Sara Bareilles talks bold political convictions, her ‘ride or die’ lesbians and meeting a Drag Race queen
By Chris Azzopardi
Photo: Epic Records
Sara Bareilles wanted to see herself be brave. Of course, she summoned you to do the same atop a bop that wouldn’t take no for an answer, but she’s been a work in progress herself. She followed her own be-bold guidance for her fifth solo album, Amidst the Chaos, making timely feminist assertions (“Armor”) and using coded language to write songs that could be about love but were actually written, mournfully, longingly, with a specific loved one in mind: Barack Obama. Amidst the Chaos is Bareilles’ first studio album in six years, the last being 2013’s The Blessed Unrest. (She also wrote the music and lyrics for Broadway’s Waitress the Musical, which opened in 2015.)
Recently, Bareilles spoke candidly about fearlessly (and finally) speaking her mind, backlash from Trump supporters who are refusing to listen to her new music and criticism that allies shouldn’t sing about the LGBTQ community. But first, drag queens…
You recently had a meet-up with Nina West, a contestant on this season’s RuPaul’s Drag Race, outside the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, home to Waitress the Musical.
I sure did.
You’re like, “I know. I was there.” You didn’t forget.
Of course not! You don’t forget that! It was amazing. I was still in the show at the time and it was the day they announced she was joining the cast, and I walked outside – I was going to physical therapy for my shoulder – and she is so fierce and she was wearing that pink, yellow, super bright dress and she’s underneath the marquee. I’m like, “Give that to me please!” So we just had this beautiful, sweet little meet-up, and then she sent a whole box of goodies and I shared it with the cast and I got my Nina West t-shirt.
You have a Nina West shirt now?
I sure do! There’s an amazing array of t-shirts. Like whoever does that merch is on point.
Now all the queens are gonna be sending you drag queen t-shirts. You’re gonna have a whole closet full of them.
I’ll take it, are you kidding me? That’s all I’m gonna wear this year. (Laughs)
Does this mean you’re a RuPaul’s Drag Race fan?
I am, although I’m not gonna pretend like I watch it every time. I feel like I stay up to date on it because my friends watch it. You sort of keep an eye on it. Like, I love that it exists, and it makes so many people so happy and I love it.
Now, after Nina, there’s basically a gay movement to get you on the show to be a judge.
Oh my god, I would love to.
If you were a judge on the show, what kind of judge would you be? Are you qualified to judge drag?
No – let me just tell you what I know about myself: I am a terrible judge, and I learned this when I was on The Sing-Off, because I was a judge for one season on this a cappella competition show, and who does not want to ever give criticism? Sara Bareilles. It is not why I am on this earth! Other people are good at it; I am not. I am all about, I wanna love you up! I wanna make you feel great! I wanna pick out