One of the great joys of Pride is the ongoing schedule of fabulous performing artists turning it up for the celebrating crowds throughout the weekend. This year will continue in that long tradition, with a diverse group of LGBTQ+ and allied musicians, dancers and DJs providing a variety of great entertainment to suit any taste.
The festival headliners, as announced in March, are Grammy Award-winning global superstar Meghan Trainor and British electronic pop trio Years & Years. Both concerts will be held at the Park Stage, June 8 and 9, respectively.
Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Trainor first made history in 2014 with her diamond-certified smash single “All About That Bass,” which became one of the best-selling singles of all time. Her 2015 first album “Title” debuted at number one in six countries, and was followed in 2016 by “Thank You,” which debuted at number three on the Billboard 200. Influenced by music from the ‘50s and ‘60s, her retro-infused songs are known for their lyrics that express a contemporary female perspective, focusing on issues like body image and empowerment. In 2018, through a love letter published in Billboard, Trainor said, “To the entire LGBTQ+ community, I love you with all of my heart, I appreciate you endlessly, and I support you with all that I have and believe in. I am there for you as you have been for me.”
British synth-pop band Years & Years hails from London, where they were founded in 2010 and went through some reconfiguration before making a splash with several singles culminating in their first album, “Communion,” which debuted at number one on the U.K. chart in 2015. There have been two other albums since then, and a devoted legion of fans are now dedicated to the band and members Olly Alexander, Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Türkmen. Lead vocalist Alexander has simultaneously emerged as a culturally important new voice and a once-in-a-generation frontman. His brave, unwavering and inspiring open-mindedness has helped a generation start important discussions around mental health and LGBTQ+ issues. Years & Years push boundaries by challenging notions of identity and sexuality in a way that is new to pop music, and totally their own.
Besides the two headlining acts, the legendary Paula Abdul will be highlighting Pride’s official “Opening Ceremony,” which takes place Friday night June 7, from 8-11 p.m. For anyone who wants to get Pride Weekend started early, this free kick-off celebration at West Hollywood Park will feature a non-stop line-up of entertainment including a special 60-minute concert by the one and only Abdul. The former Laker Girl rose to fame choreographing music videos for Janet Jackson before her 1988 debut studio album “Forever Your Girl” yielded a slew of hit singles (including the now-iconic “Opposites Attract,” which earned her the Grammy for Best Music Video) and became one of the most successful album debuts up to that time. She has gone on to a spectacular career choreographing for videos, films and television, with two Emmy awards and an MTV Video Music Award to go along with her Grammy, and gained a whole new generation of fans from her work as a judge on reality competition shows like “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” Her high-energy performance is a perfect way to get your Pride experience started off right.
The rest of the weekend offers plenty of other opportunities to get your groove on. On Saturday, the Park Stage will host a variety of acts. Among them are:
Cupcakke, the Chicago rapper who uses her songs as a platform to advocate for LGBTQ rights and encourage female empowerment.
New York Indie pop band The Drums, whose reverb-heavy surf rock sound has powered them through a succession of increasingly popular albums, including “Brutalism,” their fifth and most recent.
Ah-Mer-Ah-Su, the Oakland-based transfeminine musical artist who celebrates the experience of black trans lives while critiquing “the white gaze of Blackness at the intersection of trans womanhood,” in the words of queer news outlet them.us.
Shaun Ross, widely known as the first male African-American model with albinism, whose training with the Alvin Ailey School led to a career in the fashion industry modeling for the likes of Alexander McQueen and Givenchy, and who has danced in music videos for Katy Perry, Beyoncé, and Lana Del Rey, among many others.
Saturday on the Plaza Stage also includes a varied slate of talent, including:
Christian Castro, the Mexican pop singer who has won accolades and awards while gathering an international army of fans.
Grammy nominee Asiahn, the Charleston-raised and Los Angeles-based songstress who brings an empowered female perspective, positive mindset, and a whole lot of raw attitude to simmering throwback R&B tracks with soul to spare.
Brazilian drag queen and singer-songwriter Pabllo Vittar, whose viral videos have led to two albums (so far) full of music described by the New York Times as “unofficial anthems for Brazil’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.”
Among the performers Sunday at the Park Stage are:
Greyson Chance, the American singer, songwriter, and pianist whose April 2010 performance of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” at a sixth-grade music festival went viral on YouTube, who has since gone on to success as an adult music artist with two albums to date.
British singer and Grammy-winning songwriter MNEK, who’s worked with musicians ranging from Becky Hill and A*M*E to Christina Aguilera and Madonna in addition to performing his own compositions.
Sunday’s offerings at the Plaza Stage include:
Grammy-winner Ashanti, who in addition to her multi-platinum recording career maintains an active schedule as an advocate and philanthropist around such issues as family violence, anti-LGBTQ bullying and discrimination, and cancer research.
RuPaul’s Drag Race veteran and fan favorite Miss Vanjie, who went from first-episode elimination in her first appearance on the show to international name recognition and a burgeoning singing and dancing career.
Sir Babygirl, a pop singer and performer who wrote and recorded her debut album, “Crush On Me” over the course of three years in her bedroom studio; she identifies as non-binary and bisexual and makes music that she hopes will speak to the queer experience.
This is only a partial listing of performers. There are additional acts scheduled for the Park and Plaza Stages throughout the weekend, as well as continual entertainment slated for the Pride on the Boulevard Stage, with last-minute additions still being announced. Be sure and visit the LA Pride website to find a complete listing of all the artists who will gather in the spirit of the festival’s 2019 theme – #JustUnite.