2016 “Live Your Life” Orange County LGBT Pride Festival
Main Stage Entertainment
at The Yost Theater
2016 OC Pride Headliner
Singer-songwriter Steve Grand remembers the first time he realized how powerful music could be. At a young age, riding in the car with his dad, listening to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Beach Boys, he saw how a song could transport someone through time and space to a moment in the past. “He could tell you what shirt he was wearing, the name of the girl he was dating, and what the weather was like,” he says of his dad’s musical reminiscences. “That’s what first sparked my interest in songwriting. It was the first time I encountered music’s unique ability to provide a temporary escape from reality.”
It’s a feeling he’s now given countless people himself with 2013’s release of “All American Boy,” his debut single. The song became a smash, viral hit, thanks in part to the self-produced and self-financed video, which went from zero to a million views on YouTube in a matter of days, all without the help of a label, a manager, or an agent. The imagery was pure Americana—campfires, American flags, country roads, whiskey, and hunky, shirtless men. But there was a twist. The song and video (now with close to 4 million views and counting) both depict a situation familiar to many people—an unrequited crush of someone out of reach, that burning desire for someone you can never have. It’s a universal truth, but Steve’s story was even more affecting, because he was telling that story from the perspective of a gay man who had a crush on a straight man. It’s not something that has ever been depicted in music quite so overtly.
Pegged as a “gay country artist” by the media—something of a misnomer—within a week, the video had made all the gay blogs, Buzzfeed ran a post about the video, and he’d appeared on “Good Morning America.” Later, he was interviewed by the revered Larry King for his online show.
On February 26, 2014, he launched a successful Kickstarter campaign raising $326,000, the third highest funded music project on the site. He’s set to release his debut full-length album, “All American Boy” this spring. With his full-length album, recorded with producer Aaron Johnson (who produced The Fray) in Los Angeles in the spring of 2014, co-writing a few songs with Itaal Shur, (who also helped to pen the Grammy winning song, “Smooth” by Rob Thomas and Santana), coming in March, fans will have even more to be inspired by. “It’s going to take them to many more places. The album follows an arc—each song is a plot point on that arc, and I think a lot of things in life follow an arc.”
The journey is told through Steve’s clear, soaring voice, and his emotionally uplifting, hook-filled songs including “Stay,” “All-American Boy,” “Whiskey Crime,” and “Say You Love Me.” The piano and guitar-driven tracks are instantly timeless and familiar; their sound is a tip of the hat to other American singer-songwriters like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty.
2016 OC Pride Main Stage Entertainment
WASI blends the likes of Closer-era Tegan and Sara with the anthemic vibe of The Clash to create a reminiscent soundtrack to those So Cal nights of skinny dipping and angsty-garage punk shows. Merilou Salazar (vocals, guitar, synth) and Jessie Meehan (vocals, bass, synth) teamed up in high school after Merilou booked a show with a non-existent band. In that 3-week notice, they picked up their instruments for the first time and performed under the moniker The Midol Poppers. Without a plan but a craving to create their own space away from teenage social structures and the norm, they started to play as often as they could – from high school themed parties to acoustic sets at the park. They recorded some songs for free and self-promoted their music by approaching bystanders with a pair of headphones in hand.
Since their formation as WASI, they have performed at select dates on the Vans Warped Tour, shared the stage with artists such as Shiny Toy Guns, Moving Units, and K. Flay and continue to perform at sold out feminist and LGBTQ events throughout LA including Women Fuck Shit Up Fest (headlined by Colleen Green and Allison Weiss). Their uplifting songs & grassroot DIY work ethic speak from a youth vying to be understood in their own tender time.
Sam Tolson is a 23 year old Ohio based Pop singer and composer. She began her music career in 2012, releasing her first song, Above It, on iTunes. At this time, she began composing and writing full time. Sam has also been studying for her Bachelors degree in Music Business over the last year in Ohio. With her career, she has traveled to countless cities, even internationally, performing her music. Reaching nearly 150,000 Youtube views and over 400,000 streams online, Sam is currently set out to release her newest single, “No Rush” in Spring of 2016.
In 2011, Sam created a non-profit organization called Face Yourself, striving to help those who struggled with depression, self-harm, bullying and/or any mental or physical struggles.
“Through out life, our biggest adventure is finding out who we are. And one of the easiest connections with those around us is how we feel. Many people find similarities in art such as music, painting, designing. Others find connections in traveling, maybe cooking or some type of sport. The possibilities are endless and we never know how things will end up in our lives. Despite that, one thing is very certain. We live happier lives when we are surrounded by others and by positivity. You’re probably thinking “Yeah, sure but sometimes I like to be alone.” Trust me, so do I. It wasn’t until I grew older that I realized how much we pull off of others. Little conversations, laughs and smiles, when someone notices your new hair cut, when you share similar tastes in music. The way that last 5 minute conversation caused you to no longer slouch in your chair in class over the next hour. Positivity is such an easy gift to give to others and the easiest way we can do so is surrounding ourselves by good, loving people so we too feel that happiness and love. We give and take in our society and lately, it has seemed more of “take” than “give.” As humans, the interactions we are capable of having with one another are endless. If we help ourselves build positivity and help those around us build positivity, it will be a better outcome for everyone. It’s the same concept the movie “Pay It Forward” had. We give a little and someone else gives a little and then everyone gets a little bit of something good. We can so easily do this just by a smile or a “good job” or a friendly conversation. I want to help inspire others to push themselves to seek out this positivity in themselves by releasing the negativity around them, while also helping myself do the same. Without those surrounding me, I don’t think I would have ever made it as far in this life as I am now. I am incredibly grateful for that and that is why I created Free Your Mind.” – Sam
Laganja Estranja and Gia Gunn
Soon after moving to Chicago, United States, he had observed numerous drag shows. Possibly being influenced by the observation of the numerous drag shows, Ichikawa had decided to perform himself and became a headlining drag performer. He auditioned for Logo TV’s reality television series RuPaul’s Drag Race whilst Ichikawa was working in the hair industry full-time and performed as Gia Gunn by evening.
On the sixth season of the reality television series, Gunn was quoted in her words of expressing her hatred for “messy queens, cheap queens and manly queens”. During an episode of Untucked, she criticized one of her rival competitors, Milk, when they portrayed a woman with child. After being called out as an “ignorant” by another one of her rival competitors, Joslyn Fox, Gunn had reacted very negatively and became involved in a confrontation against them. However, Milk had already criticized her for possessing an “elitist attitude” and nicknamed her “Kimora Lee” as well.
Gia came from the supermodel Gia Carangi and the movie Gia starring Angelina Jolie. Her last name came from her drag mother Alyssa Gunnwhich originated from Project Runway’s Tim Gunn.
Laganja Estranja is the drag-daughter of Alyssa Edwards, and in turn, the drag sister of Shangela Laquifa Wadley and Gia Gunn both of whom competed on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Edwards appearing on season five, and Wadley appearing on season two and season three respectively. Under the moniker of the Haus of Edwards, the trio have internationally toured and performed together on multiple occasions, most notably at the pre-show warm-up for the finale episode of the seventh season of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
In 2014, Laganja competed on the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. During the show, Laganja became infamous for his over-the-top dramatics, catchphrases, and emotional breakdowns. Eventual winner Bianca Del Rio credited Laganja as the root of every memorable quote from the following season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Laganja’s mannerisms have since been parodied by fellow drag queens, including Alaska Thunderfuck.
Gender is at the forefront of pop culture, the world is awakening to the idea that everything may not just be black and white. Courtney Act is an emerging artist who captures this zeitgeist. She breaks the rules and lives life on the gender divide, sometimes as a girl, and sometimes as a boy. She’ a pop star in the making for the new generation that is beyond labels.
This summer Courtney is releasing her debut EP, Kaleidoscope. She has teased with 6 previous single releases, including entries in the Billboard, ARIA and iTunes charts. Her videos have racked up over 12 million views on YouTube and her Kickstarter for the EP broke through its funding goal in under a week. She’s been in the studio, on and off, for the last two years writing with Sam Sparro (Black & Gold), Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters), The Prodigal & Chris Arnott to create this commercial electro/pop release with tones of Tov Lo, Kylie & Robyn. The EP explores the themes of gender, sexuality, self expression and of course this girl also just wants to have fun.
Courtney broke out of the box in 2003 when she was the first openly queer and gender diverse contests on talent reality show in the world. Sydney boy, Shane Jenek, auditioned for the first season of Australian Idol. Not quite making the cut he bent the rules and his gender, returning the next day as Courtney Act and made it through to the semifinals. She was signed to Sony/BMG and embarked on a national arena tour with her fellow Idols.
Growing up in Australia, Courtney now lives in Los Angeles and has spent the last year touring North American, Australian the UK & Europe in the wake of being top 3 on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
She’s a Prius driving, vegan, pansexual, polyamorous, genderqueer, hippy child who is passionate about human rights, the environment and James Franco whom she one day hopes to marry. She loves going to Burning Man, her current favorite app is Periscope and her right testicle once popped out on stage. She also has a webbed toe.
Ricky Rebel and The Rebel Mafia
In 1997, recording artist Ricky G. burst on the music scene as the lead vocalist of the boy-band No Authority who later toured with 98 Degrees, Destiny’s Child, Aaron Carter, Ashlee and Jessica Simpson among others. Rodney Jerkins (Whitney Houston, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears) produced their first album, “Keep On”, and Michael Jackson signed the band to his own MJJ Music custom-label at Sony. In 2000, they signed with Madonna’s Maverick label to release their namesake album. The album reached #18 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart. Their signature hit, “Can I Get Your Number” peaked at #33 on the Billboard Top 40 chart while “I’m Telling You This” appeared on “The Rugrats in Paris” soundtrack. The band then embarked on tour with Britney Spears. Following the break-up of No Authority, Ricky became the lead vocalist of Harlow from 2004-2009 during which time he released “Unstoppable” (2005), mixed and engineered by Jay Baumgardner at NRG Studios and produced by Grammy-winning producer Randy Cantor (Ricky Martin). Ricky also leant his voice to films including “Apollo 13” starring Tom Hanks, “Anywhere But Here” starring Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman and the “Anastasia” soundtrack. In addition, he appeared on episodes of “American Dreams”, “Boston Public”, “Audrina” (Vh1) and starred in Debbie Allen’s ballet, “Pepito’s Story” that opened at the Kennedy Center in New York City.
Ricky G. became Ricky Rebel and embarked on a solo career after My Chemical Romance invited him to co-star in their “NA NA NA” and “Sing” videos. In 2012, he won the Artist of the Year at the RAWards and released the “Manipulator” album featuring the hits “Geisha Dance”, “Get It On”, “You Need a Woman” and the title track. MTV’s “Good Vibes” also featured music from the album. In 2013, “Geisha Dance” spent ten weeks on the Mediabase Chart, the chart that powers “On Air with Ryan Seacrest”.
Now, Ricky takes to the stage with his new release, “The Blue Album” mixed by Claudio Cueni (JLo), featuring remixes for the “Star” single by world-renowned DJs Hector Fonseca (15 Billboard number-one hits for artists including Beyonce, Katy Perry, Sia), Casey Alva (Billboard number-one hit for Erika Jayne) and Tommy Love. In addition, Ricky recently played with Grammy-winners Mya and Colbie Caillat, The Psychedelic Furs as well as selected West Coast tour dates with Blood On The Dance Floor and appearances at Matinee Las Vegas and Matinee San Diego. He is also a fashion contributor to Us Weekly.
With a name like ‘Bowie’, you’d kinda think that a career in music would be a foregone conclusion for singer/songwriter/DJ, Bowie Jane.
But not so – Bowie’s been doing the whole ‘superhero’ thing – living a complete double existence – and all unbeknownst to her work colleagues. By day, a mild- manner criminal lawyer, but by night a fully-fledged musician, performing five to six nights a week and secretly courting what is fast becoming a bubbling career in music.
Her story captured the world’s interest earlier this year with TV, radio and press attention worldwide including the Daily Mail UK, Daily Express, NBC News, Reuters, the Star, London Metro, National Nine News and the Today TV Show leading to more than 10,000 hits a day on YouTube.
“Energetic and frighteningly catchy” – Music Week Tastemaker
Bowie Jane is an energetic experienced performer who does not shy away from getting the crowd involved – in fact, she thrives on getting the party going! She has taken to the main stages at Millenium Stadium Wales, Birmingham Pride Festival UK, Manchester Pride Festival UK, Hull Pride Festival UK, Rosies Nightclub in Chester UK opening for Kerry Katona of Atomic Kittens, Homelanz Festival London (UK), F1 Grand Prix 2014, Blackpool Pride Festival (UK), Essex Pride Festival (UK), Wales Pride Festival, Blackpool Opera House (UK), World Ski Cup and the Australian Open Grand Slam Tennis Championships (Australia) both DJing and singing live vocals.
Her debut single, Luv Bomb, described as “frightningly catchy” by Music-Week UK, reached number 11 on the UK Music Week Commercial Pop Club Charts, number 5 on the Euro Dance Charts and received airplay on 78 stations across the UK.
Bowie Jane’s follow up single, Bad Boy, hit number 13 on the UK Commercial Pop Club Charts – “There’s a touch of slapstick in the lyrics and a huge smile as she sings “you’re full of sh….shame”; it’s a sing-a-long moment for many girls before a ‘getting over him’ night out I’d imagine. It is certainly as catchy as Luv Bomb, but probably a better song and it will certainly build on the success of her debut.” – David Spencer, Music Week.