Pride & Joy Of Betty Who


Betty Who spent her pandemic lockdown in introspection, writing new songs and stretching her talent into TV – only to emerge with a packed calendar and a nation and world looking vastly different than it did two and a half years ago.

She debuted a new music video for “Blow Out My Candle” on June 3 to kick off Pride Month and will appear on the “Can’t Cancel Pride” livestream benefit along with Elton John, Katy Perry, Sam Smith, Lizzo, Anitta, Dove Cameron, Kim Petras and hosted by JoJo Siwa on June 14. She’ll also debut a new Amazon Prime Video TV dating show, “The One That Got Away,” on June 24. She tells Pollstar an album and fall tour are also in the works.

Although the Australian-American singer has obviously been busy, “Blow Out My Candle” was the result of a period of introspection for Who about balancing her life and career.
She explains, “I think you just get so sucked into [your career] and then you wake up in 10 years and you’re like, ‘I don’t know if I’ve made any right choices.’ I came out of that understanding that I wanted to talk about my own personal experience in the hopes that it would relate to other people.”

Who says she’s applied her personal vision to her professional one to find her happy medium, and she intends to own it.

“I think I’m in my era of ‘show, don’t tell.’ I took a step back and I made the decision to be out. You know, I was kind of on the fence. It was really like, OK, I have to either walk away or I have to really make a strong choice. And my strong choice was I’m just going to be myself and I’m not going to apologize for it … And if that doesn’t work, I got nothing left.”

Being isolated during the pandemic gave Who not only the perspective to emerge from it authentically, but to find inspiration in the work of other artists now making what she says is the best music of their lives.

“What a crazy experience we’ve all had!” she says. “And now that they’re sharing it, it feels so authentic and exciting and huge. And I’m really inspired by that energy. I think it’s coming out in pride.”

Part of what Pride means to Who is making a commitment to her community.

“I definitely feel a responsibility to make music for, particularly, queer youth, to include that in my thought process as I’m making it, and I’m creating a safe space for my community. But whether it’s a 55-year-old woman from Delaware who just went through a divorce, or a 13-year-old queer kid who’s like, ‘I don’t know how to be myself, but I feel like I’m figuring it out and you’re helping me along the way,’ this music is for everyone.”

Expressing that pride and commitment isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially given the level of social and political animus that has arisen in recent years. And Who does it not just with her music but also with her activism. She’s partnered with GLAAD on their Vote With Pride initiative with an aim to increase voter turnout to fight against the anti-LGBTQ legislation in the midterms; in conjunction with this partnership, a candle will be released as a merchandise item with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the non-profit. Sharing a virtual global stage with legendary LGBTQ+ artists and allies in “Can’t Cancel Pride,” is another event of which she’s “totally excited” to be part of.

Who is also letting her music do her political talking, “Blow Out My Candle” being just one example. In fact, she’s able to bridge very large societal gaps by turning her own personal, powerful joyfulness outward.

“When I see people, genuinely who I believe to be evil people, people who have seeds of hatred inside of them, there is still the rational and compassionate part of me that looks at those people and I say, ‘I see you’re in pain; I see you’re having a tough time …’” Who says.
But compassion does not mean softening her truth, either.

“I have compassion while standing in my shoes and saying, ‘you can blow out my candle, but you never put out my fire.’ You can say whatever you say, whatever you want, you can feel however you want.

“You’re not going to make the queer community less queer. You’re not going to make us less loud. You’re not going to make us less beautiful. You’re not going to make us less joyful. It’s so dark for you that you don’t get to participate in the joy because there’s so much of it, and there’s enough to go around.”

For Who, Pride is about “Living with joy – of course, it’s a riot, it’s a protest – but it’s also joy and celebration of ourselves and others. It doesn’t matter how angry it makes you to see us be so happy. I’m the one living a joy!”

Who says she hopes to provide a space for everybody “to come and check in with themselves” and, hopefully, find their way to that joy.

She pauses for a moment and adds, “I have so much empathy and compassion for people who cannot find their way to joy. That sounds like salvation.”