Throughout Pride, we're highlighting the contributions to music made by artists from the LGBTQ+ community. We're continuing our series by focusing on Kaki King, Elton John, Prince, and Demi Lovato: all legends in their own right!
Kaki King’s supreme talent with a guitar means she is never defined by her sexuality. In fact, King actively resists the notion that she should be held in higher esteem because she’s gay, and does not try to incorporate it into her branding in the way that the likes of Prince and Bowie might have.
In an interview a few years back she spoke of how her sexuality does (or does not) affect how she’s perceived as an artist:
“I definitely know of other artists, both gay and straight, who have been pressured to be something they're not. Ultimately, I don't know if anyone really cares that I'm a lesbian. Liking a musician just because they're gay is ultimately a superficial reason. It's like buying a record because a singer is dating some Hollywood star. To be honest, I never really think about it. It's not something that I have to protect or be dishonest about it.”
We’ve included a spell-binding arrangement of the wonderful “Night After Sidewalk” in our grade 7 Acoustic book. Be sure to check it out and allow yourself to explore this wonderful musician's talent!
Much like David Bowie, Prince’s fluidity in performance and androgyny made him a LGBTQ+ icon. More cynical critics may say his onstage persona is an act deliberately constructed to blur the lines around Prince’s gender, but it's hard to see his contribution as anything other than genuine.
People often speculated that Prince was gay because he defied typical gender expectations: he wore flamboyant clothes, spent a lot of time in the company of women, and generally avoided the hypermasculine tropes that were pressed on musicians by more traditional Americans.
Just as he pushed the boundaries when it came to naming himself “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince”, and the most tangible challenge to gender expectations that Prince mounted came in 1993 when he changed his name to the glyph known as the Love Symbol.
Partly fuelled by branding, the Love Symbol was also a symbolic fusion of two gender signs, entwining the male and female. Again, this shows how Prince refused to identify as a man in the traditional sense, but rather an androgynous glyph that was not limited by gender or even language itself. Groundbreaking stuff!
We’ve featured the irresistibly catchy “I Wanna Be Your Lover", which reached number 11 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart” on our grade 6 Electric Guitar syllabus. Check it out and keep it blaring all this June and beyond!
Next up, it’s perhaps one of the most famous gay musicians that the world has ever seen, Mr Elton John. He first came out as bisexual to Rolling Stone magazine, before embarking in a heterosexual marriage, which only lasted a few years before he spoke to Rolling Stone again in 1992, this time to tell them that he was “quite comfortable being gay”.
Since then, Elton John has gone full throttle in his work for the LGBTQ+ community. He founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation in the same year and through big Hollywood parties and galas that have become enormously famous, has raised in excess of 300 million for the cause! His high profile also continues to raise awareness of AIDS all around the world.
Elton became one of the first gay people to tie the knot and marry his partner when it became legal in England and Wales in 2014. We adore him and all that he stands for.
After their part in the children’s series Barney & Friends, and then a starring role in Camp Rock, Demi Lovato’s rise to fame began. Their pop rock debut album come out in 2008 and went straight to the number one spot!
Since then they’ve received countless awards, including an MTV Video Music Award, 14 Teen Choice Awards and 5 People’s Choice Awards, just demonstrating their immense popularity.
You may have noticed their most recent announcement to the world back in May of 2021. After coming out earlier on in the year as pansexual, Demi announced that they identify as non-binary and will be changing their pronouns to they/them. We are so proud of them!
Demi is featured on our incredible list of wider repertoire for the Vocals Grade 8 syllabus, with two of their songs, “Heart Attack” and “Neon Lights”. We always love to hear these in the exam room!
Don't forget to check out some of our other LGBTQ+ artists on our syllabus this Pride month!