In 2007, lesbians and bisexual women continued to be instrumental in all musical genres. While some moved out of indie oblivion to join the majors and place on the Billboard charts, others stayed true to their roots and played to committed fans. While veterans like Melissa Etheridge and Linda Perry showed their staying power, it was also a great year for new artists to emerge, from Uh Huh Her to Yo Majesty.
Building a fan base was made easier by social networking sites, videos on demand, and podcasts like The Lesbian Lounge or Feast of Fools, and the mainstream media took notice. From nude magazine covers to indefinite breakups, lesbian and bisexual musicians demanded attention this year more than ever.
All this might imply that being out and proud in the music industry is a no-brainer, but the situation is not as clear-cut as it may seem. Though some musicians, notably Australian Missy Higgins, came out in 2007, others chose to remain in the closet by refusing to speak on record about their sexual orientation. Melissa Etheridge may have won an Academy Award this year, demonstrating that being out is fine for those who are successful, but for younger and emerging artists, coming out is still a struggle.
Out in the Spotlight
Having mainstream success in the music industry doesn’t always equal validation, but it can certainly help spread a queer-positive message to a widespread audience. Artists such as Tegan and Sara were able to do that this year. In July, the Canadian twin set reached a broad audience by way of a week of MTV spots, a talk show appearance on Late Night With Conan O’Brien, and MySpace tour video blogs called Trailer Talk. But what really catapulted them out of the underground was the release of their fifth album, The Con.
Produced by Death Cab for Cutie guitarist and indie rock producer Chris Walla, The Con was hailed critically for its pop gems and lyrical laments of love gone wrong. Videos in conjunction with singles for the title track and “Back in Your Head” gave the duo more visibility, landing them on the cover of national music magazine Under the Radar and a guest spot on NPR’s Bryant Park Project.
Tegan and Sara “Back in Your Head”
Following on the success of The Con, Tegan and Sara released an EP that offered B-sides and remixes, I’ll Take The Blame, in November. The same month, Sara Quin was featured in Canadian rock band The Reason’s music video for a single, “We’re So Beyond This,” that she recorded with the band for their new album.
Also becoming a cover girl this year was Beth Ditto of The Gossip. As the band’s fat-positive, queer front woman, Beth has been an outspoken feminist who posed nude on the cover of British music rag NME. She spoke out against the fashion industry, declaring that designers and stores ignore plus-size women.
In response, model Kate Moss and actor Keira Knightley showed their support for her in the press, praising Ditto’s body and image. The U.K. press especially took note of her growing popularity and began to cover her in the tabloids. At the same time, Ditto began penning a bimonthly advice column for British newspaper The Guardian, answering readers’ questions such as, “How do I come out at work?”
The Gossip’s one-off gigs included a spot at fashion show/concert Fashion Rocks alongside music heavyweights Beyoncé and Paul McCartney. And The Gossip’s song “Standing in the Way of Control” was sung by an Australian Idol contestant, showing that the band had reached international popularity this year.
The Gossip signed to Sony’s LGBT-themed Music with a Twist label in 2006 and toured extensively in 2007 on their own and as part of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Tour. Benefiting the Human Rights Campaign, the True Colors tour played to large audiences in auditoriums across the United States over the summer and also featured Rosie O’Donnell, Indigo Girls, Debbie Harry, Margaret Cho and others. A compilation of music from artists on the tour was released in June.