It Must Be Him: A Genderful Musical Memoir

Exploring Gender From the Psyche of a Visionary Trailblazer

The iconic artist-activist extends his unerring commitment to self-discovery that is delicately placed within the expansive LGBTQI+ experience. Kearns’ latest music-filled memoir follows a tradition of expressing that which provokes, reveals, and questions while capturing the zeitgeist of his generation with a unique voice defined by hope, reality, desire, tragedy, and promise.

Join Michael for a special hometown performance at the
Blue Strawberry Showroom & Lounge

364 N. Boyle Ave. St. Louis, MO
Saturday, APRIL 20th at 7:30 PM


Directed by Ryland Shelton. Piano Accompaniment by Carol Schmidt, with Brian Clarke as consultant.

Read two just-published, intimate interviews with Michael…

Stage Raw: The Art of Connection: Michael Kearns’s “It Must Be Him”

Pasadena Weekly: An Exploration of Gender: Michael Kearns presents 16th solo show


Michael Kearns sitting on graffiti steps

It Must Be Him explores the role of gender from the consciousness of a community elder whose story began in 1968. Kearns and many of his peers could admit out loud—in song—that which was forbidden by expressing themselves through the lyrics and performances of emotionally-charged female singers/songwriters.

“We didn’t have a Sam Smith,” Kearns says, “so we changed the pronouns, substituted male names for female ones or—if you dared—sang the song straight. The songs of longing and broken-heartedness provided a soundtrack for the hidden feelings that were waiting to come out; the exterior theatricality of Judy, Dusty or Barbra mirrored the interior emotional life of our secretive awakenings. But what It Must Be Him posits is that the stance many young gay men of my generation adopted has followed us into adulthood.”

It Must Be Him: A Genderful Musical Memoir resonates with the Kearns’ sensibility that was birthed at Highways thirty-four years ago. Reacting to the tragic AIDS crisis, Kearns wrote and performed intimacies, presented by Highways on its opening weekend, in which he played a panoply of characters rarely depicted in the media in 1989; among them, Big Red, a Black female street hooker; Patrick, a narcissistic gay boy in denial; and Phoenix, a homeless Hispanic drug addict who lives under the Hollywood Freeway. intimacies marked the beginning of a lauded solo career that found the performer touring America and abroad.

Broadway World writer Gil Kaan takes a deep dive in this interview with Michael about the genesis of his latest (and 16th!) solo show.

More About Michael Kearns

Michael Kearns acting

Through the past half-century, Michael has woven his work as an artist and social activist into the fabric of Los Angeles (and beyond). It would be virtually impossible to chronicle the theatre scene in Los Angeles, the AIDS crisis that shocked Hollywood, homophobia’s insidious hold on The Industry, the artistic response to homelessness in L.A., or the teaching of under-served populations within the city without mentioning his name. He has generated controversy, spoken openly, defied homophobia, celebrated sexuality, listened to those in peril, raised hundred of thousands of dollars to combat HIV/AIDS, explored issues surrounding the intersection of racism and homophobia, taught the homeless, represented the LGBTQ+/HIV communities in the media, and founded organizations with a mission–all with a profound love for the city he calls “home.” Visit

For press inquiries please contact
Lynn Tejada at 213-840-1201



Ryland is a director and vocal coach. As director, performer, and producer he has worked with a host of both New York- and Los Angeles-based theatre companies, and has joined forces with Michael Kearns on too many projects to count over their ten-year history of collaboration. In addition to studio work as vocals producer, arranger and private coach, Ryland’s original gender-affirming voice curriculum – TrueVoice Vocal Development – has earned him an international reputation as a primary resource for trans and gender diverse people as well as anyone in exploration of their most authentic vocal expression.

Leigh Anne

Piano Accompaniment

Leigh Anne is much in demand as a pianist, teacher, and musical director in the Los Angeles area since moving from Washington D.C. in 1993.  She is currently Principal Faculty in Music and Accompanist at AMDA College of the Performing Arts in Hollywood, where she has been MD or AMD for many classes and shows, most recently The Wild Party, Little Women, and The Mad Ones.  She is also an accomplished dance musician with organizations such as The Washington Ballet, Idyllwild Arts Academy, LMU, and currently Trudl Zipper Dance Institute (Colburn School) and USC Kaufman School of Dance.