AFS 2024 Speakers

Rufus Wainwright

Singer, songwriter, and composer

Speaker - Official Opening Night of the Arts Festivals Summit on Sunday 23 April 2023 | 20.00-22.30

Rufus McGarrigle Wainwright is a Canadian-American singer, songwriter, and composer. He has recorded 10 studio albums and numerous tracks on compilations and film soundtracks. He has also written two classical operas and set Shakespeare's sonnets to music for a theatre piece by Robert Wilson.

Folkocracy is Rufus Wainwright revisiting his roots, of childhood summers spent at folk festivals and watching his famous family on stage. But it’s also the sound of an artist in the present, flanked by an incredible array of guests, using all he has learnt from conquering pop to make music worthy of awards.

It was during 2021’s Grammys ceremony that the idea for an album of folk reinventions came to Rufus. Nominated for his return-to-pop record Unfollow The Rules, he sat through countless folk and Americana categories and felt a pang for the past.

I was already contemplating an album of covers,” says Rufus. “Initially I thought I’d choose big pop songs, make them into my style and have a huge hit record. Haha!

“But the older I get, the more I appreciate how valuable my folk knowledge is, to have had it ingrained in me as a child. I have a big birthday coming up. What better way to celebrate than singing some of the songs that shaped me with some of the artists I most admire?

“I’ve shied away from folk in the past, preferring the worlds of opera and pop. But the fact is I’m from a bona fide folkocracy who mixed extensively with other folkocracies such as the Seegers and the Thompsons. As I hurtle towards 50, I’m back where it all began.

Rufus Wainwright