Rufus Wainwright is not letting Judy Garland's birthday pass him by. The Grammy-nominated gay artist honored the gay icon during his sold-out 2007 performances, "Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall," where Wainwright re-created Garland's memorable 1961 comeback show at the same New York venue. Now, with Garland's 99th birthday nearly here, Wainwright is again performing the Carnegie Hall show, which will be broadcast live June 10 from Los Angeles's famed Capitol Studios at 8 Eastern.
Broadway legend Kristin Chenoweth will join Wainwright for some of the musical performances, as will one of Wainwright's sisters, musician Martha Wainwright. In the audience at Capitol Studios will be none other than Renée Zellweger, who won an Oscar for portraying Garland in the 2019 biopic Judy (for which Wainwright sang on the soundtrack).
Wainwright says the impetus for his first foray into Garland's work, nearly 15 years ago, came from his disillusionment with the U.S. after President George W. Bush preemptively invaded Iraq.
"I was losing some real faith in the United States," Wainwright says. The "album became a thread that reminded me all that is fantastic about America and brilliant and positive and sophisticated and caring."
Wainwright has been exceptionally busy during the pandemic, releasing his ninth studio album, the critically acclaimed Unfollow the Rules, in July, and performing his classic songs live on Instagram as part of the #Quarantunes series.
"I really treated this pandemic period as a graceful period for me as an artist, where I was suddenly given all this time and focus to really hone in on areas that I haven't attended to for a long time," Wainwright says. "It's been a terrible period and I don't want to minimize the death and destruction, but there were parts of it that were a gift. Maybe I'm just an optimist."
Click here for tickets to Wainwright's Garland concert, and stay tuned for Wainwright's full interview with The Advocate.