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Glee made Matthew Morrison (and his unruly curls) a star, but his success started long before his role as do-gooder teacher Will Schuester. Morrison originated the studly Link Larkin during the Broadway run of Hairspray, and then he went on to earn a Tony nomination for his stint in The Light in the Piazza.
The Glee star goes back to his Broadway roots for Where It All Began, a collection of show-tune covers. For Morrison, though, it goes back even further. All the way to elementary school, in fact.
Where did it all begin for you? When did you first start singing?
I first started singing in fifth grade. I grew up in Southern California and my parents took me to Arizona for the summer – I have a lot of family there: aunts, uncles, cousins – and my grandma put my cousin and I in a children’s theater production of this show called The Herdmans Go to Camp. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. (Laughs)
Yeah, it was big on Broadway, right?
(Sarcastically) Yeah, exactly. It had a great run. (Laughs) So, it was this little made-up show and I was so lucky to have found my passion at such a young age in doing that show. I came back to Southern California after the summer and told my parents that I wanted to be in children’s theater and that started the whole thing.
This album is being released on Adam Levine’s label, 222 Records. How well did you get to know Adam? Did you guys have a beer after recording?
(Laughs) We’ve had a few drinks in our day. We both live in Los Angeles, and he’s such a big fan of this kind of music. I wouldn’t think that personally – you think of him as this pop-rock kind of guy – but he’s such a fan of the standards. When I got to know that, and we started talking about that, I told him this was the record I always wanted to make and he’s like, “Let’s make it.” He’s been a big champion of mine through this whole process, but at the same time he’s really given me my space. He’s an artist himself and he knows how an artist should be treated, and he really gave me space and respect. He checked in probably three times during the process just to hear stuff and hang out in the studio. He didn’t have much to say because he was really loving everything.
Did you two ever settle the question that’s been on everyone’s mind: Who has the bigger gay following?
Wow. I don’t think we answered that question. Do you know the answer to that? I have no idea.
You’re supposed to say yourself.
Well, you said it for me then. (Laughs) I would give myself the advantage coming from the theater world and stuff, but he’s younger and more attractive than I am, so I give him the advantage that way. It depends on what gay genre you’re looking at. If you like the tattoo kind of thing, he’s your guy. If you like the clean-cut kind of guy, that’s me.
You say this is the album you always wanted to make. Why didn’t you make it the first time around with your self-titled debut, when you were on Mercury Records?
You know, that’s a good question. (Pauses) I kind of felt like it was the height of Glee and that’s the kind of music that we were doing on the show and ... I liked that album. It was a really interesting process for me, just because I had never done songwriting before, so I got to work with some world-renowned songwriters – some people who wrote songs with Adele – so that was a really great opportunity to kind of work a muscle that I’d never really worked before. It was great, but it just ... it didn’t feel authentic. It didn’t feel totally authentic to me, whereas this is rooted in the music I grew up singing and I know so well. This music is in my bones, so I feel very confident.
We don’t have song-and-dance people anymore. A lot of performers can go up on stage now and dance, but they’re probably not singing most of the time. Then there’s the singers who go up there and plant their feet on the stage and sing. I really wanted to go back to Sammy Davis Jr. – to that kind of era – and really do it all.
You look good in that top hat on the cover of the album. Are you much of a hat man?
I do like hats ... especially because I’m so synonymous with my crazy curly hair now. I can cover it up. It’s good to have a little disguise.
Is there a song on this album that most inspired your musical-theater career?
Yeah, actually there is. “On the Street Where You Live,” which is from My Fair Lady, is a song that I found really early on in my life. I first sang it when I was maybe 13 at a talent show or something. It’s typically done as a ballad, and that’s actually the song I’ve sung for every single audition I’ve ever had in my entire life, including Glee. That song has kind of made my career, I guess. (Laughs) But for this version on the album, I really wanted to kind of give it a little more pep, speed it up a bit, make it a little more danceable. So that’s what we did!
When you were recording these songs, did it dawn on you how outdated the vernacular is? And how much the word “gay,” which once just meant happy and carefree, has changed?
It’s funny you say that, because every time I sing “Younger than Springtime” with the “gayer than laughter” line – I think I sing it maybe three or four times within the song – it does pop in my mind. You’re right, it doesn’t mean that ... well, it does mean that, but it has changed, absolutely. That song in particular, to me, is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. I love that song. I love the sentiment of the song. And when I originally was hearing it I was thinking of (the “gay” reference), but it’s not like I really care. (Laughs)
Of all people, I didn’t think you did.
(Sarcastically) Damn those gay people!
How did you get involved in the Human Rights Campaign video for marriage equality?
From my friends. I have so many friends who are involved with HRC – my friends from the theater community – and it’s a cause that I absolutely support. It just comes down to human rights. Forty years ago, if you saw a black man walking down the street with a white woman it was like “oh my god,” but now you don’t even blink. I’m hoping that’s the same thing that’s gonna happen with this, and hopefully gay and lesbian couples can marry. That you can’t marry the person that you love in today’s society is just wrong. I think a loving and committed gay and lesbian relationship deserves the same rights as anyone else’s.
I was honored recently with the Ally for Equality Award at the HRC Atlanta dinner, and there were these brothers from New Hampshire. The younger brother is gay, and the older brother is straight and married to his wife, and hearing the straight brother talk about his brother and what he’s gone through and the person that he is, he got so choked up. It was the most beautiful thing to see him talk about his brother, (saying) that he deserved the same rights that he has. I was blown away by these two guys. It was pretty incredible.
Have you performed at a gay wedding before?
I have performed at a gay wedding. And my massage therapist and his partner are planning a wedding in the next year or so and I plan on singing at their wedding too.
What will you be singing?
I’m gonna leave it up to them. But I’m taking requests!
What’s your future on Glee?
It’s been renewed for a couple of seasons, but I don’t know the answer to that question.
What do you see for yourself when Glee does end? A break?
I don’t think Glee is ever going to end. (Laughs) No, I don’t want a break. I have two months off from the show right now and I’m putting out an album and doing some touring. I love working. I always wanna work. I think for me – now that I’ve done everything, and I’ve been on stage for 10 years and done film and television – my heart is in the theater, and that’s where I feel the most alive and connected to the audience. I love being on stage. That’s something that I know I will definitely go back to. I feel like I’ve had a really well-rounded career so far, and I want to keep trying to put my hand in a lot of different things.
I take it you won’t be bringing The Herdmans Go to Camp to Broadway?
My career would probably be over.
It’s that bad?
I don’t remember it. That’s saying a lot.
photos by Brian Bowen Smith
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.