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The B-52s' Kate Pierson Releases Solo Album on Heels of Controversial Single

The B-52s' Kate Pierson Releases Solo Album on Heels of Controversial Single

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The singer joins forces with Sia and others to release a solo record filled with upbeat party songs and an LGBT 'anthem.' At least, that was her intention.

Kate Pierson, founding member of the legendary Athens, Ga., party rock band the B-52s, this week releases Guitars and Microphones, her first solo album.

Fans of the formerly beehived singer, who's been a part of the American music scene since the punky 1970s, might be happy to hear her signature upbeat sound again, particularly since her main act, although still regularly touring, hasn't released new music in several years.

Pierson appointed her pal, out "Chandelier" singer Sia, as a co-songwriter and producer.

However, Guitars and Microphones comes with controversy.

The album's first single, "Mister Sister," aroused the ire of transgender listeners. Pierson released the video in early December with a note about how the song was "inspired by all who are transgender and LGB, multi-dimensional, and still transcending," adding, "I hope it becomes a trans anthem, but it's really meant to empower anyone who feels 'betrayed by the mirror.'"

The track and its accompanying video elicited a chorus of thoughtful, albeit angry, responses from trans folks, including activist Jamie Cooper Holland's Huffington Postop-ed in which she acknowledges being a huge B-52s fan but breaks down her issues with the song, from the title on. (Another editorial about the song appeared in The Advocate.)

Pierson immediately responded to Cooper Holland on her Facebook page, thanking the activist for the "important dialogue" but also clarifying that she never meant the song to speak specifically for the transgender community, but rather intended for it to be "about the power of transformation and the joy of being accepted as you are, but more importantly the joy of self acceptance." The conversation is by no means over, says Cooper Holland.

For her part, Pierson, 66, last week told Spin magazine she was surprised and saddened by the backlash but that she also "really learned a lot."

Artist Monica Coleman handled all artwork for the album and directed the video for "Mister Sister." Coleman also happens to be the woman with whom Pierson has spent the last 11 years of her life. Together, the couple have operated the kitschy mid-century-themed Kate's Lazy Meadow lodge in upstate New York for more than a decade, and they have opened a second lodge, the Lazy Desert, in Joshua Tree, Calif.

If you're counting, four of the five original members of the B-52s identified somewhere on the queer spectrum. (Ricky Wilson, the band's original guitarist, died of complications from AIDS in 1985.) In late December, Pierson told AfterEllenthat the B-52s have always been an LGBT band and activists to boot.

"All our friends -- so many friends are gay or lesbian and transgender," she said. "We're just in that world. We all went through the devastating time of the AIDS crisis and I think that galvanized us to be more activists -- AIDS activists. I think through that struggle we've tried to do a lot of benefits and stuff. I think the meaning of 'gay' became more solidified."

She added, "One of the things the B-52s wanted to accomplish was for people to embrace their difference and encourage people to be who they are and accept themselves."

Here's Pierson with the rest of the B-52s in the far less controversial video for their zany classic "Rock Lobster," from the band's 1979 self-titled debut album.

And, of course, the mega hit "Love Shack," from 1989's Cosmic Thing.

Watch the video for Pierson's well-intentioned single "Mister Sister" below.

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

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