This is Cyndi Lauper’s moment. The quirky singer-songwriter and 80's pop culture icon, who despite her exceptional talent and enduring popularity has never gotten the respect she deserves, was the toast of Broadway last night, winning a Tony Award for best score for "Kinky Boots," a poignant play about diversity and acceptance that was also named Best Musical of 2013 and earned seven Tony Awards in all.
Lauper, who burst onto the pop scene 30 years ago with her comically sharp New York accent, outrageous attire and wit, and artsy, offbeat girl-power songs, was unfairly labeled a novelty act by some. An MTV mainstay during the music network’s early years, Lauper has always been more than her image. An artist cast as a pop star, Lauper's singing and songwriting gifts speak for themselves.
And this week, just days after her Tony win and 30 years after her stunningly accomplished 1983 debut album “She’s So Unusual” catapulted Lauper to fame, she heads out on a concert tour that celebrates that groundbreaking record, which featured no fewer than five instant classics: “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Time After Time,” “She Bop,” “Money Changes Everything” and “All Through the Night.”
With that record, Lauper, 59, whose first date on the tour is this Wednesday, June 12, at Humphrey's in San Diego, was the first female artist to have four top 10 singles on a debut album. The record went on to sell more than 16 million copies worldwide and won Lauper a Grammy for Best New Artist. Now she can now proudly say that her career has been bookended by a Grammy and a Tony.
|Cyndi Lauper clutching her Tony|
The play is a smash with audiences and critics. The New York Times' Ben Brantley wrote, “This storied singer has created a love- and heat-seeking score that performs like a pop star on Ecstasy. Try to resist if you must… you might as well just give it up to the audience-hugging charisma of her songs.”
That could very well describe Cyndi’s entire music career. From the beginning, she's confounded some critics but connected with audiences – especially folks who are a bit out of the mainstream. And she was always so much more than an MTV Star Du Jour. When she took the stage in New York on Sunday night to claim her prize, it felt like vindication.
"I can't say I wasn't practicing in front of the shower curtain for a couple of days for this speech," Lauper said. "I gotta thank my mom for sharing all that wonderful music. I wrecked all her Broadway musicals when I was a kid, the cast albums. That's how I learned how to sing."
She then thanked her family, "my wonderful family. My son and my husband who inspire me. And Declyn (her teen son), thank you for inspiring me about the sound. And everybody else in my category, I feel honored to be part of this community. ... Thank you very, very, very much."
It's nice to see Lauper's talent finally being recognized. But we knew it all along.