WATCH: Sabrina Chap Sings for Equality, Marching Baton in Hand
BY Daniel Reynolds
October 18 2012 3:00 AM ET
“Joyous” could also describe Chap’s latest album, We Are the Parade, a veritable marching band of tracks that incorporates 25 horns into its production. The record — which draws inspiration from Jacques Brel and the atmosphere music of 30 Rock — channels the raw energy of ragtime and an old-school musical, with lyrics that evoke a contemporary Cole Porter or Tom Lehrer. The album art features Chap with a drum strapped to her chest, her mouth open in an exclamation of delight.
“I used to be a drum major in high school, and I wanted my album to have an out-in-the-streets, rousing feel,” Chap says. “I consider it a rallying cry.”
Chap’s queer identity is not often addressed in her album, but the title track is a clarion call to pride: “So you’re thinking you want to marry me? Well, baby, take my hand. It’s a long walk up to equality, and so let’s strike the band up.” The artist wrote the lyrics after the passage of Proposition 8, the ballot measure that defined marriage in California as a union between one man and one woman.
“When a whole state gets together and decides that you’re not worth equal rights and you’re not worthy of love, that’s a terrifying thing,” says Chap. “This song was my way of establishing a form of protest that wasn’t angry but rather celebratory.”
The music video features footage from last year’s pride parade in New York City, newly jubilant from the passage of marriage equality. Chap portrays the grand marshal, ushering waves of drag queens, same-sex couples, and rainbow flag-bearers down the street. Don’t blink — even Dan Savage, founder of the It Gets Better campaign, flashes a smile at the camera.
For Chap, the parade isn’t confined to a summer’s day on a Manhattan avenue. Throughout the year, she tours colleges and imparts lessons of survival and support from Live Through This.
“Growing up, I didn’t even hear the word ‘lesbian’ until college,” Chap says. “You don’t even know that someone sitting next to you be can be your strength. It’s important for that kid in a small town to know that safety, that community isn’t confined to Chelsea. They can find it anywhere.”