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Lea Delaria


LEA DELARIA has distinguished herself in every form of entertainment that she touches: jazz musician, Broadway diva, actor, writer and stand-up comic. It’s easy to see why Ben Brantley of The New York Times describes Lea as, “Every inch a star.” Her first jazz album, Play It Cool, was released on Warner Jazz in 2000. Hailed by the Times of London as “Best Jazz Album of 2001,” it featured the single “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd,” which remained at #1 on Jazz radio in the states for two months. Q Magazine commented “Lea DeLaria is blessed with one of the most beautiful voices around”, while Time Out claimed “the gal can certainly swing”, and the Guardian summed her up as “talks like a coffee grinder, and sounds like a cross between Ella Fitzgerald and a Broadway diva.” Her second album, Double Standards – which debuted on the Billboard Jazz Chart at #6 – received rave reviews in the UK and US press; the tracks “Call Me” and “Philadelphia” get regular radio play on both sides of the Atlantic.

Lea has appeared in concert at Carnegie Hall, Hollywood Bowl, Lincoln Center, Town Hall, Chicago Symphony, Royal Albert Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Royal Festival Hall and The Sydney Opera House among many others. She has headlined at the New York City Jazz Festival, London Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Brisbane Jazz Festival, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Long Beach Jazz Festival, Luminato Festival and was the featured vocalist for The 50th Anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival Tour. Lea received Best of the Fest awards at both The Edinburgh and Wellington Theater Festivals (1993 and 1994 respectively) in addition to being the first feature soloist show of Jus Pour Rire (1993)

The first openly gay comic to appear on national television in the United States, (Arsenio Hall, 1993) she has toured the world with her one-of-a-kind blend of cool jazz and in-your-face comedy, often creating stirs (The United States Congress officially “criticized” Lea in 1993) but always winning accolades ( Best Live Performance, Back Stage Bistro Award, 1999).

Lea has recorded two live comedy albums (Bulldyke In A China Shop and Box Lunch) and developed specials for HBO, Showtime, Comedy Central, CBC, WNBC and Channel 4 UK, including work for which she received a 1994 regional Emmy Award (“The World According To Us, Lifetime). She has created strange characters for daytime (“One Life To Live” Best Featured Actress Nom Soap Opera Digest Awards 2008 ), primetime (“Will & Grace,” “Friends,” even, believe it or not, “Matlock”) and has appeared on talk shows including NBC’s “Today”, “Chef Du Jour” on The Food Network, “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” and ABC’s “Politically Incorrect.” She is also the voice of Helga on Adult Swim's cult hit “The Oblongs.”

The small screen gave way to the big screen for Lea as she played bit parts in major motion pictures like The First Wives Club and Sgt. Bilko, but more often leads in independents like Rescuing Desire, Mercury In Retrograde, Homo Heights, Edge Of Seventeen (for which her version of Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies” won a 1999 GLAMA Award for Best Jazz Performance) and Fat Rose and Squeaky (playing the title role opposite Academy Award winner Louise Fletcher and four-time Emmy Award winner Cicely Tyson).

Like all singing comics Lea’s greatest desire was to stand downstage center and hold a Broadway audience captive. Her dream came to fruition in 1997 with The Public Theater’s revival of On The Town. Directed by two-time Tony Award winner George C. Wolfe in the role of Hildy she stopped the show eight times a week and received Obie, Drama Desk, Theater World and Drama League Honoree. She returned to Broadway in 2000 to play “Eddie” and “Dr. Scott” in The Rocky Horror Show. She has also been featured as “Joy” in Cinderella at New York City Opera, “Mama Morton” on the National Tour of Chicago," Bottom" in Midsummer Nights Dream at The MacCarter Theater," Audry" in As You Like It Williamstown and Off-Broadway as “Cinder” in Little Fish, “Winnie” in Happy Days (Drama League Honoree), and “Jane” in The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, a role written especially for her by Paul Rudnick.

Her latest CD, THE LIVE SMOKE SESSIONS gives that idiosyncratic DeLaria interpretation to The Great American Songbook and landed her on the GRAMMY BALLAD 2009 Her book, Lea’s Book Of Rules For The World, was released by Dell Books in 2000 and is currently in its third printing.