Out and proud songstress Anne Steele has a special show coming up at landmark venue, City Vineyard on the Hudson River in Manhattan. She told us all about what inspired this new, one-night-only performance, Jan. 6. Photos: Christopher Boudewyns
Anne Steele has built a dedicated following for doing what she does best: belting out her own and others’ favorite tunes with a rainbow of genuine love and joy. The award-wining singer who spans the gamut musically from cabaret to pop-rock and is beloved internationally, including at sea, shared the details behind her latest show in New York City, and how it differs from her other performances.
I understand this new show is called Taking Back the 6th, and it’s on Jan. 6, a reference to and anniversary of the attempted insurrection at the Capitol. Where were you on Jan. 6 and what are your thoughts about it?
Anne Steele: My wife Kelli and I were at home at our house in Ramsey, NJ that day and we couldn’t believe what was actually happening. To sit at home and watch something that felt like a movie play out LIVE on television was so very upsetting. We call it an Insurrection and an attempt to overthrow our government — as it should be called. Sometimes it’s still hard to process the fact that it happened in this country. It seemed like something that could happen somewhere else in the world but never here. I guess we are all painfully aware now how truly divided we are as a country.
When did you get the idea of the show referencing the event?
Anne Steele: At first we just booked a date for the show and I didn’t even realize that the date would be significant. Then I was writing out the show description and suddenly I realized that it was Jan 6th. I started to think about it a lot and how could I take such a tragic day in our country and turn it into something more positive. So, I decided to call it “Anne Steele: Taking Back the 6th” because that’s what we need to do. We need to shift the narrative to focus more on love, inclusion, understanding and community. So that’s the focus of this show.
You are a very feel-good artist but this is a new direction for you — referring directly to politics. Tell us why and what is at stake?
Anne Steele: I don’t normally get political on stage because I like to give people a break from all the news that is coming at us all the time. I am a respite from all of that, where we can just hear great music, share some laughs and get away from it all for an hour or so. However, there is so much at stake right now. From women’s rights to make decisions about their own bodies, to LGBTQ rights, to voting rights, this country is so divided and toxic. I just have to take a stand and sneak some of that into my shows while still entertaining and creating a safe and fun environment.
Musically, what can we expect from the show in terms of set list, and patter—your anecdotes are always such fun.
Anne Steele: My setlist is eclectic as usual. It will range from Pink to Joni Mitchell to The Beatles to Queen. I also will throw in a few of my original songs. The patter will certainly have personal stories from my life and also some connections to the theme of the show. It will be a fun night without getting too heavy for sure.
Do you have any influences or inspiration for this new format from other performers?
Anne Steele: I just saw Sandra Bernhard’s most recent show at Joe’s Pub and it was a huge inspiration for me. She is truly an expert at patter and building a smart, funny and perfectly timed story. We see her every December and I always say that she gets me exciting to kick off MY new year with tighter patter and funnier stories.
How did you spend NYE and did you make any special resolutions for 2023?
Anne Steele: We always spend NYE with our best friends Jon and Steve. We spend the night at their house and cook in. This year my wife Kelli made chili and we are just playing games having good, low key BFF time. As far as resolutions, I always make the same one: Work hard to be healthier in the next year. Better eating, going to the gym and less alcohol. Let’s see how long all of that lasts! We also decided to do a “no spend January” so that’s a new goal this year.
One major thing I have learned in the past couple of years is to never take anything for granted. Make sure to enjoy every moment. I used to be much more of a no person. That would be my first answer, no. Now I realize that saying yes can open up so many more doors and ultimately make you a happier person. So maybe take a chance and just say yes to the next 3 opportunities that come your way. See how it feels to open yourself up to the possibilities.
How did you feel about the Respect For Marriage Act being supported and signed? What for you are the biggest issues facing LGBTQ folks this coming year?
Anne Steele: My wife and I were very emotional about the passing of The Respect for Marriage Act. We were married in the state of New York on June 1, 2013 and with the Supreme Court reversing landmark decisions like Roe v Wade, we figured our marriage and so many other LGBT marriages would be on the block next. This bipartisan bill, signed by President Biden, will effectively protect so many LGBT marriages and biracial marriages as well. It seems outrageous that we have to pass something like this to protect what we ALL should have the right to do, love and marry anyone we want, but I am so glad they did.
As far as what are major challenges for 2023, I believe we all need to support the transgender community. We are all one community and they are truly having the most attacks against them. From harassment to violence against them and isolation from their own LGBTQ community they are at the biggest disadvantage. We are ALL the letters not just some. My hope is that the LGBTQI+ family will pull together and support each other in any way possible.
Any new music on the horizon?
I need to start writing again. When we were shut down from traveling and performing during Covid all I wanted to do was get back on the road. So now that we are able to travel and do live shows again, I have taken every opportunity I can. So that has left very little downtime for writing. We are just on the move all the time. I do plan and getting back to writing. Some of my favorite songs to sing are the ones I have written because they mean so much to me. So stay tuned.
Now, for those who haven’t been there, why is City Vineyard a special venue?
Anne Steele: I absolutely adore City Vineyard. It’s a beautiful, intimate space with floor to ceiling windows with views of New Jersey and lower Manhattan including the Freedom Tower. They have incredible wine and cocktails and also great food. They started this Voices On The Hudson series for all of January and I love being a part of it. This is my third year to play there in January and I look forward to it every year.
Get tickets here.