: Bo, Calvin, Charles and Greg
I've not seen any mention of last names, if you can
provide them please let me know

 It appears at this point Calvin left the group

I believe this is the same "M Richard Askin" who produced the group and wrote their song.