Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
1.) Biggest Regret: Not stopping to have our picture taken with the taxidermied bear.
2.) Culinary Highpoint: Kingston, NY. Pulling into our hotel and seeing a TGI Fridays, Taco Bell, and a Sonic Drive-In did not bode well for our gastric expectations, but a little expedition off the beaten path to the waterfront brought great rewards. This is where we found Ship to Shore Restaurant , and Richard, our charming and darn near perfect waiter who brought us one of our best meals in recent memory. Starting off with a soup of caramelized onions, cici beans and just a hint of curry and followed by a seafood risotto with rock shrimp and scallops that were beyond fresh we thought we couldn’t ask for anything more. Until…dessert! The vanilla bean crème brulée had us near tears. We felt we need never eat again, at least until the next morning when we made a stop at Adams Fairacre Farms market and picked up local goat cheese and apples and pears for that night’s automotive dinner. AND chocolate…which brings us to...
3.) Best Breakfast: Truffles from Adams Fairacre Farm! Don’t give us that look! Chocolate is loaded with good things that fill one with peace and good will towards one's fellow man, especially when the chocolate in question has been laced with brandy. Besides, isn’t it a vegetable?
4.) Low Point: In a nameless city in a nameless hotel calling for extra blankets and receiving something called a blanket that seemed to have been fabricated out of melted cassette tapes. ICK!
5.) Best In-Car Entertainment: Reading P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves & Wooster stories aloud. Musical use of language, great characters, and fall-on-the-floor funny. Just what the old onion needs while on the road.
6.) Lower Point: The much-vaunted "Sleep Number" beds in our hotel rooms somewhere along the way. As far as the Redheads can discern, the perfect sleep number is the phone number you call to get a couple of Sealy Posturepedics delivered a.s.a.p.
7.) Magic Moment: Stopping on a pitch black road in the Adirondacks and looking up to see that the lights in the sky were millions of stars. Millions!
8.) In our Next Life: We want to be dancers with Paul Taylor’s Taylor 2 Company.
9.) Our Confession… There is no Ten; we got distracted by something shiny.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Our last few master classes have been rather far afield so we decided it was high time we did something in our own backyard, which is how we found ourselves this past Saturday in Edison, NJ. Edison is the home of Thomas Edison’s laboratory, the SECOND oldest Baptist church in New Jersey AND Edison Valley Playhouse. The playhouse is a sweet little theatre in a converted church that is over a hundred years old. We feel very fortunate to attract people to our classes who are serious about their work, enthusiastic and fun, and this group was no exception. Their bravery and commitment really inspired us as we spent the day working on tunes, and having lively discussions on the arts of talking to an audience, putting a set together, and networking skills. Many many Redhead kudos to our hostess Barbara Gurskey and the rest of the gang Jerry Wichinsky, Lluana Jones, and Linda Correll. They came equipped with juicy material and ready to work. Behind the keys Tex Arnold supported our singers brilliantly and his incisive comments always go right to the heart of the matter. We will be back at the Playhouse for another round on March 20th, and we can’t wait!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Frequently your redheads find themselves ending an intense conversation about important issues of the day by sighing Ahhhh…when we rule the world… Realizing that we will never achieve global domination by quietly murmuring to ourselves we’ve decided to periodically share these thoughts with you. Given that the weather’s turning to fall, and the forecast is calling for a chilly drizzle, our most recent conversations have revolved around comfort food, so today…when we rule the world…
And we're not talking about any chocolate that lists sugar as its first ingredient. We are talking about exquisite chocolate like Valrhona and Caillebaut, and Chocolove, and Terra Nostra, and Green and Black's.
What would you do if you ruled the world? Post a comment by October 31st in our comment section and our favorite idea will receive (what else?) free chocolate!
Monday, October 12, 2009
What is your current State of Mind?
More or less awake.
I have no idea. I am 52 years old and my memory isn't so hot. But I began playing the piano at an early age and wasn't shy when asked to play for family or company or at school assemblies. Around the age of 6, I began taking lessons and learned all those cute little pieces one learns for annual recitals. But I also composed and played by ear, and from an early age I enjoyed showing off with medleys from THE SOUND OF MUSIC, MARY POPPINS and FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, or with whatever piece I'd just written. I especially loved taking requests! Clearly, from a tender age, I was destined to play in piano bars.(Too bad I never thought about passing around a tip bowl when I was six.)
What was the first musical act you ever saw in person?
First musician I ever heard was my dad playing the piano at home. He wasn't a pro, but he played very, very well, and watching him make music sparked my own interest. Hearing Artur Rubinstein playing Chopin in recital at Constitution Hall was an early memorable experience. First operas I attended were CARMEN and MADAMA BUTTERFLY. That scary Death Theme in CARMEN really got to me and appealed to my morbid nature.The first NY musical I saw was YOU'RE A GOOD MAN,CHARLIE BROWN (Off Bway), because my fifth grade teacher had played us the cast album in class.I begged my folks to see it, and so we made the trip from DC and saw it.First NYC nightclub act I saw after moving to NYC (circa 1980) was Karen Mason and Brian Lasser. MOLTO influential.
As a listener, hearing Dionne Warwick (esp.circa 1964-1975) singing those great Bacharach-David ballads. Burt playing/conducting his own music. Artur Rubinstein playing the Grieg A Minor Concerto. Thelma Houston singing Jimmy Webb ("Sunshower" album). Lehar's THE LAND OF SMILES sung by Margit Schramm and Rudolf Schock.The best of Diana Ross, Lou Rawls, Petula Clark, Laura Nyro, Dusty Springfield, Sergio Mendes, Karen Carpenter, Eva Cassidy, Luther Vandross... Billie Holiday. Esther Satterfield singing "Lullabye for Nancy Carol". The first notes of the Overture to PROMISES, PROMISES. Streisand's last note of "A Piece of Sky". "Multitudes of Amy's" and "Too Many Mornings" by Sondheim... Francis Poulenc! (2nd Movement of his Concerto for Two Pianos). Black Gospel! (one orgasmic example being Susan Quintyne and The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir performing "For Ev'ry Mountain"). The canon led by the boy soprano toward the end of Bernstein's MASS... The score to (film musical) "Young Girls of Rochefort" (Michel Legrand)...Obviously, too many treasures to name.As a composer: being in "the zone"... following a melodic or harmonic sequence in the moment of birthing it, and hitting upon something fresh and emotionally "right".As a pianist/arranger: working with great talents like Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway, or Karen Mason, for whom playing is like flying into a limitless sky. Any time I get the chance to play "The Story Goes On" for Liz is about as good as it gets -- the combination of a great song and the perfect voice to sing it never fails.And finally: being in the recording studio, hearing one's own music (be it an original song or an orchestration) come alive, and then being able to savor it afterward and share it with others.
Staying open to possibilities.
Author. Illustrator. Filmmaker/film scorer. Broadway dance arranger.Witch doctor.
flying to Australia to visit someone (although at the time I would have said it was a necessity).
people (past and present) who set examples of how to be decent, kind, fair, wise, compassionate, generous, funny, creative, free-thinking, risk-taking. Especially people who have overcome hardships.My personal heroes include family members, friends, colleagues, teachers, as well as folks I've never met but who inspired me by their words and/or deeds or works of art they left behind.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Mea culpa! Mea maxima culpa! Miss Laurel and I have been somewhat remiss this summer in our blogging habits. I can assure we had the best of intentions, but somehow life got in our way. We’ve managed to have a few adventures this summer, mostly career related. As you can see from the last post Laurel has been busily promoting a new CD with her trio JaLaLa, which we’ll have more on in the coming weeks. And me? Well, I have been working like crazy to get ready for my big Hollywood debut. I got to spend a marvelous week in LA collaborating and rehearsing with my pal Michele Brourman. Michele is one talented cookie with flawless musical taste and a gift for writing songs that cut right to your heart. When you put two women with eclectic musical tastes in a room with a piano, it’s amazing what comes up. We spent hours trying things out and bouncing ideas off each other, and even the bad ideas seemed to lead us to some interesting places. I am so excited about the set we’ve put together for our gig at the Gardenia. We've managed to combine our musical sensibilities in a really wonderful way, and have roped Amanda McBroom into our merry band for a number or three. I am a very lucky girl to be thus surrounded by talent. I was so busy working that I almost got to experience nothing of LA save the freeway, which should be no one’s sole impression of that part of the world. Fortunately my friend Glen saw to it that I got a little non-freeway driving tour of the surrounding areas and a wonderful visit to the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in Pasadena. I even managed to see the ocean once from the terrace of the Getty Villa in Malibu, after that and a beautiful drive on Pacific Coast highway I went diligently back to work. I’m LA bound again on Monday to finish getting ready for the gig which happens next Friday and Saturday. If you’re in the neighborhood I’d love to see you. If you’re not I promise to try to remember batteries for the camera so I can have a snap or two to post here.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
WHEN: AUGUST 18TH, 2009 @ 7PM
WHERE: BORDERS @ COLUMBUS CIRCLE (TIME WARNER CENTER)
WHO: JALALA is Janis Siegel, Laurel Massé, and Lauren Kinhan
with Yaron Gershovsky, piano
Dave Finck, bass
Matt Wilson, drums
HOW MUCH: Free!
John Herndon Mercer, familiarly known as Johnny Mercer, was more than just a lyricist of popular song; he was a true American poet and THAT OLD MERCER MAGIC is an amazing new project from three equally amazing ladies who have come together to form the vocal trio JaLaLa: Janis Siegel of The Manhattan Transfer, Laurel Massé, who was a founding member of The Manhattan Transfer, and Lauren Kinhan of New York Voices. Meet JaLaLa after their performance to have your copy of their new CD signed.
ALSO- catch us on WBGO SUNDAY AUG 16th at NOON
being interviewed by the inimitable MICHAEL BOURNE
Monday, July 20, 2009
Your Redheads had a grand time on Saturday teaching a fine group of singers in Philadelphia. This time out we were very pleased indeed to have one of our favorite piano men, Rick Jensen, along for the ride. The ins and outs of song interpretation, chatting with an audience, messing up
on-stage, and schmoozing gracefully with fellow artists were among the issues of the day.
Our students Lorraine Barrett, Rob Cox, Anne Ellithorpe, Karen Gross, and Barbara Gurskey, shared their talents with us most willingly. We were much inspired by their enthusiasm for the work.
Many thanks to Anne Ellithorpe who served as hostess for the event, graciously opening her home and her kitchen to us. She sings, she dances, she makes a heck of a peanut butter brownie! If you feed us we’ll always come back! An extra thank you is due to Mr.J who did double duty as pianist and official photog for the event.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Dolly Parton is one of the few people in the world who renders your Redheads positively twitterpated. If we had a shrine here at Redhead HQ it would be to her. She’s a singer, composer entrepreneur (entrepreneuse?) wrapped in a defiantly glittery package who says what she thinks and does what she wants. Our fondest wish is that she will one day participate in our Ad Libitum questionnaire. Actually, that’s our second fondest wish, our first is that she would drop by and sing with us. Until that time comes though we’d thought we’d share this clip from a TV interview she did in the UK, it’s everything we love about her and then some!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
The Star Spangled Banner seems to be fertile ground for misheard lyrics. From the personal "Jose, can you see" to the fruity "Grapefruit through the night".
Speaking of Fruit, here’s one from Home on the Range: "Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam, and the deer and the cantaloupe play".
And finally, the Pledge of Allegiance, not just for people anymore: "I led the pigeons to the flag…"
Thank you to our friend Harry Althaus for the National Anthem mondegreen (your surprise is on its way), and to the rest of you have a healthy, joyous and safe Fourth!!
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
We were deeply grieved yesterday to hear of the sudden death of Michael Jackson from cardiac arrest. We mourn the loss of a brilliant performer who struggled personally and tried to help all of us find redemption through his music. He leaves behind an enormous artistic legacy and our sadness at what might have been had he continued. Thank you, Michael, for the music.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Justin correctly identified "When the world gets naked, hun" as being a misheard lyric from Girls Just Want to Have Fun. He also knew that the correct lyric was “When the working day is done”, and that it was originally sung by Cyndi Lauper. In the process we learned that there are more than a few other recordings out there including one by Greg Laswell (who knew it was really a ballad?), Miley Cyrus and a band with an unprintable name but an oddly catchy version. Being ladies, we can only tell you that the band’s name starts with Star.
Justin, your copy of Hit Me With Your Pet Shark: Misheard Lyrics of the 1980’s is on its way. By the way, Cyndi will be in DC at the 9:30 club on August 12th, maybe you can get her to sign it! The photo comes from Cyndi's website, doesn't she look AMAZING?
Friday, June 19, 2009
In addition to our joint pursuits we’ve got a few other things going on. For Miss Laurel that means her annual teaching stints at Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camp and The Cabaret Conference at Yale University. While at Yale she’ll be sharing the bill with Amanda McBroom for an evening of great tunes on Saturday, August 1st. Miss Wendy Lane will be heading off in the opposite direction to spend some time in L.A. working on a new project, the details of which will be spilled in abundance very soon.
Along the way, we’ll be filing reports, posting photos, and sharing it all with you. You can always keep track of our whereabouts by checking out the “Where in the World are the Redheads” section of the blog, in its usual spot to the right of this column. Have a salubrious summer! (there we go again…)
PS The fabu photo came from another one of our favorite sites My Vintage Vogue. A great inspiration for stylish daydreams.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Recognize it? Perhaps you’ve even sung it? If you can identify the source of this misheard lyric, including the original artist, the title of the song and the correct lyric email us by Tuesday June 22nd. We will put all the correct answers into the hat and choose, at random, a lucky winner who will receive a pristine copy of Charles Grosvenor Jr.’s Hit Me With Your Pet Shark Misheard Lyrics of the 1980’s. And, yes, the prize is a hint to the answer.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
She literally catapulted herself into a new rank of club performers...
Certainly there was an easier way to go about career advancement. Picture it! A singer climbs to the top of a catapult to be hurled into a row of frightened fellow artists below (replacements for those already flattened by the last catapulting). Is she vocalizing as she flies through the air while those below freeze in terror? As Holly Golightly would say, “The mind reels”.
Here at Two Well Read we are taking a stand against the misuse of the word literally. Of course, we aren’t literally taking a stand. We’re sitting. But even so….
According to one of our favorite writers on matters verbal, Mr. Roy Blount Jr., "This word, which derives from letter, as in 'the letter of the law', means just what it says, which is to say: ”meaning just what it says.” It should not be used to mean its opposite: virtually, or figuratively...."
Ah! Perhaps former president G.W. Bush really meant to say that the mission was figuratively accomplished.
Won’t you join us in our quest to restore this word to its proper place? The next time some hapless fellow tells you he "literally went through the roof” or “literally died”, ask for proof. Were there splinters involved? A white light? If not, perhaps you can gently suggest a better linguistic path. Together we can literally make a difference.
PS The quote from Roy Blount Jr. is from his fabulous new book Alphabet Juice. If you love words as we do, check it out. It’s a great read!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Wendy Lane, Ottis Anderson, and Michelle Oates having way too much fun
Monday, May 4, 2009
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Laurel & the Band
Rich De Rosa (Drums), Steve La Spina (Bass), Tex Arnold (Musical Director, piano)
Laurel with Composer Larry Kerchner, Joe Franklin, & Annette Costa
The photos were all taken by Wendy Lane, who despite her nifty Armani Cocktail dress forgot to get herself into any of the shots. No worries though, we’ll have some of her after her performance for the Colleen Giblin Foundation this coming Thursday (details about that may be found under Where In the World are the Redheads to the right of this column).
Friday, April 24, 2009
Laurel had the great good fortune to start her career at the top with the Manhattan Transfer. Her seven year tenure with the group took her around the world, into the recording studio on onto the television. The following clip from the Transfer’s TV show inspired today’s round of questions.
WLB: This Clip is from the short lived Manhattan Transfer TV show, what do you remember most about working on the show?
LM: This is a clip from one of the four Manhattan Transfer shows that we did for CBS in 1975. Our show was a summer replacement for The Cher Show. Janis and I shared Cher's dressing room, as I recall, and the makeup man on her show, Brad Wilder, also worked ours. My strongest memories of the show are of working nonstop. This was basically a variety show, but we didn't have musical guests from week to week, which meant that we had songs, dance routines, and skits to learn every week. I remember getting to the makeup chair at 5 AM on taping days so that Barbara Lorenz could start curling my hair. I also recall that there were two teams of writers, some successful old-time TV comedy writers who had done the Dean Martin Show, and our younger, wilder folks who included Bruce Vilanch, I think. I have an image in my mind of us ping-ponging back and forth from one little room to another, doing shuttle diplomacy.
WLB: What specifically about this clip do you recall?
LM: Lush Life is a beautiful and difficult song. The challenge is to make all those impossible intervals seem inevitable and easy, and the sophisticated lyric seem casual, as if one always talks that way. And to keep the fox stole from slipping off my shoulder.
WLB: What goes through your mind when you watch this clip now?
LM: Oh, I wish someone had suggested I be more still until I moved on purpose, but the most pressing thought is that I was a far better singer than I thought I was then.
WLB: Since the time of the Transfer and the TV show how do you feel you have changed as a singer and performer?
LM: How have I changed? I am much more confident. My voice is richer. I know a lot more about music now. And I trust the audience's goodness. I am grateful for the privilege of singing for people, wherever, whenever. But the most important change is that I am 33 years older than I was in 1975, and nothing - nothing! - is better for an artist than the living of life over time.
WLB: If you could have a conversation with the girl in the video clip what would you tell her?
LM: If I could talk to 1975 Laurel, I would tell her that she was good, and she was right (she would know what I was referring to), and that eventually she would have a dog. Eventually she would live in the country for a time as she had always dreamed. I would tell her that happiness is a decision made every day, and that God was and would remain extravagantly in love with her.
WLB: What was the most valuable thing you learned in your time with the Transfer?
LM: I think my time in the Transfer taught me that people have different learning styles. No two of us worked on the music in exactly the same way. And we came from different backgrounds, and had very different tastes. We argued a lot. But we worked so hard on our music, and, in spite of all the differences, we made a sound that was unified and beautiful, and performed shows that made audiences feel good. I am very proud of that. I am also proud of the way we influenced education. There were not very many jazz choral programs when we started - now there are jazz choruses in thousands of colleges and high schools, and a lot of those groups sing Manhattan Transfer arrangements. I am happy to have contributed to the keeping of the flame, happy to be continuing to sing music I love.
WLB: Okay, let’s wrap this up with a plug for your Birdland appearance…
LM: As a solo artist, my musical taste has remained very eclectic. In my upcoming show at Birdland (Monday, April 27 at 7 PM) I will be singing tunes from Broadway shows, from Tin Pan Alley , music by Lester Young, Harry Nilsson, Bach, and yes, something from the Manhattan Transfer songbook. And I am looking forward to every moment.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
B-B-B-Bennie, Bennie is in Debt
This Tuesday diversion brought to you courtesy of your Redheads and Amiright.com, further proof that maybe the internet really isn’t such a boon to productivity after all…
Friday, April 3, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Things Wendy Lane Does When She Should be Writing Her Blog Post
- Visit favorite websites; ponder why I can’t get my eye makeup to look like the “girls” on RuPaul’s Drag Race…
- Spin round and round in my desk chair until I’m dizzy…perhaps this will shake loose the brilliance within
- Check E-mail
- Stare out the window and wonder why the neighbor across the street never invites me over to use her pool (maybe because I am constantly staring out the window)
- Play computer word game in the hopes that resplendent verbiage will result
- Call friends to discuss latest medical, legal, amorous crises
- Type title onto page,become overwhelmed with sense of accomplishment, take a nap
- Check E-mail
- Remove cats from keyboard…on second thought, maybe I could make something out of djklwepatepjoiat
- Shake fist at ceiling and curse my lot in life
- Check E-mail Look under desk to see if dazzling first sentence may be found there.
- Make list of things I’m doing rather than writing blog post
- Check E-mail
So what I really want to know from all this spinning and listing is what inspires YOU, and what do YOU do when your muse deserts you and you find yourself stuck? Do you have a ritual? A favorite place you go to get your mojo back? Inspire us with your answer by April 22nd and you could be the lucky recipient of a $20 I-tunes gift card.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
I am currently reading "The Power of Now" and am discovering the brilliance as well as the insanity that the mind is capable of.I think mine has been teetering dangerously close toward the insanity, BUT IT'S NOT ANYMORE OKAAAAY?
What was the first song you ever performed in public?
"Call Me Irresponsible" in 6th grade auditioning for "George M!"
I did get the plum role of Boy #2.
Victor Borge.He made fun of my sister coming in late for Act 2 and she was completely oblivious and I was completely mortified.
Being on the inside of a really tight chord.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of musical misery?
When my oboe reed broke in Palm Beach 2 weeks ago and I sounded like a duck with hemmrhoids(sp) and this woman in the front row had her hands over her ears. Turns out she was trying not to sneeze. But still...
Amanda Green,Amanda McBroom,Jerry Herman
Eagerness to please 50%
To hell with what anyone thinks %50
What Profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
1st chair Oboist in a major symphony orchestra
2nd chair oboist
My generosity and love for others.
The $$ I pay my back-up girls, the Foie Graaes.
Ask Wendy Lane Bailey.
Obama.my Mama.The Dali Llama.
Where do you see yourself musically/artistically in ten years?
The front room of the Duplex singing Shipoopee.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
Wendy Lane: The first thing that springs to mind is the singer who said before every song in her set “the next song I’m going to try to do for you is…” This led to a whole string of emotions beginning with Curiosity: Why was she going to try? Might she be suddenly sucked into the piano by a force beyond her control? This was followed by Irritation: I made the effort to come and see her and now she’s not sure she’ll be able to do the job? Which led me ultimately to worry: What can I, a simple audience member, do to help her if she is unable to continue? It was a most uncomfortable performance for those on stage and those in the audience. To quote that great musical sage Yoda “do, or do not. There is no try”.
Laurel: Sometimes performers may forget a line or a lyric; the major difference between seasoned professionals and the inexperienced is that the pros aren't thrown off the horse when this happens. After all, whatever do you think seasoned them in the first place? That's right: messing up in front of an audience. The pros don’t lose their rhythm. They keep going. If the mistake is so bad, so very very bad that there is no moving forward, they "pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and start all over again". They do not blame anyone. They do not allow the audience to feel uncomfortable for one second. And they go on to have a good time, because they already know they are human.
The inexperienced don't. It has come as a terrible shock. And so they freeze. Or blame the band.
Or cry. Or blame the lighting person. Or melt in to a puddle like the Wicked Witch of the West. All of which make the audience have to worry about the performer. This worry is not part of the audience's job description. THEIR job is to have a god time. Period.
The performer's job is to allow that to happen. Encourage it to happen. Inspire it. Create it. And lighten up!
What about you? Do you have a performance pet peeve? Do share it with us, BUT spare us names and other identifying details. We’ve all been there so we’re way more interested in the what than the who did it! We’re listening.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
A very special word of thanks to composer Larry Kerchner and Annette Costa who, among other things, kept Miss Wendy from sliding away on the icy sidewalk (note to self, put on the wildly impractical shoes AFTER entering the building, broken bones do not a graceful entrance make), provided a camera when ours was MIA, and fed us a magnificent lunch after class. Your kindness put the perfect grace note on a wonderful trip.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
joining us this month for our Redhead Questionnaire; so much so, in fact, we decided a new name for this feature was in order. From here on out it shall be called (drum roll please...) Ad Libitum. We think it’s the perfect name to use when asking questions on the innermost thoughts of the musically inclined.
But wait there’s more…we’ve made one other important decision regarding one of our favorite recurring themes: it’s one question too short. Eleven questions are nice, but it just doesn’t have the same roundness as an even dozen, and this dear reader is where you come in. We need a doozy of a dozenth question. Dream one up, post it in the comment section by March 5th, and if yours is our favorite we’ll make it a permanent part of the questionnaire. The author of the winning query will be gifted with Ann Hampton Callaway’s latest CD At Last. Read on to hear from one of our favorite all round musicians, then speak up and tell us what you want to ask!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Imagine pulling a random assortment of words out of the air and handing them to a songwriter, with the instruction "Make a song that rhymes, makes sense, is musically sound... and includes all of these words".
I could write that song, in six months. Other better songwriters might be able to turn that around in a week. Ann Hampton Callaway can sing that song for you instantly, in a voice as warm, sweet, and dark as buckwheat honey, arranged and accompanied by a sensitive piano player - herself.
I have never met anyone as relentlessly creative as Ann. She has a catalogue of songs recorded by some of our finest vocalists, including Streisand. She is a delightful collaborator, as I well know from my experience of singing a benefit concert with her in 2008, and is also one of the most enthusiastic colleagues I know, who, like Amanda McBroom, is quick to appreciate and encourage the talent of others.
Ann is also on my short list of favorite singers no matter what she is singing, because of that beautiful instrument, but also because of her emotional integrity. She knows what words mean, and and so when she sings a song it has layers of meaning. She can wrench your heart, and then make you laugh. Finally I deeply appreciate her positive view of life. She does not wear rose-colored glasses - she knows that bad things happen - but she doesn't wear grey ones, either, because good things happen, too, and we can make more of them happen if we join together.
I am delighted that Ann agreed to tackle the Redhead Questionnaire - read it, and get to know her a little better. Visit her website at Then give yourself the gift of her beautiful new CD, "At Last".
So (cue fanfare!), here is Ann's take on our questionnaire:
What is your current State of Mind? I am presently a bit jet lagged from my recent trip to Spain and France and concerned about some cold symptoms showing up but in a calm, contemplative mood.
What was the first song you ever performed in public? My first solo was at J.H.S 141 in Riverdale where my music teacher Miss Morris had taken a special interest in my talent. The piece was "Sempre libera" from La Traviata, the English translation. The first line was “Ever free to take my chances, ever free to follow my heart” and was somehow very appropriate for my 12 or 13 year old spirit. I still have the sheet music I used to learn the piece and my signature looks quite innocent to have sung all those runs. I remember what I wore- a purple polyester full length dress with 70’s mod flowers on it. My hair was long and parted down the middle and I must have looked like a passionate hippie dressed up for Verdi.
What was the first musical act you ever saw in person? I saw Ray Charles at The Westbury Music Fair around the age of 11. I was blown away by his music and asked my parents if we could try to get his autograph. We waited backstage for some time but were informed that Mr. Charles did not give out autographs. I think it was then that I developed the I’m-Too-White-To-Sing-the-Blues Blues which I later wrote a song about.
What is your idea of perfect musical happiness? Every time I let go with an audience, and truly allow myself to be a vessel of love, is perfect musical happiness. I feel this state more and more as I get older.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of musical misery? Hmmm, maybe singing with arrogant, bored musicians who do are butchering my charts for a loud, inattentive audience while I am navigating through vocal difficulties due to a sinus infection that won’t stop and the sound man has forgotten to turn the main speakers on and there’s feedback from the monitor that ruins our hearing while a music great who could decide my future is in the front row, an ex is heckling me and it is the only show being recorded for a live CD.
Name three composers you wish would write a song for you? Stephen Sondheim, Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell would be living ones.
What virtue do you consider essential for every musician? Emotional honesty.
What Profession other than your own would you like to attempt? It would thrill me to produce a truly fine work of fiction. I think in shorter forms- songs and poetry- but novelists who build vast and believable universes have my greatest admiration.
What profession would you not like to attempt? I would never want to do a job, for instance be a soldier or an armed policeman, where I would be required to possibly kill someone. Life is the most extraordinary and precious gift and I am grateful to have a profession that can celebrate this truth and rekindle the humanity and love that it takes to protect and uplift our brief time on this planet.
What is your greatest extravagance? I own a signed Picasso created the year I was born. I had no business buying it but it gives me great joy. As a child, Picasso’s expansive creative spirit, which seemed to know no boundaries, gave me inspiration to pursue the myriad facets of my imagination.
Who are your real life heroes? Everyone who wakes up in the morning and has the courage to be their true self is a hero to me. I see heroes all around me and I am especially happy to see one in the White House...”At Last.”