Pictured The Windy City Times 2006 Windy City Gay Idol Christy Fairbairn will sing the National Anthem at Opening Ceremony. Jody Watley, who will perform the at Gay Games VII Opening Ceremony. Heather Small, Andy Bell and the band BETTY. Kristine W. Nedra Johnson.
More than 60 artists and entertainers will team up for the Gay Games VII Sport and Cultural Festival's opening and closing ceremonies which will take place, respectively, on Sat., July 15, and Sat., July 22.
Some of the scheduled musicians include Andy Bell, Cyndi Lauper, Heather Small, drummer Ubaka Hill, Jody Watley, Kristine W., Ari Gold, Eric Himan, the cast from Avenue Q, and Chicago' rockers featuring Dylan Rice and Chuck Panozzo of Styx with a dozen plus local singers including Scott Free and Amy Matheny.
The Windy City Times 2006 Windy City Gay Idol Christy Fairbairn will sing the National Anthem at Opening Ceremony, and Esera Tuaolo will sing the Gay Games anthem. BETTY sings the National Anthem at Closing.
Comedians Margaret Cho, ANT, Poppy Champlin, Megan Mullally, Kate Clinton and Suzanne Westenhoefer ensure that the ceremonies will be the events of the year.
Andy Bell, from the synth-duo Erasure, will wow the audience during the Opening Ceremony. Never taking a break, Erasure released Nightbird in 2005, while Bell delivered his more dance-oriented solo debut, Electric Blue, later that year. This spring, Erasure's most recent effort, Union Street, came out, with the duo steering toward a more organic sound. Rumor has it that the pair behind classic songs like Love to Hate You and A Little Respect will be working on a more back-to-their-roots dance-pop album in Spain later this year, now that touring is completed.
Heather Small, formerly of the British dance outfit M People, will treat fans to a long overdue performance stateside at Soldier Field. The Moving On Up songstress will surely sing her anthem, Proud. While any Oprah fan will remember when Small belted out this tune on Winfrey's show, this inspirational number was used in the pilot episode of Queer as Folk and, more recently, for the film Akeelah and the Bee. A champion in her own right at making cover renditions her own, the petite vocal powerhouse has remade classics like Don't Look Any Further and What a Fool Believes. Small is readying her sophomore solo album, Close to a Miracle, for release overseas later this month.
Grammy Award-winning remixer Frankie Knuckles will keep the crowd on its feet during the opening ceremony with his DJ skills. 'The Godfather of House Music' has remixed songs from some of the most talented artists over the years, including Lisa Stansfield, Elton John, The Pet Shop Boys, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and Chaka Khan. In addition, Knuckles made hits for himself, like The Whistle Song. Even Mayor Daley declared Aug. 24, 2004 as Frankie Knuckles Day and had named Jefferson Street, between Van Buren and Monroe, after the DJ. Last year, Knuckles was deservingly inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame. Frankie and D/E Entertainment host a Gay Games VII welcome party at House of Blues July 14, and he will spin with other top DJs at the MOVE Festival July 22-23 at Northerly Island near Soldier Field.
Queer is Folk alumna Nedra Johnson returns to Chicago—with her guitar in tow—for the Opening Ceremony. She performs July 14 in a Windy City Times concert with Holly Near, Teresa Trull, Barbara Higbie, and MC Vickie Shaw ( 7 p.m. at Merle Reskin Theatre at DePaul, 60 E. Balbo. ) Then the four singers do a number together at the July 15 Opening Ceremony. Johnson's singer's 2005 album—simply titled Nedra—is an Outmusic Award winner. This talented New York-based folk singer has toured the world and brought her storytelling live act to multiple pride shows and women's music festivals.
Chicago-born Jody Watley is another one of the scheduled artists for the Opening Ceremony. Although this sexy fashion plate is best known for her groovy dance hits, such as Looking for a New Love and Don't You Want Me, relatively few know that Watley is also an accomplished songwriter, producer and stage veteran. Watley's ninth solo album, The Makeover, is due out later this summer and features her stripped down take on Madonna's Borderline. Just don't call Makeover a comeback; this constantly evolving artist has been performing and making worthwhile music as well as appearing at gay pride events consistently over the years. It's hard to believe she joined the R&B group Shalamar nearly 30 years ago!
Young and tattooed, Eric Himan has made a name for himself through heavy touring. This acoustic singer-songwriter will share his intimate works during the closing ceremony. Named one of Out Magazine's Out 100 of 2005, Himan's fourth album, Dark Horse, was released last year.
Also joining the line-up for the closing ceremony is the New York quintet BETTY. This all-female rock band surely knows what they're saying during the song It Girl and may be recognized from appearing on Showtime's The L Word or from performing the show's theme song.
Dance-music and R&B singer Ari Gold will also be there on July 22. Not only did he receive an Outmusic Award for his debut release, but Gold also garnered buzz with his version of the Culture Club's Do You Really Want to Hurt Me. Don't discount Gold's hand at writing songs, though: The singer behind the dance hit Love Will Take Over also penned material for other artists, including club kid Kevin Aviance. And, yes, Gold even lent his talents to the beloved '80s cartoon Jem and the Holograms.
Clubland's reigning diva, Kristine W, is another one of the draws at the closing ceremony. As a measure of her success, this multi-instrumentalist topped Madonna and Janet Jackson for having the most consecutive No. 1 singles on Billboard's Club Airplay charts. This crooner has overcome leukemia and keeps the message of her songs uplifting. To prove this, look no further than the titles of some of her hits: I'll Be Your Light, Fly Again, Land of the Living and Stronger. The beautiful singer is currently involved in the all-star project called DJs Are Alive.
Cyndi Lauper's run in The Threepenny Opera came to an end earlier this summer, now she is gearing up to take to the stage at the Closing Ceremony before kick-starting her fall tour. Lauper has always been an advocate and supporter of the GLBT community. Whether singing testimonials like True Colors or The Ballad of Cleo and Joe, Cyndi is a true vocal ally. This tremendous live performer is also an honorary board member for the Matthew Shepard Foundation.
For more details and tickets, please visit www.gaygameschicago.org .
Opening Ceremony Seats Start at $35
Gay Games organizers have opened up several thousand new spectator seats in the upper deck of Soldier Field for the July 15 Opening Ceremony. Priced at $35, the seats have not previously been on sale for the evening event.
This opening ceremony will begin at 8 p.m. with 12,000 athletes from around the world entering Soldier Field. Former Pro football player Dave Kopay and former Pro baseball player Billy Bean will deliver the oaths to the participants and officials. The show that follows will feature 1,400 singers, dancers, acrobats and legends including Andy Bell of Erasure, actor Megan Mullally, singer Jody Watley and comedian Margaret Cho. Fireworks are being sponsored by ESPN.
Opening Ceremony tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, Hot Tix locations and at Tickets.GayGamesChicago.org .