Photo ©Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
Back row: Laurie Anderson, Bette Midler, Lou Reed, David Bowie
Front row: Antony Hegarty, Jimmy Scott
Over a decade ago Antony Hegarty moved to New York to sing. His music was far from the mainstream and he struggled to be heard. But, as an artist he never compromised and his work attracted people like Hal Willner and Lou Reed, who became instant fans of this giant man with the voice of an angel.
A few years ago Lou introduced me to Antony’s extraordinary music. I immediately joined the tiny club of believers. I asked Antony to sit for a portrait and we became friends. His concerts at Joe’s Pub and the P.S. 122 performance space on First Avenue were not to be missed New York nights. His outfits and his song list were always wonderfully unexpected.
In 2003 Lou invited Antony to go on tour and sing one song each night, “Candy Says”, the Velvet Underground classic. In over 70 concerts throughout Europe, North America, Australia and Japan, Antony dazzled audiences with his amazing voice and humble presence.
Back in New York Antony continued to perform to small but loyal audiences. Then finally this year the rest of the world caught Lou’s enthusiasm for Antony. In September the New York Times Magazine devoted six pages to him and a few weeks ago Antony and the Johnsons won the coveted Mercury Prize in England for their album ‘I Am A Bird Now’.
Last night Antony sold out Carnegie Hall. Always true to his roots, he used the opportunity to invite the legendary Jimmy Scott to sing a few songs. And for the encore, he coaxed Lou Reed to the stage to play guitar as he sang “Candy Says”.
It was an amazing New York night.