I Am What I Am (Broadway musical song)

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"I am what I am" is a song originally introduced in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical La Cage aux Folles (1983–1987). The song is the finale number of the musical's first act, and performed by the character of Albin Mougeotte, first played by George Hearn.[1] The song was composed in 1983 by Jerry Herman, an openly gay man.

Gloria Gaynor version[edit]

"I Am What I Am"
Single by Gloria Gaynor
from the album I Am Gloria Gaynor
Released 1983
Genre Soul, Disco
Length 3:51

The song was later released as a single by disco diva Gloria Gaynor in 1983, and proved to be one of the singer's best known hits among her fans. While pretty much unknown to the mainstream American public, Gaynor's version of "I Am What I Am" was a hit elsewhere, reaching #13 in the UK charts. As well, it eventually became one of two Gaynor songs to serve as rallying cries for the gay pride movement (the other being 1978's "I Will Survive").

Track listing[edit]

A. "I Am What I Am" - 3:51
B. "More Than Enough" - 4:46

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1983) Peak
U.S. Dance Music/Club Play Singles[3] 3
U.S. R&B Singles[3] 82
UK Singles Chart[4] 13

Other versions[edit]

Welsh singer Shirley Bassey recorded the song for her 1984 album I Am What I Am. That version was released as a single from the album, with "This Is My Life" as the B-side.

The song has been also covered by the likes of Marti Webb, Joannie Taylor, Carol Jiani, George Hearn, Hannah Jones, Soraya Arnelas, Ken Page, Gerard-Rene-Gordon, Doug Shneider, Teatro, Linda Eder, Amateur Transplants, Karen Mulder, Anthony Warlow, Dan Zanes, Andrew Rannells, and John Barrowman.

In Argentina, the singer Sandra Mihanovich made a Spanish-cover of the song called "Soy lo que soy".

Páll Oskar and Hafsteinn Þórólfsson have both recorded Icelandic versions of the song as "Ég er Eins og ég Er".

The song features on Geoff Lloyd's Hometime Show and previously featured on The Geoff Show, a late-night show on Absolute Radio (formerly Virgin Radio) as backing music to the staple feature "The Big I Am".

In the Philippines, the song was included and was sung by Diamond Star Maricel Soriano in the movie, "Inday Bote". It became the title of her weekly musical variety show. She would sing a portion of the song as her finale.

French singer Amanda Lear covered "I Am What I Am" for her 2009 album Brand New Love Affair. In 2010 it was remixed, labelled as TV Final Mix, and released as a digital download-only one-track single.[5]

Swedish drag queen Babsan, who sang the song "Ge mig en spanjor" in the Melodifestivalen 2011, regularly performs a Swedish version of the song, "Jag är som jag är".

The song was used as the closing number of the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London sung by Beverley Knight.

The Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands, a micronation occupying the Coral Sea Islands off Australia, have adopted the song as their national anthem.

Anthony Geary (as his character Luke Spencer) performed a version of this song at the 2014 Nurses Ball on an episode of the ABC daytime soap opera General Hospital on May 9, 2014.

Camryn Manheim (as Daisy on Two and a Half Men) covered the song.


  1. ^ Summers, Claude J. (2004). The Queer Encyclopedia of Music, Dance, & Musical Theater. Cleis Press. p. 121. ISBN 978-1-57344-198-8. 
  2. ^ "Gloria Gaynor - I Am What I Am (Vinyl) at Discogs". www.discogs.com. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 
  3. ^ a b "Gloria Gaynor AllMusic". www.allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 
  4. ^ "Chart Stats - Gloria Gaynor - I Am What I Am". www.chartstats.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-28. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 
  5. ^ "Amanda Lear - I Am What I Am (TV Final Mix) (File, MP3)". Discogs. 5 May 2010. Retrieved October 6, 2012.