I had discovered the Billie Holiday album, Lady in Satin, in my early 20s. That was my introduction to the song "For All We Know." When I heard Donny Hathaway’s version years later, it quickly became one of my favorite records of all time, and I wanted to try my hand at it. Stephan Oberhoff and I worked on a demo, which we played for Quincy [Jones], and it was his idea to make it rhythmic, which inspired the final version on the song.
"The Way You Look Tonight” is another classic, I’ve always loved. A few years ago, I was asked to sing at a charity event benefiting AIDS Project Los Angeles, and I think the theme was “old Hollywood,” so I chose that song, originally done by Fred Astaire.
Did you have a hand in writing the original songs?
Yes. That’s really how this journey all began for me. I was a kid who came up with melodies. I would sit at the piano and work out chord progressions I liked, but I never had the confidence to complete a song. Then a chance encounter at a Marianne Williamson lecture led me to Marsha Malamet, who I asked [to] listen to my song ideas. She introduced me to Alan Roy Scott and we all ended up writing several songs together, some of which are on this album.
What song on the album is your favorite and why?
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but "Dangerous Man" holds a special place for me. I’m a strong proponent of self-awareness. I spent many years going to Al-Anon meetings and studying the 12 steps, which sort of inspired the song. It's unusual in that it turns on itself. I like that.
That's a very personal source of inspiration. Has music helped you with your road to recovery?
Music has phenomenal healing power. It speaks to the heart. So many people have found a sense of acceptance and belonging through music. So absolutely --that’s all I really care about in the end.
What was it like touring with your mother?
It was pretty wild actually, in that I had basically never sang in front of a live audience, let alone an audience of 18,000 people. So to do that took a lot of prayers because I didn't know what that would feel like. It was a sweet experience really, and my mother was very supportive and encouraging. It was her idea.
What is it like dating when you're the son to one of the biggest gay icons in the world?
Ha. Well dating is challenging, period, isn’t it? But I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin now. It’s hard to tell what other people may know or not know, or project, or assume about you. All I can do is be myself.
Does having such a famous mother give you added pressure when recording your own songs?
The pressure of being compared, or judged is something I recognize I have no control over. And ultimately, I have to be authentic, so no matter who my mother is, it doesn't really matter in the end. We are all products of our parents, though.