Out singer-songwriter Katharine Chase’s alter ego, country singer Kitty Rose, is back with her second album, the ingeniously named Live at the Ryman, which references Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium and home of the Grand Ole Opry. Her debut CD, cleverly titled Greatest Hits, took home an Outmusic Award in 2005. Chase, who is "proud to be hitting the big 5-0 this year," has been a performer, as she puts it, for "25ish years." AfterEllen.com talked with her earlier this year about the inspiration for her music, visiting the Grand Ole Opry, her ranch and being out in Nashville.
AfterEllen.com: In 2005, you received the Outmusic Award in the "Outstanding Debut Recording, Female" category. What did that kind of recognition mean to you?
It wasn’t until … a week later that I realized that what it did for me was put me on the map for [the] GLBT community. Even though I’d been performing for years, it gave me a kind of street cred … and exposed me to so many people that probably would have had no idea. What it did was took me out of the local scene and gave me national exposure.
AE: The album for which you received the award is your Greatest Hits disc, which bring us to the subject of the tongue-in-cheek themes and titles of your albums, including your latest, Live at the Ryman.
When we were putting together the second CD … I kept struggling with what kind of theme [are we going to use]? We were totally going with the Greatest Hits, Volume 2 [laughs] for the longest time. Then I realized, once I put the songs together and we had started recording, I really had a Grand Ole Opry-style show, almost exactly like the ’70s.
I have the George Jones/Tammy Wynette duet. "Pretty Little Thing" was added to be a Minnie Pearl number. We had 13 songs, and I wound up with a great April Fools’ Day Ryman Auditorium show. We had a blast doing it, and I think the fans are going to be smiling all the way through.
AE: What would it mean to you to play at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville?
AE: You don’t want to jinx it by posing for the tourist picture.
AE: That sounds like a lot of fun. Was country music always your primary musical focus or were you a disco diva or a punk rocker in a previous incarnation?
Then I went to Hollywood and ended up on the outskirts of the whole Guns N’ Roses scene. I did the singer-songwriter thing and all that stuff. Also, at the time I was playing bass. You could probably find some really cheesy photos of me online with big hair [laughs] from that era.
I was born and raised just outside of Houston, Texas, so the country thing was always something that I played for myself. The Knitters [Exene Cervenka, John Doe, and others] — [I] admired the old-time country stuff, and I was lucky enough to count them as friends through the early ’90s. That was what gave me the go-ahead to go, "I could play this stuff live, and I think people would really like it." It’s just gone from there.