Chaka Khan, Rufus Wainwright Added To Equality Rocks Lineup

Melissa Etheridge, Garth Brooks, Pet Shop Boys already set to play gay-rights concert April 29, in Washington, D.C.

R&B diva Chaka Khan and singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright have been added to the already star-studded lineup of the Equality Rocks gay-rights concert, to be held at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., later this month.

The April 29 concert, which also will include country singer Garth Brooks, rock musician Melissa Etheridge and dance-music duo Pet Shop Boys, will benefit the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, a gay-and-lesbian activist group based in Washington.

"It's important to me personally, of course, because equal rights for gays and lesbians is important to me," Etheridge said at the 25th anniversary party for Arista Records on Monday night in Los Angeles.

"But it's so neat to be able to gather with a lot of friends and actually celebrate and kind of feel community, in the face of all these really serious, sort of knock-over-your-head issues," added Etheridge, who made headlines recently, when it was disclosed that singer David Crosby was the sperm donor for the baby she and her partner, Julie Cypher, are raising.

"The support of such an eclectic group of powerful and inspiring performers will mean so much to our community," said Elizabeth Birch, the organization's executive director, in a statement issued on Tuesday (April 11).

The concert also will feature appearances by actors Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche, Broadway-and-film star Nathan Lane, and Judy and Dennis Shepard, the parents of slain Wyoming student Matthew Shepard.

The openly gay Wainwright — son of singer/songwriters Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle — released his self-titled debut album in 1998 and has been outspoken on gay and lesbian issues. Khan (born Yvette Marie Stevens), was lead singer for the 1970s funk band Rufus and has had several solo hits, including "I'm Every Woman" (1978) and 1984's "I Feel for You" (RealAudio excerpt).

Equality Rocks will be held on the eve of the Millennium March on Washington, the fourth annual national march for gay, lesbian and transgender rights. For more information on the concert and march, see the Human Rights Campaign's Web site, www.hrc.org.