LADY GAGA TAPS “LUSH LIFE” TO CELEBRATE GAY RIGHTS
Since releasing the 17-week #1 Top Jazz Album Cheek to Cheek with Tony Bennett last September, international pop icon Lady Gaga seems to have adopted the late Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” as her token torch song. To the delight of both longtime Strayhorn fans and those just discovering the composer, Gaga has performed the classic in several high-profile settings, from when she first teased her version of the piece on a Tony Bennett tour date nearly a year ago, to her and Bennett’s televised PBS special, to several shows since.
With recent U.S. events including the Supreme Court’s ruling of same-sex marriage to be legal across all fifty states, Gaga used her platform at Highland Park’s Ravinia Festival this past Friday to allude to the gay rights cultural significance of “Lush Life”. As reported by the Chicago Tribune’s Howard Reich, Gaga announced, “I have to dedicate [“Lush Life”] tonight to marriage equality. I know it may be a touchy subject, but let’s touch it. Because—what a victory, what a special day for love.”
Those who know Strayhorn’s story well will recognize the significance of Gaga’s dedication—in addition to being very involved in African Americans’ ongoing struggle for civil rights, Strayhorn was a pioneer for sexual freedom, proudly identifying as homosexual in a time when it wasn’t always safe to do so.
Gaga acknowledged collaborator and legendary performer Tony Bennett’s efforts in this arena as well, adding “And also for Tony Bennett, who fought for the civil rights of so many.”