With Scissor Sisters and as a solo artist, Jake Shears excels at revitalizing classic sounds and bringing queer culture into the mainstream. As Scissor Sisters' charismatic, proudly gay frontman, Shears and company crafts a dynamic combination of '70s-style glitter rock, house music, and electroclash on albums including their self-titled 2004 debut and 2006's Ta-Dah, which won a strong following with the LGBTQ community and in the U.K., where they topped the pop charts. On his own, Shears wrote his memoir and took on stage work that spanned co-writing the music for a musical adaptation of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City and making his Broadway debut in Kinky Boots. All of these aspects -- as well as the creative rebirth he experienced in New Orleans -- were reflected in his 2018 self-titled debut album, which cast him as an enduring persona in the vein of his idol Bryan Ferry.
Born Jason Sellards in Mesa, Arizona in 1978, Shears grew up in the Phoenix suburbs, and also spent time living on San Juan Island, Washington, a community just north of Seattle. As a child, his mother took him to see the fantasy film Labyrinth, where he first became fascinated with David Bowie. He discovered Rocky Horror Picture Show, and by his teens was taking guitar lessons with longtime Seattle punk rocker Paul Solger, who introduced him to the Ramones and Iggy and the Stooges. He formed his first band, and at age 15 came out as gay to his parents. After high school, he moved to New York City, where he studied fiction writing at The New School's Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, worked as a go-go dancer at a gay bar, and interned at Paper magazine.