Bobby Berk has an important relationship with music. Growing up in a conservative Christian household in Missouri, the Queer Eye star fronted a Christian rock band as a means of expressing himself, even if what he was expressing wasn’t necessarily what he felt. “Being in a Christian band felt hypocritical; I was singing against what I believed, but the music was what was filling me up,” he tells Billboard by email. “It was an ironic juxtaposition that I couldn’t define yet many can relate to: being gay and in the south.”
For years, Berk let his musical talents sit on a well-decorated shelf, as he became an overnight sensation for his excellent interior design skills on the beloved Netflix show. Then, last June, he finally shared his voice with his fans, performing on Brazilian singer Tiago’s dance-ready “Everybody.”
Now, Berk is giving fans even more through his touching new duet with singer-songwriter Alyssa Kayhill. On “Love Is,” Kayhill’s folksy ode to love of all kinds, Berk appears to offer up some of the soulful lyrics. “They’re telling us we’re just not right but they can’t see/ That love is what it is and love is what it will be,” he sings in the song’s touching chorus.
Berk says that he and Kayhill met through the singer’s partner Linh, who Bobby knew as a friend — “more like family,” he adds. “One evening, Alyssa, Linh, Dewey [Do, Berk’s husband] and I were doing a couples photo shoot in NYC and afterwards went out for some drinks,” he recalls. “On our walk home, I started belting out some tunes and it was that moment Alyssa talked me into doing a duet with her.”
When Kayhill sent Berk the track, he says that he stopped dead in his tracks. “My body had a physical reaction,” he says. “Not only did I cry, but that feeling you get when you are emotionally struck by something and you can’t define it. As my story has it, living in Missouri where being true to yourself can be frowned upon, it released a sense of acceptance and approval. While I haven’t needed that approval in years, it brought me back to a time when I couldn’t find the courage to accept it.”
Some fans will already be familiar with the track — Kayhill shared the song to her YouTube page back in September, and now with the release of Kayhill’s new project Love Is What It Is, the two took the opportunity to get the song on an official recording.
Berk also sees the new recording as an opportunity to make sure the right message is being sent at a time when his fanbase needs it most. “2020 is a big year for us both as well as the state of our country,” he says. “If this song could be available on all streaming platforms during one of the most crucial times in our society, the timing couldn’t be more perfect to share with more people.”
For anyone who’s looking to hear more music from Berk, don’t worry — he’s keeping all of his options open for the future. “For now, my brand is my focus,” he tells Billboard. “Not in just one sector that I’m good at like design or singing but continuing to create a lifestyle brand that’s all encompassing. I’ve got lots more coming in 2020 and can’t wait.”