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Monday 10 April 2017

Sound of Pride: Charlotte Yates

Posted in: Music
By Jacqui Stanford - 29th January 2014

Three performances by the woman with the haunting voice, Charlotte Yates, are one of the Auckland Pride Festival highlights music lovers are singing about. The acclaimed lesbian musician makes it clear to she's as excited about being involved as her fans are.


A songwriter whose lyrics are in the realm of poetry, Charlotte Yates has had a long and varied career. She’s released six albums, been nominated for a Silver Scroll, created magical tributes to some of New Zealand’s finest writers, and of course toured alongside her late friend Mahinarangi Tocker.

The Wellington resident also been an arts festival director, featured in an anthology of comic verse, been an artist in residence, and performed at the odd civil union.

Now in 2014, she is bringing her dreamy rock sound to the Auckland Pride Festival. She’ll do an intimate Tabac show with co-producer and multi-instrumentalist Gil Eva Craig, where she’ll play material from her critically-loved latest album Archipelago.

Yates will also perform at the Big Gay Out and the Auckland Pride Gala, two gatherings she is really 'buzzed' about. "Those sorts of shows, when I was starting out you did lots of them,” Yates tells

“They were sort of like an old school variety show. You got to see lots of acts, all sorts of different performers. And some people I've known for a very long time are performing again - I'm sharing the stage with Mika at the Big Gay Out - it feels like a style and format I am really comfortable with … it's as buzzy backstage as it is out front.”

It’s probably no surprise Yates loved the ‘variety show’ dynamic, since among her most memorable works have been the incredible multi-artist concerts and albums she’s put together, honouring the words of James K Baxter, Witi Ihimaera and Hone Tuwhare.

She loves the variety of artists and events which have been lined-up for Auckland Pride, explaining she’d been nostalgic about the days of Devotion and Hero, which is why she wanted to get involved in the reawakened Pride concept. "It seems to have come back with a vengeance,” she says. “I'm very excited actually.”

Charlotte Yates with co-producer Gil Eva Craig

The openly-lesbian musician says there is much to celebrate in terms of what we have achieved, however she believes we need events like Pride to keep raising awareness - as while a lot of people no longer bat an eyelid, the nasty comments that came out during the marriage equality debate show that hatred and ignorance can still be there.

As for marriage equality, Yates is in a civil union with her partner Emma and will happily remain so. “I never wanted to get married,” she says. “I never wanted a wife. I wanted to have a partner. I was thrilled when civil unions came in.”

Yates says they both liked that the unions were secular and for gay or straight couples.

“It divests a life-long commitment from a whole lot of baggage, from my point of view, both from a humanist perspective and from a secular perspective, so I was very happy to have a civil union,” Yates explains. “It’s just quite a mouthful saying ‘my partner’ and ‘civil union’,” she laughs.

Of course, she is supportive of everyone who wants marriages. “Hell yes! Hell yes,” she says. “If you want to do it, do it your way.”

Yates admired the fact that during the marriage equality debate, some of the people who were so vociferous during the Homosexual Law Reform admitted, 25 years later, ‘hey, we were wrong’. “They thought all hell was going to break loose just for making homosexuality legal, for god’s sake,” she exclaims.

“You talk with young people now … they can’t believe those basic human rights weren’t available. This is all within my lifetime, from legality, to rights acceptance, to the ability to have a state-sanctioned civil union – or a full-blown marriage if you want to go that way. Hoorah, I say!”

If you want to celebrate Pride with Charlotte Yates, you can do so THREE times – THREE days in a row! She will perform at the Auckland Pride Gala on Friday 7 February, her show with Gil Eva Craig at Tabac (pre-sales: nz) on Saturday 8 February, then at the Big Gay Out on Sunday 9 February.

Jacqui Stanford - 29th January 2014

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