[Note: This interview from February 2009 marked the first time that Ann Hampton Callaway had candidly discussed her life as a lesbian. It originally ran in the New York Blade]
Ann Hampton Callaway—the multiplatinum-selling pop and jazz singer/songwriter best known for writing and singing the theme from the TV hit “The Nanny” as well as songs for Barbra Streisand and others—will perform at Dizzy Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center from February 17 to March 1 to celebrate her new CD “At Last.”
She has now started talking about her personal life in public for the first time. She and her partner Kari live in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. Ann likes to say “Ann Hampton Callaway’s new CD is coming out on February 3 and so is she!!!”
So your CD came out and so have you!
[Laughs.] I don’t remember when I thought about that phrasing. It feels good! Free at last!
This was a long time in the happening. I’ve been out to my friends and my peers for many, many years. But I was also with a previous partner who didn’t want me to be out, and I had to respect her wishes. But in the past year I’ve been much more involved in political activities, trying to elect a president who can bring about change, realizing the struggles we have with Prop 8. I also realized how short life is, and how important it is to give yourself a chance to be the most honest and real you. It seemed like the extra step I needed to take not only as an individual but as a citizen. I think that artists have the opportunity to offer inspiration to people who may still need it and I think even thought we’ve come a long way in this community, we still have a long way to go.
So you had one of those “Obama moments” where…
Yeah, I’ve been Obamacized! [Laughs.] But you know I also turned 50 last year, and as always those big birthdays are occasions to be philosophical. I’m always trying to encourage my friends to be themselves, achieve their greatest potential, to live out their dreams to get past their fears. I’m a pretty good advocate for my friends, but I think sometimes you’re the last person to do that for yourself. And also I’m finally with a partner who feels like “the one,” who is comfortable with people, the public, with my expansiveness as an artist and a person; so we can share a much more open life together because she’s comfortable with it, and that makes all the difference in the world.
How long have you been together?
We are actually celebrated our two year anniversary of realizing we could be together at the beginning of this month. It was love at first sight, and we were both in unhappy relationships and neither one of us really knew that there was anything possible between us. I ended my relationship—that should have ended a few years before. It took us a while to realize we could be more than friends. When it finally became evident, it was an incredibly joyous occasion. I knew right away the moment I saw her “This is the person I’ve been looking for my entire life.”
Now back to that CD that also “came out”…
Yeah! It’s so personal about Kari and me; the last song on the CD is “On My Way to You,” a reflective look at how do we get to the person that we love. All the ups and downs, the delicious experiences, the disappointments and the yearning. I wanted the CD to be a cinematic journey on the way to love, starting with a question and ending with an answer. It expresses a lot of feelings about love in my life.
And Kari is the inspiration?
Yes, she has been incredibly inspiring to me. She’s the most big-hearted, loving supportive person. She’s not at all intimidated by my busy life or my fans or the sheer amount of people that come into my life. She loves people too, and she loves travelling. It’s a beautiful life that we’re able to share together. I never thought this was possible. I’m hopping on an airplane every other day, and that’s not a problem.
Difficult and glamorous life.
Exactly! Like good high heels. [Laughs.]
To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see jonathanwarman.com.