Script for February 2006, QMH:
Jade & Sarsapirilla - Talkin' (1976)
This is Queer Voices on KPFT and this segment is called Queer Music Heritage. I'm JD Doyle and I'm starting out this show by featuring several lesbian acts from the 70's. And I'm going to finish up with a special interview with Lucie Blue Tremblay, to whom fans of women's music will need no introduction.
Opening the show is a song called "Talkin'" by the duo Jade & Sarsaparilla. That was also the title of their only album, released in 1976. Their names were really Janet Hood and Linda Langford. I found it interesting that while the album's songs were definitely directed toward women, with music written by Janet Hood, the lyrics were written by a man, a gay songwriter named Bill Russell. Russell and Janet Hood were writing partners well before Janet met Linda Langford and the two of them formed Jade & Sarsapirilla. And as a footnote, while I know of no other recordings by either of them as performers, Janet Hood, continuing to write with Bill Russell, wrote a very successful AIDS musical in the late 80s, called "Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens." Oh, and a bit of trivia about their name, neither one of them was Jade or Sarsapirilla, that was just the name of the duo.
One of the earliest albums with a lesbian presence by a group came out in 1978, and the name of the album was "Quiet Thunder." The name of the group was, bear with me, Izquierda, which in Spanish means left. Lead vocals were by Naomi Littlebear Martinez, and in a way, if you're a long time listener, you've heard her on Queer Music Heritage before. When I did my tribute show to Maxine Feldman I played Maxine's song "Angry Atthis." That 45 rpm record was the first openly lesbian recording, and singing backups on it was a duo called Sisterhood, who were Robin Flower and Naomi Littlebear.
Anyway, Naomi Littlebear later became known as Naomi Littlebear Morena, who for decades has been a prominent writer, speaker and social activist. One of her more famous quotes is that to her "complacency is a far more dangerous attitude than outrage." But that's enough talk. From the group Izquierda let's enjoy their song "Special Friend."
Izquierda - Special Friend (1978)
One further note about that group, another of its members, Kristan Aspen, also went further with her music, but in a more classical vein, as a musician and composer, as part of the duo Musica Femina, with her partner Janna MacAuslan.
Up next are two short songs by lesbian feminist songwriter Carole Etzler. The first one is from her 1976 album "Sometimes I Wish" and is called "Women Loving Women."
- Women Loving Women (1976)
And the second song I played by Carole Etzler was called "Before I Even Spoke" and it came out in 1978 on her album "Womanriver Flowing On." Many Houston listeners may be more interested to know that singing backups on that last song was Carolyn Mobley, who later became Associate Pastor of the MCC Church in Houston. I've scanned some photos of her from the album liner notes, so you'll be able to see what she looked like some 28 years ago.
And you'll be able to do that at my website. If you visit it while you're listening you can see the playlist and follow along, while looking at photos of the artists and recordings. I've always considered our music history as a visual as well as an audio experience. Again, that's at www.queermusicheritage.com, Also, for more very queer programming, please listen to After Hours with Jimmy Carper, every Friday night/Saturday morning from 1 to 4 am, on KPFT, it's Queer Radio, with attitude.
Lucie QMH ID
I've longed loved the music of Lucie Blue Tremblay. But last November was the first chance I've had to actually see her perform. She was in Houston for a very special reason, doing a concert and fundraiser for The Breast Exam Project, and she'll tell us about that a little later. She's French-Canadian and has been writing and performing her music in the US and Canada since 1986. I think her music is the kind that just nestles in your heart, and another reason I appreciate her music is that right from her first album she's not shied away from singing about gay & lesbian topics. Her sixth and latest CD is called "It's Got To Be About Love," and is almost like a greatest hits album. It's got some of her most favorite songs, and some of them are presented in a concert setting.
Please tell me about the new album
Well, let me see, the new album for me was like I was trying to find a way to take the songs that I had written pertaining to the community and put them all in one to make it kind of a GLBT power bar, and you know how they have late at night you'd see CD ads of, okay, of Loves Themes, Songs of the 70s, or whatever. Well, this is songs inspired from the GLBT community. And it was kind of a political thing I wanted to do. I just wanted the music to be out there in a strengthening way. And I think that the people that have that CD it's like a wedding album when you open it up. It's about our community, so when I wrote to my mailing list I asked if people wanted to send pictures of themselves as couples, so that we could see put faces on the community. And so that's when you open the CD insert it's like a wedding album.
I particularly like "The Neighborhood Song"
Yeah, and that song is a celebration because you know how for the longest times a lot of us haven't come out because we're afraid of how people are going to react, and all along, those people that care about you have known, all along, you know, it's just like, "Oh, Really." Like, they're not surprised. And do that song, "The Neighborhood Song," is a little bit of a testimony of how far we've come, from all our courage, and of being out, that a straight person can come knocking at the door, and say, "Guess what? There's a lesbian living just across the street from you," and this and that, without blinking an eye. And that's incredible, when you think of how far we've come, and that we've come that far is because of really courageous people that have been out there risking everything to be out there and to let us know that it's okay to be out, cause the more people get to know us, the more well, the barriers come down, and realize that it's all about love.
Lucie Blue Tremblay - The Neighborhood Song (2004)
Of what song that you've written are you the most proud?
Of which song am I most proud? Hmm, I don't really think that I could point to one specific song, because every song is important. It's almost like you know, like all the people that you meet in your life, all the lovers that you've had in your life, everybody's had a specific reason why they were there in your life, and that's why you become who you are, is because of the people around you. And I think that the songs are the same way. They all have such an important purpose. Sometimes people make CDs and they have some songs those are going to be the hit songs, like in mainstream music, you look at that and go, "Okay, well, these are the hit songs, and these are kind of the dead songs." And I don't really produce that way. So I don't make music from a commercial point of view, which is probably why I'm an independent, and I like it that way. But I think that every song is different. I have sometimes some songs that are like favorites, and then as I'm going through something else in my life, other songs become the favorite songs. But they all have purpose, and I can't really point to one in specific. The only think I could tell you is that there's one song that keeps coming back over and over again in my career from my audiences, and that's "So Lucky." That would be like the song everybody asks over and over again. So that's one of the reasons why I re-recorded the newer version, the mature version, cause that was in 1986. So I just recorded "So Lucky" on the new CD called "It's Got To Be About Love." But besides that I really have to say that they all stand on their own and they all have a purpose.
Lucie Blue Tremblay - So Lucky (this version 2004, originally from 1986)
Tell me about the song "So Lucky"
Well, I guess "So Lucky" was a song that I wrote not too long into my coming out process, my own personal coming out process, and I wrote it with all the verses and the way the bridges are in probably ten minutes, yeah, cause it took a while to get some things down. But I pretty much spit it out and it said it all. I didn't have to go back and rewrite words, or anything like that, I pretty much wrote it in ten minutes, and I've been singing the same ten minutes of writing every since.
Did you release it on a 45?
I released it on a 45 in 1982, and I really wanted to make an album and I didn't really know how to do it, how to do that. So my first attempt was, well, let's do a 45, so my sister at that point said, well, you know we'll go in the studio and we'll do it and lent me my first little amount of money to make a 45. So I did it and I learned it out, you know, it was my first experience. Everybody was telling me what to do, which was fine, cause I didn't know what I was doing. But it didn't take long for me to get that I had to know more. My first experience with a lot of guys who were like, "Okay, we'll do this song for you, we'll arrange it, we'll do this, that." And so when it came out it was like I was really proud of it, and sold it for a little while, and then we finally made the first album, and got a chance to redo "So Lucky" the way I really wanted to do it.
What was on the other side of it?
It was a song called "La Freak," which means "The Freak." It was a fun song. It was kind of an up-tempo song. It's kind of funny that the moosh song was the side it was supposed to be side 1, and "The Freak" was going to be side 2, and then I didn't like the 1 and 2, so I did a face A and face B instead, just to be different.
And that song hasn't appeared on an album.
Nah, I mean it's the arranging of that has such a, ah ..[sings] feel to it. I knew I could never do that rendition in concert, so why bother, it was too much.
So many of your songs are about being in love, and they are like a gift to those who are.
Hmm, hmm, .thank you.
That wasn't a question, but it just came to me while preparing for this interview.
The song "So Lucky" was Lucie's first 45 and was on her first album, which was simply called "Lucie Blue Tremblay," from 1986. I'm going to stick with that album for my next question.
From your first album, please tell me about the song "Mademoiselle"
Well, "Mademoiselle" was a song that I wrote after, you know, stumbling through my first Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. And it was just, you know, so overwhelming. And that's really something that, when you go to the first Michigan Womyn's Festival, for me it was very overwhelming. It was s organized to see women building stages, and climbing up in the lighting towers and doing sound and incredible saxophone players and drummers and, you know, having music inborn inside me, I was like I couldn't believe all that I was seeing, so I was on overwhelm most of the time. So I wrote that song on overwhelm.
Some of the lyrics were very specific. You almost have to know about a festival to understand the lyrics, like walking around in Chemical Free, and red arm bands.
Yeah, that year the red arm bands were actually passed out to the women that were bilingual, but mostly the women that were of French background. So it was just so that we knew who we were, that's why they were handing those things out. So I had my red arm band, and you know in Michigan they have a section of the audience when you're watching the concerts that's chemical free, so you can be sitting in an area if you don't smoke you don't have to be around people that smoke cigarettes, or whatever else they're smoking. And you know, so there's all different sections in the audience, so you can actually go sit where you're comfortable
Lucie Blue Tremblay - Mademoiselle (1986)
Even before she recorded her first album she appeared on the album "Michigan Live '85" which was recorded at the 10th annual Michigan Womyn's Music Festival.
On the album "Michigan Live '85" you sang a gorgeous duet with Ferron, would you tell me about it.
Well, Yeah, that was my first performance it was my first time I was invited to perform at the Michigan Festival that year. And so I was playing at the Day Stage, and I knew Ferron, from before and I had translated her song in French, and had done a French adaptation, and had recorded it. It was called in English, "Ain't Life a Brook." And so, you know, when we saw each other and talking with her manager and partner at the time, and thought you know, it would be nice to this in French and English. And so we did that on the Main Stage, and it was quite an experience.
Lucie Blue Tremblay & Ferron - Ain't Life a Brook (1986) *
Lucie's first three albums were on the Olivia label, the premier label of the women's music movement, and the from the third one, "Transformations," from 1992, it seemed like the song "Sailing Away" could have been written for the Olivia Cruise Lines.
Yeah, yeah. I wasn't commissioned to do it, but I was very excited about what Olivia was doing, and I was actually flying to one of their cruises and I was inspired to write a song, I wrote it in the plane. Before we landed it was written.
Lucie Blue Tremblay - Sailing Away (1992)
From your fourth album, "I'm Ready," please tell me about the title track
You have some very good questions. I can tell you have been listening attentively to my music, cause you're asking good questions. Wow, that's very nice. "I'm Ready" is more about the reality of love. If you notice throughout my CDs, just like any songwriter there's a growth, a personal growth, that everybody goes through. And it's just that mine's reflected in my music. And some people you know, you don't really know what they're going through in their lives, but mine's kind of public. So, and "I'm Ready" would be one of those CDs about personal growth and about seeing that relationships are work, and that they're good, but they're you know, you've got to be ready for every part of what that means, whether it's facing, you know, outside bigotry, or relationship problems, whatever it is, you know, I'm ready to take it on. It's a very significant album for me, after [the album] "Transformations," you can tell by the titles where the CDs go from, you know. Okay, now the first one was self-titled, but then the second one was "Tendress," then the third one was "Transformations." So "I'm Ready" is kind of like "Okay, I've done some homework, I've read some good books and I learned some lessons and I'm going to apply them in my life, and therefore, in the music. And what's really interesting is that I'm just a normal person, just like everybody else, so when I write songs that talk about life, everybody else is growing at the same time, so we're all relating. So, I'm just writing other people's music
You had some notable help on that song.
I did, I sent Tret (Fure) some tapes and she added some guitar and vocals and Cris Williamson did some vocals on there, and I did my first attempt at drum programming, and I had a good time.
Lucie Blue Tremblay - I'm Ready (1997)
From that same album, could you talk about the song "If You've Ever Loved"
Here's a wonderful songwriter, Kathleen Hannan is from North Carolina. I went to a women's festival at Camp Pleiades, in North Carolina, and I hear Kathleen Hannan playing this song. And I just it. I just you know, swelled up in tears. And after the show I went to her and I asked her if there was any chance that I could play that song in concert to share it with people, cause it's just such a beautiful song. And she said, "Well, I don't know, cause I'm going to record it soon, and so I don't know." And I said, "I can really take this song to many people. I promise I'll play it in so many places. It will be heard." Her friends talked to her afterwards, and they told her that she should say yes, and, she was good enough to do that and she sent me a Fedex package with the lyrics, and then I went and I did my own version of it. And so if you listen to the string section at the very beginning, it's actually a string section that I arranged, to "I Hope They Call Me On A Mission," which is a Mormon church song, and since it talks about Salt Lake City I wanted it to start off in a tabernacle environment.
Lucie Blue Tremblay - If You've Ever Loved (1997)
I would love to hear about the song "I Want You to Know Who I Really Am"
Well, that song actually came out years ago, as a cassette. It was called the Coming Out Kit, and I just thought you know how sometimes how stressful it is to come out to people, and I thought, wouldn't it be nice if you just had a little button you could press on, go enhh!...and you were out, and you didn't have to deal with any of the questions, the attitudes, the facial expressions, the body language, you know, everything that comes with that. I just thought, wouldn't it be nice if you just a little "beep," press on a button and you're out, boom. And I thought I'm going to write a song, a coming out song, and I'm going to put it on a cassette, and then people can just send the cassette to their family, they don't have to they can just put it in the mail. They don't have to deal with anything, and, have some blank lines in the cassette liner so you can write a note, to the person you're sending it to, and they had some 1-800 numbers as well, for the National Coming Out Day people, and also the Washington DC address for PFLAG.
And I just thought, this would be a little helpful tool. And I made a bunch of them. I probably made like a thousand of them, and I sold them, and people just started, you know, just mailing those out. It was very cool. It was a very different arrangement than the one on this album, and the reason is when I wrote this song I actually wrote, "and if you love me as much as I love you, then you'll love me even if I'm not like you." That was the thinking in those years, when I wrote it. When I made this arrangement, which is more of a hip hop, kind of a bit of a groove song to it, it was a really good opportunity for me to change the lyrics to: "and if you love me as much as I love you, then you'll love me even if you think I'm not like you." So it was a really good opportunity to do that, and I really like that song.
Lucie Blue Tremblay - I Want You To Know (2004)
How do you think your music's changed over the course of your six albums?
I think that I know a little bit more, from a musical perspective, from a production perspective. I'm more sure of myself. I know what I want. You know, if I can't work in a certain studio, or under certain circumstances then I will go to where I'm at my best. I don't know, I hope that I've become a better person. I think I have ..but a more useful person. The music isn't so much about me. You know at the beginning, my first album, I had all these songs and I was really excited, cause I got to make a CD, or an album, and it was more me-oriented. And I think through the years I've matured. I've realized how little I am in the big picture, and that makes such a difference in how I write and how I treat people and how I sing to people. And that's the big difference, and so I feel really good about that.
At this point I'm going to share with you a song I didn't get a chance to ask Lucie about, but I really like it. It was originally from her 2001 album "Because of You," but this is the live version from her latest album, with the intro, and is called "Mrs. Klein."
Lucie Blue Tremblay - Mrs. Klein (2001)
Would you please tell me about the Breast Exam Project?
Oh, Would I! I would love to. The Breast Exam Project first of all, it's really important that you go to your desk and get a pen and some paper and write this down, right away. I'll wait for you [hums the tune from Jeopardy] are you getting it? Run, hurry up. Okay, the address is, www.thebreastexamproject.org. That's the first thing, cause if ever I don't say everything that I need to say about this, you'll be able to see great pictures. We're basically traveling around the country, doing breast cancer awareness, doing concerts, and we're producing a DVD on how to do the breast exam. And I'm actually singing the directions. So I sing the directions in French, and English, and Spanish, and Italian, and the rest will be subtitled. We're really encouraging men and women and the reason why I say that is men are now being more diagnosed with breast cancer, and a lot of men don't know this.
So, we're actually producing a DVD with the self-breast exam, and it's going to have the 12 sets of breast, of real breasts on video, so people can see how to do it. And it's a little bit like the ABC, you know, how you sang the ABC, and that's how you learned that A, you know, comes before B, and that D comes after C, because when you sang it, that was the order, so you knew the order. I feel that if I sing the directions to the self-breast exam, then you'll always start the same way and finish on the same breast, every time. But by doing that, from month to month, if there's any changes, or if you notice a lump or anything, you'll notice right away because you started to do your breast exam exactly at the same place as you did the month before. So it's a package with information as well, interviews with health care professionals and interviews with men and women who have had breast cancer, interviews with people who found lumps and they were benign. And it's basically an informational package. It's going to be available on our website as well as on DVD. And we're going to go for the next three years to different sports events, and music events, and we're going to be giving away the DVD everywhere we go.
I'm down to the last song, but before I get to it I want to thank you all for listening, and I want to especially thank Lucie Blue Tremblay for the wonderful interview. And as I had expected, the interview was so good that I could not fit all of into the radio version this show, so my internet listeners can hear an extended version with a lot more comments and additional music. That of course can be found at www.queermusicheritage.com. And, as always if you have questions or comments about any of the music I've featured, please write me. This is JD Doyle for Queer Voices on KPFT Houston.
Lucie, please tell us about your latest album's title track, "It's Got To Be About Love"
Well, that's my coming out song, cause I've always felt that way. I've always, you know, thought inside I've had that granola crunch attitude, you know, that that's what it's about. And I think that only in the last few years have I realized how important it is to express that. It's one thing to think it and it's another thing to say it, because oh, you know at first I thought people are going to hear it and "It's Got To Be About Love," la la la la la la la and I just thought, you know, yeah, right, and well, that's really what's it's about. And when you come through a lot of challenges, and you see a lot of people you love go through health challenges and everything you really realize that it's not about the money. It's not about fame, It's not about .oh, how many parties you have. It's not about any of that. It's really about love. That's really all it is. And it was just really important to put it out and I figured the people that can relate will relate to this song.
Lucie Blue Tremblay - It's Got To Be About Love (2004)