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LATIRCE ROYALE | Here's to Life
by Herb Sosa


Celebrating 100 years of Jazz, Latrice Royale, the larger
than life star from RuPaul’s Drag Race, is bringing the
energy and rawness of the roaring twenties back to the
modern age with her debut album, “Here’s To Life.”  
The album developed as a natural expansion to her
one-woman show of the same name. In “Here’s To Life,”
Latrice shares her stories of growing up gay in the
gang-infested streets of Compton, California.  She also
reflects on time spent behind bars; and her transformation
into the grand dame drag fans know and love today.
“It’s really the soundtrack to my life,” she says.  
“The good, the bad, and the emotionally-wrecked ugly.”  

“Ella Fitzgerald is clearly the queen of jazz,” continues
Latrice Royale from her Florida home.  “I have always
loved her and Della Reese and have lip-synched to
quite a bit of their music.  Shirley Horn and Shirley
Bassey are also favorites and had a lot to do with the
shaping this project.”

In “Here’s To Life,” Latrice Royale isn’t trying to match
the greatness of her jazz idols. She often jokes how her
deep baritone voice sounds like Barry White in drag.  
“I’m not trying to sing like a woman,” she explains.  
“My goal is to be authentic to myself, my voice, and
my experience.”

The album’s title track was written by Artie Butler and
originally recorded by Shirley Horn (Barbra Streisand
later recorded a version). “The song really sums up
my attitude on life,” says Royale. “Though it recounts
struggles, it is celebratory at its core. I want to share
some of the lessons I’ve learned in a heartfelt,
optimistic way.”


Where & how did Latrice Royale get her name?
The name “Latrice” came from a childhood friend from grade school.  She was this pretty little, bright skinned, black girl with long wavy
hair.  And my friend Matt came up with “Royale” as I was signing up for my first ever  Drag Wars competition.  He thought I was dark and
chocolaty, like fudge royale ice cream. Lol…

How has she evolved since putting on your first heels & wig?
OMG!!! She’s come a LONG way! LOL  The funny thing is… I didn’t even have heels or a wig my first time in a drag show!!! I was a MESS!  
But I always knew what kind of queen I wanted Latrice to be.  I knew that she was highly glamorous, and she would carry herself with
class and dignity at all times.  Through much trial and error, I’ve become a master of my craft. What that means is that I am forever
changing and evolving to be a better version of myself.

Tell us about Here’s To Life, your debut album. What inspired you to choose these songs in particular?
The album came about as direct result of my autobiographical one woman show Here’s To Life.  When my partner and I were selecting
material that would musically connect with my life story, I already had a pretty good grasp of songs that were in my repertoire.  
Summertime and Here’s To Life were the first songs that I connected with and wanted to tackle.  And as the show developed, we added
more songs that help arch and link my story together.  So literally Here’s To Life is the soundtrack of my life!

I absolutely feel there is a common message (in Jazz from the 20’s being
relevant to today’s audiences)
. What these late, great legends of Jazz were
trying to convey in their music was “life lessons.”  It’s not about how many
materialistic things you can acquire.  It’s about the journey and the lessons
learned along the way.  Lessons in how to love and be loved, and how to be
grateful for the simple things in life.  And this is why I feel like my album is a
great reflection on this message that needs to be heard today more than ever!

Since reaching a level of international recognition, have
relationships changed? Friends, Family, loves? How?
So many of my relationships have changed.   And THANK
GOD!  I’ve made some amazing new friends and lost
some long time friends along the way.  I have reconnected
with my family in a way that I had never thought possible.  
I have met THE LOVE OF MY LIFE!!!  Christopher is my
business partner, my musical director, my cheerleader!
I mean who would’ve thought all this would come from
being in a Drag competition?!? RuPaul’s Drag Race has
afforded me so many opportunities that I never saw coming.  
I’ve traveled the world and I have only been myself and
people love and respect me for me!  That’s all the
validation I need.

What do you think RuPaul’s Drag Race has done for the
art of illusion?
I feel like the show has elevated the art to higher heights!!!
Drag Race has reached all different walks of life around the
world. It’s now the most popular form of art in the world and
something that people can aspire to as a career choice!  
Like a legitimate career! And That’s AMAZING!

When not working or traveling for work, what do you
enjoy doing most?
Ahhhh… LOL… As of late, I haven’t been home much.  
So really just the act of being home is enjoyable.  But
maybe many people don’t know how much I love jet skiing!  
Being that I’m from South Florida, we have paradise right
here in my backyard!


ABOUT Here's to Life
The album reflects Latrice Royale’s youth, growing up in a violently homophobic environment, and how the experience shaped her into
the extravagant queen she is today.  After all, the tough streets of Compton weren’t entirely wasteful.  They taught her to pay attention, be
aware and to not be stupid.  They also gave Royale the fight and conviction to get the hell out and make something of herself.

She also ruminates on her original arrest, when she was pulled over for expired tags with no license or insurance. In her pocket were a
tiny bit of marijuana and a Klonopin pill that, to this day, she swears she was holding for a friend.

They landed her in the slammer. “They called me ‘Big Chocolate’,” she remembers.  “My size helped.  The other prisoners didn’t mess
with me.  They knew who I was on the outside and gagged at my splits.”  As fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race will attest, Latrice Royale’s epic
splits are always a showstopper.

“The worst part of prison life was losing my mother,” she continues.  “It was the most alone I ever felt.”  She sings about the tragic loss in
“I Need You Now,” a gospel song by Smokie Norful.  “It was the hardest song to record.  It really speaks to how alone I felt at that moment,
grieving in isolation.”

Another of her favorite singles from the album is “I Am What I Am” from the musical La Cage aux Folles. “I’ve lived enough to justify being
able to sing it and mean it, you know? So it’s fun and meaningful at the same time.” Along with her accompanist Christopher, the
studio musicians, and her producer Mimi Imfurst (who also starred on RuPaul’s Drag Race), Latrice tailor-made an arrangement
specifically for her style and aesthetic.




Tell us what the biggest challenge about being Latrice is.
Keeping up with the B*tch!  Oh my goodness!  You know it’s more than just dressing up and putting on shows.  Because drag really is
a full time business, you have to plan way in advance for what’s next.   You can never wait 'till you feel one particular project is done before
moving on to the next.  You have to have several irons in the fire at once, and plant lots of different seeds so that you can watch your
garden grow.

Best and worst experience (so far) as a performer?
Well we all know the BEST is yet to come, but you did say “so far”.  LOL.  So I think the best experience has been being able to
sing live and tell my story in
Here’s To Life!  The cabaret scene has really helped to shape and mold me into a more theatrical performer.  
And the worst thing that has happened to me was arriving in a new city/country with NO LUGGAGE!  That’s the WORST!!! UGH!!! But thank
god for my RuPaul’s Drag Race training, ya just treat it like a challenge and GO.

What have you learned – in business, relationships,
negotiations?
The common thing that I have learned in all three areas is
that, it’s not personal, it’s business.  It’s great to have people
around you that you trust, but NEVER give people you trust
power over you.  You have to maintain a sense of who you
are and what your business means to you.  I’ve worked very
hard to have my business and the way I run it reflect the type
of person I am.  Good heart, good natured, means good
business and longevity!


3 things Latrice will not leave home without?
Latrice will not leave home without her body, her Big Purse
or a CD/flash drive. You just never know when the show
might go on!

3 things Timothy can’t live without?
Tim can’t live without Latrice’s Big Purse, LOL there’s
something about that purse!  Can’t live without phone or
talking to my boyfriend on the regular.

Best advice I would give a new performer is…
Cliché as it may seem, BE AUTHENTIC!!! Don’t be a carbon
copy because if you get wet, your ink will run.  I’m like the
images that were carved into stone many years ago.  
Still here!

Biggest “I will never”, that you have.
I used to say that I will NEVER  live with a boyfriend again!!! Well that was a bunch of malarkey, cause here I is!!!! LOL  

In 10 years, Latrice will be…
Latrice will be still refining and building her empire.  Married and selling out theaters around the world!  NOTHING is off limits for me!


































Latrice Royale began performing drag in the nineties.  
In 2012, on a whim, she tried out for Season 4 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
She was chosen to compete on the show and rose to the top four, alongside
Sharon Needles, Chad Michaels, and Phi Phi O'Hara.  When Royale was cut
from the competition, Entertainment Weekly called the elimination “shocking.”
Latrice Royale was later voted “Miss Congeniality” by show fans.


She has since appeared on TV’s Fashion Rocks alongside Jennifer Hudson, RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars and RuPaul's Drag U, and in
the documentary film, Gays in Prison.

“I’m so excited to release my first album,” says Latrice Royale.  “My hope is that fans will put this record on in the background with a glass
of wine and a nice meal with a candle and a lover. It’s very casual listening that runs the gamut from the whore house to the church
house, so everybody should be able to find something they enjoy.”

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Latrice Royale’s “Here’s To Life” is available on Amazon now.  For more information, visit
LatriceRoyale.com

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Copyright 2016 © AMBIENTE MAGAZINE.  
Do not reproduce without citing this source.
ABOUT Here's to Life

The album reflects Latrice Royale’s youth, growing up in a violently homophobic environment, and how the experience shaped her
into the extravagant queen she is today.  After all, the tough streets of Compton weren’t entirely wasteful.  They taught her to pay
attention, be aware and to not be stupid.  They also gave Royale the fight and conviction to get the hell out and make something of
herself.

She also ruminates on her original arrest, when she was pulled over for expired tags with no license or insurance. In her pocket
were a tiny bit of marijuana and a Klonopin pill that, to this day, she swears she was holding for a friend.

They landed her in the slammer. “They called me ‘Big Chocolate’,” she remembers.  “My size helped.  The other prisoners didn’t
mess with me.  They knew who I was on the outside and gagged at my splits.”  As fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race will attest, Latrice
Royale’s epic splits are always a showstopper.

“The worst part of prison life was losing my mother,” she continues.  “It was the most alone I ever felt.”  She sings about the tragic
loss in “I Need You Now,” a gospel song by Smokie Norful.  “It was the hardest song to record.  It really speaks to how alone I felt at
that moment, grieving in isolation.”

Another of her favorite singles from the album is “I Am What I Am” from the musical La Cage aux Folles. “I’ve lived enough to justify
being able to sing it and mean it, you know? So it’s fun and meaningful at the same time.” Along with her accompanist Christopher,
the studio musicians, and her producer Mimi Imfurst (who also starred on RuPaul’s Drag Race), Latrice tailor-made an
arrangement specifically for her style and aesthetic.
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