Content copied from the original site http://www.iwasbornthisway.com. It was originally launched in Summer 2005 in preparation for the re-release of the single. Some of this information is dated. Mel Cheren died before West End completed the necessary paperwork, so it was never officially released.
All content (below) was written by Andy Reynolds while he was the GM of West End.
The domains www.iwasbornthisway.com and www.iwasbornthisway.org are owned by Andy Reynolds.
The gay baby artwork/logo by Andy Reynolds. It is trademarked and may not be duplicated without permission. We've already sent a lawyer after several infringements. (My dream is to have it made into a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade style balloon to be used during Gay Pride marches/parades across the country. Just need a sponsor to pay for it.)
For those not familiar with it, here is the original version of the song (there were several remixes):
ABOUT THIS SITE (refers to the original website, www.iwasbornthisway.com and .org)
The purpose of www.wasbornthisway.com is to one day provide a forum where people can talk about the song as well as their feelings and experiences about being born gay and the importance of getting this message across to those who feel that being gay or lesbian is a lifestyle choice. Go to the forum [formerly a live link, but no forum had yet been set up] now and discuss!
ABOUT "I WAS BORN THIS WAY"
I WAS BORN THIS WAY
Archbishop Sings Gay Anthem
Carl Bean's Motown Classic Remixed and Released on West End Records
Tired of DJ's trotting out the same old dusty copies of "I Am What I Am," "I'm Coming Out," and "We Are Family" every Gay Pride? Well, make way because New York indie dance label West End Records has just cut loose the gayest of gay anthems, "I Was Born This Way." Sung by gay, out, African-American gospel singer and Christian minister — the Reverend Carl Bean — the song is not just another disco record imbued with a gay meaning to make do. (Even "I Am What I Am" doesn't come "out" and say what "I" "am.") Originally released on Motown back in 1977, the single has been given a gloriously sunny, roof-raising remix by Gomi, the Manhattan-based producer whose remixes (along with DJ Escape) of top divas like Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani and Jessica Simpson consistently top the Billboard Dance Club Play Chart. With the release of this new remix, we now have a (second) chance to embrace "I Was Born This Way," a song so explicitly gay, emphatically positive, and political in its message that it is undeniable — regardless of how we identify our homosexuality (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, down-low, etc.)
Says singer Carl Bean, "I knew that night, as I stood at the mic in Mo-West studios in Los Angeles ready to record 'I Was Born This Way,' that something far bigger than a regular session was taking place." Almost thirty years later, West End CEO Mel Cheren feels likewise: that this gay anthem is far bigger than that just another dance single. "The lyrics to 'I Was Born This Way,'" he says, "are as relevant today — perhaps even more so in the current political and social climate — than they were when this record was first released back in 1977."
While the Christian and religious right have often delivered the harshest blows to the fight for gay equality, it's revealing and refreshing to hear that this is not always the case. "I was introduced to Jesus through my family," says Bean. "I never heard any negative things about Jesus and homosexuality. Our Baptist minister made it a point not to judge people. He just taught the love of God and how that love could bring people together."
"I Was Born This Way" was co-written by Bunny Jones - a straight black woman - and Chris Spierer. Originally recorded by a gay black singer named Valentino, it was first released on Jones' Gaiee Records. She said, "I wanted to give gay people a label they could call home." [This version can be heard on queermusicheritage.com.] A 1976 article in the Advocate on the Valentino version reveals the inspiration for the song: "Before entering the music business a decade ago, [Bunny] owned several beauty salons in Harlem. Most of her employees were gay, they became her friends and she became aware of their suppression. 'I began to feel that gays are more suppressed than blacks, Chicanos or other minorities. You hear of great designers or famous hairdressers, and that's about as far as society will let gays go.'" [Think this sounds dated?: Thirty years later, the top gay show on television is "Queer Eye For the Straight Guy."]
"She is the opposite of Anita Bryant states Bean in a 1978 feature on the Motown release in the Advocate. "She is a Christian woman, a mother and a person who understands how gay people feel. She cares how other people see us."
"After selling 15,000 copies out of the trunk of her car," the article continues, "Bunny interested Motown Records [The Supremes, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Ritchie] in the distribution rights. Berry Gordy [Motown founder and owner] 'kissed me on both cheeks and said, 'You've got a hit record,' and I felt like a million dollars.'"
Motown chose to go with a new singer and contacted Carl Bean, who had recently moved to Los Angeles. Quoted in a 1978 article ("Carl Bean Was 'Born This Way'") in the Advocate by Daniel Conlon upon the Motown release of the song, Bean explains, "'They came looking for me and they didn't even know I was gay,' laughs Bean. "Bunny heard my voice on a gospel album and told the people that she wanted me for the single."
Originally from Baltimore, Bean was an artist on ABC Records (Rufus & Chaka Khan, Steely Dan, Fifth Dimension, Four Tops), had a gospel group called Universal Love and performed in the mid-Seventies on Broadway in DON'T BOTHER ME, I CAN'T COPE and YOUR ARM'S TOO SHORT TO BOX WITH GOD. It was his version, recorded and released in 1977 on the legendary Motown Records (The Supremes, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Ritchie) that became the dance classic. At the time, the single was a Top 20 hit on the Billboard Disco chart.
The original version of this record - the Tom Moulton mix (included here) - was produced by Ron Kersey, Norman Harris, & T.G. Conway for the Harris Machine & Co. Kersey and Harris, who were in the Salsoul Orchestra, were together and individually responsible for producing many of the greatest classic R&B artists out of Philadelphia, such as Loleatta Holloway ("Love Sensation," "Dreamin," "Hit & Run,") First Choice ("Doctor Love," "Let No Man Put Asunder") and MFSB ("Love Is the Message.")
Carl Bean's back-up singers were the famous Sweet Inspirations (Estelle Brown, Myrna Smith, Sylvia Shamwell). Formed in the 1960's, the group provided backing vocals for a who's who of pop music at the time including The Drifters, Van Morrison, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, Garnett Mimms, and most famously, Aretha Franklin. Cissy Houston (Whitney's mother) and Dionne Warwick were among the original members.
"Bean's strong Christian beliefs had as much effect on his career as a gospel artist as being gay has had on his delivery of his latest release," the Advocate article continues. "I was introduced to Jesus through my family," says Bean. "I never heard any negative things about Jesus and homosexuality. Our Baptist minister made it a point not to judge people. He just taught the love of God and how that love could bring people together. The Bible has been used to kill and hate for centuries, but it was the understanding and leadership of our minister that got me involved in learning about Jesus. 'I Was Born This Way' is God's way of making a statement through me. I'm very positive about it because it's something that should have been said a long time ago."
In the years since he recorded "I Was Born This Way," the Reverend Carl Bean founded the Unity Fellowship of Christ Church, Los Angeles (a.k.a. Mother Church) in 1985 and, in 1990, the Unity Fellowship Church Movement (UFCM) with chapters in twelve cities, over which he presides as Archbishop. The articulate, spirited reverend has long been an activist on many fronts and in 1987 was awarded the NAACP's Image Award for his pioneering work on AIDS in the African-American community.
Although the phrase "I was born this way" is echoed far more often these days than back in '77 due to the fact that there has been much discussion and acceptance of the truth that we are indeed born this way — as opposed to this just being a theory or worse, a chosen "lifestyle" — gays are still suffering through the right-winged Bush era. The timing is right for a big pride boost — regardless of the season — and a jab of affirmation in conservative ribs.
Returning to that night in the studio, the Reverend Carl Bean said in a recent email, "The entire studio was filled with joy, praise and freedom. The spirit in that studio turned the session into a revival meeting. As the spirit continued to lift, inspire and anoint me at the mic, everyone in the studio became emphatically aware that God indeed was the executive producer! May it continue to bless, liberate and set-free our entire human family." •
An early review from the UK, neatly sums up the single: "Carl Bean's adopted gay anthem will need little by way of introduction to those that sport the rainbow flag, but to a whole new generation, it's even more relevant today than it was back in the late '70's. The ultimate feel-good song of defiance and self-respect sticking two fingers [in the U.S. it would be, ahem, 'the finger'] up to those who continue to pass judgment on other's sexual persuasion." — Lewis Dene (Blues & Soul magazine) •
And J.D. Doyle of Queer Music Heritage website gave us this comment: "I feel that most if not all of the so-called 'Gay Anthems' have no right to that title, as they are sung by straight people and actually make no mention of anything gay. A prime example is 'We Are Family' #151; don't get me started. It's long overdue that we claim for our own a song that is truly gay and truly proud, and Carl Bean's 'I Was Born This Way' definitely has the history and musical chops to fill that bill." J.D. is also the Co-Producer of "Audiofile," aired via "This Way Out."
An extended Carl Bean bio can be found on glbtq.com, a site well worth exploring.
I WAS BORN THIS WAY CD LINER NOTES
A Message from West End Records CEO, Mel Cheren (From the "I Was Born This Way" maxi-CD liner notes)
I would like to share with so many old as well as new friends of West End a very proud addition to the West End Classics Series: Carl Bean's "I Was Born This Way." After ten years of working to acquire the publishing rights in order to re-release this record, the paperwork — and a beautiful remix — are done!
"I Was Born This Way" is a song which, in my estimation, ranks with the very best of the danceable R&B tracks to come out of Philadelphia in the mid-to-late Seventies. It's right up there with songs like "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye, "Love Is the Message" by MFSB and "I'll Always Love My Mama" by The Intruders — three of my personal all-time favorites.
The original version of this record — the Tom Moulton mix (included here) — was produced by Ron Kersey, Norman Harris, & T.G. Conway for the Harris Machine & Co. Kersey and Harris, who were in the Salsoul Orchestra, were together and individually responsible for producing many of the greatest classic R&B artists out of Philadelphia, such as Loleatta Holloway ("Love Sensation," "Dreamin," "Hit & Run,") First Choice ("Doctor Love," "Let No Man Put Asunder") and MFSB ("Love Is the Message.")
The lyrics to "I Was Born This Way" are as relevant today — perhaps even more so in the current political and social climate — than they were when this record was first released back in 1977. What makes the message of these lyrics even more significant is that they were written by Bunny Jones (along with Chris Spierer) — a straight black woman who was a real music woman from "back in the day." Bunny once told me, "I don't know how I could write such a socially significant message song since I am a heterosexual woman." Bunny had owned hair salons in Harlem before entering the music business. She came to love many of her employees who were gay and, out of love and empathy, she wrote this song.
I was honored when Bunny and her son Chris Jonz — with whom I worked at Scepter Records in the early Seventies and is still a good friend — agreed to sell me the master and 75% of the publishing rights. Bunny and Chris agreed that the song should help in the struggle for equal rights. I was humbled when the talented producer Gomi — a straight man — upon hearing we'd acquired "I Was Born This Way," asked to do a remix as his tribute to this great dance classic. And I'm grateful to Carl Bean for his powerful performance imparting God's message of love and acceptance. This song is about having Gay Pride every day. If we're serious about wanting equal rights, then we need to spread the word that we were "born this way" on a daily basis and not just the last week in June. This is a message for every day — not just to pull out of the closet for Gay Pride. So, here it is. Enjoy it and be proud!
-- Mel Cheren, CEO West End Records.
QUOTES ABOUT "I WAS BORN THIS WAY"
"I chose 'I Was Born This Way' by Carl Bean for my 'Back to Mine' CD in order to give strength and hope to gays and lesbians around the world who may be living in countries less tolerant of homosexuality than the country in which I live. The song has the same emotional impact on me as 'Ain't No Stopping Us Now' by McFadden and Whitehead. Both songs are joyous celebrations of the triumph of love and humanity over hate and bigotry. The song is more important now than ever." — Chris Lowe of The Pet Shop Boys (who answered our request for a quote.)
OMG! OMG! OMG! Thee original gay disco anthem finally on domestic CD! At the risk of getting longwinded...A little bit of history for you young'ins... When this song made it's debut on the Motown label back in 1977, Carl Bean's confident vocals and the exhilarating melody inspired many ay men and women coming out in the "sexual revolution 70's". Of course, it kept many a sweaty dancer on the floor. Remix duties originally done by the legendary Tom Moulton made this song one of disco's classics. Later in the mid 80's, top remixer Shep Pettibone gave it his spin. While the "Better Days" mix sounds less powerful than the original, it did incorporate the a capella into a new interpretation. The Gomi version updates this classic without veering too far from it's disco roots - hopefully introducing it to a new generation. And the inclusion of the very rare Levan version is just the icing on the cake! The only thing that could have made this release better would have been the inclusion of the a capella. A must have! (B.K., 09/29/2005) — Perfect Beat (perfectbeat.com) customer, Los Angeles.
I agree with B.K., this is an AWESOME release. I was lucky enough to get the original Tom Moulton mix on a long discontinued import CD a couple years ago. I think Gomi did an excellent job maintaining the integrity of the original on this new mix. This is one of the truly great disco classics with a great message that should be heard by a new generation. Carl Bean displays amazing emotion in these words that unfortunately still are applicable to our generation. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. DJ Mark Bisson (M.B., 09/29/2005) — Perfect Beat (perfectbeat.com) customer, Los Angeles.
I zip by the index of the remixes like a good dance freak and low and behold, I saw the name of Shep Pettibone!! After the fourth retake glance, I got the warm fuzzies that Lord Pettibone had gotten a true "reprazent". Pettibone became of a forefather of House/Dance before...yep, Todd Terry. Of course he was so hip. He's Queer! As The ActUp organization says, "We dictate your style" (M.L., 09/29/2005) — Perfect Beat (perfectbeat.com) customer, Los Angeles.
"By the time I started to go out dancing at gay clubs, Carl Bean's "I Was Born This Way" had come and gone. Still it remains an essential track not only in the history of disco, but also in the canon of queer-themed music. Newly reissued as a CD single with six mixes, I Was Born This Way (West End) deserves to be heard by all generations of the LGBT community. " — Gregg Shapiro, Bay Area Reporter
"Carl Bean's adopted gay anthem will need little by way of introduction to those that sport the rainbow flag, but to a whole new generation it's even more relevant today than it was back in the late '70's. The ultimate feel-good song of defiance and self-respect, sticking two fingers [in the US it would be, ahem, 'the finger'] up to those who continue to pass judgment on other's sexual persuasion." — Lewis Dene, Blues & Soul magazine (UK)
"This song is about Gay Pride every day! If we are serious about wanting equal rights, then we need to spread the word that we were "born this way" on a daily basis and not wait until the last week in June. This is an every day thing, not just something we pull out of the closet for gay pride!" — Mel Cheren, CEO of West End Records.
"You can tell when a producer respects a classic because it sounds like the production was made for the song" Great job Gomi. — Deli-G, host The Touch with Deli-G on Vibe 101-FM (UK).
Hey!!! I looooove this song. This one is one of my all-time faves. And Gomi's re-mix is FIERCE AND JOYOUS! I'm loving it, spinning around my office in a caftan as if I were at Low Tea already!!!! It's gorgeous, and it's about time this legendary tune resurfaced! — John Polly, Managing Editor, Genre Magazine.
"Got the vinyl from mel...it was a huge hit on the boat cruise Sat.!" — Jeannie Hopper, host Liquid Sound Lounge on WBAI-FM (NYC)
As a straight guy, what would you say to other straight guys who ask why you like this and wanted to remix it so much? I have lots of gay friends. For me, they just have a different sexuality — it's nothing special. Everybody is different but we are all human beings, and not that different. What matters is that this song has a great message. — Gomi, Remixer of "I Was Born This Way" (West End Records)
"I knew that night, as I stood at the mic in Mo-West studios in Los Angeles ready to record 'I Was Born This Way,' that something far bigger than a regular session was taking place." Almost thirty years later, West End CEO Mel Cheren feels likewise: that this gay anthem is far bigger than that just another dance single. "The lyrics to 'I Was Born This Way,'" he says, "are as relevant today — perhaps even more so in the current political and social climate — than they were when this record was first released back in 1977." — Carl Bean, singer, "I Was Born This Way."
"I feel that most if not all of the so-called 'Gay Anthems' have no right to that title, as they are sung by straight people and actually make no mention of anything gay. A prime example is 'We Are Family' — don't get me started. It's long overdue that we claim for our own a song that is truly gay and truly proud, and Carl Bean's 'I Was Born This Way' definitely has the history and musical chops to fill that bill." — J.D. Doyle, queermusicheritage.com, Co-Producer, "Audiofile," aired nationally via "This Way Out."
"Being one of the guys who mixed it; ) I can tell a cool story about this. I was DJ at Better Days at the time and I was given a copy of the original. Got a pretty good reaction. One day, Eddie O'Laughlin of Next Plateau asked me if I had ever heard of the record. Trying to remain calm I said..."uh, yeah." He said, "Well I got a big box of half inch tapes of the masters. Wanna play with them?" Already hyperventilating into a paper bag I again tried to calmly say "uh, yeah." Elapsed time: 3 seconds on the phone to Shep "OMFG Eddie has the master half inches to Carl Bean, I'm going there now, call Arthur (Baker) and get us some free time at Shakedown." Click. I get to Next Plateau and Eddie hands me the box and says take it. If the edit comes out good, maybe we'll put it out." I'm digging through the box and almost pass out when I find the REAL master...the 24-track. Paper bag time again. Next day, Shep and I start at like 9AM (an unheard of hour for a DJ) cause we had to be out by 9 and I had to be at Better Days by 10. We literally ran tape all day, and hacked together what became the "Better Days Mix" which I brought to work that night to play off quarter inch.
Need I describe the reaction? The packed floor literally stopped in its tracks hearing Carl a capella at the beginning and then the place went absolutely PSYCHO. I think I played it like five times that night. It took us another month to finish the other mixes (only one of which came out) because we edited it at Shep's apt, and both of us had very little spare time. But that BD mix was second only to Let No Man Put Asunder in reaction at my club, for all 8 years I was there. Still sounds amazing, even after Ten City ripped it off. LOL.
Kudos to Timmy and Boyd for another great mix on it. — Bruce Forest, producer/remixer extraordinaire and remixer of the 1986 Next Plateau-issued Better Days and Club mix (along with Shep Pettibone) of Carl Bean's "I Was Born This Way." (Mixes available on the West End re-issue maxi-CD and 12" vinyl.)
I WAS BORN THIS WAY
Lyrics from the original Motown version. Exact transcription of Carl Bean
version of lyrics as sung available on the Motown version follows.
I'm walking through life in nature's disguise
You laugh at me and you criticize
'Cause I'm happy, carefree and gay
Yes, I'm gay
Ain't no fault - it's a fact
I was born this way - yeah
Now I won't judge you - don't you judge me
We're all the way nature meant us to be
I'm happy, I'm carefree and I'm gay
I was born this way
You call me strange 'cause you don't understand
God's role for me in life's overall plan
I've learned to hold my head up high
Not in scorn nor disgrace
Doin' my thing individually
Entwined with this human race
Now I won't judge you - don't you judge me
We're all the way nature meant us to be
You laugh at me and you got the nerve to criticize
If I were you I'd sit down
And consider what you're doin'
Love me and I love you
And together ain't no tellin' what we'll do
Yeah - born I said
From a little bitty bitty boy
I was born this way
I love you, I love you
And even you - born this way - yeah
I'm tellin' y'all one more time
I was born this way, proud to tell it
I was born this way
Gonna shout it, tell the world about it
I was born this way
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