Rufus Wainwright

Pop musician Wainwright's carefully crafted songs and good looks have made him something of a gay icon.

Born in Rhinebeck, NY, Wainwright is the son of folk singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, who divorced when Rufus was young. He then lived with his mom in Canada, where he started playing the piano and touring with her from the age of 13. After bouncing around the club circuit in Montreal, he moved to LA, where he signed with DreamWorks and released his orchestral self-titled debut in 1998; the album received massive critical acclaim and earned him Rolling Stone's "Best New Artist" designation. Since 1999, he's been living in New York and has released nearly a dozen albums. Wainwright is a gifted pianist and guitarist, and while his music draws primarily from pop music, it also features heavy classical and operatic influence. He's also one of the surprisingly few pop stars who are out of the closet, and his looks and often frank lyrics have made him one of the more prominent gay musicians around. In 2006, he staged a well-publicized tribute to Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall, doing a song-by-song recreation of her legendary 1961 show. But while he has a rabidly devoted cult following of middle-aged gays and teenage girls, his albums haven't exactly been commercial blockbusters. [Image via Getty]