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Montana Goes Gay!

Montana Goes Gay!

By Dustin Shrader

Same-sex marriage legality keeps on climbing. A Montana federal court recently ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. This is wonderful news to the 1,348 gay couples living in the mid-western state. Of the thousands, 22% are caring for and raising an estimated 600 children in their respective homes.

According to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, suggested research shows that 674 of the state’s same-sex couples will marry within the next 3 years, spurring a whopping $4.5 million in spending! The expected spending and wedding planning will create 20-60 jobs for the state’s tourism and recreation sector.

These facts fall in line with other nationwide statistics founded by the Williams Institute on gay marriage equality and progression. For instance, 7 out of 10 same-sex couples throughout the country will eventually be living in states where they can wed and two-thirds of Americans will now be living in gay marriage friendly states. Numbers like these are polarizing compared to the nation’s stance on marriage equality just ten years ago. According to a Williams Institute analysis, the number of married same-sex couples was an estimated 130,000 in 2013, which was a 50% increase from the previous three years.

As of today, 34 states have legalized same-sex marriage, with the law pending or still banned in the remaining 16 states.

We are over halfway there!

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Simply Bennett & Gaga

Simply Bennett & Gaga

by Dino Thompson-Sarmiento 

Two musical generations collide like two stars in the universe and the explosion of fierceness is a masterpiece called Cheek to Cheek …Bennett and Gaga singing together is something that never crossed my mind but the results are simply fantastic – Enjoy our Q&A with these two
powerhouse voices that will be heard for generations to come.

Can you tell me what Cheek To Cheek means to you?

Tony Bennett: Cheek To Cheek means performing with the best kind entertainer in the world today. That’s what I call Cheek To Cheek.

Lady Gaga: I’ve been telling everybody Cheek To Cheek is where I like to be when I’m with Tony—right up against him. That’s what it is for me.

Tony, can you tell us about your first meeting with Lady Gaga?

TB: Yeah, we did a big benefit for lawyers and accountants. Everyone in those professions were at this one, great benefit for the poor people of New York, and that’s when I first heard her perform. I couldn’t believe the audience’s reaction to her, and we met backstage with her mother and father. We just hit it off. Right from that moment on, we’ve been great, great friends.

Gaga, were you nervous about the idea of doing an album project with legend Tony Bennett?

LG: Well, I was more nervous to meet Tony. When they said he wanted to talk to me at The Robin Hood Foundation event, I said “Are you sure? You’re sure he’s talking about me?” I went back to see him, and I brought my father and my mother with me—they were so excited. My mom was squeezing my hand—she was as nervous as I was! We got to meet him, and you know instantly when you’re with Tony. He makes you feel so at ease because he’s so humble. He’s had such an incredible career, and he continues to make so many people around the world so happy. It was just a wonderful night to meet him. When he asked me about doing the album, I thought, “Of course!” In fact, it was so interesting to me, I thought, “Oh wow, he can really hear that I’m a jazz singer.” That meant a lot to me because nobody had really caught on yet, and jazz was my first love before pop music. That’s really where I started singing and how I got into music—singing with the jazz choir at school. I wasn’t as nervous to make the album because I felt like the music is already a part of me—working with Tony made me nervous! I thought, “Okay I have to learn something. I have to really dig deep for this album.” He really let me be me, and he encouraged me to allow the songs that we chose to be the stories of my life and the stories of his. Then we came together, Cheek To Cheek.

Can you explain how you created the song selection for this album?

TB: I wanted to make sure that the songs we did would last forever—that they were the best songs that were ever written. I was so happy to do it with Gaga because she is a great singer.

LG: We worked very closely with Tony’s entire family and my team. All of the songs are from The Great American Songbook, which for Tony and myself, are the greatest songs that were ever written. On the album we have George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn. Records that never get old. It’s our job to come together and tell the stories as if they’re brand new.

Gaga, for “Lush Life” you talked about how you first sang the song when you were thirteen, and now over ten years later you’re singing it again. Explain the evolution of that song—singing it back then and now?

LG: I had a musical director, Mister Phillips, at the Boy’s School St. Regis down the street, and he believed in me so much when I was growing up. It meant a lot. He used to always bring the most vocally challenging songs to me. One day he brought me “Lush Life,” and I didn’t really understand what the song was about, but the melody spoke to me. I’ve always had a sort of old soul, or old attraction to music—music with a lot of feeling. Music with pain deep, deep down in the notes. She’s singing about the loss of love in her life—her loneliness. She’s singing about living a lush life—a life of alcohol and drugs and uncertainty. When I was younger, I didn’t really know what that meant. Now that I’m here, after my life’s changed so much since the first time I sang that record, I just started crying. I walked in the studio and said, “Tony this is really autobiographical for me,” and he said, “I know.” He hugged me, and he’s such a real friend to me—that’s what you’ll hear on this album. You’ll hear a real experience between two people singing records. We weren’t just trying to sing it perfectly. You’re not dealing with two people that really like autotune very much—especially for jazz. We wanted to make something that sounded perfect because of the quality of the emotion, the honesty. I loved making “Lush Life” for this album, and I appreciated that Tony mentored me emotionally through the process.

Tony, you chose to sing “Sophisticated Lady” as a solo song on this album. Why did you do that?

TB: Well, I did it to answer her on “Lush Life.” I decided to do one of Duke’s songs, and one of my favorites of all time is “Sophisticated Lady.” That’s how I feel about her. She’s highly sophisticated.

LG: That’s so sweet. On “Lush Life” I’m singing about how I feel like a mess. I’m singing about how I feel hopeless—how I feel like I’m not worth anything. Then I have him telling me, “No, no, baby you’re sophisticated. You got it all, you’re okay.” That’s where the balance of the album comes from. We support one another not just in the way we’re singing, but in life.
Tony, I know throughout your career you’ve always made sure you could keep jazz in your music, and at times it was a struggle with record labels and such. Can you talk a little bit about why that was so important to you?

TB: What I really love about being a jazz singer is that it’s unlike any other singer. All of the jazz artists are very, very creative and very honest. It allows you to sing differently every night. You surround yourself with great jazz musicians who play because of the atmosphere at that moment. it’s not like you’re singing the same song every night. The repertoire might be the same song, but with jazz—and good jazz artists—you sing differently every night because every hall has different acoustics and different audiences. You turn it around, and it becomes each night like the first time you’re doing the song—it’s the moment. There’s honesty about it. It keeps you very, very honest as a performer. You’re not cheating the audience for a second because you’re giving it 100%. I don’t mean vocally—I’m talking about the musicians when they play they’re giving one hundred and fifty percent of themselves at that moment, what they’ve felt at that moment, at that second.

TB: And to me, it’s terribly exciting to perform that way. You never get bored.

Tony, I know you paint every day and in the recording studio you’re drawing a lot. Does drawing during the down time of the studio process keep you in a creative mode?

TB: The way you paint is just like when you take a solo or a chorus of a song. It’s learning what to leave out, what to put in, what to really put the accent on. You make a composition of some sort and you do that with painting—and you do that with music.

LG: And that’s what jazz is like.

TB: You learn what to leave out. You know what to put in when it’s important. The music teaches you how to draw, and the drawing and painting teach you how to sing.

Speaking of drawing, Gaga you asked Tony to draw a trumpet for you, can you explain what that was all about?

LG: We drew Miles Davis’ trumpet. He was the greatest trumpet player of all time. When we were hanging out yesterday I said, “Hey Tony, would you sketch a trumpet for me to represent our work together and would you sign it? I’m going to get it tattooed.” Then Newman said, “Hey you’re getting a trumpet, what do you mean? I have to get a trumpet!” So we went to the tattoo parlor, and I played the record for him for the first time. He got to hear his trumpet playing with Tony Bennett for the first time while he was getting this trumpet inked, and he was crying he was so happy—it was so special.

TB: They’re great guys. You have a great group of musicians. They love you so much.

LG: They love you so much. They’re so happy because they are the jazz kids right now in the scene in New York trying to get noticed, trying to make it, playing as many gigs as they can. To get noticed by Tony Bennett is the biggest thing that has ever happened to them. Every time we sing the song, it’s not like we already know what we’re going to do—like you were saying—it’s almost like every time it’s a blank canvas, and we each have a paint brush.

Your photo session with Steven Klein seems like he was telling a story, maybe about jazz. Can you talk a little bit about what you wanted to achieve in the photos?

LG: I think our collaboration with Steven Klein has been immense and really beautiful. It’s interesting—we didn’t really go into the shoot trying to tell any type of story in particular. We just wanted to capture a very honest moment between me and Tony. We shot at this burlesque club downtown. To be down there with friends and Tony while Steven captured it all was just really natural. Something so mysterious and beautiful came out of it. I really love that about me and Tony as there’s something that’s still mysterious about us singing together because it seems like we wouldn’t go together—yet, we have everything in common. Everybody loves Tony. Everywhere that we go, women are falling all over the place. They can’t take it, and that’s how I feel most of the time. I mean he makes me so nervous.

You both thrilled about 700 students at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts. How important is it to encourage young people to keep the arts in their lives regardless of whether they go off to be an artist or not?

TB: There’s nothing like it. My wife and I have visited seventeen schools since we’ve started now, and right now she’s in San Francisco. We’re getting great reports that they want to put the Tony Bennett schools in every public school for performing arts. To visit those schools and see what those artists are doing, you cannot believe it. You can’t believe what I witness walking into a school to find out that they’re as good as anything that’s on Broadway right now. They should actually get the job immediately. That’s how equipped they are. They learn how to read music, and they get so good that some of the performances that I witness are better than anything I’ve seen on any stage in the world. It’s wonderful. And then when they go to college—because they’re giving and creating, they don’t drop out of school, they stay in school and they graduate. The whole dream we have about this is to have more artists in the United States than anywhere else in the world because the whole premise of art is truth and beauty. By bringing that to the whole world, we will become loved. America will become so loved because they know all that truth and beauty is coming from America to the rest of the world.

And if you could talk a little bit about your experience at the school Gaga…

LG: That was so beautifully put Tony.

TB: Thank you.

LG: That really was. What Tony is doing for education with his wife is really powerful, and I’ve had a really strong relationship with my fans ever since the beginning of my career. That was because I always impressed upon them—and even until now with my last album—that your creativity and your voice is so important. What’s important is that we expose young kids to their passion. If they have it—if there’s even a glimmer of passion for the arts—you’re going to save that kid so much strife and heartbreak in their life because so many kids end up doing bad things and going down the wrong path in life because they don’t have the resources to express themselves. They don’t have the resources to express what for many young artists is that tortured spirit. I love so much that he’s giving everybody that opportunity,
and I hope that you know through my music and with Tony I can continue to support young people in all of their endeavors—all of their creative moments—that’s what ARTPOP was all about. Is that your ARTPOP is your next artistic statement. It could be anything. To free yourself from all limitations and rules. Tony is breaking rules. He’s going into public schools, and he’s saying, “Let’s teach these kids about performing arts.”

I’m going to leave the end of the interview up to you guys—one last comment to talk about the experience. Do you want to start Gaga?

LG: I would love to tell everybody that I can, in the world how happy, truly purely happy I am to be here with Tony. It’s just totally changing my life, and it really has been so liberating. He’s such a good friend to me, and he’s so supportive of me as an artist and it means so much. A true, true gentleman and legend, and I can’t wait to share this moment in my life with my fans and with Tony’s fans.

TB: Great. I love it. Thank you.

LG: Thank you.

TB: It’s just beautiful being with you.

 

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Video: David Gandy Stuns In His Own Underwear

Video: David Gandy Stuns In His Own Underwear

By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

You’ve probably already taken considerable notice of his piercing blue eyes, his stunning physique and the fact that he looks absolutely gorgeous in a pair of white swim trunks (all of him). Yes, David Gandy (34) is the model who for years has been the eye catcher for the fragrance Dolce & Gabanna Light Blue and in which he lounges on a Mediterranean beach in a skimpy, white swimsuit.

Maybe that’s the reason why he has teamed up with British Marks & Spencer and Autograph to create a line of luxurious sleepwear and underwear bearing his name? Because in the video clip created to promote his underwear, he does not veer from the tried-and-tested formula of piercing you with those steely, blue eyes, showing off his unbelievable physique and proving once again that he (all of him!) looks d*** good in underwear.

The only downside to it all: the underwear is so far only available in select European markets. On this side of the Atlantic we’ll have to suffice with the video for now so don’t feel bad if you need to watch it 5-10 times like we did …

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J Tyler To Release Debut EP In 2015

J Tyler To Release Debut EP In 2015

By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

He’s been our favorite Atlanta gay rapper for a while, and now J Tyler is taking a very big step to further promote his music by releasing his debut EP album titled ‘All That Glitters Ain’t Gold’. A step that we’d like to think we helped him achieve. About his upcoming album release of all original songs the artist says:

“I decided to name my first album ‘All That Glitters Ain’t Gold’ because of the different meanings. Of course, everybody knows the old saying, but to me, it signifies what my rise is about. I damn sure didn’t sparkle as soon as I hit the stage. It took time to polish my talents.

It also reflects the struggle I faced when moving to Atlanta at the age of 19 to follow this dream. My color is gold. So, I wanted to incorporate a title that, when you hear it, you think “J. Tyler”. Glitter can be played to the homosexual stereotype of when you think gay, you think sparkle, glitter, pride! Glitter symbolizes the pride I take in being gay, and knowing that I am confident in myself”.

J Tyler’s debut EP album release is expected to be early 2015 – for more info and soundbites go to his homepage.

jtyler_instapromo

Posted in Featured, News, Nightlife, Urban Culture0 Comments

Post-Pride Problems: Please Go Home!!

Post-Pride Problems: Please Go Home!!

By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

Atlanta pride is over and it’s Monday – officially post-pride! We’ll have to wait a whole year for all the special parties, the fresh meat, I mean, visiting tourists, the park, the parade, the days and nights of never-ending partying and all of the cute guys out and about and ready for a good time. Yes, it was a great and fun-filled weekend – but right now, it’s actually comforting to know that it’s all not happening again anytime soon… Time to shake off the weekend’s shenanigans and suppress the urge to shout ‘happy pride’ at everyone who may cross your path today. That is, if you can!

Maybe you’re experiencing the same conundrum is the guy in this video  – a hilarous parody on Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’ – whose post-pride problem consists of the want and need to be alone after being among throes of people and even hooking up on a one-night stand – and said hook-up won’t take a hint and get on out so you can lie on your couch, order pizza and binge-watch SATC, GOT, TWD or OITNB…

By a raise of hands (because at this point, it’s only body part that will go up), how many are in the same situation right now? Can we get a #byefelicia?

Check out the video below, which is produced by SF-based Ratchet Production and features singers Daniel Franzese and Adrian Anchondo from the San Francisco Gay Men’s Choir.

Happy pride! (sorry, force of habit…)

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More Than Half-Way: SCOTUS Move Widens Same-Sex Marriage To 30 States

More Than Half-Way: SCOTUS Move Widens Same-Sex Marriage To 30 States

By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

We were hoping that the Supreme Court Justices would take up the question on whether or not states should be allowed to ban gay marriage. Instead, the justices refused to review lower court decisions that struck down state bans on same-sex marriage on October 6. But without saying a word they still made a pretty loud and clear statement on the issue by choosing NOT address the issue just yet.

Because the effect of saying nothing on the matter means the rulings of the lower courts stand, which, in the case of 11 more states – Utah, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, and Wisconsin – will allows same-sex marriage. The here-and-now effect? As of Monday same-sex couples could get a marriage license and get married in those states – legally. And the total number of states where same-sex marriage is legal is now up to 30 – more than half of all American states.

So what happens if some of the lower courts move to uphold the ban on same-sex marriage? That’s when the Supreme Court is likely to step in and officially address the issue – or at least make it clear that couples that have been married and have marriage licenses will stay married. Under all circumstances this decision (or indecision) will put additional pressure on the remaining states that do not yet allow gay marriage. Even though this is not a national constitutional right just yet, this move has paved the way for freedom to marry in what accounts for 60% of the American population. And that’s a pretty big step on the way.

Posted in Featured, News, Opinion0 Comments

Check Out The “Real” Good Song From Years & Years

Check Out The “Real” Good Song From Years & Years

By BLENDERtunes.com

You probably haven’t heard of the band Years & Years and that’s totally OK with them because you’ll definitely fall in love the group after hearing their music.

The trio comprises of bassist Mikey Goldsworth, synth player Emre Turkmen, and Olly Alexander who provide the superb vocals. The group helms from London and they have slowly been putting out some great tracks over the past year or two. “Real” is one of the better songs that the group has released due to it’s chill, ElectroPop sound, and driving beat.

The song fits just right in with other songs of today following the current surge of Electronic, 90s club style of music (Kiesza’s “Hideaway” & Disclosure’s “Latch”). Olly’s soulful vocals compliment the track’s catchy-as-hell chorus and takes the song to another, much appreciated, level.

Be careful not to become mesmerized by the neon lights and awesome dance grooves of actor Ben Whishaw in the video – he really does get down.

Be on the look out for more songs from the group including their just released track “Take Shelter.”

This content is exclusively provided by BLENDERtunes.com – You’re welcome!

Posted in Featured, News, Urban Culture, Video0 Comments

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