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Music 101: LGBTQ+ artists’ milestones and influence in music

This episode of Music 101 highlights the way LGBTQ+ musicians helped shape and influence music as we know it today. And also some of the milestones in the history of popular music. 

In this episode, host Margot begins decades back in the early 20th century, then works up to more contemporary songs by artists such as Judas Priest, Sylvester, Diana Ross and the Buzzcocks. 

Highlights include: 

  • Tony Jackson, an early 20th century musician who was influential on artists as monumental as Jelly Roll Morton. He was writing from the POV of an openly gay man at a time when it was difficult to be open. 
  • Esquerita, an artist who helped influence Little Richard
  • Rob Halford, leader singer of metal band Judas Priest, who came out publicly in 1998
  • Sylvester, a disco icon who was not only openly gay, he celebrated being gay
  • Tom Robinson, who wrote “Glad to Be Gay” for a 1976 London Pride parade
  • Jobriath, who’s considered the first openly gay rock musician signed to a major label

Music in this episode includes songs by Jelly Roll Morton, the Sweet Violet Boys, Esquerita, Judas Priest, Sylvester, the Buzzcocks, Diana Ross, and Erasure.

Playlist for Music 101: LGBTQ+ Artists’ Influence Modern Music

“Pretty Baby” Jelly Roll Morton
“Prove It On Me Blues” Ma Rainey
“I Love My Fruit” Sweet Violet Boys
“Up Above My Head” Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Marie Knight
“Rockin’ The Joint” Esquerita
“Rock Of Ages” Jobriath
“Rocka Rolla” Judas Priest
“(You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real” Sylvester
“Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” The Buzzcocks
“Glad To be Gay” Tom Robinson Band
“I’m Coming Out” Diana Ross
“A Little Respect” Erasure

In each episode of Music 101, your host Margot highlights a different chapter in music history, bringing you songs you love and the stories behind them.

Listen to Music 101 on the Colorado Sound every Sunday at 10am MT, with the same episode repeated Wednesday at 8pm MT.

You can also hear recent episodes on our Music 101 show page