Singer, songwriter and multi-talented diva Mary Griffin takes the PrideFest Bud Light Entertainment Stage on Saturday, June 27 at 7 p.m. and the Studio 54 standout promises a high voltage set tailor made for her LGBT fan base.


We're excited to have you perform at St. Louis PrideFest - what do you have in store for audiences this summer?


Well, first of all I'm going to be doing a couple of songs. One of them is from a dance track that I did in Europe and It's called "We Can Make It." I want to keep the velocity up as much as I possibly can but what I want to do is to lift spirits and to warm hearts on that day. I'm so looking forward to the audience. I don't want to tell you everything that I'm going to sing because I do want to keep some of it a surprise but I know I'm going to bring some of the dance music; some of the house music that I've done, "Knock on Wood" from Studio 54... So yea, I've got a couple of surprises for you all.


What's your favorite song to sing right now and why?


Wow. I don't know how the flow of songs go with PrideFest but when I used to do them a lot the one song I loved to do more than
MaryGriffin1 any other is "I Surrender" that I did some years back and Celine Dion wound up covering the song. Everybody thought she did it first but I did it first. It's one of my bigger ballads and it's basically talking about losing love and understanding that in losing that love sometimes you have to compromise and surrender some things about yourself in order to have it. And that's one of my favorite ones.


You're no stranger to pride celebrations. Take me back to your first time at a LGBT pride event - what was that experience like?

 

Well my first gay pride was in New Orleans, which is the city that once I had went to college I was asked to come and audition for a job in a gay club. Actually, they first told me it was just a club, but it was a gay club. I went down and I auditioned for the job and the bartender was like, ok, I'm the manager and we want to hire you. I still didn't know it was a gay club at the time and with that, at the end, he said there's something we need to tell you so you're ready for it and at the time I was fresh out of college and I'd been singing at a lot of blues clubs in Louisiana. [So he asked] have you ever done a gay club? We have some drag queens that will come on before you and you'll perform after them and then on Sunday evening you'll do the show before them and then they'll come on.

 

Now, I didn't know what a drag queen was at the time, you know what I mean? I'm a preacher's daughter and this was something very different for me. So the first time I saw them I was like, oh my God, this one looks like Diana Ross, this one looks like Barbra Streisand - and what happened is they took me under their wings and they started to teach me how to do my makeup, how to put on very nice gowns to perform in.

 

So I was asked by a very well known club owner to do gay pride in New Orleans and that was like Mardi Gras but it was a couple of streets down from the canal. For me, it was like being in a big, different, costumed world - a lot like being on a television set because you've never seen such beautiful jewelry, or how much time they take to do their hair and do the creases and makeup and shadow things in. They looked so beautiful. So to sit down and talk to a lot of the girls and find out how they got into show biz - it helped me with my performance and just made me realize that we're all - I have like six people locked up inside of me and they taught me how to dress everyone of them. My first experience was just wonderful!


You mentioned you were a daughter of a preacher - that experience of becoming aware of the LBGT community and then becoming an advocate - that must have been pretty profound.PrideLogo2015


And the thing is, my Daddy taught me how to love... we as human beings should just love. When you see people who are different... I'm different - I'm different from a lot of girls I grew up with and I was blacklisted in school. Every school I went to I never understood why no one liked me - but when I sang, everyone liked me. I didn't get it until I was accepted in the gay community and I was told how well I could sing. I never knew I could sing the way I could sing until I started working in that gay club in New Orleans. They wrapped their arms around me, they took care of me - I took my first drink in that club. They looked after me and made sure I was ok. They'd take me out and find dresses for me to wear - I was like a little doll. I'd found people who actually loved me for me and they didn't want anything from me other than my love and acceptance.


Many of our readers were introduced to you from the movie Studio 54 where you portrayed the artist Amy Stewart and sang “Knock on Wood” for the soundtrack. Have you seen the new director's cut of the film; I hear they gayed it up, if that's even possible.


No, I haven't - this is the first I've heard of it. But I will be looking for it was soon as I get off the phone!!


So we gotta ask - what's touring with Patti LaBelle like? That must be heaven. 


It really is. The thing is, I've been very, very blessed. I will never say lucky, I'll say blessed because I've had a chance to perform with only iconic artists... Patti has taught me so much about the do's and don'ts in the business just through conversations that we've had for years now. And I realize leaving my record deal to some people was crazy, but I went to college and I majored in classical and opera music. I look at being on the road with Ms. Patti as getting a doctorate, a P.H.D. Because once you learn how to perform for every audience from charities to the White House - whatever it may be, she's done it all. And to watch her change into all the different segments of her career is absolutly phenomenal. She's a lady. She remeinds me of my mother in a lot of ways and she remeinds me of my sister in a lot of ways. I have a kindred love for her that goes past that space because I know what it takes for her to do what she does.


What's next for Mary Griffin, any news you can share with us?


Well, I am now mixing my CD that I'm getting ready to put out on Mahogany Entertainment, which is my company and I have been doing real careful writing with this stuff because I want to put out the right messages. There's so much going on in the world today. And I'm talking about the entire world - wars, children are being ostracized and killed for reasons that are growing - racial, religion, greed, economy. I'm writing about things that will hopefully lift the hearts and spirits of people who are going through hard times. Because back in the 70's when Roberta Flack and people like Joni Mitchell and that whole Woodstock era - they were writing about the times we were living in. I'm finding today that music doesn't do that anymore - it's all about how naked can we be, how much body can we show, how much sex can we talk about, how much cursing can we do - and our children - we're losing them. We're losing our babies. So I want to write music that will sustain in time; that will transcend time and will always talk to the hearts and minds of men and women.


You'll be performing at St. Louis PrideFest - what does PRIDE mean to Mary Griffin?


Pride means you understand who you are; you know who you are. You love that person who you are and you will not ever let anyone tell you any different. That's pride.


 

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