On his beautifully sprawling and intimately vulnerable, nine-minute-plus opus, “Like Me (feat. Daisy),” the second track of his 2019 solo debut, Apollo XXI, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and bisexual icon Steve Lacy is reaching out.
Everybody’s got questions.
But it’s not the questions Steve is worried about.
What he really wants to know is:
“How many out there just like me? (How many out there?)
How many others not gon' tell their family?
How many scared to lose their friends like me?
I wonder, I wonder…”
Bursting onto the scene as the guitarist and co-producer of The Internet’s critically acclaimed and grammy-nominated album, “Ego Death,” Lacy has since been one of the hottest and in-demand names in the industry, writing songs for and producing alongside the likes of superstars such as J. Cole, Vampire Weekend, and Kendrick Lamar.
But on “Like Me,” it was time for Lacy to share his own story - on his own terms. That’s what makes the track so profoundly striking, beautiful and intimate. As he weaves together the three section song, Lacy speaks candidly about and celebrates his bisexuality, but at the same time let’s everyone know it’s actually none of their business.
Enough with all the questions.
Just let me be me.
“I only feel energy, I see no gender
When I talk 'bout fish, I wanna catch you, I'm a fisher
Now they debate on who I like, they wanna see a list of
Girls and boys out here so they can see if I'm official
I tell 'em, "Ooh, come down, this ain't your life found
If you want to smile, if you're happy for me now
I hope you can relate, if you can't right now
You might be a little late or you might never get it down"
But who like…”
With “Like Me,” Lacy has gifted the queer community (as well as all who are allies and learning to stand in solidarity alongside queer friends and family), with a nine-minute, stunningly-vivid look into the chaotic mental swirl and oftentimes traumatizing experience that is coming to terms with one’s own queer sexual identity.
The desire both to be known, accepted and celebrated…
and also be left the hell alone.
Steve Lacy says, I see you. I feel you. I’m here. We’re in this together. This is me. They either get it or they don’t. But you do you. Because in the end, it’s none of their business.
And most importantly: You’re not alone.
Pride is celebration. Pride is bright and beautiful and fun and vibrant. But Pride is also about the struggle. About being seen. Feeling safe. About being real. Honest. Brave. Bold. And more than anything?
Pride says: You’re not alone.
If you’re out, and proud, and living your best and fullest and truest life, we celebrate you this month! Yas, Queen!
But just the same, if you’re questioning, uncertain, feeling scared, alone, isolated, unsure, and you’re still trying to find yourself, your beauty and your identity: we celebrate you too.
And we’re here for you, Beautiful. For all of it.
We believe in you, and we stand with you this month - and all days, weeks, months and years.
Ziggy Stardust, the glittery, intergalactic rock-star is the messenger.
And the message from beyond?
In a time of war, great unrest and conflict in the world, Bowie descended onto the rock n’ roll scene as Ziggy, offering humankind in fabulous fashion a vision of hope, and a future in which all are welcome to shine and boogie, just as they are.
The Starman from beyond is kind and sensitive, understanding we may not be ready for the full glory - he doesn’t want to blow our minds.
But the message is critical - the fate of the world may depend on it:
“Let the children lose it,
Let the children use it,
And all the children boogie.”
It’s an age-old conundrum. The Starman could see it 50 years ago. Ziggy tried to tell us.
Some of us heard, and are still going to battle.
Our weapon of choice?
🏳️🌈 Pride. 🏳️🌈
Pride is the message Ziggy brought to us from the Starman.
You are beautiful as you are.
You are beloved, as you are.
And in the new world, the one we strive for, and march for, and dance for, you’ll be able to boogie, baby.
Bowie’s “Starman” is as shimmery and vibrant (and needed) today as ever. Ziggy changed rock n’ roll. Ziggy changed the world. And may we all continue to dance with abandon into the glittery and glorious future the “Starman” gave us a glimpse into all those years ago.
Happy Pride, all.
With frenetic urgency, our Pride Song of the Day, “History Repeats,” the lead single from the brilliant Brittany Howard’s 2019 solo debut album, Jamie, captures the heart-pounding, anxiety-inducing energy that pulses through our veins when we stand face to face with that which has held us down, time and time again, and calls us to rise above.
Howard, the 5x Grammy Award winner erupted onto the rock n’ roll scene in 2012 with the release of Alabama Shakes’ swampy and sweaty legendary debut, Boys & Girls. Over the past decade, her gritty, soaring, and soulful vocal prowess - which sits somewhere between Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, and Prince - has delivered some of the most soul-stirring vocal performances put to record. And after the smash success of her two records with Alabama Shakes, Howard’s genre-bending, gravity defying and award winning solo debut - Jamie, named after the beloved sister she lost to retinoblastoma at just 13 years of age - was widely praised by critics across the board, and stands as one of the most unique and beautifully diverse albums recorded in recent years.
Publicly out as a lesbian since age 25, Howard married Jesse Lafser, her partner and bandmate in the Bermuda Triangle - a side project they share in together - in 2018. Daughter of a junk-yard owner, growing up poor, queer and biracial (her mother being of English and Irish ancestry and her father is African-American) in Athens, Alabama brought with it tremendous challenges. But music was always there. And it was free. Howard would play with her sister and other family, pulling together whatever they could round up, playing and singing with unabashed passion and vigor - even if Brittany’s drumming with was a spoon on pots and pans.
Howard’s music is pure passion. It drips heavily from every phrase and word. It soars with every howl and scream. And it is this unbridled passion that has so deeply moved fans from the stage and on the record that has won Howard such universal acclaim. It is as if every drop of blood, sweat, and tears that dropped to the soil in Athens, as she honed her craft and pushed to overcome the most overwhelming of odds and heartbreaking challenges, infuses every bar and chord of her music.
Like so many of her tracks, this passion is the driving force behind, “History Repeats,” which manages to tap into both the most personal and universal human predicaments all at once.
Here we are again.
We don’t want to be here again.
We’ve seen this movie before. All too often…
So what now?
Do we have what it takes?
Can we stop making the same mistakes?
History marches on, and there’s nothing new under the sun.
But maybe… just maybe… we have what it takes to break the cycle.
If Brittany’s story is any indicator, it seems there is hope. History doesn’t quit, but with each time around, we get a little wiser. We get a little stronger. We see it coming from a little further away. And so we keep on.
And it is that spirit, the spirit, the courage, the strength, to keep on that shines so brightly in the beautiful Queen that is Brittany Howard. She gives us hope, in the midst of the chaotic world that just don’t quit that
We can do this.
It may be hard. It may be messy. But we’ve got this.
You’ve got this.
This Pride Month, we hope that these songs of resilience and steadfastness, from Brittany and so many other gorgeous queer artists, icons and allies just like her, that you will find the strength and hope to go at it again. Another moment. Day. Week. Year.
Because we got this. Pride says we got this.
Make sure to catch all of Brittany’s incredible discography on your preferred music streaming provider, and snag a copy of the Grammy-winning Jamie from your favorite local, independent record store!
Much love, all.
Kiyoko, affectionately dubbed, “Lesbian Jesus” by her dedicated fanbase, went viral in 2015 when her jam, “Girls Like Girls,” was released on YouTube, to the tune of 110 million views. The biracial, AAPI pop star and actress got her start in the music scene as a founding member of The Stunners, scoring a dance hit with “We Got This,” in 2010, just a year after she’d graduated high school.
In her youth, Kiyoko struggled with her feelings about coming out, fearing judgment and rejection from those around her. Wanting to help inspire confidence in young people dealing with the same struggles, Kiyoko’s music focuses on her story, her emotions and experiences as a Queer individual coming to terms with her own identity.
The 2018 MTV Push Award winner, Kiyoko is a fierce activist, working to normalize lesbian relationships within the music industry and in society as a whole. In her words,
“"If you see two girls falling in love and normalizing that, then [people] can go 'I can fell in love, too. I can be that person. I can look like that. I can get a girl that looks like that.' If they see that, then they can believe it. It's just how we are."
In “Found My Friends,” Kiyoko takes us on a beautiful journey of the self, moving from the disconnected, out of body sensation of running alongside herself, and the fear of being alone with herself, to the sweet harmony of dancing and knowing that at the heart of it all, the thing each and every one of us needs is to know that we are enough, that we are lovely, and that there is deep beauty and healing in showing up for ourselves.
Check out Kiyoko’s self-directed music video for “Found My Friends” for the full experience of the song, as she moves from wrestling with her fears laying on the floor, to dancing on her own!
And make sure to check out the rest of Hayley’s discography on your favorite streaming service, follow her work on socials, and to pick up her latest record, Panorama, which includes “Found My Friends,” at your local, independent record store!
When Little Richard hit the airwaves in 1955 with the infamous, “Tutti Frutti,” he did more than just create the most important Queer anthem of all time. He created a revolution that would change the course of music, and shape the course of history itself.
He created Rock & Roll.
As a youth, Richard dubbed himself “The Magnificent One,” using curtains as a cape, and sporting eyelashes and makeup. But at just 13 years old, Richard was kicked out of his conservative home, and in turn, took his beautiful self to the stage and began performing for money. Imitating his heroes, Sister Rosetta Tharp and Mahalia Jackson, Richard became known for his raucous, wild, one-of-a-kind style, cultivating an image and sound that was a mash-up of his diverse sounds an interests, and creating a hybrid fusion of boogie, blues, gospel, and R&B.
“Tutti Frutti” went viral upon release in 1955. Number one on the R&B charts. Seventeen on the Pop charts. But it was not without some editing.
The original lyrics Richard howled were (something like),
“Tutti frutti, good booty,
If it’s tight, it’s alright,
If it’s greasy, it makes it easy…”
The song that set the world on fire was an homage to anal sex.
Though the lyrics were edited to,
“Tootie frutti, aw rooty…” (with “aw rooty” as slang for, “it’s alright,”)
…(and references to Daisy and Sue were added to further mask the outright gay abandon, energy and freedom that pulses and reverberates throughout), set the world on fire the song did.
The backlash against Richard and “Tutti Frutti” was ferocious.
Sexually liberated. Black. Successful. His records and his rock & roll were seen as a toxic poison upon American youth.
(And you thought the Elvis backlash for his pelvic thrusts was bad.)
Even worse, the record companies, as it was with almost all influential Black performers of Richard’s era who found success, tried to capitalize on Richard’s success by encouraging the likes of white early rock n’ rollers like Pat Boone and Elvis to cover Richard’s tune. Pat Boone’s version went to #12 on the charts, surpassing Richard’s placement.
Boone’s was more palatable for the white folks.
Over the next several years, rock n’ roll (Richard’s sound) was co-opted in the music industry and put into the hands of white performers. And by the mid 60s, the sound that was invented by Richard and the likes of other Black pioneers such as Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Fats Domino and Bo Diddley (not to mention being built upon the influences of the legendary Queer Black women who preceded them, such as Big Mama Thorton, Sister Rosetta Tharp, Lucille Bogan, and Ma Rainey), had been almost entirely white-washed.
Despite the racism. Despite the bigotry. Despite the homophobia. Despite the hatred. Despite the backlash…
Little Richard changed the world.
Little Richard is a hero.
In 2010, “Tutti Frutti” was entered into the Library of Congress National Recording Registry for its influence on culture.
In 1986, Little Richard was one of the first 10 artists inducted into the inaugural class of the Rock Hall of Fame.
“Tutti Frutti” was voted #1 in Mojo’s “Top 100 Records That Changed The World.”
And Richard is widely regarded now, rightfully, as the architect of Rock n’ Roll.
Gay. Black. Flamboyant. Loud. Proud.
Little Richard changed the world.
The impact of “Tutti Frutti” and Little Richard simply cannot be overstated! As the greatest Queer anthem of all time, and the song that sparked the rock n’ roll revolution, it is the literal definition of our Pride Song-of-the-Day jams.
Long live King Richard!
In our Pride Song-Of-The-Day today, the gorgeous and fierce, internationally acclaimed singer, songwriter, poet and activist Allison Russell shares the brutally whimsical tale of her first tastes of love, shared with her beloved, “Persephone.”
Renowned for her uncanny ability to weave the most stark and serious subject matter together with a style that is brilliantly bright, beautiful, and soothing, in “Persephone,” Russell tells the story of her experiences as a survivor of physiclal and sexual abuse at the hands of her adoptive father, and her escapes under the cover of the night to the bedroom and love of her sweet Persephone.
He had left her bloodied again.
He may have killed her if she’d let him. But his drunkenness left him slow and clumsy.
As a young, Black woman, she knew the cops wouldn’t stop to help her even if she tried.
But she had the bedroom of sweet Persephone...
The song is as painfully brutal as it is gorgeous, as Russell narrates the harrowing details of escaping her abuse, her spirit as a survivor, and the sweet haven that the bedroom and body of her beloved Persephone offers her in the midst of her terror.
As a proud, queer, Black woman, the Canadian native Russell is one of the hardest working, and most fierce activists within the music community, using her art and her voice as a platform to propel her social advocacy. Before releasing her 3x Grammy nominated solo debut, Outside Child, in 2021, she had already been making waves for years in the music community, beginning first as a part of the group Po’ Girl from 2000-2010, then as one half of the award winning duo Birds of Chicago with her husband, JT Nero, as well as a member of the renowned Our Native Daughters, alongside Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, and Amythyst Kiah. In addition, in 2022, Russell was one of several artists to perform with the historic Black Opry, helping raise awareness for Black musicians in country music.
While you hear Allison’s tunes on the regular here on Ascent, we’re thrilled to be able to highlight her in this moment, giving credit and honor where it’s due, with “Persephone” as a part of our Pride Song-of-the-Day series.
Russell is truly an inspiration for millions of Black and queer persons, and gives her life and energies entirely to inspire hope and change in the world through the power of song. She is a true Queen, and means a great deal to us here.
Make sure if you have not already to check out her full discography on your favorite streaming platforms, and pick up Outside Child and any other records of hers you can find at your local, independent record store!
Thank you, dear Allison, for everything you are, and for the hope and joy you radiate into the world. You shine brightly Queen! And our lives have been impacted deeply by your beautiful spirit.
Fabulous. Flamboyant. Phenomenal. Arguably the greatest performer and recording artist of all time. And one of the most important queer icons, figures, and inspirations across the generations.
Elton’s music is simply transcendent.
He’s Daring. Groundbreaking. And so captivating that he has mesmerized and transported fans and audiences worldwide into a realm in which all are loved, celebrated, and safe to be exactly who they are - in every beautiful way imaginable.
The track that Elton refers to as his personal theme song came together in good humor one day when he was in a particularly foul mood, and Bernie’s (Taupin) wife, Maxine, saw him coming and said, “Uh-Oh, the bitch is back.” Bernie was so amused by the phrase that he wrote the legendary track, which in turn, of course, Elton put to music.
“The Bitch Is Back” is infamous for being the first single released with the word “bitch” in the title, and upon release in 1974, stations were anxious to put the song into rotation. Some refused to play it initially. Some tried to edit the bitches out - haha, but we all know that ain’t happening (and since Elton says it 42 times in the song, it sounded absolutely ridiculous without the bitches.)
Elton’s groundbreaking personal anthem opened up the door in such important ways for queer artists (and all artist in general!) to express themselves with freedom and abandon in their music. The song obviously became a smash hit, rising to number four on the charts, and continued Elton’s unprecedented run of top-10 smashes throughout the mid 70s.
Each day, throughout the month of June, we’re going to highlight a song, and artist, with our song-of-the-day selection as a part of our celebration of all things queer and beautiful!
Stay tuned here each day this month for a little slice of Pride - ‘cause the Bitch is back baby, stone cold, sober, matter of fact! And the party is here on Ascent, all month long.
Much love, all!
Jonathan Bristow - Ascent Creator & Director.
Hey friends, welcome to the Ascent Radio Blog! A space in which we discuss all things music, as well as the happenings on the station. We're convinced of one thing around here: