The lesbian music scene all too often conjures images of acoustic guitars and mellow stage shows, but every once in a while an enigmatic, stereotype-breaking artist like Lori Michaels comes along to level the playing field and change the rules of the game.
Singer, dancer, entertainer, choreographer, producer, songwriter, musician, fitness guru, humanitarian, entrepreneur…the number of hats the self-proclaimed “Dyke Diva” wears is dizzying. Her aptly titled debut album Living My Life Out Loud showcases the boundless talent that Michaels has to offer.
Growing up in suburban New Jersey, Michaels was always an avid student of music, dance and fitness—a background she’s used to build the kind of career that reflects all her musical gifts. “I always wanted to be an entertainer,” says Michaels. “I didn’t know what that meant until recently…to me, it’s so much more than just the song.”
Her candid, up-front approach to music translates into a fresh, new role as lesbian icon. In March 2006, Michaels relaunched her career with a Coming Out Party at House of Blues’ Club Worship in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She describes the event as less of a pronouncement that she was gay and more of a move toward life empowerment. “I was also able to introduce my company, Lori Michaels Productions, in a very public way while letting the world know who I was,” says Michaels. “A lot of people interpret a coming out party as, that’s when she said ‘I’m gay,’ but I’ve never denied that I liked girls or that I was in a relationship with a woman. When people asked, I told them.”
Announcing to the world on such a public stage that she is a lesbian has only helped to connect Michaels to the LGBT community in a more significant way. “We proactively put ourselves out there in that fashion, which has led to a more active role in the gay community. We really wanted to redefine professional gay entertainment.”
And redefine she has. Michaels describes her music as “rhythmic crossover,” encompassing a variety of genres including pop, dance, rock and R&B. As headliner of her sexy, self-choreographed stage show, Me and the Girls, Michaels has caught the attention of gay and straight fans alike.
Michaels’s album Living My Life Out Loud debuted this July. She hand-picked the eleven tracks to ensure that each note would be an honest reflection of who she is, as a person first and as a performer second. Despite the album’s high-energy dance tracks, Michaels always returns to her singer/songwriter/ pianist roots. “If I could sit down at a piano with candles and a more intimate setting, I would be so happy,” she says. “That stripped-down organic side is a much calmer place for me.”
That calm is something that Michaels not only finds through music, but also through altruism. In 1989, while still in high school, Michaels founded Reach Out, Inc., a nonprofit organization that educates and promotes awareness to students about drugs, alcohol, crime, violence, prejudice and life-threatening diseases such as AIDS and cancer. Michaels describes Reach Out, Inc. as a true “labor of love,” and has continued to use the power of song as a conduit to bring students and community closer together.
Michaels is currently on her official national Live Out Loud Pride Tour. She will perform at Jersey City Pride in New Jersey on August 23. For more information, check out her
websites lorimichaelsproductions.com and myspace.com/lorimichaels.