What a fantastic week to be celebrating Cincinnati Pride! It's been a great week for equal rights and the city is celebrating with a plethora of events for Cincinnati Pride. Start your night out right Friday with the Skyy Vodka Pub Crawl. Full schedule HERE.
On Saturday the Pride Parade starts at 2p. Beginning at 7th St & Culvert St and ending at Mehring Way. The Pride Festival begins at 3p at Sawyer Point & Yeatman's Cove. In the midst of the entertainment, at 6p at Sawyer Point, on the lawn in front of the Kroger Stage there will be a group Commitment and Recommitment Ceremony. This is a perfect place for both same-sex and straight couples to unite or reunite in their relationships. Pledge your commitment to each other publicly before friends and family. Following the entertainment will be Pride Fireworks Presented by Procter & Gamble, at the Serpentine Wall at Yeatman's Cove and the day ending at the Pride Ball at Diamond Palace.
One of the many performers is the impressive Jonathan Zeng. Last summer, Jonathan Zeng made national headlines in Cincinnati, Ohio after being rejected from a music teaching position because he is gay. Out of that discrimination came inspiration, Jonathan was inspired to write his own music for the first time. The award winning performer and music educator has now released 3 songs on iTunes for his new EP, Through These Doors. And...one year later, the one and only Debbie Gibson herself is opening for Jonathan! We talked to Jonathan about being an artist in Cincinnati and having the “Out of the Blue” 80's icon open for him.
What does it mean to be able to perform at Cincinnati Pride this year?
I'm thrilled to be able to perform at Cincinnati Pride! A year ago, I experienced personal discrimination because I'm gay. That inspired me to write my own music for the first time. Now, I get the chance to share my music with a huge community of loving and supportive people. My hope is that my story and music will help others who experience discrimination and perhaps inspire them to overcome it through positive action. The time is now!
Your bio is quite amazing, what are some personal highlights of your career thus far?
That's a tough question to answer! I have been fortunate to perform throughout the country in opera and musical theatre. One of the best parts of performing with companies such as Utah Festival Opera, Opera Memphis, and Central City Opera (in the mountains outside of Denver) is the opportunity to get to know a new part of the country. There is such variety and beauty within our country! That being said, performing right here in Cincinnati with Cincinnati Opera, in a number of capacities, has been fantastic! From my first experience (while still in graduate school at CCM) singing in the commissioned opera Rise for Freedom: The John P. Parker Story, to performing in educational outreach initiatives such as Opera in a Box and the school tour Let's Cook up an Opera, to singing in the ensemble for this summer's grand production of Verdi's Aida... Cincinnati Opera has been a wonderful place to work. Music Education & Performance are my passions. With Cincinnati Opera, I've been able to do both.
What is your favorite part of being an artist in Cincinnati now?
The variety of performing I get to do right here in Cincinnati is unique and exciting. There aren't many performers who get to write and perform their own music, perform in great musical theater, sing with a great opera company, and sing with great professional choirs all in one city.
Besides having Debbie Gibson open for you and getting to perform...what are you most looking forward to at Cincinnati Pride?
I can't believe I get to perform after Debbie Gibson!! I'm most excited to share my music with a new, larger audience. I'm thrilled with my songs and band and can't wait to share them. Putting together this great band has been so much fun! ... Dave Norris, member of the band Department Store Alligators is on Keyboard. Erin Bailey is a fantastic drummer who freelances with local theatre companies. The very talented young bass player Brian Goins has his own band Brian Goins & The Goners, and the dynamic Danielle Meo, a colleague of mine from the musical theatre world, sings backup vocals. If I'm lucky, even Debbie Gibson will like it!
What is next for Jonathan Zeng?
My independent debut album, Through These Doors, will be completed by the end of the summer! Check out www.jonathanzeng.com orwww.facebook.com/thejonathanz for more info. I'm always looking for great performing opportunities.
Grab your blue jean jackets (thankfully they are back in style) and join us for Cincinnati Pride!Cincinnati Pride Festival
Saturday June 29th 2:45pm — DJ Jules
3:30pm — Will Reed
4:00pm — Penny Tration & The Cabaret
4:15pm — Linda & Taryn
4:45pm — The Diamond Palace
5:00pm — Ashley Winters & Band
6:00pm — Commitment and Recommitment Ceremony
6:30pm — Muses of Mayhem
7:00pm — Lawanda and Coti
8:00pm — Debbie Gibson
9:00pm — Jonathan Zeng