While we can’t be in the streets marching together to demonstrate LGBTQ solidarity and Pride this year thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s at least a uniquely 2020 rallying cry to help us honor the LGBTQ giants whose shoulder we stand on: “Alexa, open Pride History.”
Starting Friday (May 29), Amazon Music is launching a number of Pride Month initiatives that spotlight musicians on the forefront of queer culture today and remind us of the pioneers who came before. The aforementioned Alexa Pride History feature involves Melissa Etheridge, Tegan and Sara and Kim Petras sharing the stories and music of LGBTQ trailblazers such as trans electronic composer Wendy Carlos, lesbian blues pianist Gladys Bentley and others.
Additionally, the PROUD playlist that has been active since 2019 relaunches today, boasting a must-hear cover of the Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” by the inimitable Hayley Kiyoko, which is exclusive to Amazon Music.
And there’s much more to come in June. Perfume Genius has also signed on for an Amazon Original song, and a mini documentary about San Francisco queer disco icon Sylvester is dancing your way soon, featuring interviews with Billy Porter and Martha Wash of the Weather Girls (who sang backup for Sylvester as part of Two Tons O’ Fun). Keep your eyes peeled for Pride-themed livestreams on Amazon Music’s Twitch page during June as well; among the livestreams will be San Francisco Pride’s 2020 Online Celebration, June 27-28.
“Amazon Music’s 2020 Pride activities are driven by a mission to champion the artists of the LGBTQ+ community and to connect our community to LGBTQ+ history. With Amazon Music’s PROUD playlist – we’ve curated a collection of songs that shine a spotlight on the next generation of LGBTQ+ artists, who proudly share their artistry and their identity with their fans. We’re also focused on telling the stories of the artists who came before: Sylvester, Wendy Carlos, and Gladys Bentley — artists who have blazed a trail for future generations,” says Amazon Music label relations manager John Farrey, who led the team that launched the PROUD playlist in 2019. “
“Queer history and queer storytelling is an important part of our culture, and it’s what makes Pride History so unique,” Farrey continues. “I’ve followed the @lgbt_history Instagram account for ages, so I was excited to have Amazon Music work with account co-founder and historian Matthew Riemer on the content for Pride History. Together, we picked stories that inspired us – from the picketing of Sir Lady Java to the Ashes Action. Narrators Melissa Etheridge, Tegan and Sara, and Kim Petras brought these stories to life beautifully, and the music they chose for this piece makes for a fierce soundtrack. It’s equal parts riot and remembrance.”