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An Honest Showing

Women traditionally dominate the queer rock and folk music genres. Many of them are also able to reach beyond a gay audience. The most successful gay male musicians tend to stick to pop and dance music.

But a generation of gay male folk and rock artists is emerging with break-out potential from their core gay fan base. Eric Himan is one of the best, gaining fans at festivals and coffee houses around the country.

Himan touches listeners with heartfelt melodies and earnest lyrics. Mainstream chart success might not be on the immediate horizon, but his talent is steadily attracting a diverse group of fans.

The folk crooner, 24, released his third album "All For Show" this month, following his debut self-titled record and 2002’s "I Go On." He continues his public soul-searching on the new disc with introspective songs that zoom in on love, personal strength and relationships.

Himan was born in South Carolina but moved a lot as the son of an Air Force officer. After losing his mother and sister in a car accident at the age of four, Himan used music to come to terms with his loss.

His father, an avid guitar player, encouraged his son to play, and he developed a passion for rock, blues and folk and started to create his own music.

Himan is a work in progress who is maturing as an artist with each new release. "All For Show" is far more personal than his previous work, Himan says.

"I wanted to create a CD that was a little bit more honest, a little more about myself," he says. "My debut was really about if I could do it, and my second record was mostly about experimenting with different genres of music."

No wonder the singer chose the flamenco-infused song "All For Show" as the disc’s title track.

"It sums up a lot of the issues on the CD," Himan says. "I sing about what’s true and honest, and when you put it all out there, it is all for show."

The song "Luxury’s Definition" explains that being able to speak out in honesty is his definition of luxury.

"For some, it is free speech; for others, money and for some it is equal rights," Himan says. "Luxury to me is the ability to tell the truth and not be sorry for it."

On the catchy "Kinda Hard," the crooner sings, "Kinda hard to be yourself when everyone has something to say."

Himan says the song is about his insecurity as an artist.

"As a singer, I take risks and take a path that is unpredictable," he says. "This automatically comes with some sense of insecurity."

One of the most poignant songs on the album is "My Decision," which deals with rape and its aftermath. The song was inspired by a real-life experience of a friend, Himan says.

"Every year, she is still confronted by the day of the rape," he says.

The well-toned, tattoed singer is a welcome fresh face in queer music. His unique appearance, musical talent and obvious sex appeal set him up for the big time.

Himan says that it will take honesty to achieve mainstream success.

"People can tell you to do certain things to please people, but you can’t fool the audience," he says. "It is like as with children. They know what is real and not."

But Himan doesn't worry if his sexual orientation works for or against his career.

"All that is important to me is to be honest," he says. "I can not be who I’m not, simply because somebody else doesn’t like it. I rather have people listen to my music and know everything about me to understand where I’m coming from."

December 27, 2003 | Permalink

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