Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01



Gay HIV-positive singer lives life out loud
by Terri-Lynne Waldron

This article shared 4568 times since Wed May 20, 2015
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

As a back-up vocalist, out singer/songwriter Billy Newton-Davis has worked with Gloria Gaynor. As a Broadway performer, he has appeared in shows such as Eubie! and Bubbling Brown Sugar. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, the Canadian resident is a four-time Juno Award-winning—Canada's version of the Grammys—R&B and house music artist. Diagnosed with HIV in 1986, Newton-Davis lives his life on his own terms.

Windy City Times: Tell me about being in your first music group, The Illusions.

Billy Newton-Davis: I was one of the vocalists, but I was really the meat of the organization. It was a band with piano, bass, drums and guitar.

WCT: While working on Broadway in the musical Bubbling Brown Sugar, you were told to hide your orientation onstage?

Billy Newton-Davis: .It was really odd because I was told, "You're just too gay for the audience—leave that backstage. When you're on stage, you're a man." I have always been rebellious against things like that, and it bothered me.

WCT: How did you handle it?

Billy Newton-Davis: .You can only be who you are. These kinds of things lead you to hiding and having secrets. That was the interesting thing about HIV/AIDS—because at that time, that's what was going on. We guys were going out and people didn't know it and it wasn't so talked about. I hung out in the club atmosphere more than I did the bar atmosphere because I didn't want to associate myself—for some odd and strange reason—with those types of people. People were always concerned about my feminine ways and to this day—I am who I am.

WCT: You moved to Toronto in 1980 to be part of the revue, Eubie! and you released two records in Canada in 1986 ( Love Is a Contact Sport ) and 1989 ( Spellbound ). Were you out during that time?

Billy Newton-Davis: .My manager knew but my record people didn't know.

WCT: In 1986, your doctor told you that you were HIV-positive. Is that something you kept close to the vest?

Billy Newton-Davis: .That was kept close to the vest. I did this documentary called Centre Stage Chronicles and I was interviewed by Olympian Sylvia Sweeney. We had discussions about disclosure and everything had to be approved after it was filmed and scripted. In the middle of filming she asked me about my HIV status and it caught my breath, and I came out with it. There was a tearful shocking moment, because—on one hand she just outed me.

We just kept rolling with it and it was at the end of the filming. She sent my partner and me footage and we looked at it and we thought, "How beautiful is that?" If I can let go of that and express my feelings about it, then maybe I can change somebody's life and thoughts about what they are going through as one that has been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

WCT: Tell me about some of your activism.

Billy Newton-Davis: .When Sylvia and I did have that conversation, it opened the door for me to come out and really talk about it and be a part of different events. I became very active with ACT—a Canadian organization that empowers adults and young people living with HIV—and the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto. I have helped to raised thousands of dollars for the cause because I can be that person.

WCT: Did you see the Bruce Jenner interview with Diane Sawyer?

Billy Newton-Davis: .I missed it and I'm very unhappy that I missed it. There needs to be more celebration around it and he needs 150-percent support on all his decisions. He is saying things that we've heard before—I was a woman living in a man's body, and I don't want to stay there anymore. I truly understand it. I am fascinated by this new acceptance of transgender. It's really amazing.

WCT: What was it like being a part of the Canadian a capella group The Nylons in the early '90s after being a solo artist?

Billy Newton-Davis: .It was a great moment in my life. When I left Broadway—even though I was a principle—I was a member of the ensemble. Being in The Nylons was a good opportunity; [ex-member] Marc Connors had died, I was with the management company and the group liked me and I liked them. My dad had been a quartet singer and I was in a choir in high school so I knew about group singing.

WCT: You are now known for being a house-music artist.

Billy Newton-Davis: .I love it. It's a very difficult genre of music because there is so much of it. I've gotten to work with Deadmau5 and some other amazing people. But right now, I want to go back to my R&B roots and put a bit of EDM in it.

WCT: Have you ever been to Chicago?

Billy Newton-Davis: .Chicago is a hot city and I have performed there many times in the past. They are very forward with the LGBTQ community. My hopes are to keep recording and get my music out there. I would love to work in the Chicago dance scene.

Keep up with Newton-Davis on Facebook at .

This article shared 4568 times since Wed May 20, 2015
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Superman, TheWrap, Oscar Wilde, Billy Porter, Cher, 'Dragula'
The ongoing comic Superman: Son of Kal-El, by writer Tom Taylor and artist John Timms, launched in July and saw Jon Kent officially take up the mantle of the Man of Steel now that his father, ...

Gay News

CIFF, featuring LGBTQ+ films, running through Oct. 24
North America's longest-running competitive film festival, this year's event expands throughout Chicago with presentations at venues across the city, including at AMC River East 21; the Music Box Theatre; the Gene Siskel Film Center; special drive ...

Gay News

MUSICALS 'Pretty Woman' tickets go on sale Oct. 15
After a pre-Broadway run in Chicago and being on Broadway, Pretty Woman: The Musical, based on one of Hollywood's most beloved romantic stories of all time, returns to Chicago. The production will run at the CIBC ...

Gay News

'Tapping into Ca$h' : CaSera Heining lives double life as DJ Ca$h Era and radio producer
Minutes before DJ Ca$h Era hosted Lollapalooza's first drag show, the Black queer woman behind the stage name was pacing nervously behind the scenes and listening to a drag queen animatedly remind her they were "making ...

Gay News

MUSIC Janis Ian's last Chicago concert May 14
In what is being advertised as her last concert in Chicago, LGBTQ singer Janis Ian will be performing at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave. on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at 8 p.m. Tickets ($48-$50) will ...

Gay News

THEATER 'Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog' running through Nov. 6
Black Button Eyes Productions is welcoming back live audiences with the popular internet musical Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog—an authorized fan production to benefit the Chicago charity Season of Concern—playing through ...

Gay News

Lyric Opera running seven performances of 'The Magic Flute' Nov. 3-27
Lyric Opera of Chicago is running seven performances of The Magic Flute, Mozart's final opera, on Nov. 3-27. There will be performances at 7 p.m. on Nov. 3; matinees on Nov. 7, 11, 14 and 17, ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Drag Race' winners, Playboy, punk band, The Dinah, Daniel Craig
Video below - As part of VH1's #LGBTQHerstoryMonth project, five winners from the RuPaul's Drag Race winner's circle—season one's BeBe Zahara Benet, All Stars 4 winner Monet X Change, season 11 winner Yvie Oddly, season 12 victor Jaida Essence ...

Gay News

Madonna's latest concert film, Madame X, now out
The concept film to Madonna's acclaimed Madame X Tour has debuted in the United States Latin America, Australia, the Nordics and Canada exclusively on Paramount+, the streaming service from ViacomCBS. Fans outside these markets can watch ...

Gay News

Book about musician Tori Amos' works coming out
The book Tori Amos: every album, every song—by rock journalist Lisa Torem—will be out in the United States on Friday, Oct. 29, courtesy of Sonic Bond Publishing. In 1992, Amos—an acclaimed singer, pianist and composer—achieved fame ...

Gay News

HHS awards $2.21B in FY2021 for HIV care, support services, medication
--From a press release - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced approximately $2.21 billion in Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program funding for cities, counties, states, and local community-based organizations in fiscal year ...

Gay News

30th Annual AIDS Run & Walk raises more than $400K
CHICAGO — More than 1,800 advocates, community partners, runners, walkers, volunteers, staff members and more gathered at Soldier Field on Oct. 2 for the 30th annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago. The event raised approximately $420,000 ...

Gay News

MUSIC Rachael Sage at Uncommon Ground on Oct. 14
Rachael Sage—described as an "award-winning singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist and member/supporter of the LGBTQ+ community"—will perform at Uncommon Ground-Lake View, 3800 N. Clark St., on Thursday, Oct. 14, at 8 p.m. ...

Gay News

Illinois HIV Care Connect launches HIV Innovation campaign
On Oct. 5, Illinois HIV Care Connect launched its HIV Innovation web and social-media campaign, showcasing several Illinois HIV initiatives that are helping to prevent or treat HIV more effectively. Articles about five initiatives so far ...

Gay News

Opera singer Ketelson to give Center on Halsted performance
World renowned bass-baritone opera singer Kyle Ketelsen will perform Italian arias at the Center on Halsted to raise funds both to support his alma mater, Clinton (Iowa) High School (Vocal Department) and Care for Real Pantry ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.