Singer and activist Cyndi Lauper is partnering with fellow pop icon Boy George to co-headline a few East Coast dates on her tour this spring. Luckily for us, this dynamic duo is coming to the area May 28 in Bethlehem and May 29 in Atlantic City.
For more than three decades, Lauper has been one of the most adventurous and versatile voices in pop and rock music, as well as a vocal supporter of the LGBT community. Lauper’s latest album, “Detour,” finds the colorful singer with the powerful voice exploring classic country songs from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, with guest appearances from country-music superstars like Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Willie Nelson.
Lauper talked to us about her new country album and how she intends to make her upcoming tour fun for her fans this year.
PGN: What is it about mid-century country music that made you want to do an album like “Detour”?
CL: Seymour Stein was one of the great A&R [artists and repertoires] guys that shaped music in New York City in the ’70s and ’80s and I have always wanted to work with him. I was going to do another covers project; I knew he would be the perfect partner with this project. We were just hanging out and listening to songs. At the time, I wasn’t sure what direction I was heading but then when I started listening, I found that the songs I was moved by were songs from the same era as the blues record. Seymour explained that the golden era of country, which all of the songs off “Detour” are, was happening at the same time as the era of “Memphis Blues.” I really liked the idea of doing a companion record to “Memphis Blues” and to look at music from both sides of that street.
PGN: What instruments did you end up playing on “Detour”?
CL: The dulcimer. It was the first time I ever brought that instrument to a session and the other players said, “Cool!”
PGN: Was it at all intimidating doing a country album with people who are legends and superstars in that genre?
CL: Of course, but I’m good under pressure. The first session I did for the songs that had duets was with Vince who made it so easy. He’s so mellow and talented and open as an artist. That session went so well it made me think, Hey, I can do this! It was just amazing to work with Vince and Willie Nelson, Jewel, Alison Krauss and Emmylou Harris. Just really a gift.
PGN: Out of all the collaborations on the new album, which guest musician was the most fun to work with?
CL: That’s impossible to answer. I mean, come on. How do you choose between brilliant and brilliant? And everybody is so nice and kind.
PGN: Are your upcoming tour dates going to be all country-music concerts?
CL: I will do all my hits. I mean, what’s a Cyndi Lauper show without them! I will do some other fan faves and of course some songs from the new CD, “Detour.” Have some cool new visuals on this tour too. You are going to have to come and see for yourself. But it’s a great mixture. I think you will have a good time so don’t be silly; go out and buy some tickets.
PGN: Have you ever toured or performed with Boy George before? And will you and he be performing any songs together on your co-headlining dates this spring?
CL: This would be our first tour together. And even though I’ve known George for years and years, the first time we performed together was last December at my annual Home for the Holidays concert. It was so much fun, we just looked at each other and said, “Come on, let’s do this again.” So our managers got together and found a block of time that worked for both of us. We are doing seven shows together. It’s going to be great. I’m singing some on his set and he is singing on mine. We are flip-flopping who closes the show, but we will both be on stage the same amount of time: a real co-headline kind of party. I just can’t wait to hit the stage with him on this tour. We have some surprises up the sleeve.
PGN: This year is the 30th anniversary of your “True Colors” album. Are there any plans to celebrate or perform that album?
CL: Absolutely. It will not be a Cyndi Lauper show without some of the hits on the “True Colors” album.
PGN: Do you think you will ever do another True Colors Festival tour?
CL: Absolutely! We will do it again, probably a few years out, but we do want to do it again. This tour will keep me busy ’til the fall. I will be in the U.S. and Europe this summer, then also making plans to tour Japan and Australia in 2017. I am working on another musical, which I am pretty excited about. “Kinky Boots” is keeping me quite busy too. It’s opening in Australia, Japan, Germany, Sweden and is already in Toronto and Seoul so I need to stay on top of that. Of course, I have my family to take care of so it’s a pretty full life right now.
PGN: Do you think you might cancel your concert in North Carolina on this tour because of its antigay law? How do you feel about other artists who have done so?
CL: No I am still performing in North Carolina. What matters is that everyone takes a stand against HB2 the best way they know how. And I thought there would be less effect if I didn’t play. I do theaters, you know. So it’s not a financial blow if there’s no Cyndi Lauper show. I figured I’d turn my concert into a bit of a rally. Also I got AEG to agree to change one of the bathrooms there at the venue to a gender-neutral bathroom. It’s going to stay that way always. AEG really stepped up for me on that one. Also I’m donating my profits and my manager Lisa Barbaris and agent Marsha Vlassic are donating their commissions to HRC and Equality NC so we can help them fight the good fight in Washington.
PGN: Will there be any new pop/dance music coming from you in the immediate future?
CL: My next studio CD will be of new material. I just haven’t had time because I’m writing for a new musical. Once I finish that, I will start writing songs for my next CD but I try not to think of what’s next when my new CD is just out. I’m excited for it!
Cyndi Lauper and Boy George team up 7:30 p.m. May 28 at Sands Bethlehem Events Center, 77 Sands Blvd., Bethlehem, and 7:30 p.m. May 29 at the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa Event Center, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, N.J. For more information or tickets, call 609-317-1000 or visit www.cyndilauper.com.