Pat Blythe – The Women of Rock Redux Part 3 – Debbie and Cyndi……and music. Chapter 2 – Cyndi!

Hello everyone. Here’s Part 2 about Debbie and Cyndi. Two unique women who dance to their own drummers…..whose talents encompass a variety of musical fields in two decidedly different decades. These ladies can pop and rock, disco down or jazz it up, sing the blues, or pour their soul into a ballad. Their many talents run the full gamut and they have led the way for a new kind of woman in music, adding their own twist and turns to rock and roll.

Quirky, outrageous, individualistic, sexy, daring, entertaining, exuberant, clever, brilliant, artistic and ballsy. These two ladies continue to awe and inspire new generations of performers. Flexing their creative muscles, they’ve “pivoted” again and again, constantly pushing the envelope and challenging the norms…..breaking down barriers. But in the end…..these girls just wanna have fun!

You can find Debbie by clicking HERE

Cyndi…..

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper and her two siblings were raised by her mother after their parents divorced. Lauper was not a success as a student and was apparently kicked out of several parochial schools. However, she had already discovered her love of singing and was writing her own songs by the age of 12. She left home at 17 to escape an abusive stepfather and found her way to Canada. After a short period of time she headed to Vermont and studied art at Johnson State College. Years later Lauper would give gave the commencement address to the 2019 graduating class of Northern Vermont University which includes the former Johnson State College.

Lauper performed in a number of bands in the 1970s and 80s including Doc West and Flyer. In 1978 Lauper formed Blue Angel, with sax played John Turi and landed a record deal with Polydor Records. The band split up after making one record in 1980 and Lauper waded through financial as well as health problems….she temporarily lost her voice due to an inverted cyst on her vocal cord, but recovered with the help of a vocal coach. Lauper always hated the Blue Angel album cover but in 2003, Rolling Stone magazine included it as one of the best new wave album covers. Go figure!

She’s so unusual…..

Now under new management, Lauper burst on to the charts with her debut album She’s So Unusual in 1983. “With her eclectic clothes, flamboyantly styled hair, and contagious pop melodies, Lauper took the music world by surprise.” Charting four top five hits on the Billboard Hot 100 the album sold almost five million copies and earned Lauper the Best New Artist Award at the 1984 Grammy’s. She became all the rage seemingly overnight. She’s So Unusualhas sold over 22 million copies worldwide, making Lauper the first female to have four consecutive Billboard Hot 100 top five hits from a single album.

Seven singles were released from the She’s So Unusual album. Time After Time, written by Lauper and Rob Hyman, became her first number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Slant Magazine praised the track, calling it “the album’s finest moment, if not Lauper’s greatest moment period.” Steve Peake of About.com says Time After Time “stands tall among the music of the entire rock era as one of its all-time great timeless ballads.”  Over 100 artists have covered this song since its introduction.

….and finally, the one that had all the girls heading out en masse…..we really do wanna have fun. This catchy tune reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and gained international recognition, becoming Lauper’s signature song and every woman’s party anthem. It was originally written by Robert Hazard, from a male point of view. With Hazard’s permission, Lauper changed the lyrics slightly so a female could sing it. Gillian G. Gaar, author of She’s a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock & Roll (2002) described the song and video as a “strong feminist statement.”

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

1986 saw the release of True Colors, and with this album, Lauper had become more involved in both the production and songwriting. True Colors, the single, was Lauper’s second song to hit #1, Change of Heartwent to #3 and her cover of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going Oncharted at #12.  The music video for My First Night Without You, from her third album A Night To Remember, was one of the first to be close captioned for the hearing impaired. The album’s big hit was I Drove All Night.

Stage Right

Lauper decided to branch out from music and in 1988 made her film debut in the movie comedy Vibes, playing a psychic in search of a city of gold in South America. The movie was not a box office success but it gave Lauper a taste for acting. She had a recurring role in the sitcom Mad About Youand won an Emmy for her work on the series. She’s also appeared on Bones and Raven, played Michael J. Fox’s ditzy secretary in Lifewith Mikey and won her second Emmy in 1993 for her role as Marianne in Mad About You. Lauper’s songs have been used as soundtracks for over 130 film and television shows.

She made her Broadway debut in 2013 as the composer for the musical Kinky Boots. According to the New York Times, “this storied singer has created a love- and heat-seeking score that performs like a pop star on Ecstasy.” “It’s a shameless emotional button pusher….you might as well just give it up to the audience-hugging charisma of her songs.” Kinky Boots was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and had six wins including Best Musical and Best Actor. Lauper won for Best Original Score and is the first woman to win solo in this category.

Cyndi and her Tony

Activism

Lauper is a champion of gay rights and has been an LGBT rights supporter for her entire career. She has been involved in gay pride events around the world, including here in Toronto, and is extremely passionate about equality. True Colorshas been strongly associated with the gay community, becoming an anthem of acceptance and inspiration. She also launched the Give a Damn campaign to encourage more straight people to get involved in LGBT rights. Above the Clouds was written in memory of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man beaten to death in Wyoming.

Cyndi headlines the 30th Annual TorontoPride

In 2019 Lauper performed at the opening ceremony of Stonewall 50 – WorldPride NYC and in September of that year Netflix announced Lauper will star alongside Jane Lynch in a comedy series. Lauper continues to give her time and her voice in support of LGBTQ communities everywhere.

Legacy

Lauper was described by All Music’s Lindsay Planer as “an iconoclastic vocalist who revolutionized the role of women in rock and roll.”  She is a true original. There was no one like her in the music business then and no one like her now. Hugely entertaining, eclectic, and passionate…..her four-octave range makes her one hell of a singer.

Her influence has cast a wide net and includes Alanis Morissette, Britney Spears, Jewel, No Doubt, Pink, Tegan and Sara, Lady Gaga…and the list goes on. According to Katy Perry, Lauper was her “idol” growing up. Lauper became a feminist idol due to her rearrangement of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Rolling Stone Magazine stated her debut was “arguably the first time explicitly punk-influenced elements were front-and-center on the pop landscape….dressing up the droll Reagan decade in feminist chutzpah.”

A very young Cyndi with Doc West early c1974. The band covered Janis Joplin and disco songs. You’ve come a long way baby!

Never inside the box, over the years, Lauper’s genres have included pop, rock, new wave, blues, soul and country. She is a singer, songwriter, actress, composer and activist. She’s been a wrestling manager, a geisha girl and Ms Magazine’s Woman of the Year. She’s come close to doing it all.

2021 Lauper notes…..

I’ve pretty much covered Lauper up until 2019. A few items of notes not previously included. Her album Bring Ya to the Brink was released in 2008 and featured the Grammy nominated song High and Mighty. In 2010 she released what became Billboard’s bestselling blues album that year, Memphis Blues. Her biography Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir was published in 2012 and in 2016 Lauper “turned” country for the release of her last album Detour. Her son Dex Lauper was her opening act on her Detour tour. The lady does not stand still.

CYNDI!!

Everybody’s Got an Angel – Blue Angel (Cyndi Lauper)

She Bop –  Cyndi Lauper

Time After Time – Cyndi

True Colors – Cyndi Lauper

Just Your Fool – Cyndi Lauper (from Memphis Blues)

I Drove All Night – Cyndi Lauper

Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Heartaches by the Numbers – Cyndi Lauper

I hope you’ve enjoyed their stories as much as I’ve enjoyed researching and writing them. There’s lots of music to follow their journeys.

Cheers!

This week’s podcast is Toronto singer/songwriter Mike Celia
https://luvthemusic.podbean.com

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