On a recent Tuesday, Cyndi Lauper swept into Norwood House in New York City to shoot her episode of “Best Advice.” The Queens-born singer gave the set a quick once over, blue-grey eyes glinting, and immediately began instructing the crew to make this adjustment and that, a lighting tweak here, a camera tilt there. She delivered her directives with a smile, in that idiosyncratic drawl. Observing her feels like a masterclass on how to call the shots—which is exactly what she’s been doing ever since she came to pop prominence back in 1983 with “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Case in point: that demo was originally written from the male perspective, but Lauper tossed those lyrics and refigured that song to be the feminist anthem that continues to induce mass singalongs today.
Over the course of four decades the one thing that’s characterized Lauper’s career is fierce and unapologetic eclecticism. The Grammy winner has applied her songwriting skills to genres including blues, country, and rockabilly; she won an Emmy for her role in the sitcom Mad About You, and penned a New York Times best-selling memoir, and then in 2013 her much beloved, critically acclaimed musical Kinky Boots, swept the Tonys, securing Lauper the award for Best Original Score (the first woman to receive the accolade solo).
Lauper refuses to be pigeonholed, her choices are unpredictable, which is one of the many reasons she’s such an inspiration. Her art continues to evolve because she never shirks a challenge, whether tackling the issue of youth homelessness in the LGBTQ community with her foundation True Colors United, or writing a song for SpongeBob SquarePants’ Broadway foray (of course!). All of which is to say when Cyndi sat down to deliver the best advice she ever received, we were rapt, and we hope you are too.