To celebrate what would have been the legendary Judy Garland’s 100th birthday, Rufus Wainwright releases Rufus Does Judy At Capitol Studios, an all-new performance of his groundbreaking live tribute to Judy Garland, Rufus Does Judy At Carnegie Hall.
First presented last year as a virtual livestream concert event, Rufus Does Judy At Capitol Studios sees Rufus Wainwright using the very microphone Judy Garland herself used while making her own historic recordings at Capitol Studios, backed by a four-piece jazz ensemble before a micro-audience comprised entirely of two-time Academy Award-winning actress Renée Zellweger, winner of 2020’s Best Actress Oscar for her spectacular performance as Garland in 2019’s Judy. Among the concert’s many highlights is a special duet rendition of “Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy” performed alongside Kristin Chenoweth.
“I am still awed by Rufus’ voice just as I was 22 years ago in a friend’s living room where I heard him perform for the first time,” says Zellweger. “Witnessing Rufus do the entire Judy Garland Carnegie Hall show was the most special day and I loved sharing the time.”
Rufus Does Judy at Capitol Studios, which marked a rare complete performance of Wainwright’s now-legendary homage to 1961’s Judy Garland At Carnegie Hall, showcases a selection of standards spanning swing, jazz, and pop, including three songs by George & Ira Gershwin, two Rodgers & Hart classics, two from Howard Dietz & Arthur Schwartz, plus favorites by Harold Arlen, Yip Harburg, Irving Berlin, Noël Coward, and more. Highlights include such Garland signature songs as “The Man That Got Away,” “Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart,” “Swanee,” and of course, “Over The Rainbow.”
“In terms of actually fundamentally knowing these songs, honestly feeling them in my bones, Judy Garland has always had a good 30-year leg up on me and despite my valiant attempts, she will always be the Queen,” says Wainwright. “Listening back to my latest renditions of some of these amazing numbers, I was slightly taken aback...in a good way. I don’t know if it’s the paired down arrangements, my own as well as the planets trials and tribulations, or the fact that everyone but myself were required to record these tracks with masks on (playfully emblazoned with Judy’s likeness mind you). But, there is a darker quality to these renditions, a measure of pain involved that in almost every other aspect of life can prove burdensome, except for in the act of singing. I now know these songs and definitely feel them deep in my bones.”
Wainwright’s sixth full-length release and first live album, Rufus Does Judy At Carnegie Hall was recorded and produced by Phil Ramone over two sold-out nights at Carnegie Hall, backed by a full 36-piece orchestra and special guest appearances from his sister Martha Wainwright, his mother Kate McGarrigle, and Garland’s daughter, Lorna Luft. The album proved an immediate cultural landmark, feted by worldwide media attention and critical acclaim while earning Wainwright his first-ever Grammy Award nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.
Due to popular demand, Wainwright recreated his momentous tribute to Garland with sold-out, star-studded performances at such renowned venues as Paris’ L’Olympia, Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl, and the London Palladium, the latter of which was filmed and released on DVD as Rufus! Rufus! Rufus! Does Judy! Judy! Judy!: Live From The London Palladium.