Garrett Miller’s Rated G Radio is burning up the airwaves every weeknight, covering the latest in news, entertainment, and culture, culminating in a Friday night dance party. In addition, he’ll be joining Lance Bass for a day as co-host of Dirty Pop on Sirius XM OutQ 109 on Tuesday, February 18th from 3:00-5:00 PST. I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Miller when my new book, Gifts Not Yet Given, was released, and meeting him later in person, I was struck by the drive he’s shown in ensuring his dreams come to fruition. Not only is he active with his radio show, but Garrett is also a singer, with a new song, “Eyes Wide”, and accompanying EP. Just a year ago, however, he had none of these and was on a completely different life path. Graciously, Garrett agreed to chat about his radio show, singing career, and what led him to change course at this point in his life.
Kergan Edwards-Stout: Garrett, thanks so much for making time to catch up. We first met when you interviewed me for your Rated G Radio, and it’s fun to be on the other side of the interview for a change! (more…)
Musical theater lovers, rejoice! Show business has a new star, and you won’t have to fork over a month’s rent paying Broadway-style ticket prices to see her. Not only can you watch her from the comfort of your very own home, but she performs from her very own home, with living room or bedroom as the only set-piece. Forget the fancy scenery; for this actress, the backdrop may be just her bed, a few show posters, or maybe even a sheet, hung up behind her to help with sound.
The scenery, though, doesn’t really matter, once you hear “the voice.” Since 2007, Alex Heinen has been building a name for herself with a YouTube channel, where she goes by the user name “Miss Broadway Dork.” With more than 2 million video views, Heinen is followed by a host of eager subscribers, who highly anticipate her musical theater gems. And they can be quite vocal, freely expressing their feelings in the comment section.
Some fans can’t quite believe that Heinen’s exquisite voice comes out of–well–Heinen. While all videos on her channel posted after 10/12/07 are sung live, prior to that, Heinen would often post videos of herself lip-syncing to a prerecorded tape of her own voice, leading some to speculate that Heinen wasn’t actually singing the songs. This suspicion was compounded, in part, by her physical appearance. No frills when it comes to style, Heinen rarely puts on costumes or makeup to perform; she just pushes the record button. Having struggled with weight issues, Heinen’s physical appearance varies in the videos, and commenters have thrown jabs about her looks, assuming (falsely) that someone who appears as she does could not possibly sing the way that she does.
Heinen pushes aside such bullying, affirming that her passion lies not in the fame, but in the performing. For this “Broadway Dork,” the pleasure lies in creating one’s own stamp on a role, and diving into artistic challenges. Currently residing in central Illinois, Heinen received her B.A. in Theatre from Hampshire College, and recently took time to share with me more about her passion, theater, and her potential next steps.
Kergan Edwards-Stout: Thanks so much for agreeing to chat! Like many, I stumbled upon your YouTube channel one day, and was immediately impressed.
Alex Heinen: Thank you so much!
Edwards-Stout: What inspired you to start your channel?
Heinen: I think it was simply that I love singing. I grew up doing a lot of musical theater in high school, but I got very nervous when it came to singing in public. I had a bad case of stage fright, which led to what I call “goat girl” voice, where my vibrato gets really fast. I thought it might be a good challenge to put myself out there on the internet and see if it helped my nerves. And I guess it did!
Edwards-Stout: In a big way! You don’t seem nervous at all… Where did your love for musical theater come from? (more…)
In the not-so-distant past, gay musicians hid in the closet or played coy about their sexuality, but today’s artists are an entirely different breed. For up and coming singer-songwriter Matt Gold, being gay may be a given, but is simply one more piece to his overall puzzle. For Gold, inspiration is found in key moments from his life’s journey; they tell of growing up in a small town as an only child, of being adopted, the search for identity, and the experience of being abandoned, due to being gay.
Such themes and more are explored in Gold’s debut album, Drown Before You Swim. Tellingly, in its CD format, the album is broken into two discs, “Drown” and “Swim,” balancing his darker and lighter elements within. Gold recently took time to share more about his life, art, and the passions that fuel him.
Kergan Edwards-Stout: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, Matt. To begin, as your songwriting is so tied to your piano, how did you first come to play it?
Matt Gold: Originally, I wanted to play the saxophone, but my mother was concerned that it could affect my mouth, especially as I needed braces. So instruments in your mouth were out! I tried the bass drum, bells, xylophone, and finally settled on the piano–but only took a month’s worth of lessons before I quit.
What made you quit?
I was really frustrated at my inability to learn it as quickly as I wanted, but, more importantly, I realized that improvisation was really my style. I love taking music out of the expected and making it my own. I played piano in church for a long time, and those are very structured, by nature. But with hymns and ballads, particularly, you can do so much more than what is written on the page.
Was religion important to you, or was playing in church just what was expected? (more…)
Having first cast Michael Vaccaro in a play 20 years ago, in which he was riveting, I’m pleased that our friendship has survived the many years since. Michael has gone on to build up indie cred by starring in such movies as Todd Verow’s Deleted Scenes and the upcoming The Endless Possibility of Sky. His roots, though, are in theater, and he has performed in countless shows, both in New York and Los Angeles. He won a MAC award for Outstanding Musical Comedy Performer, and his first CD, Archangel, was a big success. Now he is back with a second CD, Wait for Him, which was inspired by his husband, Antonio Vaccaro, who passed away in 2009.
Q & A: Michael Vaccaro
Congratulations on your new CD, Wait for Him. What led you to make it?
As you know, my husband, Antonio, died in December 2009 at 38 years old. After about a year of grieving, it seemed that people were tired of me talking about him, but I wasn’t ready to stop. So, I had to find some creative way to funnel all those emotions into something tangible. A book, maybe? A screenplay?
Then I realized I could sing songs about him, for him, inspired by him, and as a memorial to him. Having this CD means that I have something to give to people, and then they get to experience him, too. I get to share him, and I don’t have to be the only person responsible for keeping his memory alive. He becomes bigger than just my memory of him.
The CD is a testament to how much we loved each other, and what a huge and important part of my life he was and continues to be. My hope is that maybe people can be inspired by the idea that a great love like the one we shared is still possible. And, hopefully, I’ve created something beautiful out of tragedy.
Tell me about the title of the album.
In 2004, I found a poem called “Wait for Him.” It was so beautiful that I printed it out and kept it in my wallet, but I never knew the name of the author. On my first date with Antonio, in 2009, he mentioned that he liked poetry, and I pulled the poem out of my wallet, gave it to him, and told him it was my favorite poem. He took the small, crumbled up bit of paper, read the poem, looked up at me and said, “I wrote this.” I was instantly in love. (more…)
At the time I first met Angela Carole Brown, some 20 years ago, she had this really cute bob, and her sparkle and throaty laugh were immediately intoxicating. She was working as a waitress, picking up a paycheck like the rest of us, and I would soon be her co-worker. What I didn’t know at the time, though, was how extremely talented and diverse she is.
In those days, everyone I knew was working some entertainment angle, so when I heard that Angie would be singing at a club, I wasn’t altogether surprised. It was L.A., after all. But as we were sat and she was ushered to the stage, I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
She had full command of the audience, and her song selection was impeccable. Her voice can be both full-bodied and strong, then turn on a dime, becoming incredibly intimate.
While she made her mark singing standards and jazz in L.A. clubs, she also fronts Orchestre Surréal, is an accomplished artist, and published novelist. There isn’t much she can’t do, and my hope for her is that she find an even wider platform for her art. (more…)