Arts & EntertainmentMusic

Forever Young

An interview with Grammy Award winner Tracy Young.

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Tracy Young (Phil McCarten/CBS ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

If you’ve been dancing in a club any time in the last 20 or so years, chances are very good that you’ve hit a crowded dance floor to a remix by Grammy Award-winning lesbian DJ and producer Tracy Young. The mid-Atlantic native and Miami resident has left her distinctive mark on songs by Pet Shop Boys, Cyndi Lauper. P!nk, Shakira, Lady Gaga, Gloria Estefan, Cher, Beyoncé, Demi Lovato, Stevie Nicks, Katy Perry, Chaka Khan, Christina Aguilera, and, most significantly, Madonna. In fact, it was Madonna’s tune “I Rise” from 2019’s Madame X that earned Young her Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical Grammy Award at the January awards show, making her the first female producer to ever win the category. Busier than ever, Young was gracious enough
to chat with OutSmart shortly after her win.

Gregg Shapiro: Tracy, I’d like to begin by congratulating you on your Grammy Award win for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical. What does that award mean to you?
Tracy Young: Thank you so much, Gregg! I am still on a cloud from last Sunday’s historic Grammy win. I was just starting to feel comfortable with being nominated after 25 years in the business, and then I won! It means everything to me.

Please say something about the significance of being the first woman to win the Grammy Award for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical.
The Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical category was just introduced to the Academy in 1998. Despite women being eligible in previous years, it’s taken this long for a woman to be nominated. Now in 2020, both the industry and my peers are starting to see the hard work that goes into this business, regardless of gender. My hope is that my Grammy win will create a dialogue and platform in the industry to recognize more female producers who have been overlooked for so long.

Do you have a special spot picked out at home to display your Grammy Award?
I do, but it’s top-secret and only my dog, Lucca, knows. [Laughs]

Did you hear from Madonna, whose song “I Rise” was the one you remixed, after you won?
Well, of course I texted Madonna, because she’s been somebody that I’ve aspired to be like as an artist—always pushing the envelope and growing and learning. She texted back right away, saying “Congratulations!” with a bunch of emojis. She’s happy. She’s super proud. She’s been an amazing support, and has given me a lot of opportunities over many years.

I first interviewed you in 2000 for Next magazine. The title of the piece was “If Madonna Calls. . .” Here we are 20 years later, and you still have a significant working relationship with Madonna. What makes it such a long-lasting creative partnership?
Trust is paramount whenever you are collaborating, and that is the one thing that Madonna has always given me. She trusts the creative process and is very instrumental in guiding me forward. Our “I Rise” collaboration marks a high point in our long working relationship, and I couldn’t be prouder to share this award with Madonna.

From the very early days of disco to the present day, dance music has been a central component of LGBTQ+ culture. As an out person, can you please say something about how you see your place in LGBTQ+ history?
Beyond the music that I’ve either produced or created, I hope to be remembered for my philanthropic support and fundraising efforts that give back to various LGBTQ+ charities such as GLAAD, GMHC, Elton John AIDS Foundation, National LGBTQ Task Force, The Trevor Project, It Gets Better, Diversity Honors, and amfAR.

With the 2020 election front and center on everyone’s minds, if you are asked to spin at a candidate’s fundraiser, or ultimately a candidate’s victory celebration, is that something you would do? Or do you prefer to stay out of politics?
I don’t like to discuss politics, but I did remix the campaign song for Hillary Clinton’s run for president. The song, titled “Stronger Together,” features recording artist Jessica Sanchez. I also had the opportunity to play at Hillary’s fundraising rallies in Washington, DC.

You are known for being incredibly busy with DJ and remix projects. Are there any current projects that you are particularly excited about and want to share with the readers?
My focus is always “music first,” whether it’s original productions for my own label, Ferosh Records, or expanding my discography with fresh remixes for other artists and labels. I am currently in development with a fun new project, but I won’t reveal any details until the time is right.

For more information about Tracy Young, visit tracyyoung.com.

This article appears in the March 2020 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Gregg Shapiro

Gregg Shapiro is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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