The Utah Pride Festival will be headlined by actress, comedian and gay-right activist, Roseanne Barr, a Utah native. The Emmy and Golden Globe winner will be headlining the Grand Marshal Reception and participating in the parade. Barr graduated from East High School in 1973 and has returned to Utah on several occasions, including once to help raise money for the AIDS Project of Utah, for which her gay younger brother, Ben Barr, served as the executive director.
The festival is also bringing hip-hop artist and chart-topping singer Kat Deluna to headline Saturday night’s festivities. On Sunday the beats will continue with Big Freedia, the GLAAD-nominated artist whose hits are commonplace in gay dance clubs all across the country. Other performers will include 1980s chart-toppers, Exposé and Utah-native Justin Utley.
Kat Deluna is an American hip-hop artist with roots from the Dominican Republic. While her music and albums did not receive platinum recognition in the U.S., her music is extremely popular in Belgium and France. And her premier 2007 single, “Whine Up,” which landed in the top 10 in several countries, stayed in the top 40 in the U.S. for several weeks, and was well-played in clubs and dance floors. Deluna has a loyal gay following and is currently promoting her album on an all-gay club tour across the country.
Big Freedia is the stage name for Freddie Ross, one of the premier disc jockeys and performers in the gay circuit, with sold-out performances and packed clubs throughout the nation. He is a New Orleans native where he performs nearly nightly at clubs around the city. His music is sometimes labeled, “Sissy Bounce.” But he commonly says that he defies labels and all bounce music is the same. His hits include “Gin in my System,” and “Azz Everywhere!”
Exposé became the first group to have four hits on the Billboard Top 10 in 1988, including their hit, “Seasons Change.” Their music was popular in dance clubs in the late 1980s and early ’90s. The group has been making regular appearances at Pride festivals throughout the U.S., including Los Angeles Pride in 2009. The group consists of three women, Ann Curless, Jeanette Jurado, and Gioia Bruno who formed the group in 1986. After disbanding in 1996, the group is back and better than ever.
Justin Utley began his career as a Mormon contemporary, and throughout the 1990s he performed for faith-based audiences. During the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City he was a featured performer. However, in 2006, he left his Mormon faith and Utah behind when he moved to New York and began working on his album, Runaway. Utley cited the Mormon Church’s anti-gay stance as one of his reasons for leaving the church.