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Antony and the Johnsons: Cabaret to Carnegie Hall

Antony and the Johnsons began their concert tour last month playing mid-sized venues, including the occasional church. But the Europe-bound tour will exit the United States with a bang at New York's 2,800-seat Carnegie Hall Thursday night.

The act's lead singer/songwriter has a tremulous, mournful voice reminiscent of Nina Simone. However, Antony's look owes more to Boy George, an early influence who appears as a guest on the CD I Am a Bird Now. Lou Reed and Rufus Wainwright also contribute to the album, which last month earned Britain's prestigious Mercury Prize.

The songs on I Am a Bird Now speak of pain and longing, but that isn't the sum total of what Antony has to offer. "My grandmother always told me I need to write some happier songs," he says. "That's something I'm really working on."

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Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.