The Rainbow Lullaby – How One Son’s Grief Became A Groundbreaking Gay Parent Experience Album
In the past 18 months of the global pandemic, millions of Americans, stranded by their regular jobs, have been suddenly tasked with finding a new path forward – through hobbies, side concerts, travel across the country – to make ends meet and feel productive. For Ryan Bauer-Walsh, a seasoned commercial performer and songwriter, this meant finding work as a painter, a side project suited to the temporary interruption of live performances. A call from her mother, battling cancer in a losing battle, meant dropping out and moving home. Soon after his death, Bauer-Walsh returned to music, eventually writing and recording a handful of songs dedicated to his mother and the childhood he spent with her.
The songs eventually became a lullaby album, titled The rainbow lullaby, dedicated to the queer experience and inspired by Bauer-Walsh’s late mother. When Broadway Records (the Grammy-winning label that likely brought readers their favorite recording from the cast) picked up the album, what followed was a communion of LGBTQ + musical theater legends – the networking type passionate and constant that only the theater industry can provide. And like many theater-related projects, it started with Bauer-Walsh’s own circle: “I’m kind of a little theater baby,” he says. “I arrived in New York in 2006 and immediately became part of the circle of music directors and composers. . . And it has only grown, so a lot of composers [on the album] are people with whom I am friends and with whom I really wanted to show their talents.
But with 25 tracks to fill out on this one-of-a-kind album, Bauer-Walsh felt the desire to “see how [he] could be the voice of this album. Listeners to the album will hear original songs written to cover a diversity of queer experiences, including songs on “Two Mama Flamingoes” settling in for the night (sung by Bad actress Christine Dwyer, lyrics and music by Michelle Chamuel and David Dabbon), or a duo of black kings (“The Beautiful Son” sung by Jamie Cepero and Jonathan Burke with lyrics and music by Dionne McClain Freeney). Advocacy for the LGBTQ + community, for Bauer-Walsh, requires the inclusion of all myriad identities under the queer umbrella.
And an album like The rainbow lullaby certainly fills a handful of visibility gaps. As the movement for queer representation in media continues to unfold after centuries in the closet of popular culture, creators like Bauer-Walsh are finding new ways to share an authentic LGBTQ + perspective: “I love activism passive, ”he says. “I love artistic activism. I like the sweetness that is this album. Just hearing two male voices sing a lullaby to a child is activism to me. For most LGBTQ + parents, The rainbow lullaby could almost certainly be their first experience having queer lullabies for their children. In the aftermath of the AIDS crisis at the turn of the 20th century, a generation of gay adults had to cope without role models, and new parents may find themselves searching for parenting resources that seem familiar to them. “Things don’t have to be weird,” notes Bauer-Walsh, when asked about the album’s place in modern queer families, “but it’s one of those things where the pendulum has to swing. with more force in one direction to keep the center in. And I think that will allow them to have that available to them when they want something unique to their family dynamic.
The album, released on October 28 (the anniversary of Bauer-Walsh’s mother’s death), is available for purchase wherever digital music is sold and streamed, as well as on BroadwayRecords.com. In the spirit of her mother’s charitable work throughout her life, all proceeds will be donated to the Ali Forney Center in New York City, a community organization dedicated to protecting and providing resources to homeless LGBTQ + youth. Bauer-Walsh also creates neutral clothing for children and adults, sold on Tinpin, and his stage and painting work can be found at https://www.ryanbauer-walsh.com/ (or for media connoisseurs social, Bauer- Walsh provides links to all of his projects and charity work on his Instagram @ ryan.bauer.walsh).