Sam Harris Injects Music into His Book Tour

Will sing, discuss autobiography in Palm Springs Library event

Singer Sam Harris talks to Marie Menounos on "Extra" earlier this year.

Photos Courtesy of Sam Harris on Facebook


Sam Harris is not holding out.

In his recently published autobiography, HAM: Slices of Life: Essays and Stories, Harris says, “There were few stories that we saved for the next one.”

After being discovered on Star Search in 1983, Harris’ career blossomed into a string of Broadway musical roles in such hits as Grease, The Producers, and The Life, which included a Tony Award nomination.

Harris has put those experiences down in a collection of essays and stories in his book, which he will sing and discuss March 16 at the Palm Springs Public Library. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Library and Friends of Palm Springs Library.

Both organizations and Palm Springs resident Sara Burns organized the event celebrating the first time author’s debut book. A Harris “super fan”, Burns contacted, a website that allows fans to propose their favorite author host events in their community.

Harris and Burns have met several times and share their love of writing. “She’s passionate, creative, and enthusiastic,” says Harris of Burns.

Harris has channeled his own passions into being an active gay rights advocate since the beginning of the AIDS crisis. He has also been involved with Palm Springs Desert AIDS Project for many years.

“It’s a duty, I think. Something I get to do – help bring money and attention to what is necessary,” says Harris.

Utilizing his talents to draw attention to causes, "My Reclamation" is a song Harris co-wrote in 2010 that has become an anthem for marriage equality. “I’m really proud of [that] song,” says Harris, who has been with partner Danny Jacobsen since 1994, and married in 2008.

Harris took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions from Palm Springs Life.

What has been your most beloved or challenging Broadway musical role so far and why?

“Broadway is such a great club to belong to. There is nothing like it. I get a thrill every time I walk in a stage door, and not just Broadway. There are several stories in the book about my crazy love and drive for the theatre, going back to when I was a little kid. It saved me. And it gave me a voice and a purpose. I’ve worked off and on in a project about Al Jolson and it’s probably the most fascinating character I’ve done for the stage: complex, dark, enigmatic, manic, joyful, thrilling, and sad. I hope to do it on Broadway one day.

Why is your signature song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and has the meaning changed for you throughout the years?  

“Well, the song is sacred, so I was nervous about originally singing it on Star Search. Of course, I had no idea that it would become a signature song for me. I’m a lucky guy. It’s a great song to get stuck with! The meaning changes constantly, because it’s so perfectly written. Originally, it was probably more about an almost desperate hope, and then it emerged into belief in that hope, and ultimately, in the fruition of that hope. I love singing it and have sung it thousands of times.”

Do you visit the Palm Springs area often?

“I get to Palm Springs several times a year, usually for a function or performance or benefit. I’ve done the Dessert AIDS Project fundraisers a number of times, [both] as a performer and as a host. It’s a wonderful event and an amazing group of people. It is always an honor to be with likeminded people who are doing something to promote goodness and help for others. It’s really why we’re here. And once in a while, my husband and I, and our son, come down for fun. It’s a great community and so, so beautiful. We’ve talked of getting a place [in Palm Springs].”

What was the inspiration for your Marriage Equality anthem, "My Reclamation"?

“I got a call from Reed Cowan, who was producing a documentary called “8: The Mormon Proposition”.  He asked me to look at a rough edit and perhaps write a song for the movie. I was inspired by what he had created, and ironically, he told me that a passionate video blog I had done after Prop 8 passed had been the inspiration for him to start the movie. Then, the song wasn’t used for the movie because of a commitment to another artist that another producer had made. [The song] took off on its own and served its own purpose. I wrote it with Todd Schroeder and Kevin Fisher. I’m glad it’s in the world and has been used for a number of Equality campaigns.”

What is next for you?

“Now that the book is out, that is my current focus. I’ve created a show (of the same name) that I’ve been touring, which is built on the book. It’s something I call a liter-usical because it’s literary and musical. HAM is not a one-off. It’s the beginning of what I am looking forward to as a writing career in conjunction with all the other stuff I love to do. I am very excited about this new chapter of my life and career (pardon the pun!). I love writing and I love performing and I’m getting to do both. Of course, my primary job is being a good parent to our 5 year old. Thankfully, that life provides a lot of fodder for material!”

Like what you're reading? Then "Like" us on Facebook and "follow" us on Twitter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Desert Guide
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Wondrous Waters

The naturally hot mineral waters beneath Desert Hot Springs offer pure magic. Here’s where you can soak in the benefits.

8 Brunch Styles for Every Taste

With so much to do in the Coachella Valley, it’s easy to miss a meal. Start your day off right with these local options.

USC School of Architecture Dean Speaks on Chinese Urbanism

Using China as an example, Qingyun Ma, Dean of USC School of Architecture, will speak Jan. 31 in Palm Springs on the growth of urbanism and how new architecture practices need to be instituted.

For the Birds: Australian Budgies Return to The Living Desert

The Birds of the Australian Outback exhibit is back at The Living Desert in Palm Desert, giving guests a chance to walk amongst the adorable budgies and even feed the birds with seed sticks.

4 Million Lights Illuminate The Mission Inn's Holiday Extravaganza

The Mission Inn’s "Festival of Lights" is an annual gift to the community from Duane and Kelly Roberts, who saved the historic landmark from destruction in 1992. Now more than 250,000 visitors come each year.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

Fashionista Friends

Fashionista Friends

Experience the glitz and glamour of Fashion Week El Paseo 2015.
2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

Food + Wine Festival Grand Experience

Food + Wine Festival Grand Experience

Enter for a Chance to Win a Food + Wine Festival Palm Desert 2015 Grand Experience
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Edit ModuleShow Tags