In the month of October several GLAAD Media Institute Alumni have either released or are preparing to release their work from hit singles to a memoir.
World renowned Black, transgender violinist and mezzo soprano Tona Brown has released her self published memoir titled Tonacity now sold by retailers such as Amazon, Books-A-Million, and Barnes & Noble. Brown is the recipient of several accolades including performing the national anthem for former President Barack Obama in 2014 making her the first transgender artist to perform for a sitting president. She also appeared in the full-length documentary For Which We Stand which highlights LGBTQ and allied musicians in their journey towards equality. Her memoir consists of interviews, personal narratives, and academic research detailing Brown’s inspiring experience as a Black trans musician and activist.
Brian Falduto is making country music a more inclusive genre with his new single “Just a Phase” now out on all major streaming platforms. His new single is an anthem for first queer heartbreaks and follows his successful debut album Gay Country which was featured in publications such as People Magazine and Billboard. While Falduto’s first claim to fame was from his appearance as Billy in the hit movie musical School of Rock the artist has matured a great deal since then and is bringing his two worlds together in a groundbreaking way.
Nina Kennedy, the classical pianist and conductor, recently spoke at the 10th Annual OutNEXT Global Summit which is a global leadership development conference for rising LGBTQ talent and leaders. Kennedy is a highly respected musician who studied at Julliard, has published two memoirs so far (one which became a finalist for the 2021 Lambda Literary Award), and an accomplished filmmaker. She’s also featured in The Publishing Triangle’s OUTspoken reading series (starting at 1:42:40) where she reads from her book Practicing for Love in support of LGBT authors and the East Midtown Partnership’s pride division.
Mel Lennon’s new single “Freaky” is also available for listening on spotify, apple music, and other streaming platforms. Lennon is a multi-genre musician born in Germany and now a resident of New York, his debut single “iSLANDhoppin” was listed on Top 40 music charts and the independent artist writes and produces all of his own music. Lennon is making waves for Black queer hip hop and says that he wants his listeners to “to know that they’re not alone. I’ve had so many feelings, some of which cannot be easily articulated in music. Some might seem weird. I want to bring joy, if just for a moment in time, a tiny little snapshot of a moment. That’s what I want my music to be.”
All of the wonderful musicians mentioned in this article have received training and support from the GLAAD Media Institute and the GMI is excited to share their accomplishments. Learn more about the GLAAD Media Institute by visiting www.glaad.org/institute.