Rising singer-songwriter Rachel Panay has been described as a throwback to the vaudeville days when artists would stand with a band and give the audience a taste of many musical styles. She’s a child of jazz, classical, and musical theatre, but has somehow managed to create a stir in the gay club scene. She will perform hits from her new during this year’s Chicago Pride.
CP: You titled your album, Back To Love. What are your feelings toward love?
RP: A lyric of mine comes to mind when I contemplate that subject: I HAD LOVE AND IT WAS A SURE THING, I HAD LOVE AND IT WAS A PURE THING, BUT I HAD DRIVE AND I HAD A DARKER SIDE, AND MY DRIVE DROVE ME AWAY FROM LOVE... I think I just have so much to prove and accomplish right now that I can’t conceive love in my life until later.
The truth is I think I did meet “the one” but I let it go in order to pursue my dreams, the selfish artist that I am!
CP: Were you a club kid?
RP: No, in college I didn’t go clubbing at all!
CP: So how did you break into the club scene?
RP: By pure luck. I took my demo to a DJ store in Boston. I asked the sales guy if he would play it and he did! In the store, there happened to be a promoter and he came up to me and offered me a gig at his club on the spot.
CP: How did good girl Rachel Panay fair in the dark underground club scene?
RP: Good question! Truthfully, I have found that in the club world, there is just a small fraction of seediness. I think there is a far greater sense of childhood innocence. Clubgoers make a decision to suspend their problems and give their selves over to the music.
CP: How did you get signed to Act2 Records?
RP: I was at the Billboard Summit in New York City and I met Ron Hirsh, the president of Act 2. After he heard me perform, he signed me right then and there!
CP: Was it difficult choosing the songs for your first album?
RP: That was a grueling process! I have a huge catalog and it was difficult to narrow them down. It was like choosing between my babies!
CP: What song on the album has the most meaning to you?
RP: ”I Still Believe” is kind of a biggie for me because it’s 100% autobiographical. Every word is from my life and I’m proud of the emotional rawness and truth that I think comes through in that record.
CP: Who are your musical icons? (Please don’t say Madonna!)
RP: My idol is even gayer than Madonna. Honestly, I love Judy Garland!
CP: Oh wow, you ARE a gay man!
RP: One of my favorite memories as a little girl was when my mom made me a little pinafore dress and apron for my school talent show. I sang “Somewhere over the Rainbow.”
CP: I bet you won.
RP: I did!
Rachel Panay performs live at Hamburger Mary's on Saturday, June 23rd at 9pm. (Event Details) You can also meet and greet Rachel Panay at Best Buy (2650 N. Clark St) when she appears June 23rd between 4pm and 6pm and/or catch her on the Pride parade route when she belts her heart on the Music Plant float.
Rachel Panay’s BACK TO LOVE releases to stores this month. For more information, visit www.act2records.com.