"Call Me Adam" chats with recording artist Karen Wyman, best known for her hit song "Why Can't I Walk Away," about her triumphant comeback with a month run at NYC's famed Metropolitan Room (34 West 22nd Street) from March 5-26 at 7pm. Click here for tickets!
1. This March you are returning to The Metropolitan Room in NYC after sold-out runs in both October and December of 2013. What excites you about this return? I debuted my show October 2013 at The Metropolitan Room. That was my very first show in 23 years. It sold out. I was asked to come back in December for 2 more shows, then they asked me to do a month long run this March, every Wednesday at 7pm, and on top of that, I found out I won the BISTRO Award for "Acclaimed Comeback of the Year." It was wonderful to get this kind of recognition. I couldn't ask for a better beginning.
2. What do you enjoy most about performing at The Metropolitan Room? It's a great room. It has that old time nightclub feeling. It's a very warm and intimate room. There is no bad seat in the house. I can work the room very well. It's like a home to me. It's wonderful.
3. When you perform, what do you hope audiences come away with after seeing your live show? If I can touch my audience through singing, then that is what I am meant to do. Music gets to your soul. It's very powerful. Everyone coming to my show has gone through or at least knows someone who has gone through what I'm singing about. My purpose is to sing and phrase those words by the songwriters and tell the story of the song. Frank Sinatra was great at phrasing a song and I learned how to phrase a song from him. He was really able to bring his audience to that moment. For example, if he was singing about being in a bar, you were at that bar with him. That's what I want to achieve when I sing a song to my audience. My songs are about loving someone, losing someone, or sometimes they are about I'm glad I got rid of you. I want my audiences to say, "Yes, this is how I feel" or "That's how I loved someone" or "This is how I love this person now."
I'm having the time of my life right now. I'm in the best place possible. What you see on stage is what you get. I'm the same person. I don't think I was like that when I was younger. So, if my audience can leave saying, "Oh wow, where did the time go?" or "That woman made me laugh or cry." or "That's what I'm feeling right now," then I've done my job well.
4. What made you stop singing at such a young age and what has made you come back to it now at this point in your life? When I was younger, I had the six star thing going on...my career was moving very fast. When the music industry started to change and I was fighting the change and the music industry wasn't accepting me or my songs, I bowed out because I didn't know where I belonged. So, I just went away and took another road. Occasionally I would play in Atlantic City in the 80s, but it was just for the money. There wasn't much publicity for it, but then I stopped all together.
There was a time, a long time, I didn't know if I would sing again. I became a mom and I did my thing there, and I sacrificed, but I don't mind because I have 2 beautifully grown children and a grandson. Life takes you on a path for a reason. So, maybe my path was to sing when I was younger, stop, and then come back now because I have so much more to give than I had before.
Those things I learned when I wasn't singing have allowed me to give so much more to my audiences now. I can share my knowledge with them. For instance when my kids come to me and say, "Why did that person fall out of love with me?" I say, "Who knows. They just did. There is no answer to why. You just have to find a way to pick yourself up and move on." It's very easy for me to say that now because we've all been punched in the stomach with that heartache and you learn to pick yourself up and move on.
5. How do you feel you've changed from your first time out? This is the first time in my life I'm in love with myself as a person and it's very healthy. I don't mean in an egotistical kind of way. You have to love yourself in order for someone to really love you. You have to have a good love with yourself, not a dysfunctional love. When you start to love yourself in the right way that's when things really start to happen. I am now able to give that love to my audience.
I only sing songs that I feel. I never sing anything I don't relate to. My genre of music is really coming back thanks to the likes of Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Buble. Other contemporary artists are referring back to the time in music when I was starting out. I saw a Justin Timberlake interview and he was asked if he could catch any act who would it be and he said The Rat Pack. Then I saw a commercial with P. Diddy and he had Frank Sinatra in the background singing "Luck Be A Lady." I think I'm coming back at the right time.
This comeback started with baby steps. My daughter told me how much she and her friends liked my song "Why Can't I Walk Away?" That's a signature song for me. It's a song everyone can relate to because everyone at some point has been in a relationship where they wonder why are they still in it. Then I started thinking "What happened to Karen Wyman. Where did she go?" I knew she wasn't gone. I knew she was somewhere inside of me. Now that my kids were grown and didn't need me as much, I asked myself what I wanted to do and I told myself I wanted to sing and I never thought I would say that again.
I'm a firm believer of getting back what you ask the universe for. So I asked the universe for the opportunity to sing. I went to Jim Caruso's Cast Party at Birdland and sang "Why Can't I Walk Away." I then met Lainie Kazan that night and she said, "Why aren't you singing?" I told her I was thinking about coming back. Then more people came up to me and said, wherever and whenever you sing, we would love to come see you. I said that would be great. Then I won the Bistro award and Lainie was being honored at the awards and she said this is Karen Wyman and people said, "Is this really Karen Wyman?" (I had felt like I just rose from the dead), and I said, "Yeah. Yeah, it is Karen Wyman." The response was just so positive. People really remembered me. It was so nice. So, I decided to get back out there and sing more. It's been going great and things are starting to happen.
Karen Wyman singing "Why Can't I Walk Away" at Jim Caruso's Cast Party:
5. What's the best advice you've ever received? In addition to what I've discussed above, I never take anything for granted. This isn't advice I received, but it's something I've done and I tell all young singers, don't smoke and don't drink and your voice will always be there, pure as a bell.
6. Who or what inspired you to become a singer? I always loved singing and was encouraged by my Dad. Edyie Gorme and Judy Garland were two of my influences.
This one-time national sensation from the Bronx was just 16 (now those two numbers are reversed) when she astonished Dean Martin and his national television audience in 1969. In short order she made appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and on shows hosted by Carol Burnett, Jim Nabors, Glen Campbell, Dick Cavett, David Frost, Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas. She performed in nightclubs and recorded two albums and several singles for Decca Records, and had another on the way. Then circumstances changed. A different kind of non-belty female singer was coming up, and Wyman also opted to start a family. Her last full show was a one-off in Atlantic City in 1989.