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Cam: Country Music Star & LGBTQ Advocate

https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/pride/7817502/cam-gay-pride-month-love-letter

The country music world is getting to know her better and better each day, and recently, so has the LGBTQ community. Her name is Cam and she’s here to help queer people and make good music.

(DALLAS) – While visiting the American Airlines Center last month in Dallas to catch Sam Smith’s The Thrill of It All tour, About Magazine got the chance to catch up with country music star Cam. The young country sensation opened up for Smith on his tour and recently penned an open letter to the LGBTQ community in which she told us all she would always have our backs. And while that might seem like a strange thing for a straight country star to do, Cam is more than just a straight country star, as we came to find out. She’s also an educated student of psychology who left the field to pursue her dream of being a musician. And thank God she did. Where would country music be without her contributions to it, as well as to artists outside the genre, including Smith himself.

Just having wrapped her time with Smith, Cam has just released her new single “Road to Happiness” ahead of her second album on which it is featured and a tour of the same name beginning in September. Having just switched record labels from Sony imprint Artista Nashville to the Sony-owned RCA Records, Cam is keeping herself busy and she’s showing no signs of slowing down. About Magazine Dallas contributor Mallorie Hall sat down to talk to Cam while in Dallas.


Mallorie: Can you tell me a little bit about the tour and what’s it’s been like to play these packed venues?

Cam: It’s amazing. It’s like a musical theatre guy who designed the stage, so it’s very — you’ll see it. It’s a very intimate but also a very dramatic, grand thing. It’s really cool to be on a stage like that and be so personal. You know? And everyone seems like they’re here. I said it on stage and I really did mean it — everyone. I think because [Sam Smith is] so comfortable with who he is. He’s so genuine, like how he seems on stage is who he is and I resonate with that; and I think everybody does.

What do you think is the most different for you — just being yourself and being on stage?

Oh, like from my personality? Honestly, I think it’s just a forever dig to try and make sure that I know myself. And the more I do it offstage, the more real I can be onstage. […] You know when something catches you off guard and they’re like, “Hey how’s it going? Tell me about yourself!” and if you haven’t really figured yourself out, you’re gonna kind of say not the coolest thing in that moment. But that’s how it feels. Like … my difference offstage is more like figuring things out. You know what I’m saying? Like … whatever I’ve got, whatever truth I have.

5ED7B80B-4A62-4B28-9646-58A6B0AFE67D Cam: Country Music Star & LGBTQ AdvocateSo, you actually began your career as a songwriter composing for other artists. So, what has it been like at this stage of your career to take the mic on stage, having radio hits, versus writing songs for others?

Yeah, well, I actually started job-ness with being a psychology researcher. So I like looked at emotions and cultures and stuff like that. And then when I was like twenty-four I decided that I didn’t love it enough to put up with the downs. Every job has goods and bads; and I realized that the things that came with that, I couldn’t be in love with it. I was like, what should I do? And my professor was like, well, when you’re 80-years-old, picture yourself looking back. What would you regret? Missing out on music or missing out on psychology? Music, duh.

16586 Cam: Country Music Star & LGBTQ Advocate
About Dallas contributor Mallorie Hall + Cam

Plus don’t you feel like you can incorporate some of those messages into music? Just the positive ones?

Yeah. Oh my god. I think it’s that same search for truth. You know … like … what’s going on? Who am I? And why do we all do this? So I think that’s what songwriting is too, [but] more personal. When I first started […] I didn’t know any musicians. So the stereotype was like, Oh you can’t do this. […] And then statistically, like how could I actually be an artist? Then when I started doing that and I had a few random things like a producer was supposed to be in one room with someone and then couldn’t show up, so I’d get in the room. And then with Sam, another producer was there, and they were working on something and I got in. So it’s never like I was a really successful songwriter either. When I first got to Nashville I was like, Okay, if I want to do songwriting people will get publishing dues — which is basically like them giving you money up front and then they take a percent of your business. And as you can imagine, in the music business, for newbies, it’s horrible. It’s god awful. Thank god I was from California, and it’s so expensive to live there that I could just laugh at it. You’re fucking kidding me? I better just invest in myself. And you’ll all see when I’m worth it.

What was your first surreal moment, was it like, “Hey, I’m in a booth with Miley Cyrus?”

Probably. I would say like the record deal — which is not by any means the end of the ride. It’s actually really far in the beginning. That always feels like a legitimate thing. You can turn around to your parents and say, “I have this.” You can sit there on Thanksgiving and be like, “You have to respect me!”

You recently penned a letter to the LGBTQ community in which you showed your support for our community and said that we could always count on you. So what inspired that?

cam-press-2015-billboard-650 Cam: Country Music Star & LGBTQ AdvocateI think it’s the human thing to do. I think it’s a normal bar. I don’t think it’s spectacular. Like … it’s really kind of interesting in the country music community. I think it’s a normal thing. I don’t understand that it’s so sweet. People say, “Aw, thank you for saying that.” And I’m not even doing anything. I’m not even doing anything for you. That’s just saying, “Yeah, I’m not an asshole.” And I could be an asshole still … like look how I act! You know? So, for me, I think also I came from the San Francisco Bay Area and I think that our culture is a little bit different. Very special culture. But there’s still ups and downs. And with close friends of mine, when I hear experiences that people have to go through in different parts of this country, and in all parts of this country […] things like suicide rates — if you’re quiet, you’re condemning a lot of kids to living in a dark bubble. And they don’t always get out. So it’s just the least you can do. I feel like we need to get past just clapping and being like “Yay! You said it!” and start pushing the Okay. How are you educating yourself on what this really means and how we need to take care of each other?

You are obviously on tour with one of the most celebrated LGBTQ artists in the world, with whom you cowrote the song “Palace”, for his latest album. What’s the experience been like working together?

 He’s incredible, we were actually just talking about this. He said at one point in his life, “I’m just such a proud gay man and I’m standing here on this stage.” And everyone’s just screaming [for him]. And how many times in history has that happened? Someone’s just stood on stage and said this is me and this is who I am. And you just get goosebumps … like everyone’s just so moved. I don’t know. Because we’re still in the stage of that being kind of new, we’re really lucky that he gets to do this and he just spreads so much acceptance purposefully during each show. So it’s amazing to be around. He’s just like … you know … how you think pop divas look sweet but then in the background they’re like bitching people out? Nope. His whole crew, everybody, just are genuinely hardworking, good people.

So both of you are so talented and outspoken and individualistic in your music. What’s the dynamic like from your set to Sam’s when performing?

You will see. I think it actually flows really well. There’s something very musical and vocally driven and like … almost musical theater-ish. Very storytelling. And it just sort of builds. It’s weird because I have to think about it. I can’t sit in the audience and watch. Because my set is so vocally driven, and then it goes into his, I think the theme is very clear and people will appreciate that.

Could you tell us a little bit about what you have planned following the tour?  

I just put out “Road to Happiness” which is a new song. And this is like the lead up to my second album. So, basically, I’m going to go over to Europe, come back, and have a tour in a lot of the same places that I was just here with Sam for the fall. And then there are some songs that are going to start coming out.

If you could go back and give your younger self any piece of advice, what would it be?  

No one knows what they’re doing. Stop looking for someone who knows what they’re doing. I still catch myself thinking that somebody older — some dude, some white dude –needs to tell me what to do. There’s definitely been people in my career that I have overly trusted thinking people are there to help you. But the people that are going to help you the most are going to say, “What’s your answer? Let me help you find your answer.” People who say “I know what you’re supposed to do. I know what you’re supposed to wear. I know what you’re supposed to look like,” they’re doing it for them. And when there are a lot of people who are younger, it’s just … this is how the world works.


You can get tickets to see Cam on her Road to Happiness tour here.

You can follow Cam here: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website

Interview transcribed by About Magazine staff member, Megan Prevost.

That’s Teresa Zimmermann with No H, 2 Ms, and 2 Ns

Teresa Zimmermann Violet Queensbury Theatre Houston The Anthony Project

Houston’s very own Teresa Zimmermann talks to About Magazine about starring in the titular role of Violet at the Queensbury Theatre, life as a professional actress, her role in The Anthony Project, and her love of the LGBTQ community.

(HOUSTON) – If you’re an avid theatre-goer or at least an enthusiastic karaoke-er, you’ve probably seen her face around Houston a time or two. But even if you haven’t, you’ve certainly heard her voice, whether it be at Guava Lamp, Stages Repertory Theatre, and now in Violet, where she stars as the titular lead, which opened just last night at the Queensbury Theatre. Her name is Teresa Zimmermann; that’s Teresa with no H and Zimmermann with two Ms and two Ns. She’s the host of Sunday Karaoke — affectionally referred to by its regulars as Theatre Karaoke — at Guava Lamp on Waugh from 8 PM to midnight, and has been acting in the theatre scene of Houston for years.

But Zimmermann wasn’t always so sure that the stage was her calling, in spite of the fact that she grew up in a strong performance family. For a long time, Teresa was convinced she’d go to beauty school and learn the ins-and-outs of hair and makeup. But her life took her down a different road to Sam Houston State University, where she graduated with a degree in musical theatre, and eventually led her to live performances everywhere from here on the land in Texas to in the sea as a cruise ship singer. Now, as previously mentioned, she stars as Violet in new Queensbury Theatre’s production of the Broadway sensation of the same name. And before About Magazine goes to see the show tonight, we got a chance to talk to Teresa about her life, her career, the show, and what we can expect coming up.


Anthony Ramirez: If you could sum up who Teresa Zimmermann is in three words, what would those words be? 

Teresa Zimmermann: Driven. Focused. Passionate.
You are a full-time artist/performer/voice coach. Tell us what a normal day in your life is like?
I wake up, sleepily kiss my boyfriend goodbye as he goes to work, then I guiltily lay in bed for a little while longer. If I have something on the schedule, I’ll make a little bit of breakfast, sit down at the kitchen table and go over what I need to for the week — that is, until my cats start to lay all over my materials … and me. Lately, it’s been the script for Violet. Soon, it’ll be some new music I’m learning for gigs with the band, Danny Ray, and the Acoustic Production. Sometimes, it’s music for my students at Vivaldi Music Academy. When I’m rehearsing for a show, my days are much busier. But there are times when I’m not rehearsing or performing anything, and those days are filled with everyday to-do’s like watching Real Housewives, taking care of the apartment, planning dinner, socializing, going to the theatre, exercise, or more work-related things like preparing for an audition, researching repertoire, or reading plays. It’s not so much that my days are always full, but my week has a lot of varied work, whether it’s hosting karaoke, teaching voice, rehearsing, or performing, or even house-sitting. My goals are to prioritize and streamline my workload, prevent burnout, and only do work that involves my passion … in other words, find and/or keep the side gigs that I love, while maintaining a career in the theatre. I consider myself very, very lucky, and I’m so grateful that I am able to do that!
41004081_2066567530054163_1210640191413288960_o That's Teresa Zimmermann with No H, 2 Ms, and 2 Ns
Zimmermann performing a song from Violet on Great Day Houston.
How did you find your way to the auditions for Violet? And can you tell people who may not be familiar with the show a little more about it?
I first saw that Violet was part of Queensbury’s 2018-2019 season on social media, and I was ecstatic. I love the show and the music, so I stayed vigilant watching for audition postings online and checking their website daily. Knowing I had a block of time between the closing of The Great American Trailer Park Musical and my next show also helped motivate me to really go for the part. So not only did I want this show, I felt like I needed this job (cue music: A Chorus Line’s “God I Hope I Get It”). I received my offer a short time after the audition and immediately began preparing.
The musical itself is based on the short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts. It follows Violet Karl, from the rural Spruce Pine, North Carolina, as she travels through the South on a Greyhound Bus in September of 1964, just after the Civil Rights Act had been passed. She is on a journey to a televangelist preacher to heal and erase a scar caused by a blow to the face from a loose axe blade. On this pilgrimage, Violet becomes acquainted with a new world she’s never really been exposed to in the mountains. What unfolds is a beautiful story about following your heart, allowing yourself to forgive and heal, and what it means to recognize inner beauty in others and yourself.
The original Broadway production starred Tony Darling Sutton Foster. How does it feel being so talented that you’ve been entrusted with a role brought to life by such a star? 
Phew! Well … to make something very clear, I am no Sutton. I think her legs are actually as long as I am tall, for one. And she can kick her face without throwing her back out. I mean, I can totally do that too … I just … don’t feel like doing that at the moment. Gimme a week.
But truly — being given this opportunity has been mind-blowing. Roles like this only happen every so often, so I’m savoring every bit of it. I feel like this feast of a character has been plated so beautifully and is so emotionally rich that I am sometimes doubtful that I can eat it all up. I would not be able to do it without the support and talent of the people around me on and off the stage — my beautiful (and local!) cast, our diligent crew, and our creative team leading the way. They inflate my wittle-baby-actor ego with love and humble me with their talent and hard work, all at the same time.
What do you think you bring to the production that maybe hasn’t been done before for Violet
I cannot speak for other productions of Violet because I have not seen them, nor have I been in them, but I truly hope I can bring a sense of emotional depth that is honest and that feels as authentic to the audience as it does to the human body performing the behavior. Every part in this show has life flowing in and out of it; real-life perspective within concrete, predetermined, and written circumstances. I hope to convey the feelings of shame, hope, disillusionment, self-discovery, and so much more in a way that lets people know this isn’t just performance, it has all been felt at one time or another (by all of us). I hope they see it come through the vessel that is this character so that they can go through that process with us.
What are your top three favorite musicals and top three dream roles?
Only three?! Fine. Fine!
Chicago, Wicked, and Urinetown. Roles are a bit switched up though … Roxie Hart in Chicago, Elphaba/Nessa (don’t sleep on Nessa, y’all!) in Wicked, and Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes.
You originally thought you were going to go to beauty school, in spite of being raised in a performance family. What was the moment you knew this was what you were supposed to be doing? 
Every month, usually the week between paying rent and my next paycheck, I start to wonder if I’m doing the right thing. But something happens when I wait in the wings to remind me that this is my vocation. It started my freshman year of college before tapping onto the stage for Thoroughly Modern Millie [another Sutton Foster beauty], throughout my time at Sam, and happens in every professional show I’ve done since. I feel like a specific goal is in sight, even if it’s just for the next two hours. Even if it has nothing to do with me, personally. I’ve got a job to do, and it was given to me, specifically, to do. I have an obligation to show up, and that feels very fulfilling to me.
You’re very involved with Houston’s LGBTQ community — a large part of which intersects with its theatre community. Can you tell us what those two communities mean to you personally?
Almost all of my friends are involved in the theatre in some way, and are champions of self-expression, which is, also, important to the LGBTQ community. So it’s no surprise that in both communities I am encouraged to be myself. I feel at home with both. I’ve chosen to surround myself with those two communities because I know I will find people, friends (“framily”) — the good people out there, that make me feel safe, and that encourage me to do the same for my peers. However, it would be dishonest of me to disregard the critical environment in both; judgment, exclusion, and negativity are all aspects of our communities that we need to work on. That being said, something I love about both communities is that we are among the first ones to say, “Ok then, let’s work on it.”
Can you give us a little glimmer of what other projects you have on the horizon post-Violet
Well, Anthony, I’ll be working with you next! I’ll be performing at a reading for your sitcom script, The Anthony Project, in affiliation with About Media. [Zimmermann will be playing the antagonist of the show, Erin, a conservative Christian who works at a fictionalized version of About Magazine on Sept. 29th]. I’ve also got a few gigs lined up with my band, and while I’m not at liberty to tell you exactly what my next theatre production is, I’ll give you three very obscure hints that likely very few people will get: chains, the bear that ran away from the park zoo, and capons.
Omigod I know what it is!!!

Violet opened at the Queensbury Theatre last night and continues performances through Sept. 23rd. You can then see Zimmermann in the About Magazine stage reading of its forthcoming sitcom The Anthony Project on Sept. 29th, as well as every Sunday at Guava Lamp hosting karaoke. A full review of Violet will be available from About Magazine tonight.

39811119_2051476381563278_7930254592023986176_o That's Teresa Zimmermann with No H, 2 Ms, and 2 Ns
Click here for tickets.

Thoroughly Social Teresa

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Queensbury Theatre

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Vincent Powell ‘Rockstar’ Video Debuts

Vincent Powell 'Rockstar' Video Debuts

Former American Idol and Houston native Vincent Powell drops a new video for ‘Rockstar’ off his upcoming EP ‘Venting Season.’

(Houston) — Thrills and excitement surrounded the release of Vincent Powell’s latest video this afternoon exclusively on social media. The video is for Powell’s single Rockstar that features Julian Caesar. The video can be viewed on Facebook and Youtube, and available on all media streaming sites shortly.

About-Magazine-Vincent-Powell-Rockstar-Video-Debuts Vincent Powell 'Rockstar' Video Debuts
Vincent Powell

Rockstar is a vibrant, upbeat masterpiece that is mixed with dance music and an ode to soul. The electrifying vocals by Powell and vibes mastered with the great video production will have you dancing all night.

“That was a good old-fashioned. It was a sexy old-fashioned. That hit me somewhere.” -Nicki Minaj

Powell, a Houstonian originally from Austin, was
29-years-old when he landed a prized spot on Fox’s American Idol. It was his style and soul-bearing performance of Lenny Williams’ hit Cause I Love You that earned the attention of American viewers. That performance generated a standing ovation leaving Nicki Minaj in awe. “That was a good old-fashioned. It was a sexy old-fashioned. That hit me somewhere,” Minaj yelled.

You can check out Rockstar here. You can find more work of Powell’s on his social media:

Instagram/Facebook/Twitter: @vincentai12

Book Review: The Scottish Bitch

The Scottish Bitch Drag LGBTQ Macbeth Jameson Tabard Book Review

The Scottish Bitch, by Jameson Tabard: 4/5 Stars

jtabard Book Review: The Scottish Bitch
Author Jameson Tabard.

The Scottish Bitch by Jameson Tabard is a modern drag queen retelling of the story of Macbeth. I never read Macbeth, but I know most of the story. I think that I enjoyed The Scottish Bitch more because I hadn’t read the original. It was like reading a new story. The characters were well thought-out and held true to the standards previously set by Shakespeare. It was easy to point out the connections to Macbeth. This novel is enjoyable as a stand-alone book, and doesn’t need to be compared to Macbeth to be great.

 

Everything in this novel is true to the story and eloquently written. The queens are described so I could visualize them while reading. Of course, because this is a retelling of an old story, the reader will know what’s going to happen while they’re reading. I didn’t find that to be bothersome. Even though I knew the outcome, I still enjoyed this fun read.

I found difficulty in deciding who to support. The narration is third person omniscient, so we know the thoughts and feelings of every character. This narration presents trouble when reading. I found, at times, that it was a bit much. I often found that I was reading things I didn’t need to know, or things that I shouldn’t have known yet. Because there are so many characters and we do get to see the world from their points of view, it’s hard to know who the main character is. The primary narrative follows Latrine Dion (Macbeth) in her pursuit to become Duchess in her drag queen circuit. Her husband and other queen’s perspectives interrupt Latrine’s journey. While I believe this distracted from the main storyline, I enjoyed discovering the other characters.

I struggled with the beginning of this book. Intrigue and a great hook were both absent at the start. It required some conscious effort to get through the first few chapters, but I’m glad I did. At around fifty pages, the plot begins to pick up. After this point, I couldn’t put the novel down. While it did take a few chapters to get me engaged, Tabard did a great job of keeping me engaged throughout the rest of the novel.

Tabard does a great job of setting the scene for us in Orlando, Florida. He describes the hotels, apartments, and cityscape well enough and I am transported there while reading. Every setting feels like a real place, and does a great job at pulling me further into the plot.

While the visual descriptions worked well, other portions of the novel were slow or an inconvenience to read. The few dreams sequences dragged on. I don’t think they moved the story along and I didn’t enjoy reading them. These portions were a few pages and occur two or three times throughout. Even though I didn’t enjoy reading them, they weren’t enough to make me put the story down.

Overall, I enjoyed The Scottish Bitch. With this novel, Tabard created a quick, fun read that was different from anything else I read before. I need and recommend more books like this one.Were-About-It-1 Book Review: The Scottish Bitch


Contributions to this article were made by About Magazine editorial assistant, Brandie Larsen.