Grammy winning music legend Thelma Houston is coming to Naperville this Saturday to celebrate Naperville's Pride fest 'Naper Pride' We had a chance to chat with the 'Don't Leave Me This Way' Diva about Pride events, Chicago, her music, and taking part in Teatro Zinzanni, which is currently in town.
Do you remember first time coming to Chicagoland area?
I performed at the Playboy Club that was my first time. That was my first gig in the early 70s. The last time I was in Chicago was a few years ago, I performed at The Chosen Few DJs outdoor festival. Prior to that, I've done Pride in Chicago for a few years.
Let's talk Pride events. A lot has changed in the LGBT+ community over the past four decades, now LGBT fans can be out and proud with their families and partners at these celebrations. How does it feel to have your music as part of this journey and mean so much to so many people?
It's amazing. For me to see the development like how you have said Pride has gone from primarily for one community to family involvement now. What really came to my attention is when I was performing in Utah and that was a family-oriented event and when you have that in Utah that you can see changes are really being made. It's all a very positive change, such as the right to marriage. We still have a lot of progress that needs to happen in the trans community.
Let's chat about Teatro Zinzanni, which is in Chicago, you were in the production in Seattle & San Francisco. What was it like to be a part of that show?
When I was doing it , it was out of San Francisco and Seattle, and it was one of the most fun gigs I've ever had. It's a combination of cirque, music, cabaret and dinner. I was Madame Zinzanni in several of the shows. When it was offered to me, I was like "What is this, oh it's a show in a tent, I said A CIRCUS?"(laughs) The agent then said there are no animals, and then I saw that Joan Baez had done the show. Then I took a different viewpoint after Joan Baez. After I saw it, I was won over. It was so much fun. Frank Ferrante was in the cast when I was there too.
Let's talk about 'Don't Leave Me This Way.' The legacy of the song, because the kids who were listening to the record in the 70's and dancing to it in clubs, passed the song to their kids and now their kids are doing the same. How does it feel to have a song that's iconic but also multigenerational.
It feels wonderful. People often ask me if I get tired of singing that song and my answer is NO. I can't think of a performance when I didn't sing it, unless it was in church.I can't think of a performance when I didn't sing it or when it wasn't expected of me to sing it.
September 11 & 12th
Thelma Houston performs Saturday, September 11th