6 More Out Lesbian & Bisexual Country Musicians For Your Collection

OTHER COUNTRY QUEERS:

There’s no lesbian musician archetype more familiar than the lady-with-guitar, and queers have always dominated folk music (you know, the kind of music your little brother complains about when you’re just trying to get your Closer to Fine on). Some musicians, like Meilssa Etheridge, consistently straddle the folk/country/rock genres and have inspired many lezbo music experts to question the media-reported assertion that Chely Wright, who came out this week in People Magazine, will be country’s “first lesbian music star.”

She’s definitely going to shake up Nashville — she’s had major mainstream success, doesn’t “look gay”(which is bogus btw), and is smokin’ hot (not to mention smart and charismatic.)

But is she the first gay country lady ever? Not exactly. Chely Wright won’t have to hang out all alone in CMT’s Hypothetical Queer Lounge.

Here’s a look at some of Chely Wright’s foremothers:

1. kd Lang

HELLO, KD LANG!  kd Lang grew up in Canada, totally obsessed with Patsy Cline. Lang’s first album, A Truly Western Experience, was released in 1984, and was warmly received throughout her fine tropical island of Canada.

In 1986, she signed a contract with an American record producer in Nashville, Tennessee. On Roy Orbison‘s television special, A Black and White Night, Lang sang background vocals with country crooners Jennifer Warnes & Bonnie Raitt.

She hit it big in the US when she began touring with Roy Orbison, snagging a Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals in 1989 for her & Orbison’s duet, “Crying.” She also picked up a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for her 1989 album “Torch & Twang.”

Her later work veered more towards pop music, but Lang often truly trascends genre; like scoring #33 on VH-1’s 1999 100 Greatest Women in Rock & Roll and, in 2002, #26 on CMT’ 40 Greatest Women in Country Music in 2002. Lang was one of only eight women to make that list, along with Linda Ronstadt, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris.

KD Lang came out in 1992 on the cover of The Advocate. Check out Lang’s music here.

2. Wilma Burgess (1939-2003)

An American country music singer who rose to fame in the mid 60’s, charting fifteen Billboard Country & Western charts between 1965 and 1975. The always openly-gay singer refused to specify the gender of her love objects in her songs.

You can check out Willa’s music here!

3. Brandi Carlile


Brandi isn’t exactly a “Nashville girl,” but her work has been categorized in several genres, including rock, folk, and “alternate country.”

This super-cute 28-year old out lesbian is a star on the rise. Her music has appeared on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, in a General Motors Commercial and aired during the Beijing Olympic Games and in a Super Bowl commercial. She’s toured or worked with Ray LaMontagne, Johnny Lang, Hanson, Indigo Girls, The Fray, Chris Isaak, Tori Amos, The Indigo Girls and Shawn Colvin. Her album Give Up the Ghost was released on October 6, 2009. The album debuted at #26 on the Billboard 200.

Check out Brandi’s music here.

4. The Topp Twins


These New Zealandars have been performing as a country-music comedic duo for over 25 years. Their feature film Untouchable Girls boasts the top-grossing opening-weekend sales for any NZ documentary EVAH.

5. Maia Sharp

Maia Sharp came out at the age of 23. In addition to her solo career, Sharp has written for Bonnie Raitt, The Dixie Chicks and Trisha Yearwood. She has even opened for Bonnie Raitt on several tour dates in 2009, and began a solo tour in October 2009, promoting her new solo album Echo. Check out Maia’s Myspace here.

6. Mary Gauthier

Mary is signed to Shelby Lynne’s old label, Lost Highway, and began her music career in 1999, when she sold her share in a Cajun restaurant she owned to finance her second album, Drag Queens in Limousines. Gauthier is considered both a folk musician and an “Alternative Country Singer.” Regardless she has basically sold a shit-ton of records, is super successful, and TOTALLY GAY.

Her songs have been recorded by country crossover artists including Jimmy Buffett, Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Bill Chambers and Candi Staton. Pick up Mary’s music here.

Bonus Round: Before Jennifer Knapp, We Had Marsha Stevens!

This week is all about Chely Wright, but a few weeks ago it was Christian singer and newly out lesbian Jennifer Knapp we had our eyes on. Turns out she’s not alone either: Marsha Stevens, who wrote the youth-group church favorite “For Those Tears I Died (Come to the Water)” Stevens is a gutsy little lady — she came out in 1979, after the breakup of her marriage with her husband Russ, referred to as “Contemporary Christian Music’s first official scandal”

Via The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music:

“If Larry Norman is to be called the father of Christian Rock, then Marsha Stevens certainly deserves to be known as the mother of contemporary Christian music…She was the leader of what is considered to be the world’s first contemporary Christian music group, Children of the Day, and she has continued as a solo artist to produce albums of worship-oriented and edifying adult contemporary pop. As such, she remains the progenitor of what, by 2002, would become the single most popular genre in the contemporary Christian music market.”

She now runs BALM, Born Again Lesbian Ministries:

Today, Marsha and her spouse, Cindy, are working between tours to continue their music ministry training school for those in Christian outreach to the GLBT community. An outreach of Balm Ministries (Born Again Lesbian Music), the program is called upBeat!. They have produced a Praise and Worship album with 14 singers and 10 songwriters and each year they accept 6 to 10 students into their training seminars.

Profile photo of Riese

Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1782 articles for us.

27 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Brandy Carlile is only gorgeous! She was meant to be playing here but the stupid volcano in Iceland meant that all flights coming into and leaving this area were cancelled and so was the gig, raging!

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      I know!! The hack of that volcano! I had a ticket to that concert and I had to get a refund because I won’t be here for the re-scheduled date, grumble grumble.

      • Thumb up 0

        Please log in to vote

        Ahaha, I never thought id see the words hack of it on AS, love it! Ah no, that’s very annoying, when is the rescheduled gig again? And now the volcano is getting pissy again, it’d want to cop on and stop it soon before more stuff is cancelled!

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      Wait Canada is not a continent?!?!?! I wounder if the President of Canada knows this. I know this is most likely just a typo but I find it hilarious none the less

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      I thought it was meant as a joke, ’cause it says “fine continent”.
      Since I moved here (canada), I’ve had people seriously ask me if I live in an igloo, ride polar bears to school and what language they spoke here. So I don’t know anymore what is a joke and what isn’t.

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      The writer said “tropical island of Canada” referring, I assume to the fact that in all of the Americas the coldest country is the one with the warmest, most liberal, political climate, not to mention that being perpetually overshadowed by the US can make it’s citizens feel a bit like being stranded on an island.

  2. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I am always attracted by pretty girls, I am a girl, aged 23. Currently I found a good site for lesbians named **Lescupids.com**! Very easy to join. You can search my username “Tomesusanles” and view my information and photos. Wink at me if you want to chat with me!

  3. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    k.d. Lang w/Roy Orbison was incredible. i wasn’t there, obvs. but we had to get my Mom the Roy Orbison and Friends concert DVD for Christmas (friends included k.d., Bruce, Jackson Browne, Elvis Costello, and other really great friends)and it was a pretty freakin great show.

    this is an awesome list. all of these women are wonderful and brave and uber fucking talented and so go them.

  4. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Didn’t expect to see The Topp Twins on here! (Well, it’s not UNexpected just we’re a small country so it’s always funny to see NZ things mentioned) Their movie/doco is supposed to be really good, if anyone can get their hands on it. I haven’t seen it..but might now..

  5. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    The title should probably say Country-ish Musicians because none of them really fall into the mainstream country category… or maybe Chely Wright’s coming out headline should have specified the “mainstream” part. Except, of course, for Wilma Burgess, who I’d never heard of ’cause I’m not old. Is old country the same thing as mainstream country?

    Anyhoo, I’ve always thought of the Topp Twins as comedy first, folk-country second, but they’re never without the comedy. And also on this list are several of the albums I bought just because the cover art “looked like something I would be into” i.e., “looked gay:” Brandi Carlile, kd Lang, Maia Sharp, and Mary Gauthier (I swear I can out every closeted queer musician based on their album covers alone!) However, none of these stars are considered Country even by the music industry. I know this because Borders, Barnes & Noble and other chain music sellers tell me so when they shelve them in Pop/Rock (kd lang, Brandi Carlile, and Maia Sharp) and sometimes Blues (Mary Gauthier).

    BTW, If you like Lucinda Williams, Townes Van Zandt, and the half-spoken/half-sung quality of Dylan, you would probs like Gauthier. Mercy Now is a great album!

  6. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    There is no reason for Mary Gauthier to be in any section labeled “Blues,” other than ignorance on the part of the record store employee.

    Mary now lives in Nashville and never had a chance to be an out mainstream country artist ’cause she’s always been out.

    And how about the woefully underrated Kristen Hall, especially from her Sugarland days? She co-founded the band, named it and wrote the bulk of its early repertoire. The band’s multi-platinum debut, “Twice the Speed of Life,” featured top country hits before Kristen left (or was pushed out for being a husky lesbian)–“Baby Girl” (#2), “Something More” (#2), “Just Might (Make Me Believe)” (#7) and “Down in Mississippi (Up to No Good)” (#17). Kristen’s never been in, so I think Chely maybe needs to revisit her contention about being the lone lesbo in NashVegas; she might realize she’s got more company than she thought.

  7. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Then there is the marvelous Cheryl Wheeler, who although may not be classified as mainstream country has certainly written hit songs for a number of mainstream country artists–Suzy Boggus, and Dan Seals to name just two.

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.