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Micah McLaurin On Embracing His Identity, New Music & Working With Zaldy

Micah McLaurin On Embracing His Identity, New Music & Working With Zaldy

Micah McLaurin On Embracing His Identity, New Music & Working With Zaldy
Miguel Villalobos

The pianist and composer is blessing our ears once again.


Marilyn Monroe's music lives on.

Praised musician Micah McLaurin has released his new cover of the classic single “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” Recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London at the historic Abbey Road Studios, McLaurin's rendition offers a new take on beloved song.

McLaurin's passion for music also helped him embrace his gay identity as he comes from a Catholic household in South Carolina and even attended conversion therapy at eleven years old.

Once he grew up, the musician attended Curtis Institute and Juilliard to perfect his craft in piano and went on to perform at some of the biggest stages around the world, all while learning to love the skin that he's in.

PRIDE recently caught up with McLaurin to discuss his new music and why his current stage of life is his best yet.

PRIDE: What drew you to “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” and what inspired you to record your own take on the song?

Like many people, I’ve always been drawn to Marilyn Monroe. We’re also both blond and soft spoken, so I can relate to her. I was very familiar with a song she sang from Some Like it Hot called “I’m Through with Love,” because the mayor of Charleston (John Tecklenberg) is a jazz musician and is related to the composer of that song. He used to perform in a concert series called “The Sound of Charleston,” which I also performed in while growing up there. I immediately fell in love with that song and then found Marilyn’s version. I started listening to her more and also fell in love with “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.” The piano part on that song is so great and I was just dying to play it. I had been wanting to play something fun besides classical, and there really isn’t anything in the piano repertoire like it, so I had to get it transcribed and then I added my own arrangement to fill out the vocal parts. I really want to play it because it’s lighthearted, fun, and upbeat, and I’m clearly obsessed with sparkly things. To myself, I call it “Diamonds Are a Gay’s Best Friend."

What has it been like working with an all-star cast of people, from GRAMMY-winning artists and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on the song to Zaldy as your costume designer?

It’s amazing to work with people who have the highest standards, knowledge, and experience, to help your vision come to life and fruition. The royal philharmonic plays so beautifully, and the strings are so lush, it was a dream to work with them.

Working with Zaldy has been amazing and we’ve developed my style and visual expression. It’s really special to brainstorm ideas of looks for certain songs and he makes total magic.

Would you consider the piano to have been a lifeline for you growing up in conservative South Carolina as a queer kid? Where does your drive to remain at the top of your game come from?

The piano definitely saved my life. I honestly don’t know how I’d still be here without it. It’s the one thing that’s been constant and a lifelong relationship that I feel at home with and at peace with. I don’t know where the drive comes from, but it takes control of me rather than the other way around. When I started piano, it’s like I became possessed by music and the drive to become a great pianist and musician.

How do you think your relationship with your art has evolved since moving to New York and being embraced by the queer community? Do you think “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” is the result of that process?

I’ve found that one's playing, or art is directly related and reflective of one’s life, experiences, and psychological state. Living in NYC, exploring real life, and making friends and chosen family in the community has allowed me and encouraged me to embrace my creativity aside from interpreting classical music only. “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” is one of the results of branching out and satisfying my curiosity of music as a whole, and not being tied to a genre, but using music for personal expression instead of interpretation only. I wanted to play how I feel, which sometimes didn’t mean a Beethoven sonata. I wanted more creativity in music since, as a classical performer, I was an interpreter and wasn’t creating my own music before. So, when I started arranging pop music and studying harmony, one thing led to another and I’m working on a pop vocal album of original songs.

What can we look forward to in your upcoming body of work?

My upcoming piano album is based on songs and pieces that have always been a part of my life and shaped my musical story. They are my introduction to creativity, composing and arranging in music, and a bridge to what is coming as a singer and songwriter.

To listen to McLaurin's new rendition, check out the video below.

Micah McLaurin - Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend (Official Audio)

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