Being a songsmith — says composer Rufus Wainwright — "is the best job ever."
"Writing songs is a way to translate what you're feeling into something useful," he says during a telephone interview. "My songs are reflections of my feelings and my life. They're not always quickly understood, but there are many people in the world who simply cannot express their feelings. That's sad. Songs are a lovely way to experience perspectives."
Who: Rufus Wainwright
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24
Where: Craterian Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford
Tickets: $42, $45 or $48; $30, $33 or $36 for ages 18 and younger
Call: 541-779-3000 or see www.craterian.org
The American-Canadian — he has citizenship in each country — has recorded seven albums of original material (one or two covers are in the mix) and many songs for film soundtracks. His newest studio album, "Out of the Game" was released in 2012 on the Decca label.
"Game" is neither dark nor as overly complex as his more orchestral albums. Rather, it has the heat of '70s influences David Bowie and Fleetwood Mac, according to a Village Voice review.
"I know it's ridiculous that someone named Rufus took so long to get funky," Wainwright said in the same interview.
Wainwright's music has always appealed to a broad range of listeners. His ambition and intellect have led him through genres of folk, pop, classical, rock and opera.
"I haven't stumbled into rap yet," he says. "But who knows? I'm only 40."
Wainwright will present a solo performance — just the singer accompanying himself on piano and guitar — at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Craterian Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford. Tickets cost $42, $45 or $48; $30, $33 or $36 for ages 18 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at the Craterian box office, 16 S. Bartlett St., online at www.craterian.org or by calling 541-779-3000.
Wainwright's extensive musical styles can be traced back to his mother Kate McGarrigle — a Canadian folksinger — and his father, Loudon Wainwright III, an American folksinger, songwriter, humorist and actor.
Wainwright grew up with his mother in Montreal and, at age 13, he and his younger sister Martha became part of her act, "The McGarrigle Sisters and Family."
"Those years were fantastic," Wainwright says. "It wasn't as though my mom and my aunt didn't make sure we still went to school, but for weeks at a time we'd go out and tour together. My mother enjoyed spending time with her family. She wasn't one to just hang out by the pool or on the golf course. She was the one who really instilled my sister and me with passion for music and the arts."
It was during those early years that Wainwright found himself nominated for a Genie Award for his song "I'm a-Runnin'," which he performed in the movie "Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveler." The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences also nominated him for a Juno Award for best young artist.
He studied music at McGill University in Montreal but dropped out to pursue a professional career. He moved to New York City in 1996, performing regularly on club circuits until his father's connections landed him a record deal in Los Angeles. In 1998, his eponymous, debut album was released to critical acclaim. Rolling Stone named Wainwright best new artist of the year, and he was nominated for four awards by the Gay & Lesbian American Music Awards, including album of the year, pop recording of the year and video of the year — and winning best new artist.
It's been a long ride, but life remains good for Wainwright. He's been married for a year to German arts administrator Jorn Weisbrodt and has a 2-year-old daughter with Lorca Cohen.
"It's nice to be able to experience all of these things," Wainwright says. "It's especially fortunate for a gay person. These things, family, are what life is all about.
"I've been lucky to strike some kind of chord with listeners, as well," he says. "You never know if a song is going to be a hit, but if I were confident and knowing, it wouldn't be as much fun."