She was born in New York in 1962 as Leslie Wunderman, and would later release her first musical efforts under the name Les Lee. While those songs didn’t fare so well, they did lead her to a contract with Arista Records, which eventually catapulted her to stardom with other songs after “Tell It To My Heart” that shot straight to the top of multiple charts: “Prove Your Love,” “Don’t Rush Me,” “With Every Beat of My Heart” and “Love Will Lead You Back,”(which made it to the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100) were among the 18 songs that received substantial air and club play.
After a quick shot to major stardom, Dayne’s life took a different turn. The world of music had changed, and the danceable pop sound that had made her so famous had fallen out of vogue, with listeners gravitating towards a more earthy rock music sound.
While Dayne’s mainstream fan base may have stepped back a few degrees, her gay fans have always stood by her, loyal to her powerhouse vocals and easily danceable tunes.
“I’ve always loved gay audiences,” she tells GAVO matter-of-factly. “They like to have a good time. They appreciate your efforts and they stick by you.”
But her dedication to the LGBT community doesn’t end there: she performed at the Gay Games in Germany in 2010, singing the song “Facing a Miracle” to a crowd of more than 25,000.
“That was an amazing experience,” she recalls. “People from all over the world. Incredible athletes. The whole thing was something I’ll remember forever…you can actually see it if you want…it’s on YouTube.”
She also appeared in Adam Bouska’s No H8 campaign, in an effort to show her support to prevent bullying and violence towards gay people.
“I felt it was important to share that, because it wasn’t just a brief period. “It went on for years. That kind of stuff makes you scared to go to school, makes you scared to participate in anything. I’m sure everyone has a story they can relate to that kind of experience. I just hope … it helped some way.”
Dayne’s love for her gay friends and fans is evident – she’s made a number of appearances at LGBT pride festivals in recent years.
In a recent interview with The Virginian-Pilot, she was happy to point to her gay fans as the most enjoyable audiences she’s ever played for.
“I’m not doing clubs anymore, mostly Pride events, which are more joyful and celebratory,” Dayne said. “It’s not kids clubbin’ in the middle of the night. I see real communities coming together now. They’re giving back so much. As long as there’s an audience, it’s all good.”
Even though many years have passed since Dayne’s biggest success in mainstream pop music, she’s always maintained a regular audience attendance from her gay fans. She reportedly plays an average of 150 shows a year, which include private parties and international appearances.
Here at home, she remains a big draw at Pride events, with recent performances at Gay Prides in New York, Charlotte and Boston.
She recently picked up roots from New York and made the move to Los Angeles.
“I’m out here with my kids, and we’re having the house remodeled,” she says with a slight chuckle.
“It’s a very busy time of year,” she says. “I’m trying to play mom, homemaker and keep up with my career. It can be tough, but I’m used to it.”
Speaking of tough, Dayne says she’s faced some challenges as a single mom, and she easily equates them to the struggles the LGBT community has dealt with in recent struggles over same-sex marriage issues.
“For me, it’s about family. All families need to have that protection in place to make sure they are safe and taken care of, no matter if they’re straight or gay. And of course, everybody has the right to love and share a life with whoever they want and we all should be entitled to those same benefits, those same rights.”
In addition to her concert performances, she’s been appearing on Broadway as the character Grizzabella in the decades long-running “Cats” and now want’s to try her hand at some more acting.
“I’ve been out making the rounds and looking in to what I might be able to do in television. The world’s a different place now and there are so many different opportunities.”
Although Dayne won’t give any specifics, it seems likely she’s looking to follow in the footsteps of some of her musical contemporaries like Cyndi Lauper or The GoGo’s Jane Wiedlin and try her hand at a reality series.
Her career plans seem a bit mysterious at this point – but one thing’s for sure – she’s not throwing in the towel anytime soon.
“Are you kidding me?” She laughs. “I’ve still got way too much I want to do. I’m nowhere near being done yet.”