Who can sing Rufus’s songs?

January 9, 2006

In my idealistic way, I thought “what a great idea to transcribe his piano and voice songs so that ‘everyone’ can sing them.” I met with soprano Juliana Gondek the other day to find three songs for our upcoming March 9 concert at UCLA, and we were both surprised at how so few of them work for soprano. Let me be more specific: many of his songs are really to be sung by a gay man. The way that a gay man writes lyrically about his love for another is not the way a woman would speak about her (male) lover. For a straight man to sing a Wainwright song, he would have to be quite secure in his sexuality. My guess is that most would be uncomfortable singing the gay oriented songs. And to have a lesbian sing the gay songs would be, well, peculiar. Changing the words is a traditional solution, illegal, but a possibility.

So should Rufus Wainwright’s gay-specific songs only be covered by gay men?

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