Thelma Houston

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Miami Beach Gay Pride today announced a dynamic duo of grand marshals – Olympic silver medalist Gus Kenworthy and NBC6 anchor and host Roxanne Vargas. The two marshals will be honored at events throughout Pride Week and will lead the loud and colorful parade down Ocean Drive on Sunday, April 8, beginning at noon. Miami Beach Gay Pride is presented by Celebrity Cruises and takes place from now through April 8 with events at venues throughout Miami Beach including a Friday night VIP gala; Saturday beach party and festival; and Sunday parade and festival.

“Gus and Roxy are two preeminent public figures who well represent and support the LGBTQA community: Gus for being a role model as an out and proud sportsman who excels at his craft,and Roxy for being a prominent ally for the community and equal rights,” said Mark Fernandes, chairman of the Pride board of directors.

Pride will also feature many performers including recording artists Betty Who, Thelma Houston and Taylor Dayne.

Popstar, singer-songwriter and all-around fierce performer Betty Who, known for recent hits “I Love You Always Forever” and “Ignore Me.” will perform at 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 7, on the Festival’s main stage in Lummus Park just off Ocean Drive and 11th Street in Miami Beach.

Legendary Grammy Award-winning disco, soul and R&B singer Thelma Houston will take overthe main stage on Sunday, April 8.

“Thelma Houston is a classic, and has been a good friend of the LGBTQ community throughout her storied career,” said Fernandes. “Die-hard fans are going to be thrilled with her high-energy, electric performance and a whole new generation of Pride-goers are going to love her legendary sounds.”

It was a pleasure to sit down with Houston for this Hotspots exclusive interview:

At what age did you start singing?

Around 3 years old. This lady that was babysitting for my mom was a piano player for a Sunday school. As she would practice her hymns, she learned that I could sing. From that time on, I did church programs and choirs, etc.

What was your first professional/paid gig?

When I started singing at this club called Big Tates. I made a whole $25 a night!

When did you know singing would be your career?

When I realized I could get paid for it. That it wasn’t just a love offering from church.

What was your first big break?

When the group I was in, the Art Reynolds Singers, got a contract and we recorded a gospel album.

Who are your mentors in the music industry?

I didn’t know any well-known entertainers, so my mentors were people in my town. However, the people I looked up to were Mahalia Jackson, Diana Washington, Sarah Vaughn, and of course Aretha Franklin, and many others from the Motown era.

How exciting was it to win the Grammy ?

I didn’t think I was going to win, as I had been nominated before. Record companies would do a lot of promotion to get their artists a Grammy. My company did not do much promotion for me, so I never thought I would win. I didn’t even go to the Grammys that year! The one regret I have in my career is not being there to receive the award. Having a Grammy, at that time, was a big achievement, and it has opened up many doors for me.

You’ve traveled around the world. Do you have a favorite city/venue?

I like to perform where people love and support me. The audience that has been most consistent from the beginning are the people in England. I also love Australia and Latin America.

Tell me something people would be surprised to know about you?

I don’t think there’s anything. I am a pretty open book. But what might surprise people is I like to refinish furniture. I am also very crafty.

Are you excited to come to South Florida and perform at Miami Beach Gay Pride?

I have worked at many clubs in South Florida, but I have never done Pride so I am very excited. I’m very much looking forward to it.

Taylor Dayne

From platinum pop songs to chart-topping dance hits, Taylor Dayne is one of the most popular vocalists of the past three decades. Dayne will take to the main stage at Miami Beach Gay Pride as the headline performer for the Pride Festival at 9 p.m. on Sunday, April 8.

“We’re extremely excited to have Taylor Dayne bring her classic hits to Pride,” said Fernandes. , “So many of her songs are instantly identifiable.  We can’t wait for Pride to ‘tell it to her heart’.”

It was also a pleasure to sit down with Dayne for this Hotspots exclusive interview:

When did you realize you wanted to sing for a living?

At 4 or 5 years old I was a little munchkin running around saying I was going to be a rock-and-roll star. In those days, the radio played everywhere; in the backyard, the kitchens, and when I heard the radio I sang. My first real impression of an artist  was of Stevie Wonder, and from then on I was hooked.

How did it feel the first time you heard yourself singing on the radio?

It wasn’t as impactful to me as it is for other singers, but I know I was driving in my car….And it was before I was singing under the name Taylor Dayne.

You’ve recorded so many songs. What are your favorites?

[I remember hearing “Love Will Lead You Back” with [Arista Records founder] Clive Davis and I thought “WOW!”  but my favorite thing is not recording, it’s singing live! 

Who were your inspirations in the music industry?

Whitney Houston was a label mate. She was an inspiration with her beautiful instrument, and she made a song sellable with her incredible range.

The radio was a big inspiration; it got me through all the hard times. 

In 1990 you worked with Diane Warren, one of the most talented song writers of the past several decades. Tell me about that experience.

I am humbled to say Diane was stalking me before 1990, but she got 3 songs on my album that year. You don’t so much as work with Diane as she is a force of nature. You stay out of the way, let her do what she does, and be happy she wants to work with you. Diane has an incredible gift and ability to position words and songwriting.

You’ve toured all over the world. What has been your favorite gig and favorite city?

I can’t pick my favorite gig: there have been so many. I have numerous favorite cities. I just spent a month in Australia, and it was hard for me with two kids, but I did love it! I also love New York, San Fran and New Orleans!

Your talent has sustained a thirty year. How do you continue to entertain your fan base, and how do you engage new fans?

You entertain yourself by writing new material, and that translates into entertaining your fans. Lately I’ve been a little more edgy and urban, even a little more techno flavored!

You are also an actress. You’ve had roles on television, on Broadway and in feature films. How is acting different from singing?

The mix definitely keeps it fun. I on a reality cooking show. I was the underdog and it was so much fun. I’m so happy I did it. Cooking is as creative as writing a song will ever be. It’s definitely art!

What would people be shocked to find out about you?

I’m a nature girl. I love hiking and outdoor activities. Also, Sundays are family day, my quiet day with my family.

What’s ahead for Taylor Dayne?

I love working.  I love all aspects of it, and I get excited for new projects. I am looking at a side business right now.

For more information visit miamibeachgaypride.com.