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Entries in Music (176)

Thursday
Sep072017

Call Answered: Aliyah Moulden: "The Voice" & Netflix's "Anastasia: Once Upon A Time"

Aliyah Moulden, Photo Credit: Anthony TopmanWhen you hear someone like Aliyah Moulden sing, you are immediately entranced! Watching her on Season 12 of The Voice was a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat moment. But how exciting to see her make it into the final Top 3, becoming the youngest contestant ever to secure a spot in the Top 3!

What a joy to talk with this rising star! From getting the inside scoop about her time on The Voice to working with Blake Shelton to landing a leading role in Netflix's upcoming film Anastasia: Once Upon Time, Aliyah and I discuss it all!

For more on Aliyah be sure to visit https://www.aliyahmoulden.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and IMDB!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? When I was five years old I watched Rhianna performing on MTV. I thought to myself, "I want to do that." Rhianna totally became my ideal artist.

Aliyah Moulden, Photo Credit: NBC/Universal2. You just completed a run on NBC's The Voice, being the YOUNGEST contestant ever to secure a spot in the Top 3. What was that experience like for you? What was the best part about being on the show and what was the most challenging part? I did become the YOUNGEST contestant to ever secure a spot in the Top 3. The best part was performing on The Voice stage. It was an awesome experience. The most challenging part of the show was preparing a performance in such a short period of time. I wanted to do my best every time, and it was so very stressful.

3. What was it like having Blake Shelton as your coach? What is one piece of advice he gave you that you took with you? Blake Shelton was the most amazing coach to me. He helped me as much as he could. He was very caring towards me. He was like a father role model to me. He advised me to be aware of the audience, and to perform songs that were appealing to them.

Blake Shelton and Aliyah Moulden performing on "The Voice", Photo Credit: NBC/Universal4. At just 15 years old, you have gotten lots of attention from your time on The Voice. How do you handle this change? I am 15 years old. I never imagined that I would get that far in the show. I thank all the people who supported me during my time on The Voice. I hope that the attention from The Voice puts me on the path for me to getting closer to my dream of becoming an artist.

5. You just recorded your first EP, which features the song, "We Own The World." If you could own the world, what would you do with it? I would love to contribute to make this a better world. I hope that in the future I am able to help children in poverty and to work on getting rid of cancer.

Aliyah Moulden, Photo Credit: Aliyah Moulden6. In addition to music, you are also concentrating on your acting roles. What do you get from acting that you don't get from singing? I love acting. It provides me with the opportunity to get into the people’s homes, and to share precious moments.

7. One exciting role you just booked is on Netflix's Anastasia: Once Upon a Time where you play an ’80s pop star, who encounters the young "Anastasia"(played by Emily Carey), when "Anastasia" emerges through the time portal. What made you want to be part of this film? What do you identify most with your character? What is one characteristic of your character you are glad you don't possess yourself? I wanted to be a part of this film to have the opportunity to work with such talented and promiment actors, writers, and music producers. I identify most with the character as she is a pop singer. I love to sing myself. The only thing characteristic that I am glad I don’t posess is that I do love my present time. The ‘80s is a wonderful time, but this to me is the best time.

8. In addition to starring in this family comedy, you will write and perform several original songs for the film. How did you get to score such a high honor to not only star in the show but to get to write & perform several songs? I can only thank the producers of the movie for such high honor. I am so thankful to the producers Armando Gutierrez, Eli Lipnik, Peter Lees,  Bret Jone, and Blake Harris, for taking the time and writting a part just for me. I am grateful for them to think so highly of me. I am so happy that they believe in me to write, and perfom several songs in the film.

Aliyah Moulden, Photo Credit: NBC/Universal9. From all this success you are having, what is something you feel you've learned about yourself throughout this process? What is something about yourself you are worried about losing? I am thankful for the success I am having. I have learned that I have to work really hard and to stay focused to achieve my goals. I am worried about loosing some part of my private life.

10. I have a new part to my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now." We all know the internet can write things about us that sometimes aren't true. So, what is something you want to clear the air about yourself that you feel is getting out there about you that is simply not true? I would like to clear up about myself that I do not have a boyfriend at this time.

11. I also have a section on my website called "One Percent Better" where through my own fitness regime, I encourage people to improve their life by one percent better everyday. What is something about yourself that you want to improve by 1% better everyday? I would like to work out more, & back to my fitness regiment to improve my life.

Aliyah Moulden, Photo Credit: NBC/UniversalMore on Aliyah:

Aliyah Moulden is a super-vocalist powerhouse and triple threat performer, who leaves audiences spellbound just at the age of 15. Savvy musicians compare this young artist to legends such as Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston and Adele. Aliyah just completed a stint as a contestant on The Voice 2017, achieving the top 3 status on one of the top rated music shows on NBC. During her time on the show, she worked with the award winning artist and country singer, Blake Shelton, as her personal coach. She credits Blake for giving her an incredible advantage as a performer. Other career highlights include opening for Beyoncé protégés Chole X Hale, preforming at BET Experience LA Live in 2016, opened for the cast of Disney’s Channel’s Shake It Up, after party opener for platinum singer Jesse McCarney, did a National summer tour with Michael Deleasa, with continuous collaborations with Alessia Cara, Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys, Gwen Stefani, Zedd, Adam Levine, Jennifer Hudson and much more. She is proud of the completion of her first EP which features the song "We Own the World" written by Multi-Platinum producer Drew Lane (Hannah Montana and High School Musical). She was also a part of the National Official Stand Up Tour 2015, conducted by Peggy Lafrate Senior Director of Sales at Teen Life and President at Strega Entertainment Group. Ms. Lafrate was previously Radio Disney’s Northeastern regional manager. As an ambassador for the tour, Aliyah recorded the theme song for the Tour with American Idol Finalists Robbie Rosenlive, in collaboration with up and coming band The House on Cliff, and other artists. In the acting world, she just booked a lead role in Netflix original film Anastasia: Once Upon A Time.

Wednesday
Sep062017

Call Redialed: Maxine Linehan: "One: The Songs of U2" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Maxine Linehan, Photo Credit: Emma MeadeMaxine Linehan has one of the most beautiful voices I've heard! The minute I was introduced to Maxine, I fell in love with her. From U2's "One" to Martina McBride's "In My Daughter's Eyes" to Petula Clark's "Downtown," Maxine really knows how to put her stamp on a song. She makes them sound like they were written just for her! 

It's been two years since my last interview with Maxine, so believe me, it's wonderful to catch up with her as she readies to hit the Feinstein's/54 Below stage this fall with her show One: The Songs of U2The extraordinary songs written by Bono and U2 find a new voice in a concert that holds to the beautiful melodies, while bringing the lyrics forward into a fresh light. Accompanied by piano, cello, violin, bass, and drums, Maxine will continue her mission of providing audiences with the unexpected experience of hearing U2's famous songs as if for the first time - while staying true to the heart and soul of each time-honored hit.

One: The Songs of U2 will be play Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on September 15 & October 13Click here for tickets!

For more on Maxine be sure to visit http://maxinelinehan.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit https://54below.com and follow them on FacebookTwitterYouTube, & Instagram!

1. It's so great to catch up with you! Last time we chatted was in 2015 when you were releasing your album Beautiful Songs. What do you feel has changed the most for you in the past two years since we last spoke? I love chatting with you Adam, and spinning with you! Beautiful Songs was an exciting project and the album has been so well received, beyond my expectations - it even became a top 10 pick by USA Today. That album and show was really the catalyst for what has become a wonderful concert career. The next show we created was What Would Petula Do?, my tribute to Petula Clark. It has travelled the county and last year we took it to Paris’ famed Théâtre du Châtelet where it sold out. At that performance we recorded a live album with an incredible Parisian orchestra which will be released in the Fall.

Beautiful Songs also features U2’s "One," which was the first time I had recorded or performed a U2 song, and that led to my asking the question, "Are there more U2 songs that could be given this treatment?" Turns out there were!

2. Now, you are getting ready to return to Feinstein's/54 Below with your show One: The Songs of U2. What made now the right time to perform this show? The songs written by Bono and U2 are extraordinary. Many of my fans who have heard me sing The American Songbook are not too familiar with the songbook of the boys from Dublin. Bringing that music to a different audience has been very exciting. We performed the show for the first time as concert with many performers and a fundraiser for BCEFA, and the response really surprised me. The audience fell in love with the profound lyrics combined with the beautiful new orchestrations. As I developed the show further, I found new meaning and emotion in these classic songs. Bono doesn’t write fluff, he’s one of the greatest lyricists of our time, and when you shine a light on his lyrics they are very powerful. It’s amazing to me that songs they wrote in the 1980’s about war, about taking care of each other, are more relevant today than ever! Our world is chaotic right now and to come together with music, spreading words of love and forgiveness is essential.

3. Let's go back to the beginning for a moment. When did you become a U2 fan? What was it about that particular song/time that made you go, this is a group, I will like for years to come? Growing up in Ireland it was easy to become a U2 fan. As a nation, we are exceedingly proud of these four Irish men who changed the face of music. Of course today it’s not only their music that is extraordinary, it’s also the longevity. I just saw The Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour and they are as exciting and relevant today as they were 30 years ago! As I mentioned, recording "One" on Beautiful Songs was a tipping point. The potency of that song performed live is outstanding.

4. How long did it take you to create this show...from idea to inception? The show developed from a group concert to a solo show over a two year period. I have collaborated with Scott Siegel (Director) and Ryan Shirar (Music Director) on all my concerts and together I believe we’ve created something very unique with this show.

5. What was the hardest part about putting this show together and what was the most fun? The hardest part was selecting the songs. With such a vast and brilliant songbook, it was very difficult to select just 14 or 15 songs. The most fun for me was hearing Ryan’s orchestrations played by some of my favorite musicians for the first time. I was reduced to tears. Tears of joy!

Maxine Linehan6. With U2's immense catalog of music, how did you narrow down which songs you wanted to perform? Well, as I said, it was the most challenging part. However, I need to sing songs that resonate with me on a deep personal level so that was a helpful way to narrow down the song choices. I don’t think I can bring anything new or interesting to "Mysterious Ways" or "Lemon," but I sure do connect with "One" and "Bad!"

7. For those who are big U2 fans, why should they come to see you sing their music? How do you think you'll win them over? As some critics have said, it’s U2 like you’ve never heard them before. I’m no Bono, no one ever will be! With all my tribute shows I’m very careful to interpret, not impersonate. I take these incredible U2 songs and present them through my voice, my experiences and my emotions.

One of the things I find most remarkable about the reception this show has received is the support of diehard U2 fans! When I see these fan clubs and social media groups talk about how much they love my interpretations it validates me. I’m so grateful to all the U2 fans for that support.

8. How do you feel your musical style or interpretation of music is similar to theirs to make you a premiere interpreter? Deep, compelling lyrics are my favorite. Connecting with an audience through the great lyrics of a song is one of the most powerful experiences a singer can have. U2 has always done that, and I continue to strive to do that with every song I sing.

Maxine Linehan9. One of my favorite U2 songs is "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." What is something you are still searching for? I find great joy in interpreting songs, from Gershwin to U2 and everything in between. The next chapter for me is about finding my own original voice. Songs that come from me. I have started to explore what that is and next year I will be teaming up with some remarkable writers to help me find that voice. So stay tuned!

10. Another one of their songs is "Last Night On Earth." If this was your last night on earth, how would you spend it? Sitting around the fire pit in my back garden with my husband and children, sipping wine and listening to U2!

11. If, during one of your shows, Bono jumped up and said, let's sing a duet together, your choice. Which song would you choose? "One." No contest! After I picked myself up off the floor of course!

Maxine LinehanMore on Maxine:

International concert and recording artist Maxine Linehan has been hailed as an incredible talent by the thousands of audiences who have witnessed her performances. Maxine made her Paris debut at Théâtre du Châtelet with the wildly acclaimed What Would Petula Do?, a tribute to Petula Clark. As a concert performer she has enraptured crowds in venues large and small, from New York’s Lincoln Center and The Town Hall, to Feinstein’s/54 Below and Birdland, to cities across America. Her ability to emotionally engage throughout a stunning vocal performance is unparalleled.

Her solo show An American Journey, a story of immigration told through song, sold out its New York City run, and led to a live album. Maxine's show Beautiful Songs (and album of the same name) also had a sold out run and received rave reviews from The New York Times, USA Today and The Huffington Post.

The most recent addition to her three albums, Beautiful SongsWhat Would Petula Do?, and An American Journey, is a single of U2’s "One." A live album of What Would Petula Do? at Théâtre du Châtelet drops in the Spring of 2017.

A Barrister by training, Linehan studied at The Inns of Court School of Law in London, The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and is a member of Actors’ Equity.  She lives in Vermont and New York City with her husband and two children.

Thursday
Aug032017

Call Redialed: Facetime Interview: Michael Feinstein: "Showstoppers" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Live from Feinstein's/54 Below, "Call Me Adam" brings the 11 o'clock number to this interview with Michael Feinstein, two-time Emmy & five-time Grammy nominee, about his upcoming concert Showstoppers at Feinstein's/54 Below!

It was great getting to catch-up with Michael, from learning why Michael initially wanted to purchase 54 Below to what he feels makes a song a "showstopper." We also clear the air about misconceptions & find out how Michael wants to improve his life by one percent better everyday!

Showstoppers will feature songs by iconic Broadway composers and lyricists such as Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Marvin Hamlisch, and even some contemporary composers and lyricists of today as well as the backstories of each song. Joining Michael at some of his shows will be Broadway's Erich Bergen (August 12), John Lloyd Young (August 23-27), and Betty Buckley (August 29-September 3).

Showstoppers will play Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) from August 8-September 3. Click here for tickets!

For more on Michael be sure to visit https://www.michaelfeinstein.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit https://54below.com and follow them on FacebookTwitterYouTube, & Instagram!

Call Me Adam's 11 o'clock interview with Michael Feinstein:

Michael Feinstein's preview of his concert Showstoppers:

More on Michael:

Two-time Emmy & five-time Grammy nominee Michael Feinstein is the Ambassador of the Great American Songbook. He has built a dazzling career over the last three decades bringing the music of the Great American Songbook to the world with recordings that have earned him five Grammy Award nominations, Emmy nominated PBS-TV specials, acclaimed NPR series, and concerts spanning the globe. His work as an educator and archivist define Feinstein as one of the most important musical forces of our time.

In 2007, he founded the Great American Songbook Foundation, dedicated to celebrating the art form and preserving it through educational programs, Master Classes, and the annual High School Songbook Academy. This summer intensive open to students from across the country has produced graduates who have gone on to record acclaimed albums and appear on television programs such as NBC’s America’s Got Talent. Michael serves on the Library of Congress’ National Recording Preservation Board, an organization dedicated to ensuring the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America’s sound recording heritage.

Michael earned his fifth Grammy Award nomination in 2009 for The Sinatra Project, his CD celebrating the music of "'Ol' Blue Eyes." The Sinatra Project, Volume II: The Good Life was released in 2011. He released the CDs The Power Of Two – collaborating with Glee and 30 Rock star Cheyenne Jackson – and Cheek To Cheek, recorded with Broadway legend Barbara Cook. For Feinstein’s CD We Dreamed These Days, he co-wrote the title song with Dr. Maya Angelou.

Michael Feinstein "The Sinatra Legacy"Michael FeinsteinHis Emmy Award-nominated TV special Michael Feinstein – The Sinatra Legacy, which was taped live at the Palladium in Carmel, IN, aired across the country in 2011. The PBS series Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook, the recipient of the ASCAP Deems-Taylor Television Broadcast Award, was broadcast for three seasons and is available on DVD. His most recent primetime PBS-TV Special, New Year’s Eve at The Rainbow Room – written and directed by Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry – aired in 2014. For his nationally syndicated public radio program Song Travels, Michael interviews and performs alongside of music luminaries such as Bette Midler, Neil Sedaka, Liza Minnelli, Rickie Lee Jones, David Hyde Pierce and more.

Michael was named Principal Pops Conductor for the Pasadena Symphony in 2012 and made his conducting debut in June 2013 to celebrated critical acclaim. Under Michael’s leadership, the Pasadena Pops has quickly become a premier orchestral presenter of the Great American Songbook with definitive performances of rare orchestrations and classic arrangements. He launched an additional Pops series at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in Palm Beach, Florida in 2014.

Michael’s book The Gershwins and Me – the Los Angeles Times best-seller from Simon & Schuster – features a new CD of Gershwin standards performed with Cyrus Chestnut at the piano.

Michael serves as Artistic Director of the Palladium Center for the Performing Arts, a $170 million, three-theatre venue in Carmel, Indiana, which opened in January 2011. The theater is home to diverse live programming and a museum for his rare memorabilia and manuscripts. Since 1999, he has served as Artistic Director for Carnegie Hall’s Standard Time with Michael Feinstein in conjunction with ASCAP. In 2010 he became the director of the Jazz and Popular Song Series at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Michael FeinsteinLiza MinnelliFeinstein’s at the Nikko, Michael’s nightclub at San Francisco’s Nikko Hotel, has presented the top talents of pop and jazz since 2013. He debuted at Feinstein’s/54 Below, his new club in New York, late in 2015. His first venue in New York, Feinstein’s at the Regency, featured major entertainers such as Rosemary Clooney, Glen Campbell, Barbara Cook, Diahann Carroll, Jane Krakowski, Lea Michele, Cyndi Lauper, Jason Mraz and Alan Cumming from 1999 to 2012.

He has designed a new piano for Steinway called The First Ladies, inspired by the White House piano and signed by several former First Ladies. It was first played to commemorate the Ronald Regan centennial on February 6, 2011.

In 2013 Michael released Change Of Heart: The Songs of Andre Previn in collaboration with four time Oscar and eleven time Grammy Award-winning composer-conductor-pianist Andre Previn. The album celebrates Previn’s pop songs and motion picture classics. Earlier album highlights include Hopeless Romantics, a songbook of classics by Michael’s late friend Harry Warren, recording with legendary jazz pianist George Shearing. His album with songwriting icon Jimmy Webb, Only One Life – The Songs of Jimmy Webb, was named one of "10 Best CDs of the Year" by USA Today.

Michael received his fourth Grammy nomination for Michael Feinstein with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, his first recording with a symphony orchestra. The year before, Rhino/Elektra Music released The Michael Feinstein Anthology, a two-disc compilation spanning 1987 to 1996 and featuring old favorites and previously-unreleased tracks.

Michael was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he started playing piano by ear as a 5-year-old. After graduating from high school, he moved to Los Angeles when he was 20. The widow of legendary concert pianist-actor Oscar Levant introduced him to Ira Gershwin in July 1977. Michael became Gershwin’s assistant for six years, which earned him access to numerous unpublished Gershwin songs, many of which he has since performed and recorded.

Gershwin’s influence provided a solid base upon which Michael evolved into a captivating performer, composer and arranger of his own original music. He also has become an unparalleled interpreter of music legends such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington and Harry Warren. Feinstein has received three honorary doctorates.

Through his live performances, recordings, film and television appearances, and his songwriting (in collaboration with Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Lindy Robbins, Bob Merrill and Marshall Barer), Feinstein is an all-star force in American music.

Wednesday
Jul262017

Call Redialed: Drew Brody: Curvy Widow at Westside Theatre NYC

Drew Brody, Photo Credit: Matthu PlacekThe year was 2009 when I was first introduced to singer/songwriter Drew Brody when he not only opened for singer/songwriter Jay Brannan, but Drew also co-produced Jay's album In Living Cover. I've been a fan ever since.

Over the past few years, the musical theatre world has been very lucky to have Drew's composing/writing. From Cutman: A Boxing Musical at Goodspeed Theatre to Derma at the Piccolo Spoleto, Drew's talents are finally arriving Off-Broadway with the new musical Curvy Widow, starring Tony nominee Nancy Opel. It's been a few years since Drew & I have spoken, so I thought now would be the perfect time to catch up with Drew. Much to my delight, Drew once again answered my call.

Curvy Widow is based on the true story of a sassy, witty, & feisty fifty-something widow whose adventures inspire laughter and, in the least expected places — reveal truths about life, love, and sex. From surviving hilarious first dates, to her intimate conquests, this widow navigates her way through it all with humor and perseverance. Featuring a brilliant cast of best friends, a dead husband, and a myriad of potential suitors — "Curvy" learns the hard way what it means to start life over in the modern age.

Curvy Widow plays at The Westside Theatre (407 West 43rd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Drew be sure to visit http://www.drewbrody.com and follow him on Twitter and YouTube!

Cast of "Curvy Widow" in the George Street Playhouse production, Photo Credit: T Charles Erickson1. It's so great to catch up with you Drew! You are the composer/lyricist for the new Off-Broadway musical Curvy Widow. How did you come to be involved with this show? I was introduced to Bobby Goldman through our General Manager, Aaron Lustbader. I had just finished up Cutman and was looking for new projects and collaborators. He told me he had someone he wanted to meet who was looking for a composer on an original show. I met Bobby and she had an idea for a different show, not Curvy, and I agreed to write a song to see how well we could collaborate together. In order to prove to me that she could string a sentence together, she sent me the manuscript of the memoir version of Curvy Widow. I started reading it on a plane ride, and by the time I landed, the margins were full of notes, lyric ideas, scene ideas—it was so clearly a musical to me, it was jumping off the page. I sent her an email saying "You know this is a musical, right?" The response from her had too many expletives to print—who wants their life to be a musical? But when I went to play her the song I had written for the other project, I told her I had something else to show. It was an early version of the song that’s now called "Turn the Page." By the end of the song, she was in tears, and said "Ok, we’ll write the stupid show, you jerk."

2. What was your process in writing the music/lyrics for this show? The process changed at different stages of the show. At first, I really mined the memoir for lyric ideas and song inspiration. At this point in the process, the lyrics came first, and the song styles followed. As we came to know our show more, this process reversed, because I wanted to diversify the range of song styles and tempos. For example, we had a scene where Bobby visits several gynecologists in a row to try to address an issue. When we decided to turn it into a musical number, it was very clear that of course this needs to be a tango number, and the lyrics followed. Throughout I worked very closely with Bobby to make sure I stayed in her voice, and then later in the process with our director Peter Flynn and with Nancy Opel, who plays "Bobby" in the show, to make sure the music and lyrics were consistent in tone and comfortable and consistent with the character that we were developing.

Nancy Opel as "Curvy" in the George Street Playhouse production of "Curvy Widow', Photo Credit: T Charles EricksonNancy Opel as "Curvy" in the George Street Playhouse production of "Curvy Widow', Photo Credit: T Charles Erickson3. What was the hardest song to write and what was the most fun song to write? The hardest song to write was the opening number. I wrote about seven different opening numbers for this show, and then changed it completely between Asheville and New Jersey. I had to let go of a lot of exposition over time as we came to understand exactly what information we needed to get out in order to launch our show. I really struggled with how it should sound and we also struggled about whether or not the inciting incident for our show - "Jim’s" death - should happen in the opening or right after.

The most fun song to write was the song of "Bobby’s" first date after "Jim’s" death, "A New Hand." I was laughing out loud as I wrote it—"Bobby" has no idea how to be on a date because she had been with "Jim" since she was a senior in college. Her date’s not much slicker. It’s a scene/song that plays out so well between Nancy and Alan—they’re perfectly awkward and it’s everything I imagined when I wrote it and more.

4. Which character in the show is most like you? Which character were you glad not to be? I don’t think any of these characters are like me very much, although I relate to the journey.

5. Curvy Widow tells the story of a gutsy, recently widowed 50-something woman as she immerses herself in the modern dating scene who discovers the unexpected truths about love, life and sex. What do you feel most people will relate to about this show? I’ve been surprised at how much people relate to this show, even if they have very little in common with the main character. Any one who has experienced loss that causes them to start over again—whether that’s through death, divorce, breakup—can relate to the feeling of needing to look at everything through a new lens and say "Which part of this life is me and which part was us?"

Cast of "Curvy Widow" in the George Street Playhouse production, Photo Credit: T Charles EricksonAlan Muraoka and Nancy Opel in the George Street Playhouse production of "Curvy Widow', Photo Credit: T Charles Erickson6. Since the character of "Bobby" is a gutsy woman, what is the most gutsy thing you've done so far in your life or career? The gutsiest thing I’ve done in my career was the original decision to pursue music as a career. I came to New York with a scholarship to law school and my life was heading full speed down that track, and I decided to take a major left turn. I saw very clearly what that life would have been like and had no idea what a life in music was going to be, but it was and is my passion and I felt I needed to take the risk.

7. In composing this show, what did you learn about love, life, and sex? I learned that there’s a universal struggle between wanting to be with someone and wanting independence, and everyone needs to figure out for themselves where on that spectrum they’re most comfortable. Those desires can be different at different periods of life, but the question itself—where’s my balance between independence and wanting a partner?—is always there.

8. In this show, "Bobby" learns the hard way what it means to start life over in the modern age. Has there been a time in your life thus far where you felt you had to start life over? Coincidentally, I did go through a breakup a couple years ago, and I found myself going through many of the stages that our lead character goes through in the show, from reclaiming space through piecing together a new life. It felt completely like a new beginning, in all the ways that new beginnings are terrifying but also opportunities to create a new way of being, with new habits, new patterns, new relationships, and ultimately a new sense of who I am entirely.

9. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I’m trying to be less wasteful; it would be great to reduce that by one percent every day. My main effort in this department has been to cook more and more for myself.

Drew Brody, Photo Credit: Matthu PlacekMore on Drew:

Drew Brody tunes present a rare treat for singers. "A seemingly effortless and brilliant marriage of content, character, and music." Quote from Beth Malone, star of Fun Home, in an Out.com feature, July 28, 2016

Drew Brody is a New York City-based songwriter who brings his experience in the rock, pop, and folk music world to his musical theater sensibility. His unique background allows him to work comfortably across many genres, and his songs have been sung by Broadway stars including Alan Cumming, Nancy Opel, Beth Malone, Robert Cuccioli, Sally Mayes, Lilli Cooper, Justin Sargent, Adrienne Warren, and many more.

Drew wrote the music and lyrics for Curvy Widow, a new musical based on a memoir by Bobby Goldman, starring Nancy Opel and directed by Peter Flynn, which had its first commercial production at NC Stages in November 2016 and a second run at George Street Playhouse in New Jersey in May 2017, now it's running Off-Broadway in NYC at the Westside Theatre. He’s also written music for the comedy Oh, Hello, starring Nick Kroll and John Mulaney and directed by Alex Timbers, which opened on Broadway at the Lyceum Theater in October 2016. Additional credits include: music and lyrics for Cutman: A Boxing Musical, produced by Goodspeed Theaters in the spring of 2011; music and lyrics for Derma, which ran at the Piccolo Spoleto festival in 2013; music and lyrics for Wilshire, with a book by Bobby Goldman and a stage reading directed by Rob Ashford; music and lyrics for Mudge Boy, an adaptation of the Showtime movie, in collaboration with Brett Smock; and two other new musicals currently in development. Other theater credits include the underscoring music and lyrics for the play Lightning Field, which won Outstanding Play at FringeNYC in 2005.

Drew wrote and recorded two albums with Richard Rodgers award-winning composer Derek Gregor as the rock band M-LAB, with which Drew performed as lead singer and toured during the 2000s. Drew also released two solo albums on Baskethouse Records and co-produced two albums for songwriter Jay Brannan. Recently, Drew composed the score for the acclaimed film, Stephen Winter’s Jason and Shirley, which premiered at the MoMA and has been touring movie festivals, and released an EP, A Little Single, in collaboration with fellow singer-songwriter Lance Horne.

Thursday
May112017

Call Answered: Haley Swindal: "Golden Girl" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: Lance RaeI'm so glad Will Nunziata introduced me to Broadway powerhouse Haley Swindal. Her vocals are unreal and I can already tell she's going to blow the roof off of Feinstein's/54 Below when she returns with her new show Golden Girl.

Golden Girl is a brand-new concert event celebrating the music of an era that her heart and soul were born in – The Golden Age. With influences ranging from Rosemary Clooney to Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand, Haley puts her own stamp on songs that made these great dames stars. Haley will knock-out-of-the-park standards such as "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Don’t Rain on My Parade," and "Cry Me A River," all with fresh arrangements by musical director to the stars Tedd Firth (Michael Feinstein, Ana Gasteyer, Brian Stokes Mitchell). Conceived and directed by Will Nunziata (concert director for Tony Award winner Lillias White), this is an evening that will have you laughing, crying, and tapping your feet all within a matter of minutes, and a true showbiz event where a brand-new star is born.

Golden Girl plays Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on Tuesday, May 30 at 7pm and Tuesday, June 6 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets! 

For more on Haley be sure to follow her on Twitter!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below be sure to visit http://54below.com and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: Takako Suki Harkness1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer (other than Rosemary Clooney, Judy Garland, and Barbra Streisand)? Singing was always in me. From the time I could walk, I was singing down the halls and driving my parents crazy. It was never a choice for me - it was in my blood, which is very funny because no one else in my immediate family is in the arts at all! I used to stand at the top of the stairs in our house and pretend to be "Eva Peron." My brother thought I was nuts (he still does). When I was about eight years old, I remember my mom took me to see a production of Hello Dolly with Carol Channing, and I remember thinking, WOW, I want to do that!

2. This May/June you return to Feinstein's/54 Below with your brand-new show Golden Girl, celebrating the music of an era that her heart and soul were born in – The Golden Age. What are you looking forward to about coming back to Feinstein's/54 Below? I always said I only want to come back with these shows when I have something to add, something to share, a story to tell. The two times I have played here have marked major events in my life: my Broadway debut for the first one, and getting married the second one. Those first shows were similar, but were both kind of about where I came from and what its taught me.

This show is something entirely different. First of all, not only have I done a lot more great roles, I have more importantly lived a lot more of life. I am married to an amazing guy, and I'm a stepmom to two awesome teenagers. I also have a new boss, who is eleven months old, my amazing daughter - Lily George Tantleff.

This show is really a concert meets one-woman show. I do everything from singing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" as Judy, Liza, Patti, Billie Burke, and Bernadette Peters to stripping down to the bottom of my soul with some amazing torch songs.

I am thrilled to be back because this is a whole new side of me, a whole new journey, and I hope one that might surprise and excite people.

Director Will Nunziata3. Golden Girl is directed by Will Nunziata. Will, primarily known as a singer with his brother Anthony Nunziata, has been making quite a name for himself as a director over the past several years. What was it about Will's style/vision that made you say, "He is whom I want to direct my show."? Will has been on my radar for a very long time. We first met in Michael Feinstein's apartment about four years ago, where Michael had a bunch of young folks over to talk about the future of the Great American Songbook and how the torch would be passed to our generation.

I followed him as he created amazing shows for Cady Huffman, Lillias White, and other incredible divas. It was Will that came up with the vision for this show. His concepts and his ideas are brilliant. The way he is able to bring out things in me and get me to burst out of my comfort zone is unreal. He gravitates I think towards strong women - women who can't really be put in any particular kind of stereotypical, run of the mill box. He takes their strength and what makes them unique and turns it into something brilliant. His concepts, his vision, and his ability to communicate, nurture, and bring out the best in those he directs is incredible. He is and will continue to be one of the greatest directors of our generation.

Haley Swindal4. What is about this time in music that makes your heart a flutter? I often sit around and wonder, what will our generation be listening to when they are eighty? The generation ahead of us has the Beatles, Carole King, Carly Simon. When we were younger, we had Whitney, Celine. But will this generation be turning on Britney Spears? Eminem? Single Ladies? 

What I love about the Great American Songbook is so many songs are literally transcendent of time. How many of us have been madly in love and connected to the lyrics of "Night and Day," "Whether near to me or far, it's no matter darling where you, are I think of you." How many of us have been heartbroken and can relate to Frank Sinatra alone in a bar at 3AM singing "One for My Baby," "It's quarter to three, There's no one in the place 'cept you and me, So set 'em' up Joe."

I fell in love with my husband when he sang, "I only have eyes for you" badly (but endearingly) in my ear. These songs are masterpieces that capture the complexity of love and what it is to be human. As I grow older, I connect with them even more.

5. According to press notes, Rosemary Clooney, Judy Garland, and Barbra Streisand were some of your influences. What was it about these entertainers that made you go, "Yes! I want to be like them."? Judy Garland always said "Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else." What I think I loved - and continue to love - about these women besides their other-wordly vocals is that they were/are originals. They were unabashedly and unapologetically themselves. Their sound was distinctive, the way they approached their art was distinctive, and what they have given us is something no one else can ever come to close to because it is so uniquely them.

Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole, Cady Huffman, and Bernadette Peters are some of these women on the Broadway stage. 

The women I admire can transform themselves into incredible roles onstage, but, as human beings, they are unapologetically strong, which isn't always easy as a woman in this business. Onstage, they can be heartbreakingly vulnerable. It's an amazing duality, to be strong and vulnerable at the same time, and one that I admire. I think, so much of this business is how we fit. Fit someone else's vision, fit someone else's vocal styles, even fit someone else's costume. These women somehow transcend that. As for me, I guess I've just grown tired of trying to fit into a box. I'm a brassy blonde broad who has packed a lot of life into my first thirty years. That's my truth.

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: Stephen Sorokoff6. What songs that you are performing do you think will surprise people to hear from you? There's one where I'm lying on a piano....

7. A few songs you will be performing are "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Don’t Rain on My Parade," and "Cry Me A River." Let's play with these song titles. When have you said to yourself, "Come Rain or Come Shine," I'm going to do this? HA! For better or for worse, all the time! "Come Rain or Come Shine," I guess probably in my love life in the past. Wanting so desperately to be loved, perhaps by someone incapable of loving...but trying to convince them.

"Cry Me a River" is realizing I'm going to be okay whether or not this person loves me. That the only person I need to live and be fulfilled is me.

"Don't Rain On My Parade" is a celebration of what it means to spill out everything you have, no matter what the cost might be, because you don't want to spend the rest of your life wondering "what if?" To me, this applies to choosing to creae solo shows, and challenging myself, and also following my heart in other ways.

8. When did you think, oh please, "Don't Rain on My Parade"? HA that was Will. I was thrilled. At first, I thought, really? But, then I realized why not, it's my truth? It's part of a medley, which I think has a really neat arc.

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: The New York Times9. What event has caused you to cry like a river? I think the sadness of that song is realizing that sometimes love is not enough. The tragedy of still being madly in love with someone but the strength to put your well-being first and not allow that person to destroy you. I was there once. It took a long while, but I figured it out, and my life is richer for it. And I can sing one hell of a torch song!

10. Since this show is celebrating The Golden Age, what, age or age bracket has been your "Golden Age" so far? Why has it been so rich? Oh my goodness, NOW! I am just entering my thirties, young enough to still know what's fun, and old enough to know better. Just kidding! Undoubtedly though, meeting and marrying my husband and becoming a mother changed everything for me. I remember leaving my first Broadway performance and crying when I got home because I had been so tunnel-visioned that I had no one to share it with. Any part of my life other than work was completely absent. That changed. My daughter is the most amazing thing that ever happened to me and has put everything else in perspective. If I don't get anything else right in this life, I somehow built a perfect little human, and, to me, that alone is enough! 

11. I know the show's title, "Golden Girl," is for the Golden Age of music, but we are going to take this to the Golden Girls themselves. If you had to describe yourself as one of the Golden Girls who would you be? I'm still obsessed with that show! My best friend and I used to spend all weekend watching Golden Girls marathons (she's "Sophia" re-incarnated!) As for me, I look at the world through "Rose"-colored glasses for sure, but I definitely am flirty and fun like "Blanche."

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: Takako Suki HarknessMore on Haley:

Haley has appeared on Broadway and on tour with Jekyll and HydeWhite ChristmasJesus Christ Superstar opposite Ted Neeley, and at Lincoln Center in The Secret Garden. She has performed in concert at Carnegie Hall alongside the great standards vocalist Steve Tyrell, acclaimed Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, and under the baton of Steven Reineke with the New York Pops. She won a New York Emmy for her appearance on Kids on Deck and recently appeared in the film Walt Before Mickey.