Out Pop Star Ari Gold Succumbs to Cancer at 47

Monday February 15, 2021
Originally published on February 14, 2021

Ari Gold — the singer perhaps best known for the 2007 Billboard-chart anthem "Where the Music Takes You" feat. Sasha Allen — died on Valentine's Day after a long battle with cancer, reports the website Boy Culture. He had just turned 47 on February 11.

"Ari was ambitious, openly gay and talented at a time just before that was a recipe for mainstream success, but succeed he did, putting out seven albums (including remix albums — as a mega Madonna fan, 'You Can Dance' taught him not to skimp on reinventions) and becoming well-known in NYC for his sexy and charisma-drenched shows," writes Boy Culture.

The New York-born Gold he began performing in his hometown in clubs, such as Joe's Pub, the Pyramid Club and CBGBs, as he was preparing his debut album in 2001, which featured a R&B/pop music first — explicitly gay love songs. The album won Gold at the 2002 Outmusic Award for Outstanding Debut Recording. He collaborated with Desmond Child on his hit "I'm All About You," which found its way on the soundtrack to "Queer as Folk."

As the only out R&B/pop artist in the heteronormative music industry, Gold faced prejudice. "I tried to see if any of the mainstream record labels were interested in the album, but they wouldn't touch it. When I played 'Write Me a Love Song,' which included male pronouns in the lyrics, one exec said, 'I won't even go there.' Ironically, the exec was a gay man," he said in an interview with the Advocate in 2006

When a different closeted record executive suggested he go back in the closet, Gold felt such a move "would be disrespectful to all those great artists who came out in the '90s." He refused, released his second album, "Space Under Stars," in January 2004 under his own label, which went on to commercial success and an Outmusic Award for Outstanding New Recording. He toured with Chaka Khan and Rupaul, and released his first remix album, "Remix" in 2005.

"I became the first out artist to debut on their video charts," he told the Advocate, "and I proved that there was in fact a market for an artist like myself.. And for a few years, I stopped going to any label meetings, figuring I would have a great career as the gay male pop version of Ani DiFranco."

Watch Ari Gold's 2017 video "Make Music":

"Transport Systems," his third studio album, was released in 2006 and Gold's first to debut on Billboard Top 10 charts. He released his fourth album "Between the Spirit & the Flesh," under the moniker Sir Ari. In mid-2011; later that year he released his second remix album. In July 2015, Gold released his single "Sex Like A Pornstar. In August 2015, Gold released his fifth studio album, "Soundtrack to Freedom," under the moniker GoldNation.

Gold first met Rupaul in 2002 and became friends. In 2019 on the day Gold was told he was cancer free, he interviewed RuPaul for his podcast "A Kiki From the Cancer Ward," in which Gold interviewed those who came to see him while he was in the hospital. His interview with RuPaul was the first he conducted from his Lower East Side apartment.

Out reports that Gold said on the podcast:"Ru became the closest thing I've known to a mentor. I couldn't tell you how many hours on the phone we'd spend where I would vomit out my perceived problems of the moment and Ru would give me a more evolved, spiritual perspective on him."

RuPaul tweeted upon hearing of Gold's death:

As did tributes on Instagram: