Affectionately referred to by Elton John as “the greatest songwriter on the planet” and praised by The New York Times for his “genuine originality,” RUFUS WAINWRIGHT has established himself as one of the great male vocalists and songwriters of his generation by carving out his own singular sound.
Born to folk singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, Wainwright grew up entrenched in iconic music making. He began to play the piano at six, was touring with his mother and Aunt Anna as the McGarrigle Sisters and Family by 13, and had a Juno nomination for his performance of “I’m Running” in the film Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller by the time he was 16.
Throughout his adolescent years, Wainwright found solace in opera. He also loved performers such as Edith Piaf, Al Jolson, and Judy Garland. After spending time on the club circuit, Wainwright cut a series of demos, one of which found itself in the hands of Lenny Waronker at the newly formed DreamWorks.
So taken with the demos, DreamWorks made Wainwright their first signed artist. His self-titled debut album was released in 1998 to critical acclaim, with Rolling Stone magazine anointing the work as one of the best albums of the year. Wainwright’s subsequent releases, Poses (2001), Want One (2004), and Want Two (2005), continued to build his reputation as a critically established artist.
Release The Stars (2007) is his first self-produced effort and has just gone Gold in the UK. It has been described by The New York Times as “simultaneously forthright and evasive, urgent as well as coy,” and has been characterized by USA Today as being “always compelling” and by People as being “something special.”
In June 2006 Wainwright paid tribute to Judy Garland’s best-selling 1961 Judy at Carnegie Hall album with his own traversal of her program at Carnegie Hall. Wainwright brought that show to sold-out houses in London and Paris, and he saluted Garland’s follow-up Hollywood Bowl concert at the Bowl this past September, exactly 46 years after that legendary performance.
Wainwright’s next album is a live recording from his Carnegie Hall concert, to be released in December. A live DVD of the London Palladium concert is also being released. Beyond recording, Wainwright is a noted actor, having starred in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator and Merchant Ivory’s Heights. He was featured in the Leonard Cohen documentary I’m Your Man and in the Denys Arcand film L’Age Des Tenebres. Wainwright has also recently completed an original piece of music for the Stephen Petronio Dance Company.