Academic's study explores works and influences of Rufus Wainwright

A new book exploring the influences and output of popular singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright has been released by a Plymouth University academic.

Dr Katherine Williams, Lecturer in Music, has been researching and teaching about the Canadian-American performer’s work for around four years.

Now she has completed a study which combines aspects of his life story with academic analyses of some of his most popular works to give a rich biographical and interpretative overview of Wainwright’s life and music.

Published by Equinox Press, the book – titled Rufus Wainwright – covers aspects of popular music studies, opera, queer studies, music and geography.

Dr Williams said:

“Popular musicology is a relatively recent discipline, with around 35 years to its name. As a relatively young sub-discipline, a good deal of popular music scholarship is concerned with legitimisation – convincing the larger musicological world that popular music deserves study, and can contribute to the discipline as a whole. One of my primary aims in Rufus Wainwright is to show that different techniques of analysing music from a popular musicology standpoint are a valuable contribution to the wider musicological discipline, and that the application of theories from traditional musicology can shed light on popular song.”
Rufus Wainwright, born in 1973, is famous around the world for his multi-faceted style, shown through both his recorded output and live performances.

His first album was released in 1998, and he has since released six more with his works also featuring on compilations and in film soundtracks.

He has also made several forays into classical music, collaborating with Robert Wilson on musical settings of Shakespeare sonnets, and composing and overseeing Prima Donna, his first opera premiered in Manchester in 2009.

Dr Katherine Williams joined Plymouth University in 2014, and is leader of the music performance modules as well as a new module on jazz, beginning in Spring 2016.

In 2015, she was awarded the first ever Jazz Research Fellowship by the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation and the Jazz Education Network to study the works and impact of jazz legend Duke Ellington.

She is also the co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Singer-Songwriter, to be published during 2016, and the Singer-Songwriter Handbook (Bloomsbury Academic).

For more information about her current book, visit

Rufus Wainwright released his debut album in 1998 and has since released six more, with his works also featuring on compilations and in film soundtracks

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