When we speculated that Shelby Lynne was the person who would be coming out in the pages of People on May 5th, everyone was all: Who? Shelby Lynne is a pop-country singer with a long career of successes and false-starts.
40 year-old Lynne was born in Virginia and grew up in a small town in Alabama. She currently lives in Seattle. Her life was marked early by tragedy: At 17, her father shot and killed her mother, then turned the gun on himself. Still, she told the New York Times Magazine that "I feel very lucky to have had the parents I did."
Her career really peaked with 1999's I am Shelby Lynne, her sixth album; it helped her win a Grammy for best New Artist in 2000. But despite the burst of recognition, her next four albums didn't perform due to a combination of bad luck, bad management and bad production. (The Austin Chronicle wrote of her next album "The edges have all been sawed off.") Her best chance for a hit single was released right around 9/11: It was called "Killin' Kind." Unfortunately, no one wanted to play a song with the word "kill" in it after terrorists killed a bunch of people, her manager told the Times. Her last album, a collection of Dusty Springfield covers, got good reviews but peaked at 41 on the Billboard 200. Probably because she didn't release an insane video with of her dancing around in lingerie and having sex with robots.
If she actually is the mythical gay who's coming out in People it would make sense, since the storyline behind her new album—"Tears, Lies, and Alibis," which came out April 20th—is one of emancipation: She released it on her own record label after some creative differences with her old label, Lost Highway Records ("They were looking for a man to be the record producer," she told Reuters. This is symbolic because if she is a lesbian she doesn't like men.) So, she's free of her big label and will now be free of constantly fending off questions about her sexuality from journalists. (One Guardian journalist actually had his interview cut off in 2001 after suggesting she was in a relationship with her manager's ex-wife. Which, apparently, she was)
The big question is whether this whole build-up and reveal will do anything for her constantly-on-the-verge-of-breakthrough career. Are millions of people going to rush to iTunes to buy Shelby Lynne's new album because she publicly declares she is a lesbian? It at least got us talking about her even though I've never heard any of her music except this one that I just looked up on YouTube: