Denver musicians weigh in on Pride, being openly gay artists in 2012 and Freddie Mercury
While we've seen so many Denver musicians head to Portland, Sarah Angela fought against the tide, abandoning the land of humid hipsters for our mountainous music scene. Playing a classic, white-girl blues in the tradition of Bonnie Raitt or Jewel, Angela's music has caught some wind in Denver's gay music scene, landing her a slot on the main stage of this year's Pride Festival. We got together with Angela to discuss Joan Jett, singing babies and big bad cops of the south.
Westword: Being a female folk/blues singer, you're following in a tradition that has a strong history with empowered lesbians. Was this something you were conscious of when you began making music?
Sarah Angela: Not really. I started singing when I could first start making sounds, and it just never stopped. I was influenced by women and men alike who rocked and rolled and empowered people as a whole, very unaware of their sexuality until later in life.
You'll be performing at Pride this weekend. How has the gay scene embraced you as an artist?
Denver, in particular, has given me good love. I feel really lucky to have had such a diverse fan base. Old and young, gay and straight alike, have embraced me as an artist. And now I have an awesome opportunity to perform for some of the best people on the planet in one of my favorite cities in the world, on such an important day.
Were there any "out" musicians that inspired you at a young age?
I grew up in a fairly sheltered atmosphere, again, unaware of the sexuality of the artists who inspired me. It was, though, super cool for me to learn that women artists artists I had aspired to be like -- Joan Jett, Janis Joplin, Melissa Etheridge -- were kind of "like me" after all.
Is it easier pursuing a career as a musician while being out, rather than a more mainstream career where sexuality can be a liability?
For me, being myself is definitely easier. I have never debated secrecy; that always comes back to haunt you. I certainly hope I can move and inspire others through being myself and reach people through my music.
Do you think it is easier to be open as a lesbian rather than as a gay male?
Wow, tough question. There was a time I might have said yes, based on the twisted minds of many. But I know so many gay men that are out and proud, with no hesitation, that proves it's all about your confidence and the people you surround yourself with. Today, I think its harder being an openly straight male.
You've toured quite a bit, have you experienced any homophobia while traveling through different parts of the country?
Oh yeah, from the big bad cops of the south. I was surrounded by a very prideful pack that put them in their place, thankfully.
How do you celebrate Pride?
I am going to sing my face off!
Sarah Angela, 4:15 p.m., June 17, PrideFest 2012, Civic Center Park, free, all ages. Click here for more information on Pride Festival.