ing at one time. I’m from Kentucky, and I grew up listening to a lot of country music.
My grandfather was a radio DJ, and he had a large collection of country songs. My
mom was a big fan of Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn, and we also listened to a lot
of countrypolitan, which has been a big influence on this album. And my father is
from Muscle Shoals, so I learned about Southern soul music from him. All of that
has inspired the combination of country and soul that you hear on this record.
Rage: But career-wise, you started doing theatre first.
LBB: Yes, when I was a young kid, I moved to New York to do theatre. I was for-
tunate enough to be in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at 9 years old. Then,
I was in Ruthless! The Musical, which became a cult show in the gay community.
Britney Spears and Natalie Portman were my understudies. But then I moved
back to Kentucky to be normal and go to high school. After doing a show with
drag queens and being raised by the two gay men who composed the show, I was
having an identity crisis.
Rage: I know you have actually put an album out before Achin’ and Shakin’ called Looking for
a Place Already Gone.
LBB: Yes, after I did Wicked on Broadway, about six months before Legally
Blonde, I put out a country album independently. I missed writing and singing
country music. I called my style “Y’allternative.” I’m happy with that album as far as
“I wish we could have a gay male country star,” says a typically irreverent Laura it being a jumping off point for me. But I’d like to think of Achin’ and Shakin’ as my
Bell Bundy when talking about her kinship with the gay men who helped shape first album. I devoted a year and a half to this, and it’s the culmination of all of my
her career as a singer and performer. “Until then, I’m the closest gay male country experiences and the emotions I’ve always felt.
artist you’re going to find!”
Turning serious, Bundy explains that the fearlessness that led her to buck Nash- Rage: What was the idea behind making a “two-sided” album—half of it “Achin’” and the
ville trends with her new album Achin’ and Shakin’ came partly from witnessing half of it “Shakin’”?
the struggles of her gay friends to live without having to conforming to anyone LBB: The “Achin’” side is traditional country meets soul ballads. Tammy Wynette
else’s ideas of how to live. “I understand that struggle,” she says. “I’ve never really meets Norah Jones and Ray Charles. It’s for when you’re in a reflective mood, like
found a place where I completely fit in, and I’m happy about that. I never needed when you’re trying to drown your sorrows. The songs on the “Shakin’” side you can
to be the homecoming queen. I’ve always done things my own way.” really dance to, and they have more of a sassiness and a sense of humor. The two
Bundy is certainly blazing a path of individuality with Achin’ and Shakin’, her styles represent the different parts of me. I’m not bipolar, but I have both a crazy
Mercury Records debut release. The singer-songwriter has bypassed the tried- wild side and a more reflective side that really likes to get to the source of my pain.
and-true Music Row approach usually taken on country albums and instead I wrote or co-wrote every song on the album except one, so they really come from
created a bold concept album that is essentially two separate albums within one my own personal experience.
project. The album’s title aptly describes the project’s division: Achin’ is a collec-
tion of slow and sultry country songs, and Shakin’ is a group of sassy songs that are Rage: You have a sizable gay fan base from your Broadway and Off-Broadway work. Why do
equal parts humor, confidence and attitude. It’s no surprise that the Lexington, you think gay people are drawn to you and your work?
Kentucky-born Bundy is shattering the usual industry formulas because nothing LBB: I think I have a gay sense of humor—it’s off-the-cuff, it’s kitschy, it’s campy.
about her entertainment career has been normal. Like two of her idols Reba Maybe that’s because gay men wrote almost everything that has ever been written
McEntire and Dolly Parton, she traveled the musical highway that spans from for me. The most creative people in my life have been gay people. It was gay men
Nashville to Broadway. She originated the lead role of Elle Woods in the Broadway who taught me to sing and to hone my talent. It began when I was doing Ruthless!
musical Legally Blonde, for which she received a Tony Award nomination. She also off-Broadway when I was 10 years old. The show was very campy. But even before
originated the role of Amber Von Tussle in the Tony Award-winning Broadway that—when I was 8, my favorite movie was Hairspray. And of course, I loved all of
musical Hairspray and played Glinda in the smash hit Wicked. Prior to that, at age the films that are iconic to gay men: All About Eve, The Bad Seed, Mommie Dearest.
9, she originated the role of Tina Denmark in the successful off-Broadway produc- Overall, there’s just something about the gay experience—particularly coming
tion Ruthless!, The Musical!, for which she received the Outer Critics Circle and out of the closet to live life, as you really are—that I totally relate to.
Drama Desk nominations.
Here, the singer talks about her journey from Broadway to Nashville, her “gay Rage: How so?
sense of humor,” and how she got her country music roots. LBB: Gay people have taught me there there’s really no “right” way to live—it’s
all okay. That’s helped to bring me to the place I’m at now where I’m not afraid of
The Rage Monthly: Tell me about the progression of your career from Broadway to country anything anymore. I’m the most fearless I’ve ever been. It makes me really happy
music. How did this come about? that my music is being marketed to the gay community. It’s like I’m getting my
Laura Bell Bundy: I kinda think that it was less of a segue than everything happen- own coming-out party.
MARCH 2010 | RAGE monthly 41
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