David Hernandez began singing at the young age of six. He was chosen for one of the lead roles for a local theater company, Valley Youth Theater and decided on a career singing and performing after his grandfather took him for the audition. He took vocal coaching and training at Voices, a vocal coaching studio in Arizona. His teacher has said that Hernandez trained “whenever he could afford it” as he wasn’t always financially stable.
When David was growing up, he was a gymnast and won medals in the Grand Canyon Olympics. He’s even tried his hand at acting and was in an independent film before he entered our living rooms on American Idol. At one time, he thought of becoming an entertainment show host (which I could totally see with his humor and personality). Before Idol, he worked various jobs, including singing on cruise ships as part of a singing group called Vinyl Four, working as a server at a pizza bistro, and working at night clubs. He was also part of a local Phoenix cover group called Tribe 7.
As a teen, David went to a Arizona State University and had a job selling knives door-to-door while majoring in broadcast journalism.
After American Idol, David Hernandez made his way to The Ellen DeGeneres Show (where he performed the song “In the Midnight Hour”) Today Show, Access Hollywood, TRL, and TV Guide Network’s Idol Tonight. He was asked to perform at The Children’s Hospital of New York Presbyterian where he sang “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” and “In the Midnight Hour.”
David has toured with Diana DeGarmo, Kimberley Locke and Chikezie on a 20-city Idol Holiday Tour but these days, he’s busy with his brand new album ‘Kingdom: The Mixtape’. The album is available everywhere you get your music and I’m hoping to get my hands on a physical, signed copy one of these days.
I had the absolute pleasure of seeing David perform in NYC (for a benefit for his friend Sly, who had fallen ill) last year and then meeting him for the first time since we became friends on social media. It felt like I was visiting an old friend rather than a first meeting. I have a feeling that it’s just part of his personality from what I have seen of him over the years.
I have to say, without exaggeration, David Hernandez is one of my very favorite voices. When I listen to his album, hear him singing on his Instagram, or when I see him sing in person; I feel the power and emotions behind it all. I have said that I put him right up there with Whitney Houston, which, for anyone who knows me, is the ultimate level.
Check him out, follow him on social media, subscribe to him everywhere, because I have a feeling we are in for so much more! (Plus, he now has this adorable puppy he posts all the time!)
Here’s his music video for ‘Shield’ and be sure to subscribe to his channel!
And I couldn’t pick just one video, ‘Never Did’ is one of my favorites, so I had to show it off:
Brandon Rogers has worked as a professional backup vocalist, and was the 12th place finalist on American Idol, season six. He also co-wrote “Happy Little Pill” for Troye Sivan and “I Built a Friend” with Alec Benjamin.
Brandon got his first big break as part of a Sons of Harmony, a band brought together through a radio boy band competition as part of The Kidd Kraddick morning show on 106.1 KISS-FM in Dallas, Texas in 2000. They had originally put together an audition as a joke to see if they could really create a boy band, but they ended up with five talented singers which they named Sons of Harmony. Mexican pop singer Marcos Hernandez was also a member of this band. When the group broke up, Brandon moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue a career in music.
He auditioned for American Idol in Los Angeles, where the judges, who included guest judge Olivia Newton-John, were impressed with his vocals. Judge Simon Cowell later said he was the best who had auditioned from Los Angeles.
Brandon has been a professional backup vocalist on Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera’s 2003 Justified and Stripped Tour and Anastacia‘s 2005 Live at Last Tour. He has also worked as a voice coach and wedding singer. In 2008, he even guest starred on one of my favorite TV series, Bones. He also appeared as a recurring character on a web-oriented series “Valley Peaks” and released his single “Broken”.
I’ve noticed that Brandon continues to support American Idol and the contestants on his social media accounts (he frequently watches and posts his reactions in his Instagram stories during the season).
This year we saw the release of his latest single, Apathy, which is about dealing with a broken heart and getting over someone. Hopefully, you got to see him perform this year as well. I know I’m looking forward to it very soon and possibly sitting down to chat with him for an interview! I have had the pleasure of meeting Brandon and hanging out with him on a few occasions so I can attest to the fact that he is not only a talented artist, he’s also one of the good guys.
Be sure to check out Apathy wherever you get your music and follow Brandon on social media.
Ten years ago I found the NOH8 Campaign online and shortly after, I joined Twitter and found out even more plus found more people who were part of the community. I was new to social media but I quickly saw that what Adam Bouska, Jeff Parshley, and the whole team were doing was more than just taking photos. It was a bold statement at a time when marriage equality was non-existent in most places and had been overturned in others.
NOH8 organized a march on Washington and I wasn’t even used to traveling much back then but I knew I HAD to be there. I booked a flight, made sure to connect with a few people on Twitter so I wouldn’t be all alone when I got there, and proudly headed off to our capital to be sure my voice (and our voices) were heard. That was a huge turning point for me and an enormous push for me to use my voice for causes I believed in. When I got there, met all of these people, and spent the weekend hearing stories, sharing stories, marching, being harassed by protesters, and making friends I am so proud to know; I realized just how important this cause was.
At the time of the march, I don’t even think I had taken my first NOH8 photo but since then, I think I’ve taken about ten in total. I’ve made sure that if I’m in the same city they are doing a shoot in, I’m there. Over time, the photos have meant more and more to me. It’s about marriage equality but it’s also about all equality for our brothers and sisters who need more of a voice. The entire LGBTQIA community needs to be heard, to be seen, to make themselves known and that’s what I’m doing every time a take a photo, post a photo, bring friends with me to have their photos taken.
We have seen recently that there are people who want to erase certain groups, to reverse the progress we’ve made and that is why the NOH8 Campaign is just as important today as it was ten years ago. In my own personal life, I experienced slurs and prejudice in my work place which wasn’t handled properly by superiors and really not handled at all. I live in NYC but I realized even I could have my voice silenced by the powers that be and that did not sit well with me.
As I think about the past ten years, the photo shoots, the events, the progress, I think the most important thing has been the people I’ve met online from all over the world. They have shared their stories with me, their concerns, their issues. I hope I have been able to offer some advice or at least an empathetic ear that made them feel a little better or helped them to find solutions, a little courage, and some comfort.
I want to thank Adam, Jeff, and everyone at NOH8 for all they have done, do, and will do. I don’t think there are words to express how incredibly grateful I am to have been given the boost of courage I received from simply being associated in any way with this cause and I promise to continue to lend my voice, to proudly display my photos, and to continue to bring my friends along for the experience.
To the friends (Straight, gay, queer, etc) who have joined me: I am forever grateful for your love and support. This campaign has allowed so many to stand next to people they love in support and show just how united we can be no matter what else is going on in the world.
I look forward to another amazing ten years and more!!!
Please feel free to share your own NOH8 stories here!
Kenyth Mogan last took us over the rainbow with his Wizard Of Oz LGBTQ video for his song ‘Unlock Your Heart’ which featured a great friend of mine, Ronnie Kroell as the Tin Man. That music video has garnered over 2 million views to date and now he is following it up with his latest song ‘Holy Water’, which tackles the very serious subject of addiction.
I got to speak with Kenyth about the song and a few other topics recently, and as usual, it was a refreshing conversation.
Q: Your new song, ‘Holy Water’ is about someone struggling with addiction. Tell us a little more about it. Is it something close to your own heart?
Kenyth Mogan: Yes. It’s one of the reasons I gravitated to this song (it was written by Tim Feehan and Tiffany) feel like a lot of people can relate to the struggles of a loved one grappling with addiction – especially in the LGBT community. It’s a situation I’ve found myself in on more than one occasion. From family member’s struggling with alcohol and cocaine to a boyfriend who ended up spending time in prison because of an addiction to meth.
Q: What would you tell someone who has a loved one who is struggling with addiction?
Kenyth Mogan: No matter how strong you are – it’s nothing you can ( or should have to ) deal with on your own. Sometimes saving the one you love means letting them hit the bottom.
Q: Who are some artists you like to cover when you perform or just around the house or in the car?
Kenyth Mogan: There’s a ton. From artist like Alexz Johnson and Mika to Meatloaf and Linkin Park.
Q: Do you have a wish list of collaborations you’d like to see happen for you?
Kenyth Mogan: I’d really like to work with Teddy <3, Leland, or Zedd
Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Kenyth Mogan: Don’t be such a doormat. Opinions are like a**holes. Everyone has one, and no one knows what feels right for you, but you – and don’t be so scared. Jump. It’s fun.
Q: How about some advice for those how are currently struggling with their own identities or struggling with coming out?
Kenyth Mogan: It’s trite but true: Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter. Don’t do it for anyone but yourself.
Q: Name one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?
Kenyth Mogan: I couldn’t live without music to listen to. I wish everyone could (and think they probably can) live without making stupid people famous .
Q: Where can we find you, your music, and your videos online?
Here is the official press release for ‘Holy Water’:
In 2015 singer-songwriter Kenyth took us over the rainbow with his LGBT Wizard of Oz themed music video UNLOCK YOUR HEART. Three years and two million views later, he’s taking listeners to a much more realistic place with his newest single HOLY WATER. “The song is about a loved one struggling with addiction,” Kenyth states. “It’s something I feel a lot of people can relate with – especially in the LGBT community.” Though the official music video will not be released until early next year, Kenyth release a special acoustic version of the song featuring fellow LGBT artist Zee Machine. The song is a step in a more mature musical direction for Kenyth, which is something he’s ready for after years of being referred to as the cute gay geek. “I wouldn’t change what I’ve done, but the time for rainbow kisses and unicorn stickers have passed,” he says. “I’m excited to introduce people my new sound.” Written by Tim Feehan and pop icon Tiffany, HOLY WATER (Basement Acoustic Mix) will be released on November 30th.
There are so many things we are dealing with now and so many things we need to shed light on. These issues have, thankfully, been showing up in our art to bring awareness and hopefully let people who are going through them know they aren’t alone. I always say great entertainment does more than simply entertain and I love when there is a touch of social good mingled in with my art.
Daniel’s Husband is a touching, heartwarming, funny, impactful, and sad story that may be all to familiar to many. It deals with what happens when a couple (in this case a gay couple) isn’t married and they haven’t taken care of the proper legal steps they need to in case of a medical emergency. It also addresses family drama and the differences in individual beliefs when it comes to marriage. I suggest bringing some tissues because the play (and the acting) definitely hits you in the feels.
“Daniel and Mitchell are the perfect couple. Perfect house, perfect friends – even a mother who wants them married. They’d have the perfect wedding, too, except that Mitchell doesn’t believe in gay marriage. A turn of events puts their perfect life in jeopardy, and Mitchell is thrust into a future where even his love may not prove to be enough. Daniel’s Husband is a bold reflection of love, commitment, and family in our perilous new world.”
Daniel’s Husband is playing Off-Broadway right now and I suggest you catch it, it will leave you with plenty to think about as well as plenty to discuss with whoever sees it with you.
Here’s a bit about the stars:
Matthew Montelongo (Mitchell, Daniel’s Husband) has appeared in numerous New York productions, including the Broadway revivals of A View from the Bridge and The Ritz. Off-Broadway, he has been seen in One Night (Cherry Lane); This Backstage Life (Atlantic Theatre); His Daddy (Ensemble Studio Theatre); Whore (Summer Play Festival); God’s Ear (Vineyard Theatre/New Georges); Five Flights (Rattlestick Playwright’s Theatre); The Mineola Twins and Arms and the Man (Roundabout Theatre Company); and Tartuffe (Shakespeare in the Park/Public Theatre). Regionally, Matthew has performed in the national tour of Looped and in productions at Washington D.C.’s Studio Theatre, Hartford TheaterWorks, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, Signature Theatre, Westport Country Playhouse, Woolly Mammoth Theatre (Helen Hayes Nomination for Best Ensemble), Alliance Theatre, Folger Shakespeare Theatre, St. Louis Repertory Theatre, Hangar Theatre, Delaware Theatre Company, Capital Repertory Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, The Old Globe, Two River Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Festival, and Seattle Repertory Theatre. Matthew’s television appearances include “Ray Donovan,” “Elementary,” “Sneaky Pete,” “Forever,” “Gossip Girl,” “Law & Order: SVU” (x2), and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” He recently starred in the feature film Bear City 3 and the popular new web series “West 40s.”
Ryan Spahn (Daniel) began his Off-Broadway career in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Pulitzer Prize finalist Gloria at the Vineyard Theatre. He went on to appear in Michael McKeever’s Daniel’s Husband and Ike Holter’s Exit Strategy, both for Primary Stages, as well as the revival of Summer and Smoke with Transport Group and Classic Stage Company. His recent regional credits include Hamlet at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Halley Feiffer’s Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow at Williamstown Theatre Festival, Gloria at Goodman Theatre, Exit Strategy at Philadelphia Theatre Company, and Nina Raine’s Tribes at Actors Theatre of Louisville. His feature film credits include Woven (co-writer), He’s Way More Famous Than You (co-writer), and Grantham & Rose (writer). He co-created the digital series “What’s Your Emergency,” was a writer and producer on Logo’s “Cocktails and Classics,” and appeared on TV in “Tanner on Tanner,” “Ugly Betty,” and “Star Trek: Voyager.” He will be seen next in episodes of “Half Life” and “The Blacklist” and the upcoming film Shirley, directed by Josephine Decker. Ryan received his BFA from The Juilliard School.
Anna HolbrookRaising (Daniel’s Mom) has appeared in Jo (Theatre Row), Skeletons (Broadway Bound Festival), Daniel’s Husband, The Dolphin Position (Primary Stages), Natural Life, Hot L Baltimore (Gloria Maddox Theater). Regional: Crimes of the Heart, Three Viewings, My Fair Lady. Film: I Love Trouble, Those Who Wander, Boxed. Television: “Blue Bloods,” “Bull,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Law & Order,” “L&O SVU,” “The West Wing,” “Spin City,” “One Life to Live,” “All My Children,” “Another World” – Daytime Emmy®. www.annaholbrook.com
Leland Wheeler: Off-Broadway: Daniel’s Husband (Dir. Joe Brancato, Primary Stages/Penguin Rep). Film & Television: 1/1 (with Lindsey Shaw & Judd Nelson), We Need to Talk about Kevin (Dir. Lynne Ramsay), “Blue Bloods” (CBS). Student of Deborah Hedwall. Since 2001, Leland & his family annually produce the award-winning Heritage Music BluesFest in Wheeling, WV.
Lou Liberatore: Broadway: Burn This (Tony®, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Award Nominations), As Is. London: Burn This. Off-Broadway: Pushkin (american vicarious/Sheen Center), Daniel’s Husband (Primary Stages, Penguin Rep), A Class Act (New World Stages), Orpheus Descending (Bartley/Glezos Prods), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Masterworks Theatre Co.), Rocket to the Moon (Peccadillo Theatre Co.), Turnabout (Ensemble Studio Theatre), Sight Unseen (Manhattan Theatre Club). Also: The Vineyard, Naked Angels, The Lark, Orpheum, Second Stage, Circle Repertory Company. Regional: Angels in America, Parts 1 & 2 (Actors Theatre of Louisville), The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide… (Berkeley Rep), The Diary of Anne Frank and That Championship Season (Westport Playhouse), A Thousand Clowns (Two River Theatre). Also: The Alley, Theatre J, Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theatre Festival, Baltimore Center Stage, Pioneer Theatre, Steppenwolf, Mark Taper Forum. Film: Sleeping with the Fish (upcoming), Barrio Boy, Blood from a Stoner, Box, Mary and Louise, It’s My Party, Rosen’s Son, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience (Disney World, Epcot Center). TV: “Deception,” “The Affair,” “The Good Wife,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Sex and the City,” “Law & Order.” Education: Fordham University (Lincoln Center), William Esper. Member Artist: Ensemble Studio Theatre, Actor’s Center, Circle Repertory Company (1985-1996).
I was very lucky and thrilled to be invited to see a touching, important off Broadway play called The Other Day. Theater is one of my favorite ways to spend an evening, especially on the weekends. I can get lost in the city for an entire day and then end it by seeing a great play or musical. It is all so very entertaining and in some cases, as is with The Other Day, it can leave you thinking about so much.
The other day is a story about relationships, the good and the bad parts, the sweet and the sad parts. It’s about two couples: a gay couple who meet in rehab and a straight couple where the husband is so consumed by his job and success that he is driving his wife away (and straight to a flask).
Unfortunately, it was a very limited run this time around but I’m hoping it comes around again and you all get to see it. There are so many powerful moments, so many touching moments, and just so many life moments. What impressed me most is that a character’s sexuality is becoming less important as we all realize these stories, the things that happen to us in life, are so universal. In the case of this play, you could interchange the straight characters and their situations with the gay characters and their situations. Love is love and being human just means we all basically experience the same things when it comes to life, love, losses, and vices.
Look out for it and of course, I will keep you updated as to when and where you can see it as soon as I know! This one is worth catching, tears and all.