The food of love

Music fuels Doug Strahm's two-career dream

Doug Strahm, photography by Ellie Bogue

Doug Strahm, photography by Ellie Bogue

If you asked most people where they find life’s greatest pleasures, food and music would both rank high on their list. For Doug Strahm, food and music have provided more than pleasure – they’ve provided a means for caring for a family and for moving through many of life’s transitions.

“I have always loved to sing and have been singing since I was 5 years old or so. So when the neighbors would applaud and give me a quarter for a song, I thought, this is a pretty good gig.”

Strahm began his career in the food industry as a short order cook at the age of 14, but even when he became owner of a very popular local restaurant, he continued to balance the two endeavors, finding ways to pursue the demanding needs of both passions.

“I started writing regularly when I got out of high school and when I owned Strahmboli’s, I would travel to Nashville once a week to participate in songwriting seminars, open mics and shop music.”

Life quickly added further challenges to his two-career dream. Married and divorced while still young, Strahm found himself a full-time father to three young children, two of whom were still in diapers, by the time he was 23. But when a fourth child joined his busy household, music still played an important role in his role as a father.

“My children have made me the man I am today. I used to write songs when they went to bed and even lullabies to them on an old upright piano. I think my whole outlook in life has to do with how I raised them and they all turned out to be really great adults. I am so proud of them.”

Music was also an outlet when Strahm became ready to admit he was gay.

“I was not out as a gay man until I met Bruce (his partner). When I met him I realized how silly it was to pretend to be someone I wasn’t.”

His album, the aptly titled “Everything Has Changed,” has been nominated for three RightOutTV awards, and the video “Leaving It Behind” won for the most moving video. His videos are widely viewed on YouTube.

“The project is all over the world at this point and embraced by a large population. The Moscow Bears have distributed it within their groups as a courage mantra in a country where gay men and women are being beaten and tortured. I was very moved when I heard that.”

Strahm now works at Sweetwater Sound and devotes much time to music. A new album will be released this year.

“The great thing is that I have a really good job, so I have the luxury of picking where I want to gig when the offers come in. We want to target vacation spots or pride events, and I have a few of those in the works. However, a rigorous touring schedule isn’t really in my foreseeable future.”

First appeared in the February 2014 issue of Fort Wayne Monthly.

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