A member of music royalty, Rufus Wainwright was born in New York to legendary folk singers Kate McGarrigle (of The McGarrigle Sisters) and Loudon Wainwright III, and spent most of his childhood in Montreal after his parents divorced. Known for his baritone voice, his style of music is often referred to as 'baroque pop' or 'operatic pop' and, as is typical of the man, is difficult to pigeonhole.
Proficient on the piano since age 6, Wainwright began touring with his mother, aunt Anna, and younger sister, Martha, when he was 13, and was nominated for numerous vocal and songwriting awards in his teens. After catching the attention of a music producer whilst performing as the singer in residence at Montreal's Cafe Sarajevo in the early 1990s, Wainwright recorded some demo tapes and moved back to NYC in 1996 to perform a regular spot at the club Cafe Fez. Los Angeles beckoned later that year and he recorded his first, self-titled studio album in 1997, which was picked up by Rolling Stone and heralded as one of the best records of the year. Always open about his homosexuality, Wainwright would cite Judy Garland and Edith Piaf as major influences on his musical direction, and he was a constant nominee for awards given by the Gay & Lesbian American Music Awards society.
In 1998, Wainwright toured with Sean Lennon, then moved into the infamous Chelsea Hotel in Greenwich Village in 2000, from where he wrote his seminal album, Poses, which met with a great reception and was followed by over a year of touring, during which Wainwright became hopelessly addicted to crystal meth. Want One (2003) and Want Two (2004) were released to mediocre reactions, but the repackaged version, titled simply Want (2005) went down a storm in the UK, where Wainwright toured extensively and appeared on numerous TV shows. Release The Stars (2007) capitalised on Wainwright's newfound ascendancy, and his live CD, Rufus Does Judy At Carnegie Hall (2007), was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Wainwright wrote his first opera, Prima Donna, in 2008, which he chose to premiere at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, to mixed reviews. In 2009, his sixth album All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu, sold well, and in July 2011, just months after announcing he'd fathered a child with Leonard Cohen's daughter, Lorca, as well as becoming engaged to his male lover, Jorn Weisbrodt, Wainwright released a 19-disc box set, House of Rufus, containing all of his recordings to date.
His next collaboration, with producer Mark Ronson, is a 2012 release called Out Of The Game.
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