City Winery Nashville, Hunter Kelly and the Black Opry are joining forces for We Will Always Be: Celebrating Nashville’s Queer Voices, an event protesting the recent passage of anti-LGBTQ legislation in Tennessee and spotlighting queer performers in country and Americana. All proceeds from the event will go to Inclusion Tennessee, which provides services and resources to improve the lives of LGBTQ people throughout the state.
The event, set to take place on March 21 at City Winery Nashville, will feature performances from an all-star cast of local drag queens including Britney Banks, Dee Zastris, Portia, Shelby La Banks, Trinity Monroe, Vivica Steele, Cya Inhale, Justine Van de Blair, Shelby Lá Banks, Vidalia Anne Gentry and RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Jaidynn Diore Fierce.
“You can’t eradicate queer people. We just are. We always have been, and we always will be,” says Kelly, who hosts PROUD Radio on Apple Music. “We claim this space to celebrate the queer community’s creative light, which our fellow Tennesseans are trying their best to extinguish. They’ve tried this before, but we’re still here. They can’t and they won’t succeed this time either.”
We Will Always Be will also include songwriter rounds curated by Kelly and the Black Opry and performances by country and Americana artists including Mary Gauthier, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Kaitlin Butts, Katie Pruitt, Lilly Hiatt, She Returns from War and the Shindellas. Among the Black Opry members who will be featured are Autumn Nicholas, Jett Holden, Carmen Dianne, Josey and Ally Free.
“As an organization run by queer people, it has always been an integral part of our mission to promote LGBTQ+ inclusion and intersectionality,” says Black Opry Founder and Co-Director Holly G. “We are proud to take a stand along with Hunter Kelly, City Winery, and all of the performers involved.”
The City Winery event dovetails with Love Rising, a benefit concert for LGBTQ organizations scheduled to take place March 20 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena and featuring performances from stars including Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, Brittany Howard, Joy Oladokun, Yola, Mya Byrne and Allison Russell. Both events arrive as Tennessee lawmakers continue an unprecedented assault on LGBTQ rights, which includes bills targeting drag performers and banning necessary gender-affirming care for trans youth.
“City Winery will continue to promote and support drag performances and all LGBTQIA+-related shows and events that have been a constant source of entertainment and joy to our community,” says Lauren Polley, City Winery Nashville’s programming director. “We will not be detoured by any false, bigoted legislation. We’re an inclusive venue that celebrates diversity and amplifies voices that need to be heard.”
Tickets for We Will Always Be: Celebrating Nashville’s Queer Voices will go on sale at 12pm on March 10 via CityWinery.com.
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