September 24, 2023

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Rufus Wainwright Reflects on 25 Years Since Debut Album, Being an Openly Gay Artist in the 1990s

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Rufus Wainwright Reflects on 25 Years Since Debut Album, Being an Openly Gay Artist in the 1990s

It’s been 25 years since the world was introduced to Rufus Wainwright with his debut self-titled album, which featured songs like “April Fools,” “In My Arms” and many more. To celebrate, the singer-songwriter sat down with Billboard‘s Tetris Kelly to reflect on his career.



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“I feel awful,” he jokes about how it feels to celebrate 25 years since his debut. “No, I’m very proud and excited to be alive and still making music and happy. That first record I made has proven to have lasted, and I worked very hard on it. It took me three years to make that first record. It cost a lot of money.”

As for the 25th anniversary re-issue that came out early this year, Wainwright said that the album was remastered and has some bonus material as well. “What’s interesting about the record is that it was made in the mid to late 90s, and it really was part of the last breath of the grand record company-artist relationship, where they’d sort of write all the checks and then let you do whatever you wanted to do. They really didn’t expect you to be popular until your third or fourth album,” he recalls.

“I wasn’t trying to be a trailblazer or anything,” he continues. “AIDS was still very much — it’s still part of our world today — but at that time, it was killing a lot of people, a lot of gay men, and I just didn’t want to end up in the situation if I did get AIDS at that point, that I would be dying and also have to come out of the closet. I just wanted to avert that tragedy. Thankfully it didn’t happen.”

If his debut album was released in 2023, Wainwright believes “it would be considered very unique and very unusual and very romantic, especially, because we live in such a tough world.”

Watch Billboard‘s full interview with Rufus Wainwright above.

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