Soundtrack Of My Life: Laverne Cox

The 'Orange Is The New Black' actor and activist tells us about the songs that are close to her heart

The first song I remember hearing

‘Blessed Assurance’

“It’s a hymn from the African Methodist Episcopal Church. I must have been about six. The church was such a huge part of my life growing up – I grew up in Mobile, Alabama, and going every single Sunday was mandatory. This was just one of those hymns that we sang every day. I haven’t been to church in a while because I don’t subscribe to organised religion anymore, but I still believe in God.”

The first album I bought

Culture Club – ‘Kissing To Be Clever’

“Boy George was gender non-conforming – he identified as a drag queen. He used male pronouns but he wore make-up and was very flamboyant and feminine. I was assigned male at birth and was very feminine. I saw myself in him. And his songs were catchy and clever.”

The song that I can no longer listen to

Madonna – ‘Like A Virgin’

“It’s one of those things that, when it came out, was like, ‘Yeah!’ and now it’s just like, sigh. It just doesn’t work for me anymore. I like a lot of old Madonna songs but I just can’t listen to ‘Like A Virgin’. I still love ‘Material Girl’ though.”

The song I can’t get out of my head

Gaetano Donizetti – The ‘Mad Scene’ coda in Lucia Di Lammermoor

“I’ve been studying opera again lately so when I wake up in the morning I usually start singing this coda. That section of music is so catchy and it’s just in my head. It’s really weird – I feel like a little bit of a freak.”

The first gig I went to

Michael Jackson

“I was really young – it was one of those things where my mom took me just to go and see Michael Jackson. I only vaguely remember it. I remember being at the concert and he was up there doing his thing, and it was fantastic.”

The song I do at karaoke

David Guetta – ‘Titanium’

“I’m not really a pop singer – I’m a classical singer, so it always comes out classically. But I love the vocal range of this and I love the message: ‘You shoot me down, but I won’t fall, I am titanium.’ I give myself permission to sing badly when I do karaoke. Karaoke was a cathartic space for me to have a creative outlet that wasn’t about work, that didn’t have to be perfect.”

The song that makes me dance

Beyoncé – ‘Yoncé’

“They don’t really ever play it in the clubs, but I will literally put it on in the morning when I’m getting ready. It makes me feel sexy. Dancing and sexuality is so linked for me, and Beyoncé epitomises that. When she became Sasha Fierce it was almost like that was the internal sex goddess that I’ve always imagined I was. That song just gives me permission to be my sexiest self.”

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