The Poetry of the Air

Santafe.com - July 18, 2011

"Queer musicians, singers and composers have had a huge creative impact on music for hundreds of years..."

Live music fills Santa Fe’s night air with a layer of poetic density, and a wealth of local queer musicians help to breathe life into the music. Queer musicians, singers and composers have had a huge creative impact on music for hundreds of years - Tchaikovsky, Sondheim, Cole Porter, Elton John, Bessie Smith, Melissa Etheridge and k.d. lang to name a few.  And there are many who directly impact the music we enjoy here in Santa Fe.

Two years ago Zenobia Conkerite moved to New Mexico from New York City, where she had spent 40 years honing her craft as a singer/musician/composer garnering three Grammy nominations, multiple awards for advertising, cast in a historical Broadway musical, and if all this wasn’t enough she was one of the original singers on the recording of “It’s Raining Men”, an iconic 1980s gay anthem that is still popular today.

Born in L.A. and raised on church music and rock & roll, Zenobia was cast at the age of 18 in the Broadway production of “Hair”, sending her to New York City and an amazing life experience. She stayed in New York, where she could immerse herself in music as a performer and composer and soak up the amazing cultural explosion happening during this time. As someone who also soaked it up in New York in the 1980s & '90s, I can fully appreciate her decision. Amen, sister.

When you experience Zenobia perform, as I have at two gigs at the SilverStarlight Lounge recently, you are instantly aware of just how gifted she is. Her powerful bluesy voice is backed by a very tight band with herself on keyboard. Together, they weave a melodic spell over everyone in the room. Not a single person can sit still…feet taping, shoulders swaying, heads bopping and finally they surrender their bodies to the dance floor, the rhythm and soul of her music victorious.  

When asked if being openly gay has had any effect on her as a performer she honestly admits that “it hasn’t affected my skills as a performer one way or another. I simply share the gifts God gave me.”

Zenobia & Her Band will be performing at various venues in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and she is currently working on a new CD entitled “Resurrection”, which is an apt title.  The last five years she spent in New York found her creatively blocked and physically exhausted and so she headed for the Land of Enchantment and a hopeful healing. And soon the healing began and so did the music, for which we are all the lucky recipients.

For a full gig schedule check out her website at www.musicbyzenobia.com. This summer make it a point to get out and experience this great musician. She’ll breathe life into your night music. Here’s a taste:www.musicbyzenobia.com/listen.


Another favorite queer musician is Ron Romanovsky (“Dadu”) who I will feature in my next blog.