“As a kid, the first musical group I took note of was the Captain and Tennille,” Matt Zarley laughs. “I was absolutely obsessed with them. One Christmas, I wrote out all the lyrics to their songs and made songbooks for my aunts, uncles and my mom.”
With that—a graduate-level course in songwriting from the University of Muskrat Love—the die was cast: Zarley was destined to be gay (!)—and a performer.
After years of earning his stripes on Broadway, Zarley recorded his first album in 2002, the R&B/pop Debut, which scored him his first Billboard club hit with “You Always Want (What U Ain’t Got).” It even landed him on the pages of People’s 2002 “Top 50 Bachelors” list as its first openly gay honoree. (Hands off the merchandise, fellas—he’s been off the market for three-and-a-half years.)
The glittering grind of showbiz started to wear him down, though, and Zarley took a sabbatical to start his own real estate company before returning to music, recharged and refocused, with his sophomore album, Here I Am.
“I have always wanted everything yesterday,” he laughs, “But I realized that everything really does happen for the right reasons. That’s what the whole album encompasses—just being comfortable in your own skin and trusting that the universe has a plan for all of us.”
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Even before its Aug. 5 release date, his album has generated levels of buzz worthy of any queen bee, with its title track making it to the top 20 in American Idol’s songwriting contest.
“Apparently all the David Archuleta fans were campaigning for it,” he explains. “They said it was the only song that was really right for him, and if the song won, then he would, too. It was hysterical.”
Brokenhearted “Arch Angels” can groove through the pain now that Zarley’s “Had I Known” is being reworked into eight remixes set to burn up the dance floors later this summer.
“I really just want to keep this going. I have always had this feeling that there’s a clock ticking and that I have to hurry up because I am over 30 now,” he says. “I’m not listening to that anymore. I am just doing what I love.”