Ann Hampton
Ann Hampton

A talented musician and actress Ann Hampton Callaway spoke to us about her new show, Sibling Revelry, her love of music, the American Songbook, Australia and most importantly her family.

Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to LOTL about your upcoming tour, we’re very excited to have you! What are you particularly looking forward to when you come down to visit Australia?

I am looking forward to returning to a place I fell in love within 2005.  To this day I have yet to meet an Australian I didn’t like.  It will be wonderful to make my Australian sister debut with Liz and take my partner Kari to a place that’s been on her bucket list for some time.

You first performed Sibling Revelry at New York’s Rainbow and Stars back in 1995 and have toured across America with sold-out shows and rave reviews. How has your performance and your relationship with your sister changed over the past 15 years?

Liz and I have grown much closer since we first put the show together.  I know I felt a little anxious about performing as a sister act- I didn’t know how we would be received and if there would be any comments that might put a wedge between us.  Much to our happiness, the show was not only embraced by audiences and critics alike, but it also became a cult hit.  This bolstered our confidence and team spirit.  We love that It’s said that you don’t get your gay card unless you know Sibling Revelry!  When Liz and I did our two revivals of the show at 54 Below in NY recently, we were moved by not only the response but also how the songs had gathered new meaning.  The material had deeper resonance for us from having survived losses like our beloved dad and having experienced dreams that finally came true over time. When I sing “My Buddy/Old Friend”, I think of all the loves I’ve lost and the people who were there for me, some who are no longer with me.  When Liz sings, “My Heart Is So Full of You, ” she realizes how lucky she is to still be in love with the man she married.  And I love how our corny digs in “Friendship” have gotten even funnier as we’ve gotten closer.

What can audiences expect from your fantastic show, Sibling Revelry?

I think the love Liz and I share is something that moves people and adds greatly to the musical experience.  Our show isn’t just a cabaret act, it’s a mini-musical that tracks our move from Chicago to NY to pursue our dreams.  We’ve chosen our songs carefully, which range from Broadway to jazz to pop and arranged them to be very personal statements that give us reason to sing our hearts out.  If we make straight men cry and people want to call their siblings the moment they leave the theatre, then we know we did our job right.

You’re originally from Chicago, which is one of the great musical capitals for jazz and blues. How has that shaped you musically?

Our dad was very influenced by the jazz and blues played on jukeboxes in the watering holes he went to in his young days as a reporter in Chicago.  He became an avid collector of the records of that artist- Ella, Sarah, Billie, Miles Davis-and these sounds and spirits continue to inspire me.  I recorded To Ella With Love years ago and my next CD due out this year is called The Sarah Vaughan Project. The other Chicago phenomenon that moulded me was the love of improvisation.  I am one of the only people in the world that makes up songs on the spot in almost all my shows. I’m proud to be from Chicago.

Another area where you devote a considerable amount of time and effort is your philanthropic work, both as a singer and a songwriter. You were recently commissioned by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus to write a song called “I Love You More,” a tribute to Tyler Clementi, the youth who took his life after being bullied for being gay. What can musicians and performers like yourself do to raise awareness of the costs of homophobia?


Lotl Cover June 2014

I think artists can be true to who they are for starters.  That means something different to each person and can change meaning in a lifetime.  I think it’s helpful that I came out to the public when I met my partner Kari.  By sharing myself more openly, a sense of normalcy has ensued and people who may have been uncomfortable with gay people get used to seeing us as loving and interested people.  Fear is the root of homophobia and when fear is transformed by knowledge and love, it turns to fellowship. I try to write songs that tell the human story.  Gay people, bisexual people and straight people feel the same things.  Almost no person goes through life without being misunderstood and even ridiculed for some reason.  Prejudice is a thing of the mind, not the heart.  If artists can move hearts, then people will experience life and each other through the heart.  From that entry point, prejudice cannot long survive.

You recently expressed that you would like to marry your partner in the near future. Sadly, same-sex marriage still isn’t legally recognized in Australia – do you have any words of wisdom for our politicians?  

I love that the actor George Takei took Donald Trump out to lunch and explained how many ways gay marriage would stimulate the economy.  I credit this kind of encounter with turning the tide in our country.  Unfortunately, politicians are not always the moral standard bearers so even though equality is a universal right, the positive economic impact might be a more persuasive angle  There are also new books that give a fresh look at religious scripture for those who argue that their religion opposes this advancement.  It is just a matter of time.  Australia is a vibrant country that will one day embrace that all people deserve the right to honour who they love.  Isn’t that why we’re alive?

Full article available in our June print edition of LOTL magazine