Last night at the YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts, early pop icon Lesley Gore performed to a packed audience of swooning baby-boomers. Some of my earliest memories are listening to Gore’s anthems on my portable Victrola with my babysitter and her boyfriend – 45s and pizza-boxes strewn across the carpet- occasionally peeking out the window for my mom to come home so the boyfriend could sneak out.
Gore provided more than just nostalgia last night. At first I was concerned since all of her 12 major hit records total about 25 minutes. In the early 60s, song lengths averaged between one-and-a-half minutes to perhaps two minutes tops. Gore assembled an ecclectic playlist from some of her favorite songs of the era from Laura Nyro to John Lennon, Isaac Hayes to Anita O’Day, Motown to Sergio Mendes. Her vocal range remains intact and her performance packed a satisfying pop/jazz punch. Gore also sang some of her “classics” that have earned her the title of “proto-feminist” like “You Don’t Own Me” and her Academy Award Nominated song from the film Fame, “Out Here On My Own.”
Vintage film of Gore’s live TV performance of You Don’t Own Me.
Gore officially came out of the closet in 2005 but her sexual orientation was well known by many in the industry and the LGBT community.
From Wikipedia: Gore provided musical aid for the 1996 film Grace of My Heart,
which featured a character (played by Bridget Fonda) whose struggles over her sexual orientation were similar to Gore’s. Beginning in 2004, Gore could be seen hosting the PBS television series, In the Life, which focused on LGBT issues. Gore currently lives with her partner of more than 23 years.
All in all, it was a thrill to finally see Ms. Gore perform and to meet her after the concert where she warmly greeted her fans and autographed copies of her CDs that were for sale. Visit the link to her blog for more upcoming tour dates.