Celebrating Black LGBTQ+ Musical Pioneers

Hello Fans, Family, Friends, & Folks!!

I am so excited to announce I have been awarded a grant from the East Bay Community Foundation's East Bay Fund For Artists! The grant allows me to develop a project honoring Black LGBTQ+ pioneers in music for myself, my trio, and Oakland School for the Arts' award-winning 12-voice youth a cappella vocal ensemble, Vocal Rush. In order to complete this project, according to EBFFA foundation guidelines, a portion of the grant funds have to be matched through donations from our community. With your support, we can make this project a reality! No donation is too big or too small and all donations are tax-deductible, thanks to our fiscal sponsor, Eastside Arts Alliance. 

This is a project that is near and dear to my heart in many ways. A good portion of my career in the 1970s & 80s was spent singing in the vibrant and flourishing cabaret clubs of the Castro District and San Francisco's greater LGBTQ+ community; places like Caracole, Fanny's, The Plush Room, & QT's. This community welcomed me with open arms and what started out as new gig with new fans turned into much more than that. The community became my friends and family and some of my longest and dearest relationships to this day.

In the early days, there were just a few Black acts in these clubs; acts like The Weldon Sisters and Linda Hopkins. As I began to stake my claim and make my name in the community I was one of the first Black singers to take a hold on the community in the way I did. Coming from a background in R&B, blues, gospel, and jazz, the community gave me an opportunity do delve headfirst into cabaret and show tunes and the music of the Great American Songbook. The folks held these songs near and dear and it was there I was able to develop my repertoire amongst a community the knew and loved these songs.  With my background in Black music, I was among the first to bring the sounds of the Black community to these cabaret clubs - I put my experience in blues, jazz, R&B, and gospel in with the show tunes and developed a unique sound that had the folks asking for soul tunes like Dr. Feelgood and Driving Wheel along with show tunes they loved like Mad About the Boy and Too Long at the Fair.  Already having a healthy following from my days with Johnny Talbot & De Thangs, I was among the first to mix audiences in the community - when I was working in these clubs in the Castro we had black folks, white folks, straight folks, gay folks, and young and old partyin' hard! At first, cabaret clubs would primarily feature piano and voice, but as I became more established, instead of asking for a raise, I asked for another musician, and before long I was the first act performing with a whole trio. 

For many years in the community we lived the high life: the music was flowin' and we were truly a beautiful family. As I always say, I had the first Rainbow Coalition! I got to know icons in music in the community like Sylvester & Charles Brown. When the AIDS epidemic hit, the community was decimated and an unbelievable portion of our family was lost. Time moves on and many of us in my Rainbow Coalition remain and think back on those years fondly.

I say all of this to say, the opportunity to create and perform a show celebrating Black LGBTQ+ pioneers in music is a beautiful opportunity to honor and lift up a community that supported me and meant so much to me. I'm excited to be able to honor and uplift LGBTQ+ Black pioneers in music of the last 100 years and make my own arrangements of music from unsung folks like James Cleveland, Ma Rainey, Sylvester, Bessie Smith, Luther Vandross, Charles Brown, Big Mama Thornton, Johnny Mathis, and Little Richard. Working with the young folks of Oakland School for the Art's Vocal Rush is an opportunity to collaborate with the next generation of artists in Oakland and pass on my experience and really a chance for us all to learn from each other. Once completed, the suite will be performed at a major venue or festival in the East Bay. With your support we can come together to give voice to these underrepresented Black LGBTQ+ artists, celebrate their contributions, and bring generations together in music! Thank you for your generosity. 

More information about fiscal sponsor Eastside Arts Alliance, Inc. (Eastside Arts Alliance & Cultural Center): EastSide Arts Alliance is a collective of cultural workers who live and work in East Oakland. Our mission is to unite art with activism to work for community empowerment and cultural development and to build bridges between the disenfranchised, racially divided communities we serve.



Donations ()

  • Colleen Roe Simmie 
    • $50 
    • 3 d
  • Margie Baker 
    • $25 
    • 4 d
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 7 d
  • Jason Ewald  
    • $25 
    • 7 d
  • Martha Crawford 
    • $20 
    • 7 d
See all


Faye Carol 
Oakland, CA
Eastside Arts Alliance, Inc. (Eastside Arts Alliance & Cultural Center) 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are 100% tax deductible.
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