When the Sun Comes Out
When I first sang for Joe Baque he declared, 'you're an Arlen singer,' in his unmistakable New York accent. I didn't exactly know what that meant at the time, but a year later, we were in the recording studio, performing not only the great songs of Harold Arlen, but also other American Songbook composers like Cole Porter and George Gershwin. Every week Joe would suggest new songs. It was easy for me to learn the music, but finding the character and interpretation always required serious philosophical discussions. Being a 'modern' woman, it wasn't easy for me to relate to many of the women in these songs. These were women who were at the beck and call of their men, willing to be abused and abandoned. Joe was witness to the kind of women these songs were about. He shared his stories of the early years when he played in the clubs in New York City back in the time when some of these songs were written. He knew these women - waitresses, prostitutes and young women down on their luck. What they had in common was to be loved - when times are so hard, love is something soft and beautiful, and if you have it even for a little while, it's worth evertything. With this album of songs, I have tried to get out of the way of my own personality and let the character of each song be present. Joe completely understands what I am doing and participates in this conversation. He knows these songs so well - never uses sheet music and our performances are never exactly the same because the conversation adjusts to suit our daily moods. There is always something new to say when performing great music. That is why all the classical composers are still being performed, and the great contemporary composers like the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell--their music will live on and on and survive all interpretations. I have studied music at the university, have degrees to prove it, but what I have learned from singing and studying the songs of Arlen, Porter, Gershwin and the others could not have happened at a better time in my life. When they say age brings wisdom, they're not kidding. A word about my recording experience: I found the best engineers I could find in Seattle. P.J. Newman owns MOUSe Recording Studio. He had a nice Yamaha grand piano, and beautiful space with lots of room and calm ambience. In addition to being a great engineer with tons of experience, he is a sweetheart of a person. He always was there listening intently, but always out of the way, letting us do our thing. The mastering engineer was Garey Shelton, of Garey Shelton Productions. Garey is very busy because he is the best. That Grammy plaque on the wall isn't there for nothing. Even though I was a newbie to all of this, Garey treated me like his most important client. He, too, listens with such intensity. But, that's what sound engineers, do. These men were so utterly professional and good at what they do, I only wish I could be in the recording studio every day for the rest of my life. It was one of the best musical experiences of my life. And finally, my dear old mom kept saying, 'I wish I had a recording of your singing. I'd rather listen to you than anybody else.' I had to get this done for her, and here it is. Mom has been an inspiration to me all my life. When she was a young girl, living in the shadow of the steel mills of South Chicago in the 1930s & 40s, she won a singing contest. But her mother would not let her pursue such a silly career as singing. She had to quit school and go to work. My mother had a beautiful voice and she was a doll--gorgeous. She bought a piano for us and all three children took piano lessons. My father was Italian and loved singing, especially opera. My mother loved it, too. I got the bug in my teens and pursued degrees in vocal performance and I sang in operas and concerts for many years. I can't hit those high C's so beautifully anymore, but I can still sing and plan to for many years to come. Thanks mom and dad (I hope they haven't kicked you out of heaven, you can be pretty naughty) for the passion and the gift of loving music.