Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images
LGBTQIA+-Owned Venues To Support Now
As Pride month wraps, GRAMMY.com, in partnership with the Recording Academy's Atlanta, New York and Texas chapters, is celebrating LGBTQIA+-owned venues in New York and the South
After more than a year in a pandemic that engulfed the world and completely decimated the live music industry—including bars, clubs and venues across America—the businesses that survived are reopening across the country.
These include LGBTQIA+ venues and bars, which have been facing tough times for years now. Research shows a decline of LGBTQIA+ bars over the years, and experts say it's because they "catered to a population that made less money," CNN Business reports. The internet and dating apps may also have affected bar attendance as they have given the community more ways to connect.
LGBTQIA+-owned venues historically have served as spaces to organize. They have been spaces in which people have been able to express themselves freely. These places are still so crucial to many and each one holds a special place in the neighborhoods, communities and cities where they are. As Pride month wraps, GRAMMY.com, in partnership with the Recording Academy's Atlanta, New York and Texas chapters, is celebrating LGBTQIA+-owned venues in New York and the South. Here’s a list of some of the loudest and unabashedly queer venues in those regions that are still open.
My Sister’s Room
Location: 84 12th St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
"Everyone is welcome as long as they respect our LGBTQ space." So goes the official motto of My Sister’s Room, known locally by many as simply MSR.
Since 1996, MSR has been the biggest and best lesbian bar not just in Atlanta, but perhaps in the entire southeastern United States. In the decades since it opened, co-owners Jennifer Maguire and Jami Atlanta have worked incredibly hard to stage nightly shows and to keep the space open, which is no easy task.
"People have been coming to My Sister’s Room for years for community or in times when they need a friendly face," Maguire explained via email. "They know that they have a place to come home to. We hope to continue the legacy for another 25 years."
Location: 325 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238
C’Mon Everybody does a fantastic job of blending the old with the new, and it embodies Brooklyn perfectly—it is never boring, always edgy and it is certainly not your "typical" gay bar. Based in the up-and-coming (but thankfully not yet fully gentrified)
neighborhood of Bed-Stuy, the venue refers to itself as a mix between a bar, lounge, gallery and "live arts space," with that final descriptor being up for interpretation (as is so much in Brooklyn).
The venue makes many references to the '70s, and while it may not be Studio 54, it’s one hell of a spot to go see a show, which is the focus of those running C'Mon Everybody. Some gay bars want to recruit drag queens simply to help bring in a bit of business during quiet times, but not this locale. Performance is a top priority and if you want to see something odd, something avant-garde and something that is unapologetically queer, head to C'Mon Everybody.
Cheer Up Charlie's
Location: 900 Red River St. Austin, TX 78701
Located just a few blocks away from the stretch of LGBTQIA+-focused spots on the famous 6th Street (make sure you pop into Oil Can Harry’s and Rain during your next trip to Austin), Cheer Up Charlie's is so much more than a "gay bar." It is a respected and beloved music venue and that’s saying a lot in a town full of small spots where someone can pick up a guitar and start playing.
The outdoor space is sizable and at night, when the lights come up, it’s really something special, as it all plays off of a stunning limestone backdrop. Cheer Up Charlie’s is ultra cool and hip and a quick look at the upcoming dance nights, parties and performances by local DJs may have you considering a move to Texas.
Location: 8 Christopher St, New York, NY 10014
Pieces in Greenwich Village enjoys a reputation larger than its tiny dance floor. Somehow, whether it be on a weekday for happy hour or a Saturday night, the place is always packed, and it seems to fit more people than it should...but that’s the Village for you.
The must-visit spot may be cramped, but you never know who you’ll run into when you visit. There’s a joke now among the gay community in New York City that "[insert
Seeing superstars in close proximity, having too many drinks and bumping into fellow locals all night is part of the Pieces’ charm—you never know what kind of adventure you’re walking into when you step in that front door.
Location: 1287 Glenwood Ave SE, Suite B Atlanta, Georgia 30316
Named by both Logo and Out Magazine as one of the best gay bars in the world, Mary’s is a staple not just of the Atlanta gay scene, but for the enitre city.
Located in the heart of Atlanta, Mary’s has been cited as a favorite among locals and those who know the town ever since it opened. It’s a fantastic spot to dance, meet new friends, people watch (in a separate loft called the Boozy Cougar) or just relax. Getting down is a focus here. And don’t worry about finding the dance floor—it’s the entire venue.
Location: 438 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
"We used to be known as the Madonna of lesbian bars because we were constantly reinventing ourselves," explained Henrietta Hudson owner Lisa Cannistraci during a recent interview with Grub Street. "Now we’re Cher — the lesbian bar that wouldn’t die."
The idea of reinvention is especially prevalent now in the New York City-based lesbian bar, which is often described using words like "iconic" and "legendary," among many others. Following a forced closure during the pandemic, the space reopened in the spring with outdoor service, and now the inside looks brand spanking new. As patrons pour back in, they are enjoying drinking and dancing in what appears to be an entirely different place.
The decline of America’s lesbian bars has been well documented, and sadly, it continues unabated. According to NBC News, there are only about 15 left in the country. Thankfully, Henrietta Hudson, often referred to as just "Henrietta’s," is back, hopefully for good.
Location: 4070 Government Blvd, Mobile, AL 36693
"Laissez les bons temps rouler" is a Cajun French phrase used largely in the south which translates to "let the good times roll." At Herz, it’s spelled somewhat differently—"Leze le bon temps roule!"—but the meaning stays the same.
One of the only lesbian bars in the south, Herz is a unicorn, and it must be protected at all costs. Owners Sheila and Rachel have done something truly amazing by being able to operate one of the few remaining spots that allows women who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community to dance, hang out and even smoke hookah outside.
It’s a chill spot and one that deserves to keep its doors open for many years to come. Cities like Mobile, AL have come a long way in just a few years in terms of the treatment of LGBTQIA+ citizens and visitors, and places like Herz have done so much to both provide a welcoming space and change the minds and hearts of millions.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
Ariana Grande Donates Proceeds From Atlanta Show To Planned Parenthood
"Ariana Grande's generous donation comes at a critical time—in Georgia and across the country, anti-women's health politicians are trying to ban all safe, legal abortion," Dr. Leana Wen, President of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement
Today, Planned Parenthood confirmed that GRAMMY winner Ariana Grande has donated the proceeds from her June 8 concert in Atlanta, around $250,000, to the reproductive health non-profit. The contribution follows several Southern states, including Georgia, passing restrictive anti-abortion bills in May.
This is incredible, @arianagrande — thank you!— Planned Parenthood (@PPFA) June 12, 2019
We're so grateful for your longstanding commitment to supporting women’s rights & standing with Planned Parenthood to defend access to sexual and reproductive health care. #IStandWithPP #StopTheBans https://t.co/zFkBVONNK9
"Ariana Grande's generous donation comes at a critical time—in Georgia and across the country, anti-women's health politicians are trying to ban all safe, legal abortion," Dr. Leana Wen, President of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement to People, who broke the news.
Wen, who is a medical doctor and the former Baltimore City Health Commissioner, spoke to the critical timing of Grande's donation, at a time when lawmakers are rolling back years of women's rights legislation:
"This is not what the American people want, nor is it something they'll stand for. Thanks to inspiring support like hers, Planned Parenthood can continue to fight back—in the courts, in Congress, in state houses, and in the streets—against these dangerous attacks on people's health and lives. We are so grateful to Ariana for her longstanding commitment to supporting women's rights and standing with Planned Parenthood to defend access to reproductive health care. We won't stop fighting—no matter what."
As People and other outlets point out, the donation follows the singer's response to hate speech made outside of the Atlanta concert. Ari fans tweeted a video of a protester outside of the venue making homophobic, sexist and racist comments over a P.A. system to the young women. Grande commented on the post, writing: "man... saddened but not surprised by this one bit. I'm so sorry any of my fans had to encounter this. we will do our best to ensure this doesn't happen again. proud of u all for not fighting / engaging violently. never worth it. wishing him peace & a healed heart cause girl yikes."
The Atlanta show was one of the stops on the pop star's Sweetener World Tour, which continues across North America until mid-July, after which she'll headline Lollapalooza on Aug. 4, then take the tour across the pond to London on Aug. 17 for its European leg.
Patriotic Makeover: State Song Edition
In honor of midterm elections, here are five state songs that might be due for makeovers
You can say what you want about Delaware's official state bird, the Blue Hen chicken. Or Utah's official state firearm, the Browning M1911 pistol. Or even New York state's recently appointed official state snack, yogurt.
But only the most outspoken state advocates would likely defend songs such as "All Hail To Massachusetts," "Hail! Minnesota," "Hail! South Dakota," and "Hail, Vermont!"
Let's face it, Massachusetts could find much more to brag about then: "All hail to grand old Bay State, the home of the bean and the cod."
And then there's "Maryland, My Maryland," which contains lyrics that are downright scary: "She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb/Huzza! She spurns the Northern scum!"
On the state level, there have been numerous legislative efforts to replace what some consider outdated anthems, but nearly all have failed. And federal intervention is, for the moment at least, off the table.
But this is, after all, the electoral season, a time to keep hope alive. With that, here are five ideas for proposed official state song replacements.
Official Song: "Alabama" (Julia S. Tutwiler/Edna Gockel-Gussen)
Proposed Replacement: "Shout Bamalama" (Otis Redding & The Pinetoppers)
It's tough to beat Tutwiler and Gockel-Gussen's 1931 lyrics, particularly the Jabberwocky-worthy "Broad the stream whose name thou bearest/Grand thy Bigbee rolls along/Fair thy Coosa-Tallapoosa/Bold thy warrior, dark and strong." But Otis Redding's first 45 rpm single (backed with his less-remembered "Fat Gal") is arguably more catchy and concise. And while Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" and the Doors' "Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)" are both better known, neither can claim a chorus as fine as "I love a chicken, baby/Shoutin' Bamalama."
Official Songs: "Where The Columbines Grow" (A.J. Fynn) and "Rocky Mountain High" (John Denver)
Proposed Replacement: "Lucky Old Colorado" (Merle Haggard)
Yes, two state songs for the price of one. In 2007, before Colorado legalized marijuana, the state's legislature faced off on a measure to replace A.J. Flynn's ode to one plant with John Denver's alleged ode to another. The debate focused on a single line in "Rocky Mountain High" — "Friends around the campfire and everybody's high" — and whether it was a reference to elevation or drug use. One of the bill's co-sponsors suggested that it's really about "a bunch of guys who spent the day hunting or fishing and are having a couple six-packs." The easy way out was to adopt two separate-but-equal official songs, neither of which can compete with The Hag's beloved weeper about the state that stole the girl of his dreams.
State: New York
Official Song: "I Love New York (Steve Karmen)
Proposed Replacement: "New York State Of Mind" (Billy Joel)
While Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" may be the gold standard, "New York State Of Mind" acknowledges the fact that there's more to the Empire State than five boroughs. Plus, Billy Joel was born in the Bronx, not Hoboken, N.J., where Ol' Blue Eyes got his start.
Official Song: "Beautiful Ohio" (Ballard MacDonald/Mary Earl/Wilbert McBride)
Proposed Replacement: "Dayton, Ohio — 1903" (Randy Newman)
Ohio's official state song marvels at how "freedom is supreme in this majestic land" and "mighty factories seem to hum in tune, so grand," which was no doubt true when "Beautiful Ohio" was written in 1918. Subsequent songs about the Buckeye State, such as the Pretenders' "My City Was Gone," with its derisive refrain "Way to go, Ohio," have become a little less starry-eyed. Why not just go with Randy Newman's ode to pastoral nostalgia? "Sing a song of long ago/When things were green and movin' slow/And people stopped to say hello." All you'll need to do is get someone other than Newman to sing it, so that it will actually sound sincere.
Official Song: "Wyoming" (C.E. Winter/G.E. Knapp)
Proposed Replacement: "Song Of Wyoming" (John Denver)
A consolation prize for Denver after he loses Colorado.
Can you name your state's official song?
(Bill Forman is a writer and music editor for the Colorado Springs Independent and the former publications director for The Recording Academy.)
Beyoncé and JAY-Z
Photo: Larry Busacca/PW18/Getty Images
Beyoncé & JAY-Z To Be Honored With GLAAD Vanguard Award
The GRAMMY-winning pair will receive the honor for their work as LGBTQ+ allies at the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on March 28
On March 11, GLAAD, the LGBTQ+ social justice non-profit organization, shared they will be honoring Beyoncé and JAY-Z for their work as allies of the gay community at their 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards.
The GRAMMY-winning pair will be presented with the organization's Vanguard Award, which, as GLAAD explains, "is presented to allies who have made a significant difference in promoting acceptance of LGBTQ people. Beyoncé and JAY-Z are longtime allies and supporters of the LGBTQ community who use their global platforms to share messages that inspire and change the world for the better."
The annual awards ceremony celebrates "fair, accurate and inclusive representations of LGBTQ people and issues" in the media, recognizing LGBTQ+ changemakers—and their biggest allies—across music, film, TV, print media and more.
"Beyoncé and JAY-Z are global icons and passionate defenders of human rights and acceptance for all people," GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement on their site.
She continues: "When Beyoncé and JAY-Z speak, the world becomes inspired and when it comes to LGBTQ people, their voices of acceptance have been heard loud and clear. We could not be prouder to stand with them to send a message of love during the biggest LGBTQ event in the world and to honor their work to bend the arc of justice forward for LGBTQ people, people of color and marginalized communities everywhere."
GLAAD points to the couple embracing the queer community on their social-media platforms, in their music and videos, and more. They highlight Beyoncé choosing to include queer individuals and couples in her videos for "All Night" and "Formation," the latter which won Best Music Video at the 59th GRAMMY Awards. They also underscore her advocacy for the community, as she continues to speak up against laws that would discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community and proudly supports marriage equality.
The org explains that JAY-Z also publically supported the nationwide passage of marriage equality, and points to examples of celebrating LGBTQ+ leaders in his work. The music video for "Family Feud," from his 4:44 album, opens with a quote from the late social justice writer James Baldwin, a queer black man, and features a cameo from transgender activist Janet Mock.
"Smile," also from 4:44, tells the story of Jay's mother, Gloria Carter, who came out as a lesbian publically for the first time on the song. Both Jay and Carter were presented with GLAAD's Special Recognition Award at the 2018 event for the touching, personal song and video.
Jay and Bey are among the top GRAMMY winners of all time. Most recently, at the 61st GRAMMY Awards, they each earned another GRAMMY, for the collaborative album they released as The Carters. The powerful LP, Everything Is Love, won Best Urban Contemporary Album.
GLAAD will also hold an awards ceremony in New York City on May 4, where another GRAMMY-winning musical/pop culture icon, Madonna, will be honored with the Advocate For Change Award. The nominees up for awards this year include GRAMMY winner Brandi Carlile, GRAMMY nominees Janelle Monáe, SOPHIE, plus Hayley Kiyoko, Christine and the Queens, Troye Sivan and BROCKHAMPTON.
Santana at Woodstock
Photo: Tucker Ransom/Getty Images
Dove Statues To Decorate Upstate New York For Woodstock's 50th Anniversary
As the iconic 1969 music and arts festival approaches its golden birthday, fiberglass doves will be painted by local artists and placed around Sullivan County to commemorate the event
On Aug. 15, 1969, one of the most iconic live music events of the 20th century began on a farm in Bethel, N.Y. Now, as the historic Woodstock Music And Art Fair approaches its 50th anniversary, the desire to honor that special moment is deepening: While a 2019 Woodstock festival has not been officially announced, Sullivan County in Upstate New York is preparing to commemorate the famous fest's 50th birthday.
County officials recently announced that they have commissioned local artists to paint 36 dove statues in groovy '60s-inspired colors as a tribute to Woodstock, a nod to the dove in its original logo. The doves will be placed in various communities in Sullivan County by June 2019 and will remain past the anniversary in August.
Plenty of rumors continue to abound as to whether or not an official 2019 Woodstock festival will take place. One of the event original promoters, Michael Lang, has continued to leave fans eagerly hanging for more information.
On Dec. 19, Poughkeepsie Journal reported that Lang had told them there are "definite plans" for an anniversary concert next year, but it would not be held at the original location, where Bethel Woods Center For The Arts now lives. They said "an official announcement will be coming soon."
As music fans await for confirmation that a 2019 Woodstock is indeed happening, they can feel relief that the GRAMMY-winning living legend himself, Carlos Santana, is set on celebrating its 50th birthday with a special show. He and his band performed on day two of Woodstock, the same month they released their debut album, Santana.
Earlier this month he told Billboard that Santana would indeed be celebrating the 50th anniversaries of that album and their Woodstock performance, along with the 20th birthday of their GRAMMY-winning album, Supernatural, which earned the band a whopping eight wins, including for Album Of The Year, at the 42nd GRAMMY Awards. Billboard reports that he's already booked "his own show" at Bethel Woods.
"We've talked to Michael Lang, but we don't know if he has secured a place. If they invite me, I'm in," Santana said. "Woodstock and Supernatural, I view them as a gimongous door that I walked through to the other side. They took me to places I never dreamed were possible...and that just inspires me to keep reaching and searching with everything else I do."