Rufus Wainwright

July 22, 1973

Rufus Wainwright Artistfacts

  • Rufus is the son of folk singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, who died of cancer in 2010 at 63. His sister, Martha Wainwright, is also a musician. Loudon and Kate got married in 1971, had Rufus in 1973, had Martha in 1976, but split up soon after. Rufus and Martha were mainly raised by their mother.
  • He was an early signing to the DreamWorks label, which was partly owned by Steven Spielberg and had their hooks in films as well as music. In 2001, the label helped secure Wainwright two high-profile placements: His cover of "Across The Universe" was used in the film I Am Sam, and his sublime rendition of "Hallelujah" appeared in Shrek. These covers, especially of "Hallelujah," are streamed far more than any of his original songs.
  • Rufus says he inherited his father's voice and mannerisms, but he learned from his mother.
  • His mother described Rufus' voice as a cross between the opera singer Maria Callas and the soul singer Marvin Gaye.
  • He is openly gay and never tried to hide it, coming out in his teen years. "My hat's off to all you closeted people," he told Rolling Stone. "It must take incredible wherewithal and guts to be so dishonest."
  • The Wainwright family is very close to the songwriter Leonard Cohen and his daughter Lorca. Rufus has been friends with the Cohens ever since he was a teen boy and practically grew up with young Lorca. In 2011, Lorca gave birth to a little girl, Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen, who she had with Rufus. Lorca is not a surrogate mother in any way but a full-fledged parent along with Rufus and his lover John Weisbrodt.
  • He is a big fan of opera as well as Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, and other rock/folk/poppers.
  • He was born in New York, but considers Montreal, where he was raised, his hometown.
  • Rufus was addicted to crystal meth in the early '00s. When quitting cold turkey didn't work, he went to rehab in 2002 following his first headlining tour. Wainwright says he was always sober for performances though.
  • Rufus plays piano, guitar, and sings. He considers the piano as being like his wife, while the guitar is an affair he has from time to time.
  • When Wainwright was 14, he was accosted by an older man in a park who let him be after Rufus faked a seizure. Shaken, he didn't have another sexual encounter for five years, which may have saved his life. "It was a godsend, really, because of the AIDS epidemic," he told The Village Voice. "It probably kept me alive."
  • He finds his creative zen through very long walks. In a Songfacts interview with Wainwright, he explained: "There are these moments where my brain turns off or has to go more into a survival mode or just get very simple, and lyrics will start to come to me then. Yes, I go through the pain and the happiness and the this and the that, but if I can get myself into somewhat of a trance - and walking would be #1 on the list - then lyrics can come much easier because I'm not focusing on it so much."

Comments: 1

  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScI thought Nina Simone was a jazz singer.
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