Rufus Wainwright

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Rufus Wainwright (born 22 July, 1973) is a Canadian-American singer-songwriter.



Wainwright was born in Rhinebeck, New York to folk singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle (they later divorced while he was a child). He began to play the piano at age six, and by age thirteen he was touring with his sister Martha, mother Kate, and aunt Anna as the "McGarrigle Sisters and Family." His song "I'm Running," which he performed in the movie Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller, was nominated for the 1989 Genie Award for Best Original Song and earned him a nomination for the 1990 Juno Award for Most Promising Male Vocalist.

Despite being born in the United States, Wainwright strongly identifies with Canada and still maintains a residence there. He lived in Montreal with his mother for most of his childhood and briefly attended McGill University, where he studied both classical and 'rock' piano. Additionally, some of his songs feature his mastery of French.

Coming out as gay while still a teen, Wainwright found solace through opera throughout his adolescent years (for instance, his track Barcelona features lyrics of Guiseppi Verdi). He also became an enthusiast of such performers as Edith Piaf, Al Jolson and Judy Garland. Often being the supposed "rival" of mid 90's legend Jeff Buckley, Wainwright sent tapes to Sin-e' (the club Buckley won over Wainwright to perform at), but later befriended Buckley; sadly, this was shortly before Buckley's death. Rufus said "he was lovely."

After having been a fixture on the Montreal club circuit, Wainwright cut a series of demo tapes, one of which found itself in the hands of DreamWorks executive Lenny Waronker. The label signed him and he released an album in the spring of 1998. This album received much critical acclaim in Canada, and was recognized by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the best albums of the year. Wainwright's sophomore album, Poses (2001), brought similar acclaim.

Wainwright's first main exposure to the American public came as an opener to singer Tori Amos in 2001 and 2002. He garnered praise for his performance and began touring as a main act shortly afterwards. He has frequently toured as the opener for Sting and co-headlined with Ben Folds and Guster in the summer of 2004. He still often performs with his sister Martha Wainwright (now herself an emerging artist) on backup vocals.

In addition to being a pianist, Wainwright is a guitarist, often switching between the two instruments when performing live; however, his mastery of the guitar does not approach his talent with the piano. While some of his most moving songs feature just Wainwright with his piano, many of his songs display complex layering and harmonies, occasionally comprising hundreds of individual parts. Wainwright is an avid opera fan, and the influences on his music are evident, as well as his love of Schubert 'Lieder'; his music has been described as "Popera" (Pop Opera) or "Baroque Pop." His lyrics are filled with allusions to opera, literature, pop culture, and, more recently, politics (in songs such as "Gay Messiah" and "Waiting for a Dream"). His talent has been widely recognized and praised by such artists as Elton John, Morrissey, John Mayer, Sting, and he continues to influence such artists like Keane, Alanis Morrisette, Scissor Sisters, and Ben Folds.

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Rufus Wainwright playing in London in 2004. By Matt Whitby

Wainwright's newest album, Want Two, from which four songs were released as the EP Waiting for a Want, was released from DreamWorks/Geffen on November 16, 2004. It is a companion to the 2003 release Want One. His latest, a live iTunes Sessions EP entitled "Alright Already", was released March 15, 2005. He made his motion picture debut in The Aviator. He also appears in the film, Heights.




Awards and nominations

Juno Awards

  • 1990 - Nominated, Most Promising Male Vocalist of the Year
  • 1999 - Won, Best Alternative Album, Rufus Wainwright
  • 2000 - Nominated, Best Songwriter; "Poses," "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk," and "Grey Gardens"
  • 2002 - Won, Best Alternative Album, Poses

Genie Awards

  • 1989 - Won, Best Original Song, "I'm A Runnin'"


External links


nl:Rufus Wainwright


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