How does a musician born into a famous musical family craft his own voice? This Sunday, Homer can see and hear how Rufus Wainwright has done that when the singer-songwriter performs at the Mariner Theatre. Wainwright is the headline act in a show that includes special guest performances by some of his family. His sister, Lucy Wainwright Roche, opens the show, and Rufus Wainwright will be joined on stage by special family guests, including his father, Loudon Wainwright III, step-mother, Suzzy Roche, and aunt, Sloan Wainwright.
Wainwright comes from a musical pedigree that is bar none. His mother, Kate McGarrigle, who died in 2010 of cancer, was a folk singer who performed with her sister Anna McGarrigle. At the young age of 13, Rufus joined his family on tour as the folk group, “The McGarrigle Sisters and Family.”
“It’s not to say I was born into music. Music speaks to me and I speak through the music. So ultimately I was fortunate to be surrounded by musicians the way I was,” Wainwright said in a phone interview.
Rufus Wainwright’s music is often described as “baroque pop” or “popera.” Drawing heavy influences from opera, Wainwright musical performances are packed with strings, horns and operatic choruses. He leads the performance from his piano, singing with his rich tenor voice in an ensemble made up in part by family.
“Having the musical influences that I’ve had in my family was obviously very formative,” Wainwright said. “My family plays a large part in everything I do. Playing together sort of comes natural to us; it’s how we are.”
Rufus Wainwright released his self-titled debut album in 1998. Since then, his music career has earned him two Juno awards and a Grammy nomination. He’s also written music for films including Shrek, Zoolander and Brokeback Mountain.
Though Wainwright’s music contains themes of opera, love, pop culture and literature, songs like “Liberty Cabbage” expresses some the artist’s views. In 2012 Wainwright married his partner, Jörn Weisbrodt.
“I wouldn’t focus on saying I’m a libertarian. What it boils down to, for me, is that we all have the right to pursue our own happiness and joy in this life, so long as we aren’t harming or taking joy from others,” Wainwright said.
Wainwright and Weisbrodt have a daughter, Vivia Katherine Wainwright Cohen.
In 2008 Wainwright started Blackoutsabbath, a movement to recognize a day of the year to become more environmentally conscious. Participants are encouraged to unplug from all electronic devices and live off the grid.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, Wainwright has found much success with social networking and online media. When Wainwright began writing his opera, “Prima Donna,” he expected challenges in bringing it to life.
“I’ve always been in love with opera — it resonates with me,” he said. “I truly believe opera is timeless and that’s been a big part of what I do.”
Wainwright took to crowdsourcing so he could raise money to record a studio album of “Prima Donna.” Nearly 2,000 people online pledged to support the album.
“You know that was very special. I’ve always wanted to write an opera and “Prima Donna” was a very big deal for me. To see that it was so well received meant a lot me,” Wainwright said.
This will be Wainwright’s first time in Alaska, and he is excited to be welcomed into Homer.
“Alaska is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. I love to travel and I am thrilled to see Alaska’s beauty first hand,” Wainwright said.
Rufus Wainwright will perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Mariner Theater. Tickets are $36 and are available at the Homer Bookstore and www.inticketing.com
7:30 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $36 at Homer Bookstore
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