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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.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

What if Marlene Dietrich Was in a 1960s Girl Group?

In the 1930 film "Blue Angel" Marlene Dietrich introduced her signature song "Falling In Love Again," and the song become iconic.

Now, there are some interesting cover versions of this song to be found on YouTube, such as by Bryan Ferry and Klaus Nomi, but the one I wanted for this blog wasn't there, so I created a slide show video for it myself. All because I love, Love the Girl Group sound of the 60s. 

And I wanted to share the version by Polly Perkins, who recorded it in 1964. It didn't take her long after that to come out of the closet, and in a big way. In 1976 she recorded a song called "Superdyke," which she performed on stage in London. Now, That song can be heard on a show in which I featured a number of her songs, on QMH Part 2 for that show, at this link

And here's the slide show for the main attraction

As the A-side is so, so very short I included the flip side as well.

I also have a page of my site devoted to photos,
a discography and clippings for her