Grammy-nominated jazz singer
New York City
How did the music industry respond when you came out as HIV positive and gay?
There’s a lot of homophobia, politics and patronizing in the business. You have to rise above all the hypocrisy and unfairness. You have to keep forging ahead. A lot of people have e-mailed me and said that my coming out has affected their lives. So I think I have made some positive dents. But I don’t try to put on a halo or save the world, and I don’t think I’m a spokesperson or an activist. It’s about the music.
Who’s your favorite singer?
Billie Holiday is my favorite pure jazz singer. She had an expres-sive-ness and honesty in her sound. Her vocal technique wasn’t opulent. It was about feelings more than just being clever.
You’re intensely spiritual—how does that affect your health?
I’m in good health. I’m on meds, and I go to the gym and meditate, and my viral load is undetectable. I’m also a vegetarian. When I was a kid, my father exposed me to things of a spiritual nature, and I’ve always felt a deep connection that wasn’t totally part of this world. You realize that your body is only temporary, but you keep trying to connect with that part of you that is God, or perfection.
Your career has resurged in the past ten years, and you got your first Grammy nomination in 2004. What’s next?
I’m optimistic about the future. I’m still evolving vocally, and I’m working on a new album and writing my own songs. There’s still so much to learn and grasp.