From Iowa, With Love: Interview with singer/songwriter Katelyn Epperly

July 13, 2011

My interview with singer/songwriter/pianist Katelyn Epperly about gay rights and her career post-American Idol.

by Josh Langdon, e-mail

Off the Square Portrait Studio/Suzanne Corum-Rich
In 2009, when Iowa became the first state in the midwest to grant the right to marry to same-sex couples, the Des-Moines Register reported: “The landmark ruling is guaranteed to send shock waves through politics in Iowa and beyond.” American Idol Season 9 contestant and native Iowan Katelyn Epperly was speechless.

“I never imagined Iowa to be one of the first to take the much-needed leap of faith,” she said. “But I must say I am extremely proud of my state for doing so.”

A shock wave, for sure. Public support for marriage equality is now at its highest; television shows and movies are often including LGBT characters and content; and public figures like Katelyn Epperly are increasingly using their fame to support gay rights.

I asked Katelyn how she got involved in the gay rights movement, and she said grew up surrounded by homosexuality and was “shocked to realize how much hatred exists toward the gay community” after getting out into the real world.

Click “Read more..” to see the full article and more pictures/videos of Katelyn.

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“Once I got the boost of fame from Idol, I had the opportunity to use that to speak up for what I believe in,” Epperly continued. She started with doing a photoshoot with Adam Bouska for the NOH8 Campaign and now proudly displays “Gay Rights Activist” on her official Twitter profile.

She also plans on writing a song about the LGBT community. In fact, expect one on her album being released on Valentine’s Day next year, February 14, 2012.

Me: Since we don’t want to assume either way (and if you don’t mind saying), are you straight, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender? What advice would you give to musicians who are just starting out and might be afraid to publically come out as gay or come out in support of gay rights?

Katelyn:“I am straight, although I have had my curiosities about other women (who hasn't?). Like race, gender, talent, etc., your sexuality is part of who you are and you should never suppress who you are to please others. Although every person is on a different level of comfortability with their sexuality and so no one should be expected to claim one way or the other.”

While American Idol gives straight contestants like Epperly the platform to influence others on gay rights issues, the show has taken criticism for not being “gay” enough. For example, there has never been an openly gay contestant and Seacrest & Co. have only discussed the heterosexual contestants’ romantic relationships.

The seemingly conservative audience may play a role in the producers’ decision to shun even uttering the word “gay” on air. Although he was not publicly out until his season on the show was over, many people think Adam Lambert didn’t win American Idol because most people knew or assumed he was gay.

I asked Katelyn about the Lambert controvesy as well as the same question I asked her fellow Idol contestant Todrick Hall.

Me: Do you think American Idol and/or its audience is ready for an openly gay contestant? Why or why not?

Katelyn:“It's hard to say. American Idol started out as a family show and still is, for the most part. I am not saying that a contestant admitting to their homosexuality is not acceptable for a family audience, I am only answering your specific question, ‘Do you think American Idol and its audience is ready for an openly gay contestant?’. Hopefully Idol can make steps to create a more open and friendly environment for all kinds of people. Regarding the Adam Lambert/Kris Allen tossup I will say only that you NEVER know with Idol voters. Results have always been a mystery to me.”

See Related Posts: Adam Lambert: Too Vulgar? and People Protest Adam Lambert Because God Hates Fags

Me: “I know other people were just as surprised and sad as I was when you were prematurely voted off of American Idol. What was that experience like? What are some of your favorite and not-so-favorite moments from the show? I definitely loved your performance of “The Scientist” because I could feel your emotion when you were singing it.”

Katelyn:“I'll start off by saying I doubt I will ever return to reality TV and there are too many reasons to list. However, Idol was a wonderful stepping stone for both my career and me as a person. It opened my eyes and changed my life in so many ways. I'm glad you enjoyed "the Scientist", that was probably my favorite to perform on the show. One thing people may not know is that thirty seconds before I went on stage there were technical difficulties with my piano and I was told I would not be able to hear any sound from the instrument. Right when we went live to tape and my fingers hit the first chord of that song, the sound magically came on. It was a miracle. And a valuable showbiz lesson on how to stay calm under pressure.”

Watch Katelyn’s performance of The Scientist:

The entertainment industry is a difficult profession to take risks, and it is inspiring when young, talented musicians like Katelyn Epperly come out to support the LGBT community at the beginning of his or her career.

Please follow Katelyn on Twitter at and keep an eye out for her album that’s going to be released on Valentine’s Day next year.

You can listen to some of Katelyn’s other music streaming on her website, and be sure to check out some music from her folk side project Katelyn & the Bruises on ITunes here:

SEE RELATED POST: Allison Iraheta: A New Gay Icon?

SEE RELATED POST: Interview with former Broadway performer and American Idol contestant Todrick Hall

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:16 AM

    She has such a great voice! Can't wait to hear her album


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