- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Over three decades into an amazing career, Cyndi Lauper still knows how to have fun. The New York native known for her Technicolor hair and effervescent attitude will stop by the Wolf Trap Filene Center in Vienna, Virginia, Wednesday evening as part of a double bill with fellow 1980s icon Boy George.

“We were label mates [but] I never sang with him,” Miss Lauper told The Washington Times of her co-headliner. “It’s wonderful to have a connection musically with someone like him. When you get to work with a friend, it’s nice.”

Miss Lauper released “Detour” in 2016, her 11th record and her first of all country music. Appropriate for such an undertaking, she recorded the album in the country capital of Nashville.

“When I worried what other people thought about me, I had to re-evaluate what I thought about myself,” the singer said of trying out a new musical genre. “The only way I could move forward was by what I believed I could do and who I was. And how much commitment I would put into my art.”

Miss Lauper said the aim of “Detour” wasn’t to “reinvent the wheel” of the country sound, but rather to pay homage to one of the defining categories of the American soundscape — one that influenced rock and vice versa.

Trading in her Gotham roots for cowboy boots, Miss Lauper thought it might also be time to learn to yodel.

“They said Peter Gabriel learned to yodel in three days. And I learned, sadly, I’m also not Peter Gabriel,” the chanteuse said in her inimitable New York honk. “But I did remember that Jewel said she yodeled. And I remembered she was in Nashville.”

Miss Lauper sought out the Alaska native through their mutual friend and fellow singer Alison Krauss, texting the blond-haired crooner to introduce herself and ask if she might train her on the unique vocal virtuosity.

“She texted me back and said, ‘Yes, it’s Jewel, and that’s an unusual question,’” Miss Lauper said, adding, “you are never too old to learn.”

Although best known for such ‘80s stalwarts as “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and “Time After Time,” Miss Lauper, now 62, has seen her star rise again in the 21st century thanks to “Kinky Boots,” the smash Broadway musical that she co-wrote with Harvey Fierstein, and which has snagged several Tony Awards for its story of a shoe store owner who forms an unlikely alliance with a drag singer to save the family business.

“It’s the connection to the material, to the story, to the people, to the music and the moment,” Miss Lauper said of her artist’s philosophy.

On her current tour with Boy George, her setlist mixes tunes from “Detour” with her heyday pop tracks.

“I play something from ‘Detour,’ I play an old song that everyone knows,” she said. “They flow in and out of each other, and it does work.”

Miss Lauper speaks adamantly of the need to grab the moment, no matter who and where you are. She points to the deaths this year of David Bowie and Prince as reasons to enjoy the time you have with those whom you admire and love.

“People are here right now we should enjoy and appreciate,” she said. “You know sometimes things come along once in a lifetime. Be here now and embrace now. And sing in the moment.

“[Such a] moment I’ll have tonight,” she said of Wednesday evening’s performance. “I see the value in music history to the present moment. And I try to translate it into the present moment.”

Cyndi Lauper and Boy George perform Wednesday at the Wolf Trap Filene Center. Tickets are $40 to $95 by going to WolfTrap.org

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