Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-04-24
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Nathan Gunn: Going Solo
by Andrew Davis

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Nathan Gunn. Photo by Bill Phelps


For years, baritone Nathan Gunn has garnered critical acclaim for his operatic roles in productions ranging from Billy Budd to Cosi fan tutte. Now, he is applying his talent to Just Before Sunrise, a new solo CD that's a collection of romantic, intimate songs. Gunn recently talked with Windy City Times about the album, his family, fitness—and Prince.

Windy City Times: Tell me about your background.

Nathan Gunn: I grew up in South Bend, Ind., and was educated in a private school called Stanley Clarke, where they had music classes but I was also involved in sports. I then went to St. Joseph's High School, where I was again active in sports and music; in order to make extra money, I would take voice lessons and try to sing at weddings [ and similar events ] . Then, my mother found a voice teacher who introduced me to classical music. The first thing I heard was Mozart's The Magic Flute—and it really struck a chord in me, and I thought seriously about pursuing music. I got involved in a opera workshop at Indiana University at South Bend High School. I [ ultimately ] tried to get into music school, and I did. That was the beginning of it.

WCT: Let's talk about the CD. I'm curious as to how you chose the songs that ended up on it.

NG: What I decided to do from the beginning was to not [ sing ] things that had been recorded before—no aria excerpts. I wanted to do what people used to do: sing songs by people who are alive and who are writing beautiful songs about things today. I also said [ to Sony ] that I wanted to record it in a way that would be listenable to the audience, whether they were going in to work to cooking.

The next thing I did was go through music. David Lai, the album's producer, introduced me to a number of composers I hadn't met before because they were mostly Broadway guys. I decided I wasn't going to eliminate a song I liked because of who wrote it; that's why there's a Billy Joel song, a Sting song and two Tom Waits songs there—the songs are beautiful. Then, there was a weeding-down process. For this particular record, the song that struck a chord for me was [ the Ben Moore song ] This Heart That Flutters; it set a tone for the rest of the album.

WCT: I have to admit that, at first, I thought your voice would be too big for some of the songs on the album, but the songs do come through as being intimate.

NG: Good! That's exactly what I wanted to do. [ Laughs ] When I was a young artist at the Met, Jimmy Levine said, 'Nathan, this is your first year. Things are going beautifully and you're very musical. You think a lot about the words. But at Metropolitan Opera we need you to make music between forte and fortissimo.' That was [ weird ] because I like using the entire palette.

What I discovered about recording is that I can use a whole other range of dynamics and colors; it can almost be like you're whispering. I thought that there might be a whole group of people who might enjoy that.

WCT: What was it like working with Kristin Chenowith [ on the song It Feels Like Home ] ?

NG: She's a doll. Obviously, she's blonde and cute—and she's really charismatic. What you may not know is that she's very musical and serious, and she's a really hard worker. I thought she'd be perfect for this song, because I can play the straight man to her—but I really admired her musical ability and preparation. I can't say enough good things about her.

WCT: You're a family man. You've been married [ for 15 years ] and have five children. How do you do it?

NG: You have to embrace chaos a bit. [ Laughs ]

The life of a traveling minstrel is not the easiest. We put down roots in Champaign, Ill., a long time ago, and that kind of anchor is good for a family. Also, the fact that I'm only one of seven people in that family who has to leave adds a bit of stability. The kids are all great and have big personalities; they certainly keep me in line.

WCT: Do you ever read reviews?

NG: Yeah, sure. You have two choices: You can never read any or you can read everyone's [ reviews ] . I've gotten to the point where the choices I make musically on stage are really mine. I know not everyone agrees with [ the choices ] , and that's OK. I'm open enough for people to have varying opinions, although sometimes it's hard because people can say pretty mean things about you. It's all good in the end, though, as long as I know I'm giving it everything I've got.

I never change what I do because of a review. You don't have enough performances to change what you do.

WCT: Now, everything I've read refers to you being handsome, hunky, etc. Do you ever feel that the description of your physicality takes away from your music?

NG: No, I don't think much about it. I'm getting used to it, because there are a lot of handsome guys out there who sing. It's very flattering—and if it's something that brings people into the theater, that's great.

WCT: I have a fitness-related question. A friend of mine wanted to know how you did leg extensions across the stage in Sweeney Todd while singing.

NG: [ Laughs ] I don't know. I actually do a lot of things to stay in shape. I've been involved in martial arts my whole life, and right now I'm studying aikido. However, the exercise I do that travel really well comes from strength and flexibility exercises my 10-year-old gymnast daughter does. I do those with her—and, let me tell you, they kick your butt. They work your shoulders, your core muscles and your legs.

I also run, although I don't run a lot; jogging is hard on my body. I'm not built for long distances. I don't lift weights; lifting has always put my body out of balance a little bit.

I actually need [ those exercises ] . You know that mindset that one gets before an athletic event—where you're focused? I push my body until I feel a little pain helps me get into that mode. [ To compare, ] I'm naturally introverted, so I have to motivate myself to get on stage.

WCT: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

NG: Grace Kelly; she was absolutely gorgeous. Actually, you know who I would love to do something with? Prince! I think he's a genius.

Nathan Gunn's solo CD, Just Before Sunrise, is out on the Sony Classical label. He is also scheduled to perform Aug. 17 at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park with the the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Karen Mason's For the First Time cabaret in May 2019-04-24 - Broadway star Karen Mason will debut her new show, "Karen Mason: For the First Time," May 17-18 at 7:30 p.m. and May 19 ...

Gay News

MUSIC Ravinia CEO Welz Kauffman on upcoming season 2019-04-24 - Tony Bennett, Chicago, Queen Latifah and Common, Lionel Richie, Sting, Renee Fleming, Josh Groban, Pentatonix, Jennifer Hudson, Steely Dan, OneRepublic, Kesha, Bobby McFerrin, ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Tegan and Sara, 'The Boys in the Band,' Charlize Theron, Janet Jackson 2019-04-23 - Twins/indie band Tegan and Sara are releasing their memoir, High School, reported. It tells their coming-of-age story: growing up in Alberta, Canada, ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Trans baritone, Billboard Awards, Kate McKinnon, Lena Waithe 2019-04-16 - Kirkpatrick & Kinslow Productions have announced it is greenlighting a documentary entitled Lucia's Voice ( Working Title ), noted. The new film ...

Gay News

Big Freedia performances taking place April 20-21 2019-04-15 - LGBT singer Big Freedia ( known as the "Queen of Bounce" ) is coming to Chicago to celebrate Do312 & Chicago Cannabis Alliance's ...

Gay News

Big Freedia to lead April festival 2019-04-10 - LGBT singer Big Freedia is coming to Chicago to celebrate Do312 & Chicago Cannabis Alliance's street festival—the second annual Waldos Forever Fest, at ...

Gay News

BOOKS Queer scholar profiles Chicago house music 2019-04-10 - When Micah E. Salkind was a teenager in Kansas, he found the music that would change his life. "I went to raves and ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Drag Race,' George Michael, 'The Talk,' Don Lemon 2019-04-09 - Production company World of Wonder and Voss Events are presenting The Official RuPaul's Drag Race: Season 11 Tour, to kick off a run ...

Gay News

MUSIC Trans singer-educator talks music, teaching, traveling 2019-04-09 - For singer-educator Tommy Lamont, living an authentic life as a trans woman has been a decades-long journey that culminated in publicly coming out ...

Gay News

Chicago Blues Fest to celebrate Chicago's Blues legacy June 7-9 2019-04-09 - Experience Chicago's rich blues music legacy at the 36th Annual Chicago Blues Festival happening Friday, June 7 to Sunday, June 9 in Millennium ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.