Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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Country Queer Remembers Rita Houston

By Mya Byrne, Staff Writer

Remembrances are pouring in from venues, radio stations, DJs, and artists all over the world for legendary WFUV DJ and tastemaker Rita Houston, who died yesterday after a six-month battle with cancer. While Rita was not in the closet during her lifetime, in the last 24 hours it’s been shown through these tributes just how open and loving she was, how much her wonderful relationship with her wife, Laura, both informed so much of what shaped what she did, and helped make so many young queer musicians feel comfortable in a setting that has so very often excluded us.

I was a New Yorker, and Rita shaped the way I listen to music. As the managing director of WFUV for many years, she had a profound influence on the way music has been put out into the world. Many of the artists that I hold dear, like Lucinda Williams, she championed and helped break to a larger audience. For generations of folks in New York and beyond, Houston’s light shone brightly.

As an independent musician growing up in the area, whose post-transition music was first played on WFUV, I’m grateful that Rita walked the Earth. All of us at Country Queer send our condolences to her family, her friends, and most especially to her wife Laura. Godspeed, Rita, and thank you for all of the music.

Photo by Gail Prusslin