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Entries in Music (141)


Western Avenue Interview

Western Avenue, Photo Credit: Gerri PhotographyRising country trio Western Avenue is making their mark on the music industry. With the release of their debut EP Western Avenue, the band's original music is winning fans everywhere they go. Currently out on tour, Western Avenue's fresh sound is one I would suggest listening to. Click here to find out when Western Avenue will be performing in a city near you and here to purchase their debut EP.

For more on Western Avenue be sure to visit and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

Western Avenue on the set of their music video This I Promise You1. Who or what inspired you to become singers? For Keith and myself (Nikki) we grew up in musical families. Our dads both played guitar and sang. I think that planted the musical bug in us. I always loved to sing ever since the Little Mermaid was released. I would be up in my room pretending I was "Ariel" and singing all the songs from the movie. My dad always encouraged me to sing as well. He'd be on the piano or the guitar playing songs and getting me to sing. I was pretty shy back then so it was a rare occasion that I would do it. I spent most of my time singing in my room with the door closed. Back in 2001 my dad lost his battle to cancer, which I took pretty hard as he was my best friend. But due to his encouragement over the years, I finally got the courage to sing in front of people.

For Matt it was when he went to a Tom Petty concert when he was 10 years old. Two weeks after the show he started playing the guitar!

2. In your career, whom to do hope to get the opportunity to work with? Well we are all huge fans of Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, & Taylor Swift. So any of those would be amazing!

Western Avenue performing 3. You met through country artist Tara Lyn. What do you remember about that first meeting? Was there instant chemistry in thinking you could be your own band or did that develop over time? There was instant chemistry! Our first jam together was magic! We just loved how we all sounded together. It was kind of neat as we all had different tastes in music and we kind of all moulded them together to what is our sound today.

4. How did you come up with the band name? We used to hold all of our rehearsals on Western Avenue. I was lying in bed one night, instead of sleeping, my mind was wondering as usual. And I was thinking that Western Avenue would make a great band name, as we play country music, but more contemporary, so maybe with a more urban feel, hence Avenue being a street name, which you don't find in the country. And then the next day we had a rehearsal and Matt said he was thinking the same thing when he turned on to the street!

5. What has been the best part about working together? Well we have this chemistry that works! Matt is an optimist, Keith is more of a pessimist, and I am the realist. So in having that balance it's really helped us get to where we are today. Matt keeps us pumped up and motivated, Keith keeps our guard up, and I try to find the level playing ground.

6. You've released your debut EP, Western Avenue. What is it like to have your own music out there? What was the most exciting part about putting this EP together? Well it was a big turning point for us as it's something we all dreamed of doing for as long as we can remember! We loved the reaction of the fans. We loved hearing stories of how our songs affected them. We played at a celebration for a woman who had finished her cancer treatments and was cancer free, and she had asked us to play our song "What My Heart Had In Mind" because that song had meant a lot to her and her husband. So right before we played it she made a beautiful speech and then dedicated the song to her husband for being there for her. Then when we started the song they danced. Soon after the other members of the party came around them in sort of a big group hug, and they all danced together. It was so beautiful, and was so hard to get through the song with out crying. It was a great moment.

I don't think i can pin point a most exciting part of putting the EP together, as the whole experience was amazing. It's really something hearing your songs come to life. I think my favorite part was being able to put in my production ideas and hear the result. We worked with an amazing producer/engineer Adam Newcomb of Newcomb Studios. He really knows how to make a song come to life. And he's great to work with as he will let you bring your own ideas to the table to mold out a specific sound you are looking for.

7. What has the fan reaction been like? What do you like about meeting your fans out on the road? The fan reaction has been great so far. They have been super supportive. For example, when we had our CD release party, it sold out in 3 days! And the day of the show fans were lined up around the block! It was pretty exciting for us!

Meeting fans on the road is great. It's still strange for me that people want my autograph! What's going on in the back of my mind is: Are you sure you want me to mess up your CD with my scribble? haha! But it's such a great feeling to connect with people that appreciate and support your music.

8. How do you feel social media has helped get your name and music out to the public? It's helped because it's so accessible. So many people are connected to it. It's almost like a chain reaction. For example if someone finds us through one social media, they can easily connect to us through another social media, and if they like us they can share us, etc. And it's such an easy way to connect with the fans as well, and keep them updated with what's happening. It makes it much easier for us underdogs who don't have the support for mass marketing!

9. What is the best part about living through the rise of your popularity? Is the reality the same as what you had envisioned in your mind? Well we aren't living in fancy condos by the ocean yet. But it's still been great! It's funny, sometimes I'll be out shopping and someone will say "Hi Nikki!" and I will have no idea who it is, realizing after that they knew me from the band. It's an awkward moment as I feel bad thinking I had met the person before and just forgot.

The reality of it all is a lot of work. It's almost like having a second full time job! haha! But it's good because it's what we love to do, so it doesn't feel as much like work!

10. What have you learned about yourselves from being singers? Well out of all my abilities, I think that's the best one I got, so hopefully it doesn't fail me. HAHA! I learned that singing is a great emotional outlet. If I'm upset about something, I put that energy into my performance. It seems to help me de-stress, and hopefully put out a more emotive performance!

11. What's the best advice you've ever received? That you create your own future. If you do nothing, nothing will happen. If you really focus on what you want, you will get it!


12. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? To fly at the speed of sound, so I get go anywhere I want, and not have to wait in traffic! HAHA!

Western Avenue, Photo Credit: Gerri PhotographyMore on Western Avenue: 

For Nikki English, Keith Robertson and Matt Williams, music has been a driving force in their lives for as long as they can remember. Together since 2007, they are the members of Western Avenue, a contemporary country music band from central Ontario. The trio is heading out on a journey following their dreams.  Western Avenue is winning over audiences with its new original music, including the catchy first single Highway Headin’ Out of Town, which has been picked up by Canadian country radio. The song hit the airwaves on July 2, 2012 and is also available worldwide on iTunes. An EP album, which the band is currently recording, will be released in January 2013.

English and Robertson, who are now married, live in Peterborough while Williams is from Cobourg. The three musicians met through Canadian country artist Tara Lyn Hart, who lived in Port Hope at the time and had a music program in Cobourg. Robertson and Williams were hired as back-up musicians for English for one of her performances.

"As soon as we started jamming, it was evident we should keep doing it," Williams recalls. "The way that our voices blended together when we started singing, just the three-part harmony, we could tell we were on to something special." For most of the time the trio had been together, Western Avenue was strictly a cover band. There was a slight detour in 2008 when the members recorded a three-song demo. Essentially the purpose of the demo was to enter a battle of the bands-type competition. A rock one at that; but Western Avenue stuck to its acoustic country. That was a good learning experience for the band, even if it didn’t return to the studio for several years. In that time, though, the members have matured in developing their music style and songwriting. Their chemistry has remained intact.

"I think it has all come from playing together for so long," English says. "We get along so well and I couldn’t ask for better band mates. We click. We’re always open to suggestions from each other." Writing the original music has been exciting for the band.

"We’re enjoying including originals into the set list," Robertson says. "It’s a lot more meaningful. When you sing the same cover song every night in a pub and you can include your own songs, it’s very exciting." "We have all been playing in some band or another through the years, but always kept this together," Robertson added. "We always came back to this because this is the music we love to do."

Now the focus for Western Avenue is kicking into a higher gear. Lyrics for Highway Headin’ Out of Town couldn’t be more perfectly suited for the band. The chorus goes: Like that highway headin’ out of town/ Never looking back, never slowing down/ Bigger and better things on the way/ Mile by mile, day by day/ It’s all about the journey and not about where we’re bound/ Like that highway headin’ out of town. English describes the song as 'fun, upbeat and about following your dreams'. Growing up, English fondly remembers her father Frank always playing guitar and singing around their house. He died in 2001 after a battle with cancer. While her father always encouraged her to perform, English says she was always too shy.

Her father’s passing was motivation to at least try; "That’s what he always wanted me to do, and I wanted to, but I was a wimp," she says. "It gave me confidence to do it in his memory. It’s been a challenge because I’ve always been shy. I guess I’ve been developing that over the years, breaking out of my shell. It’s been a lot easier with the band, having people beside you." English and Robertson have been married now for two years. "It’s great because we get to spend a lot of time together," English says.

There was always music around Robertson’s household. The Colborne native began playing instruments at an early age and has been playing in bands since he was 12. He couldn’t imagine having another job. “The only thing I can do is play guitar,” he quips. Robertson taught guitar for 16 years, and still does occasionally. He also plays fiddle and “pretty much anything with a string on it." Keith has played professionally with country musicians Tara Lyn Hart and John Landry. Williams remembers when he knew music was a path for him. He was 10 years old and received tickets from his parents to see Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers in concert.

"As soon as the lights went down, that was it," Williams said. Years earlier, he participated in a YMCA music program in Cobourg. He began playing piano at age six. Two weeks after the Tom Petty show, he took up the guitar. It wasn’t easy, but he’s still playing. "I had to work really hard at it, but it’s something I persisted at." That’s what Western Avenue will continue to do.


Tony Naumovski: Final Analysis Interview

Tony NaumovskiTony Naumovski is a New York based classically trained actor. He has appeared in over 100 theatre, film and TV productions internationally to critical and commercial acclaim.

Now he is lighting up the stage as "Joseph Dzugashvili Stalin" in Otho Eskin's Final Analysis at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue) through October 5. Click here for tickets!

For more on Tony be sure to visit and follow him on Facebook!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Al Pacino and Robert De Niro initially. I grew up with their movies, especially Once Upon a Time in America and The Godfather. It was fascinating to me when later on in my life I discovered how much in common I have with both of them, their lives and their careers. In addition to that my grandfather Vangel was an actor, unfortunately, I never had a chance to meet him but heard the wonderful stories about him. That was the initial urge for it, which later on in my teens and early twenties has developed into something a lot deeper and substantial, an instinct for survival, a purpose to live for. Now acting defines me WHO I am, WHAT I am and WHY I am. It is a path to freedom and self liberation.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Needless to say the two Giant names mentioned above for sure and Scorsese of-course. Peter Brook. Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Bruno Ganz, Sean Penn etc.

Elizabeth Jasicki as "Alma Mahler" and Tony Naumovski as "Joseph Stalin" in "Final Analysis," Photo Credit: John Quilty3. What attracted you to Final Analysis? The brilliant concept of the play. The fact that even though 100 years have passed by and we went through such atrocities as WWI and WWII, The Balkan Wars, The Bosnian Genocide, Rwanda, Vietnam etc. and nothing much has changed apart from the game players. The class division, exploitation, antisemitism, racism, hatred are unfortunately still very relevant and one quarter of the world is at war.

Ryan Garbayo as "Young Man" and Tony Naumovski as "Joseph Stalin" in "Final Analysis," Photo Credit: John Quilty4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? To recognize themselves in the characters of Final Analysis, no matter how scary and weird that maybe. To walk out with more that they walked in. To understand themselves better.

5. What do you identify most with about playing "Joseph Dzugashvili Stalin"? Well as scary as it is to talk about it, to my surprise there was a lot more parallels that I could have ever thought. To mention one: He believed in his own revolution through the proletariat and I believe in my own, in the power of art. The rest is a subject to an extensive discussion.

Tony Naumovski as "Joseph Stalin" and Elizabeth Jasicki as "Alma Mahler" in "Final Analysis," Photo Credit: John Quilty6. What is it like to portray such a well known public figure? Complicated as Alec Baldwin would say. There are so many aspects of Stalin's life and so many fascinating facts that I went though a process of elimination of what I was to choose to finally use that would make sense and yet give justice to the character for this period of his life. I play him in his earlier years before he rose to power and became what most of the world knows of him. But also to make him human and find the humor in him. He was a human being after all and I as an actor am to stand behind him and defend the character no matter how vicious he was.

7. In addition to acting, you are a singer and drummer. What do get from music that you do not get from acting? I get another level of depth, music is my main source of inspiration. I am Macedonian and grew up in a musician's family so I knew of music before I knew of anything else in my life. I guess that digs into my roots and genes deeper. For each of my characters I have a very specifically scored soundtrack that runs into my body and mind. The music IS the most important element in my work.

8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? That I am the biggest challenge and obstacle to myself. That if I can conquer my fears I can conquer everything. Nothing is Impossible. And a lot more.

Tony Naumvoski Kick Boxing9. What's the best advice you've ever received? "On stage you speed slowly" (in other words go fast slowly). This comes from my legendary Professor Stefan Danailov from the National Academy for Theater and Film Arts in Sofia-Bulgaria. I finished my four year conservatory at this prestigious academy. Or as the wonderful Gia Forakis would say "One Thought One Action at a time" which has resulted in her magnificent acting technique OTOA which Gia practices and develops with her theater company GF & CO, whom I have the great honor to be part of.

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? To erase the world's boarders and travel around each land on my bicycle just like the "Little Prince," meet the locals and tell them how wonderful and special they are, for we are created equal and none is superior. To tame a shark on Bondi Beach in Sydney, my city of Birth, fly over the Ocean with it and meet with (as Tennessee Williams would say) 'The Lovely Ones,' the people so greatly close to my heart, that I wish I could see them and chat with them for few more breaths, come back on earth with them and bring immortality, sit on the top of Mount Everest and Sing Zajdi Zajdi (A Macedonian Traditional Song about lost youth) so the entire universe can hear.


11. Favorite way to stay in shape? Kick Boxing. and cycling of course.

12. Boxers or Briefs? Briefs. I don’t find boxers sexy :)

Tony NaumovskiMore on Tony:

His recent film credits include: What about us (Jasmine Guy), the European Premiere of the comedy This is not an American Movie, the award winning US a Love Story directed by Alrick Brown (Sundance), American Hunger (coming soon) etc. TV credits include: Law and Order SVU; Americas Most Wanted FOX TV; The World’s Astonishing News; Japanese National TV, etc. His Most recent NY theater credits: "Karpovsky" in the World Premiere of Best of TheaterWorks: Stories from the 99% Tamilla Woodard, "Jason" in Medea, Gia Forakis & CO, "Bugsy Brodsky" in Tennessee Williams’ Something Cloudy and Something Clear; "KGB agent Laverenti" in the US Premire of PURGE at LaMaMa E.T.C; "Cengiz Pasha," the leader of Crete in the World Premiere of Three Graces at the OBIE winning SOHO TINK Ice Factory Festival, "Hamlet" in The Ophelia Landscape [Mark Morris]; "Odysseus" in The Odyssey; "Jocasta" in Oedipus Rex etc. Tony is fluent in four languages. He is also a singer, a drummer and a Martial artist.


Chris Botti: New York Pops Interview

Chris BottiChris Botti has become the largest- selling American instrumental artist since the release of his 2004 critically acclaimed CD When I Fall In Love. His success has crossed over to audiences usually reserved for pop music and his ongoing association with PBS has led to four #1 jazz albums, as well as multiple Gold, Platinum and Grammy Awards. Most recently, his latest album Impressions won the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album at this year’s 55th Grammy Awards.

On October 4, 2013, The New York Pops orchestra will launch its 31st Season at Carnegie Hall with An Evening with Chris Botti. Music Director and Conductor Steven Reineke will lead the orchestra in a highly-anticipated opening with America’s largest-selling instrumental artist, trumpeter Chris Botti. The performance will include selections such as Chopin’s "Prelude in C Minor," "Emmanuel," and "When I Fall in Love" from his recent Grammy Award-winning album Impressions, as well as other popular favorites, at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage. Click here for tickets!

For more on Chris be sure to visit and follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

Chris Botti1. Who or what inspired you to become a instrumental artist/trumpeter? My mom is responsible for exposing me to and got me in to music at an early age. Being a piano player, my mom first got me into piano but as many kids do, I rebelled against it and wanted to do something different. That’s when I saw Doc Severinsen on television and thought the trumpet would be cool. I picked one up and then a few years later when I was twelve years old I heard the first three notes of Miles Davis’ "My Funny Valentine" and at that moment, I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I’ve always wanted to work with Peter Gabriel.

3. You are going to be The New York Pops special guest on October 4 as part of their evening dedicated to you. What excites you most about this upcoming evening? This is my first true orchestra show in the New York area so that makes this very, very special. I’ve had the opportunity to play Carnegie Hall a few times and of course everyone feels the same when they walk out on that very famous stage…it’s really an honor to be there.

4. What does it mean to you to have The New York Pops dedicate an evening to you and your music? I’m deeply honored to have the evening dedicated to me. I think it’s something you dream about as a kid when you’re practicing the trumpet for so many hours and truly, it’s a dream come true.

5. What excites you most about performing at Carnegie Hall? The very first time I played Carnegie Hall, I was in high school with the McDonalds All American High School band. Back then I never thought I’d be playing there with the New York Pops as a headliner and honestly, I still get a major dose of butterflies when I walk on stage at Carnegie Hall. It’s just a really special experience.

New York Pops Conductor/Music Director Steven Reineke conducting The New York Pops, Photo Credit: Richard TermineNew York Pops Conductor/Music Director Steven Reineke, Photo Credit: Michael Tammaro6. What are looking forward to about performing with New York Pops Musical Director/Conductor Steven Reineke? He’s truly one of my favorite conductors to work with. He has that rare gift of being able to understand the jazz group and how we feel time and tempo and are loose. At the same time, he takes the structure of classical music and molds the two styles together to fit perfectly.

7. What do you hope audiences come away with after attending this concert? Like any of our shows, I hope that they’re moved emotionally and I hope they have a great time. I know that’s an overused cliché sometimes but if you can get those two things to happen, whether they cry or laugh or feel some extra emotion and then they leave the night saying "Wow I never thought I’d see musicians like that," then the whole night fits together for a really entertaining experience.

8. As an artist who travels around the world, what do you enjoy most about this part of your work and what challenges does it present for you? Well certainly coming to NY isn’t really a challenge since it’s like coming home in so many ways. However, the challenges you get traveling around the world 300 days a year are far outweighed by the rush or the energy that you get from an audience and being able to walk out and perform for them. I think if you were able to look back at your life and say this is why I practice music, it makes all those challenges like going through security at airports go away quickly.

Chris Botti, Photo Credit: LeAnn Mueller9. How have you stayed grounded in an industry that has led others down a darker road? I think the trumpet is a great solidifying instrument. In other words, you have to practice it everyday and you can’t take a vacation from it. Having a very workman’s attitude towards music, I mean there’s music and then there’s playing the trumpet, and having to do it everyday keeps me a bit more grounded.

10. What have you learned about yourself from your illustrious career? It takes a long time and the higher up the mountain you climb the more you realize that you haven’t achieved the musical satisfaction you’re looking for because you’re always trying to reach the next goal. Coming back to having a workman’s attitude, developing a routine and feeling good about going city to city to play music, I’ve learned to try and not put too much pressure on myself as an artist. For me, I feel grateful to have the band I have and the musicians we travel around with and I try not to look at the top of the mountain…or at least hopefully not the bottom.


11. What's the best advice you've ever received? Again it’s a cliché, but we’re playing Carnegie Hall and how do you get to Carnegie Hall? You have to practice and have behind it the intent to sacrifice a lot. People say, "I would practice" or "I did last week," but you have to put years and years and years of practice in and keep having that satisfaction given to you by the instrument. Practice and not to veer off too much is probably the best advise I gave myself and I keep seeing it in other people I recognize to be very talented. People like Sting have that very driven, focused, workman’s like attitude built around the fundamentals of music rather than the pop culture aspect of it.

12. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Is there a super power for more sleep?

Chris Botti, Photo Credit: Fabrizio FerriMore on Chris:

Performing worldwide and selling more than three million albums, he has found a form of creative expression that begins in jazz and expands beyond the limits of any single genre. Over the past three decades, Botti has recorded and performed with the best in music, including Sting, Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban, Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Bublé, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, John Mayer, Andrea Bocelli, Joshua Bell, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and even Frank Sinatra. Hitting the road for as many as 300 days per year, the trumpeter has also performed with many of the finest symphonies and at some of the world's most prestigious venues from Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl to the Sydney Opera House and the Real Teatro di San Carlo in Italy. Impressions, Botti's 2012 Columbia Records and Grammy Award-winning release, is the latest in a stellar parade of albums – including When I Fall In Love (2004), To Love Again: The Duets (2005),Italia (2007), and the CD/DVD Chris Botti in Boston (2009) – that has firmly established him as a clarion voice in the American contemporary music scene. Playing with his uniquely expressive sound and soaring musical imagination, Botti is joined on the disc by featured artists Andrea Bocelli, Vince Gill, Herbie Hancock, Mark Knopfler, and David Foster in a warm, intimate celebration of melodic balladry. With Impressions and the albums that preceded it, Chris Botti has thoroughly established himself as one of the important, innovative figures of the contemporary music world.

New York Pops Conductor/Music Director Steven Reineke conducting The New York Pops, Photo Credit: Richard TermineMore on The New York Pops:

The New York Pops is the largest independent pops orchestra in the United States, and the only professional symphonic orchestra in New York City specializing in popular music. Led by Music Director Steven Reineke, the orchestra performs an annual subscription series and birthday gala at Carnegie Hall. The New York Pops was founded by Skitch Henderson in 1983 with a mission to create greater public awareness and appreciation of America’s rich musical heritage. The New York Pops is dedicated to lifelong learning, and collaborates with public schools, community organizations, children’s hospitals and senior centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Pops Education allows thousands of New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds to participate in fully customizable music programs that blend traditional education with pure fun.

Steven Reineke, Photo Credit: Michael TammaroSteven Reineke is the Music Director of The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, Principal Pops Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Principal Pops Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Reineke is a frequent guest conductor with The Philadelphia Orchestra and has been on the podium with the Boston Pops, The Cleveland Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia. His extensive North American conducting appearances include San Francisco, Houston, Seattle, Edmonton and Pittsburgh. As the creator of more than one hundred orchestral arrangements for the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Mr. Reineke’s work has been performed worldwide, and can be heard on numerous Cincinnati Pops Orchestra recordings on the Telarc label. His symphonic works Celebration Fanfare, Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Casey at the Bat are performed frequently in North America. His numerous wind ensemble compositions are published by the C.L. Barnhouse Company and are performed by concert bands around the world. A native of Ohio, Mr. Reineke is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio, where he earned bachelor of music degrees with honors in both trumpet performance and music composition. He currently resides in New York City with his partner Eric Gabbard.


Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana: The New York Pops and Ronald McDonald House New York Benefit at 54 Below

On Monday, September 23, 2013 at 54 Below, (254 West 54th Street), Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana will perform an intimate benefit concert titled Remember When…. The New York Pops Music Director Steven Reineke will host the evening beginning with a champagne reception at 5:30PM followed by dinner and a performance at 6:30PM. The evening is a joint benefit in support of The New York Pops Education Programs at Ronald McDonald House® New York, which provide creative outlets to the children and families in residence. Click here for tickets!

For more on:

The New York Pops:

Ronald McDonald House New York:

54 Below:

Cinderella on Broadway:

1. On September 23, you both are participating in The New York Pops/Ronald McDonald House benefit concert "Remember When...," a concert benefiting the The New York Pops' Educational program at Ronald McDonald House in New York. How did you both get involved with this benefit? Santino and I were approached by Steven Reineke, who asked if we'd be interested in performing a duo concert together for this event. We eagerly said Yes!

2. What does it mean to you to be part of this special benefit concert? I have done a couple birthday concerts with the NY Pops at Carnegie Hall and am always thrilled to collaborate with them on any project. This one is special because we get to celebrate and honor their relationship with the Ronald McDonald house. I lost my mom to cancer two years ago and Santino has also had family members battling this horrible disease, so our hearts are deeply connected to the cause, especially its focus on children.

3. What are you looking forward to most about the evening? To be honest, Santino and I have discussed the idea of doing a concert together for a while now, so this was a perfect opportunity! And to do it all for such a worthy cause makes it all the more exciting and fulfilling.

4. What excites you about working with New York Pops' Musical Director/Conductor Steven Reineke? Steven not only possesses immense talent, but a tremendous respect and passion for music. Santino and I were honored to be personally invited by Steven to headline this special event. We are bringing in our musical director, Andy Einhorn, to accompany, arrange, and musically direct our concert, but Steven has been pivotal in overseeing the process and coordinating with 54 Below and the Ronald McDonald House.

5. What do you enjoy about performing at 54 Below? The venue is classy yet comfortable. The sound is superb, the food is delicious, and the intimate setting makes performing there such a treat!

6. What do you hope audiences come away with after attending this benefit? We hope to not only entertain but truly touch the hearts of our audience that evening. Our theme of "Remember When..." hearkens back to our childhoods. From playful songs that Santino and I each sang as youngsters, to heartwarming songs that conjure up some of our most special memories, there's sure to be a "remember when" moment that each audience member can relate to.

More on Laura:

Laura Osnes is currently starring on Broadway as the title role in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella (Drama Desk Award; Tony, Outer Critics Circle, Astaire Award nominations). She also received a Tony nomination for her performance as "Bonnie Parker" in Bonnie & Clyde, which she originated at Asolo Repertory Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse (San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Award).

Photo Credit: Janet Mayer / PRPhotos.comMore on Santino:

Santino Fontana was nominated for a 2013 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Musical for his work in Broadway's Cinderella. He was most recently seen Off-Broadway in Sons of the Prophet at the Roundabout (Lucille Lortel and Obie Awards). Broadway: The Importance of Being Earnest (Clarence Derwent Award), Brighton Beach Memoirs (Drama Desk Award), Billy Elliot, and Sunday in the Park With George.

More on Steven Reineke:

Steven Reineke is the Music Director of The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, Principal Pops Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Principal Pops Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Reineke is a frequent guest conductor with The Philadelphia Orchestra and has been on the podium with the Boston Pops, The Cleveland Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia. His extensive North American conducting appearances include San Francisco, Houston, Seattle, Edmonton and Pittsburgh. As the creator of more than one hundred orchestral arrangements for the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Mr. Reineke’s work has been performed worldwide, and can be heard on numerous Cincinnati Pops Orchestra recordings on the Telarc label. His symphonic works Celebration Fanfare, Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Casey at the Bat are performed frequently in North America. His numerous wind ensemble compositions are published by the C.L. Barnhouse Company and are performed by concert bands around the world. A native of Ohio, Mr. Reineke is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio, where he earned bachelor of music degrees with honors in both trumpet performance and music composition. He currently resides in New York City with his partner Eric Gabbard.


Sheri Sanders: In Concert Interview

Sheri Sanders, the mastermind behind the revolutionary rock musical theatre audition technique, Rock The Audition, took time out of her busy schedule to once again sit down with "Call Me Adam." This time around we discussed her upcoming not-to-be-missed concert experience at the American Theatre for Actors in NYC from September 25-October 2 (314 54th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Sheri be sure to visit and follow her Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

1. You are about to kick off your concert tour right here in NYC from September 25-October 2 with a unprecedented format: part concert, part pop music history lesson, and a special inside look at your rock class, Rock The Audition. Why did you choose to format the concert tour this way? Well, people don't have ANY idea what on earth goes on in my classroom unless they take the class. They just know that people change...A lot. I wanted the theatre community to see how I work, what I ask of people, and most importantly, what I stand for as a teacher and liberator. Oh, and I am a performer FIRST so that part is just me getting to "fill my own cup" so it can "runneth over" for everyone else. I couldn't perform while I was pioneering and I hated that part.

Sheri Sanders at Transcendence Theatre Company with Steve Mazurek, Photo Credit: Ryan Daffurn2. What made now the right time to do this concert? Um, these amazing young producers Kenny Metzger and Kristin Morris from the Araca Project contacted me to see if I knew anyone who needed something produced and I said, "yeah! Me!" I tried to do this concert in NYMF a few years ago, but I was so exhausted from writing then launching my book, that producing my own concert was too much for me. So I cancelled the concert until further notice. And now, it's further notice cause Rock The Audition has really hit a new and exciting level. And I've gotten some sleep :) And I have two people producing it now. I don't have to do it all myself!

3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing your concert? Your questions are always amazing. That popular music is not just important to study how to audition for Rock Musicals, it also creates a profound opportunity to soul search. Something that I fear too many actors don't get a chance to do because they are told they are "ingenues" and need to sing "ingenue songs" and play "ingenue roles" is ask themselves how they FEEL. About ANYTHING. They have messy raw wild feelings that get completely lost in the shuffle. Popular music allows for those feelings. Insists on them actually!

Sheri Sanders in concert4. Joe Barros is directing. How did you decide that he was the one you wanted to work with? What has been the best part about the collaboration so far? Joe Barros knew me from a concert we did. I had a cold for it, but I was like," OK, cool. My voice is gonna have some texture on it" as opposed to freaking out. So my guess is he remembered that about me and called me in as an emergency replacement in a Fringe show. I had 3 days to learn the show before it opened. Why I chose him for this was that in those 3 days, he allowed me to be who I was, do my best, find my way through, be imperfect, with some real clear guidance and trust. And he is a FANTASTIC director/choreographer that I was dying to work with anyway. So when I asked he was like," F*&% yes." And so was I.

5. The NYC leg of the concert is being presented at the American Theatre of Actors. How did you decide on this venue? What do they offer that another venue might not? This venue came along with getting booked with the Araca Project. The Araca Project is really cool. The Aracas are these FAB producers whom I had the pleasure of working with when I did Urinetown. They have this UNBELIEVABLE mentorship program for Syracuse University. They mentor young producers, writers, casting directors. You name it. So when they asked if I wanted to do my concert with them, that's the spot they do it at! How wonderful for me since thats where Urinetown had its off-Broadway run!

Sheri Sanders with one of her "Rock The Audition" masterclass studentsSheri Sanders and her "Rock The Audition" masterclass students6. As part of this concert, you are going to be bringing students on stage and adjusting their rock songs in front of the audience. What excites about this part of the show and what makes you nervous? Love this question too. The same thing excites me and makes me nervous. I have no idea what they are gonna do. They are brave enough to get in front of the audience. Just like they're brave enough to take my class and get up in front of class as well. But I don't know them, I don't know who they are or what kind of acting technique they have. So it REALLY is a gamble. It feels a bit dangerous and that really excites me!

7. You are also going to have emerging contemporary pop/rock musical theatre artists and songwriting teams to present selections of their work as the "opening act" of the shows. How did you decide which artists you wanted to feature? Well, it's funny cause this was the producer's idea, and the producers and I had different lists. They did the reaching out on my behalf and got some coooool folks, like JOE ICONIS!!!!!!! Then I said hey hey can I get these other folks too? Some are my friends who NEED to be seen, some are HUGE influences in the musical theatre scene. We've got a little of everybody which is awesome.

8. In this day and age of Social Media, how do you feel Social Media outlets have helped your brand? How do you think it will help promote this concert? I think social media has been INCREDIBLE for me because I have created a "Facebook persona" that invites people to come explore lots of stuff with me. If I say, "look at this" or "do this" people do it cause they KNOW I am doing my homework for them about growing in this genre. I am gonna do my BEST to send them to the right places to learn the coolest things. So social media may have turned me into the pied piper. :)

Sheri Sanders proud of her students in "Rock The Audition" class9. What are you looking forward to most about taking this tour around the country? Well I've ALREADY gone to 24 colleges with my classes and that will continue. It's really about, for example, going to Chicago where there are several musical theatre programs and a VIBRANT musical theatre community. And that I get to do this concert as part of my "residency" there so people get to see the impact popular music has had on ME. It turned me into a much cooler person.

10. What do you enjoy most about teaching your students and interacting with your fans around the country? What have you learned from them? This is my favorite question. My students have given me courage. When they break through I come back to my own life and say, "Sher, are you gonna break through your crap like that boy did today? Or sit in your dirty diaper and do nothing about it?" So thats the best part. What their courage gives me. I can speak honestly when I say it's saved my life.

More on Sheri:

Sheri Sanders is the acclaimed author of Rock-The-Audition—a required read in more than a dozen top musical theatre training programs around the country, and her in-demand master class has been a part of the syllabus for students at renowned institutions like Pace University, Boston Conservatory, NYU, Syracuse, Berklee School of Music and Oklahoma City University, to name a few. Sheri has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Out Magazine, Playbill, The Huffington Post, as well as on NBC News, Good Day New York, and on Oprah’s OWN Network. Sheri’s students consistently receive callbacks and are cast in Broadway’s top rock shows, concerts, and national tours; many also number among the top competitors on reality competitions like The Glee Project, The X Factor and American Idol.

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