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Entries in Songwriter (57)

Friday
Oct132017

Call Answered: Michael Mott: Abandoned Heart

Michael Mott, Photo Credit: Michael Kushner PhotographyWhen I saw the list artists singing on Michael Mott's new album Abandoned Heart, I knew I had to take a listen. What I heard were songs filled with raw emotion in regards to love & relationships. From finding love to losing love, Michael has a voice all his own. And he's found a group of performers, including Brian Justin Crum, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Natalie Weiss, Shayna Steele, & Jenna Ushkowitz, who really knew how to help bring these songs to life!

Abandoned Heart is available now on iTunes and Broadway Records along with his new single "More Than Me," which benefits Puerto Rico.

For more on Michael be sure to visit http://www.michaelmott.net and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, & YouTube!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a composer/lyricist? Honestly, the piano. I dreaded playing the rudimentary exercises my piano teacher required of me, so I'd go off and make up my own compositions. I've always written ever since I was a little kid, but didn't really explore this talent seriously until I applied to the BMI Musical Theatre Writer's Workshop in 2012 in NYC. Going through that program gave me the confidence and skill set to pursue writing full time.

2. You just released your new CD Abandoned Heart, a variety of feel good pop, anthemic soul and introspective ballads. How do you feel you struck "Gold" with this album? Haha. Well, as corny as this sounds, I truly wrote all of these songs from the heart. Over the past few years I've found my artistic voice as a songwriter and these songs are written from a place of truth. While this is stylistically very different from my first album, Where The Sky EndsAbandoned Heart explores the type of music I truly love creating and am inspired by as a fan of music.

3. You have stated that this album helped you find your own individual voice and point of view as a writer and singer. How do you feel this album did that? Not to discredit my first album, but I feel like I was trying very hard to say "Look! I can write in any style or genre!" with that record. I was trying to appeal to a more high brow audience and show everything I could do, which almost made that record feel like a sampler platter. Abandoned Heart is a much more cohesive album. It has a true beginning, middle and end. I honed in on the styles and genres that speak to me as a fan first and foremost and then wrote from my heart and soul.

4. Since the album is called Abandoned Heart, when have you abandoned your heart? This can get pretty deep, pretty quickly. Let's just say working on this album taught me A LOT about myself. Haha. When I was going through the process of naming this project I was listening to these songs over and over again and beginning to analyze lyrics. I don't know why I write what I write, I just write! When I was trying to dissect every phrase, I realized  that every song was written from a place of yearning or longing. Each song on this record deals with a heart crying for acceptance. Hence, Abandoned Heart.

5. Which songs were the easiest to write? Which ones gave you the most trouble? I wrote "Gold" in a matter of 15-20 minutes sitting in the park. "My Favorite Color" also came to me pretty quickly. It's funny because the rest of these songs are like the fourth or fifth versions of these songs. "So Relentless," "Minefield of Love" and "Breathless" all had completely different choruses. It was after I had demo'd them and listened back that I realized what I wanted to do to evolve them into what they are now. I would actually love to do a concert or workshop or something and show the earliest versions of these songs. It's very interesting to see just how different they were in their first draft stages. "Minefield of Love" was originally called "Ask Me To Stay" and had this interesting country/rock vibe. "Breathless" was called "My Man" and had a totally different hook. Listening back on those earlier versions now, they're extremely inferior to the current versions. Thankfully I had the common sense to know I could do better, haha. It's very important for artists to give themselves the time and space to allow the material to grow and evolve. You can not undermine the creative process.

Michael Mott6. How do you prepare for a day of writing? What is your writing process like? Do you say today I'm going to write my emotional songs and then I will tackle my more upbeat songs or vice versa? How do you decompress writing songs? I wish I knew. I've found that when I sit down with the intention to write is when I usually come up with the worst material that makes me feel like the most untalented human being on earth. It's funny because once I allow myself to be in this place, suddenly the flood gates open and I am receptive to inspiration; my subconscious opens and melodies, lyrical phrases and ideas start coming to me in the most inopportune times (see: showering, working out, walking to the park, etc).

7. Your song "Complicated" is about someone holding on to a relationship that seems to be ending. When you write a song like this, if it's based upon your own experience, how far out from this relationship were you when writing it? What do you feel as you write it? Freedom or the anger/frustration of the situation? This song is based on a relationship I was in last fall. I was head over heels for this guy, but he was scared of commitment. We fell for each other and then he pulled away. It's very therapeutic to be able to sit down at the piano and allow the music to do all of the work for me. That song encapsulates exactly how I felt in that relationship and Eric LaJuan Summers' vocal performance is exquisite. I couldn't ask for a better vocalist. He's such a star.

Michael Mott at the "Abandoned Heart" release concert8. I love the different styles of music on your album. How did you know they would all blend together so well? Thank you, I appreciate that. I honestly don't think about it. I just knew I was writing from a place of truth and wanted to write with a more fresh, contemporary pop sound and that was that. It also helped that I worked with one music producer on the entire album, so we were able to hone in on a certain tone that was all encompassing on the entire record. Rich Matthew produced and made everything sound like a million bucks.

9. Another song on the album is "My Favorite Color." So, what's your favorite color? I enjoy a dark blue or black. Let's go with black as the black heart emoji has been part of the branding experience of this new album.

10. If you had the opportunity to write songs for five of your favorite artists, who would you want to write for? Well, I have been lucky enough to have worked with most of my favorite artists from the Broadway and television worlds, including everyone on this album and my first album. That is something I do not take for granted at all! However, it would be an absolute dream come true to write with Mariah Carey, Billy Joel, Sia, John Mayer and P!nk. I love collaborating because I learn so much from the writers and artists I'm working with. You can not get any better than those legends and it would be a dream come true to be able to work with them in any capacity.

Michael Mott, Photo Credit: Cristin DownsMore on Michael:

Michael Mott  is a composer, lyricist, singer, actor and voice teacher living in NYC. Born and raised in New Hartford, New York, Michael graduated from Ithaca College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Musical Theatre Performance. After graduating, he moved to New York City and enjoyed a successful career performing in numerous Off-Broadway, regional and national touring shows. In 2012 he decided to shift his focus to writing and was accepted into the prestigious BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Writer’s Workshop. He has since been named one of Playbill's "Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know."

Michael's debut album, Where The Sky Ends, is a compilation album of his original theatre, jazz and pop music performed by some of the best singers on Broadway, co-produced by Mott and legendary orchestrator/ producer, Kim Scharnberg. The LP has been referred to as "a masterpiece" by Broadway World and was released by Grammy Award Winning label, Broadway Records on June 17, 2014. Due to popular demand, Where The Sky Ends: The Dance Remixes was released by the same label on October 14, 2014 and spawned the popular dance track, "Gone" (Julian Marsh Ethereal Mix). In 2016 he composed a Christmas single for Broadway star, Laura Osnes, co-produced by Mott, Scharnberg and Jeremy Roberts. "Christmas, Will You Stay?" was released digitally on his own label, Motta Music, on December 6, 2016.

Michael has had the great fortune of working with some of the best singers in the business both in the recording studio and on stage in his touring show, Michael Mott & Friends. His collaborations include TONY Award Nominees Jeremy Jordan, Laura Osnes, Jennifer Damiano, Orfeh, Sierra Boggess, Zachary Levi, Jenna Ushkowitz, Andy Mientus, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Adrienne Warren, Justin Guarini, Brian Justin Crum, Shayna Steele, James Snyder, Jackie Burns, Mitch Jarvis, Michael Lanning, Marissa McGowan, Crystal Monee Hall, Loren Allred, Natalie Weiss, Teal Wicks, Jason Gotay, Ryan Silverman and countless others. As composer/ lyricist, Michael’s original musicals include In The Light (book by Nathan Wright and Justin Silvestri), The Don (book by Corey Skaggs) and Lucifer (co-lyricist, Mike Squillante, book by Corey Skaggs). He co-conceived and composed music to the original ten minute musical, Riding Out The Storm, written with lyricist and librettist, Christine Toy Johnson. Additionally, he has written and recorded several stand alone pop/ R&B/ top 40 songs.

Friday
Sep082017

Call Answered: Lisa Loeb: "Lullaby Girl", "Stay", & Broadway dreams

Lisa Loeb"So, I, turned the radio on and I turned the radio up" and 23 years later, I'm still listening to Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb. "Truthfully" it was a dream come true to interview Lisa about her upcoming family album Lullaby Girl. I have always found Lisa's songs and lyrics to be inquisitive, sophisticated, and right on the money when I needed a song to get me through the rough times, but also to celebrate the good times!

Lullaby Girl, out October 6, is a new Amazon Original family music album available for streaming exclusively through Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music, as well as for digital download or physical purchase through Amazon Music. Lullaby Girl offers fresh and dreamy arrangements of 13 classic songs from a variety of genres with a world-class quartet led by keyboardist Larry Goldings. Originally planned as a traditional lullaby record for children, Loeb and her collaborators found a uniquely different path during the recording process and realized this would be an album for kids and adults alike.

Lullaby Girl features such familiar songs as "Be My Baby" (The Ronettes), "All the Pretty Little Horses," "Dream a Little Dream," "What the World Needs Now Is Love," "O-o-h Child," "In My Room" (Brian Wilson), and "Tomorrow" from Broadway's Annie as well as Lisa’s original songs, "Close Your Eyes" and "Lullaby Girl." 

Lullaby Girl will be available October 6 and can be pre-ordered here!

For more on Lisa be sure to visit https://www.lisaloeb.com and follow Lisa on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube!

Lisa Loeb1. Who or what inspired you to be a singer/songwriter? No one really inspired me. I always had music around me. I also had access to choosing my own music, whether it was picking out a record I wanted to hear or radio station I wanted to listen to, so there was a lot of involvement in music. I also enjoyed doing musical theatre as a kid and learning the popular songs of the time. Like a lot of my constituents, I took piano lessons when I was six or seven years old and started writing music back then. So, music has always been a part of me.

Me: Since you mentioned musical theatre, I hope one day on your plan is to come to Broadway and do a show.

Lisa Loeb: I would love it. We are always talking about it and figuring out if there’s an opportunity there and trying to make it happen because that would be very exciting. It would be like a dream come true. On my newest record, Lullaby Girl, coming out October 6, I recorded "Tomorrow" from Annie. It was so much fun to record. I just love to sing and dance. It'd be great to be in a musical.

2. This October you are releasing your new family album Lullaby Girl, a collection of classic songs from a variety of genres. What do you like about recording children's music or making music that can be shared by children & adults alike? It’s funny, this record is the least kind of kid's record we made. In fact, somebody was asking us, when we were figuring out how to promote the record, what were the focus tracks for kids? That is almost impossible to figure out because there was really no kids and grown-ups in it. It was just songs I loved growing up and a few originals too. I think traditionally for my kids records we write or choose songs that have a different element about them than my grown-up songs. For children, they are not always about relationships, in that traditional romantic relationship way, they are more about experiences. There’s a more colorful vivid element to the lyrics and I think I tend to do a little more experimenting with music styles. With this newest record, we were working with standards and I think when I was a kid, kids were just expected to live in the grown-up world, not in a bad way, but just there was a little bit more sophistication, humor and silliness, but not in a kid-centered way, the music still appealed to kids and I think that’s what I continue to try to do and feel that is what’s happening with my music.

3. Before we get to this new album, let's go back to 2003 when you released your first children's album. At that time, what made you want to move into children's music? I think it was inspired by my love for kid’s things. I’m really sentimental. While I listened to a lot of adult music like The Mamas and the Papas, Led Zeplin, classical music, and musical theatre, there were a handful of children’s records that really spoke to me like Marlo Thomas' Free To Be You and Me and Carole Kings' Really Rosie.

Making children's music was more about capturing my childhood and sharing that than performing for kids. I think grown-ups who have a connection to their own childhood might connect to it better. That music is timeless. After I made Catch The Moon, my first kid’s record, I moved into doing an album of summer camp songs, but it again it was more about me sharing my experience and reminiscing.

Lisa Loeb4. I am loving your renditions of "Be My Baby" and "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" on Lullaby Girl. What was the biggest challenge in stripping down these songs from their original version and turning them into more acoustic/lullaby songs? Well, it was less about stripping down and more about reinterpreting these songs. We were specifically trying to do a lullaby record so we had to find tones in the instruments that set the mood for the different phases of sleep. With the songs that were most familiar like Fleetwood Mac’s "Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," we really had to do something different to give that rhythmic feel. We wanted versions that were interesting. Each song was interpreted in a different way, but tried to be true to the original arrangement of the song. Other songs we tried to interpret directly because we felt that represented the song best, like "Dream A Little Dream." As we looked at the big picture of all the different songs we were doing, we were trying to approach them at different angles so the audience can go to different places, but still be in that world of lullaby.

5. Your original songs "Lullaby Girl" & "Close Your Eyes" are terrific. They fit so well in this album. Did you write them first and then centered the other songs & sound around them or was it the other way around? We wrote "Close Your Eyes" while were in the middle of choosing songs for the record. We weren’t sure how many covers & how many original songs were going to be there, so we started choosing the songs and what they might sound like and then in the middle of that process, my collaborates, Larry, Rich, & I wrote "Close Your Eyes." We did want something that would fit instrumentally with the group of musicians we knew would be playing with us. Then we were about to write another song, but I remembered writing some other lullabies, so I looked back in my catalog and saw I had a couple of songs and I found "Lullaby Girl," which is a little more modern than some of the other songs on the record, but I feel like with the placement after "All The Pretty Little Horses," it picks up on that singer-songwriter feel.

"Lullaby Girl" was a song I wrote with my friend Cliff. We were visiting Nashville and it was my first day there and it was very late at night, so I called to wish my daughter "Good Night" and after I hung up the phone, Cliff & I were like, "Well, we’re in Nashville, so we should write a song." So we decided to write a song inspired by that moment of me calling my daughter, which became "Lullaby Girl."

6. This past May, "Stay" celebrated its 23rd anniversary! Looking back over your career and life these past 23 years, and since "Stay" was on the Reality Bites soundtrack, when was there a time, you said to yourself, "Reality Bites!, like it just really stinks"? I definitely think there are challenges in the direction the music industry is going for musicians. For listeners it’s awesome, we can get any song we want, anytime, with all these different apps we have. I mean, my mom used to have to drive me to some weird part of town to find albums and songs, and now we just push a button. For musicians it's tough because a lot of income goes away. It’s not what we expected. When you’ve been doing this for a long time, you think you’ll get royalties, but when listeners can get everything for free, the checks aren’t coming in. It makes it hard to do the job if it’s not paying for itself. I think most industries are taking a hit that way, you know budgets are down all over the place. The most stressful part is when you love what you are doing and you know there is an audience out there, but you still have to think about how is this a business and the way in which it works. I think any artists or entrepreneur will always need to be concerned with the business side of things, but I just feel the break point has changed especially since it’s such a do-it-yourself kind of world. I’ve always been hands-on and love connecting with fans, but the balance has shifted a lot. We need a little bit more time to create our art and less time to create social network strategies.

7. In your song, "The Way It Really Is," you sing "Maybe what if it could be the way I wish it really was. Maybe I don't want to see it the way it really is." What is something that you did you want to see "The Way It Really Is"? I think it’s mostly relationship situations. I’ve been in relationships where I ignore the immediate signs of what is not working. It’s said that when you break up with somebody, the reason you break up is the reason you knew in the beginning it wasn’t going to work out. It’s ignoring those blatant signs and then you look back and go, "Ugh, I knew that was the reason it wasn't going to work."

8. If you could invite 4 people to have "Cake & Pie" with, you would you invite and what kind of "Cake & Pie" would you have? That’s such a hard question. I’m never good at narrowing down people. Elton John would be really fun. Patton Oswalt the comedian would be great too. If it were non-famous people, I would choose my husband and my three best friends. I would serve yellow cake with a light coating of chocolate frosting and sprinkles as well as cherry pie from Earth Café.

9. This next question is in sort of in line with the work you do for Muddy Puddle Project, which reminds kids and adults to always try to enjoy life, take small moments and not put them off until later. If this was your last day on earth, what would you want to do that you haven't done yet? I wouldn’t say I haven’t done this, but I would love to go the Caribbean and put my feet in the gorgeously warm turquoise water and that beautiful white sand.

10. I have a new segment to my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now" where I like to clear up any misconceptions out there. What do you feel is the biggest misconception out there about yourself? People think I’m kind of quiet and timid. I think that comes from the fact I’m a small person and was so emotional in my video for "Stay." But, I’m not. I’m an outspoken business person who’s not so quiet.

11. I also have a section on my website called "One Percent Better" where, through my own fitness commitment, I try to inspire people to improve their lives by one percent better everyday. What is something in your life that you want to improve by 1% better everyday? That’s cool. Sleeping. It’s always on my mind and I do think to make it better everyday. I’d like to sleep more and sleep better.

12. What is a quirk about yourself that your friends make fun of you for? When I was kid I used to get made fun of for my love of David Bowie. I would always get so excited about his music and anytime I would tell my friends “Guys, you have to listen to this song by David Bowie, it’s called "The Bewlay Brothers" or other tracks from the Hunky Dory record, they’d always make fun of me for it.

Lisa Loeb, Photo Credit: Juan PatinoMore on Lisa:

Grammy nominated Lisa Loeb is a singer-songwriter, producer, touring artist, author and philanthropist who started her career with the platinum-selling Number 1 hit song "Stay (I Missed You)" from the film Reality Bites. A trailblazing independent artist, Lisa was the first pop musician to have a Number 1 single while not signed to a recording contract. She followed that remarkable feat with the hit singles "Do You Sleep," "I Do," and "Let's Forget about It" and the albums Cake and Pie and No Fairy Tale, among others.

Lisa continues to craft irresistible pop songs for the 21st century, while designing Lisa Loeb Eyewear, writing children's books, and supporting non-profit causes. The Los Angeles based mother of two is well-known to parents and kids for her albums Catch the Moon (with Elizabeth Mitchell) and Amazon Music exclusives, Nursery Rhyme Parade! and Feel What U Feel (featuring Craig Robinson and Ed Helms). She has also published two picture book-CDs for Sterling Children’s Books: Lisa Loeb’s Songs for Movin’ and Shakin' and Lisa Loeb’s Silly Sing Along.

In addition to these family albums, Lisa's Camp Lisa raises funds for The Camp Lisa Foundation to allow kids, who wouldn't normally have the opportunity, to go to summer camp, and in 2015, the American Camp Association, New England named Lisa Loeb as their Camp Champions Honoree.

Lisa's recent film and television appearances include Netflix’s Sandy Wexler, TV Land’s Teachers, Amazon’s Creative Galaxy, @Midnight with Chris Hardwick, Last week Tonight with John OliverAbout a Boy, and Hot Tub Time Machine 2. Lisa is currently touring around the United States and Canada, releasing new styles of her signature eyewear through Lisa Loeb Eyewear, and will soon be releasing music videos to coincide with her Amazon Music family record, Feel What U Feel.

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.

Tuesday
Sep052017

Call Redialed: Sir Ari Gold: "POP OUT" at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

Sir Ari GoldIt's so great to catch up with Sir Ari Gold, Billboard Top 10 award winning recording artist. I have been a fan of Ari's since the 1980s, when he was a child actor voicing characters on Jem and the Holograms and The Cabbage Patch Kids. It's been a real joy watching Ari's star rise. I always love interviewing Ari because he goes in deep, telling it like it is.

This time around, Ari & I discuss his new one-man show POP OUT, about becoming the first openly gay chart-topping pop singer-songwriter. In the 80’s, Ari Gold, a closeted orthodox Jewish boy from The Bronx, is discovered singing at his brother’s bar mitzvah…setting the stage for becoming America’s First Openly Gay Pop Star. From doing child voices for Cabbage Patch Kids and Jem and the Holograms to performing with Diana Ross and RuPaul, Ari's paradoxical, emotional, musical memoir tells a story of family & religion, sex & pop, and the search for a community of one’s own. When a community renders you invisible, there’s only one choice: POP OUT.

POP OUT will play for one night only on Sunday, September 17 at 7pm at The Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC (407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue, in the basement of the West Bank Cafe). Click here for tickets!

For more on Ari be sure to visit http://arigold.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram!

1. Last time we spoke in 2012 you were premiering your one-man show Bashert at NYMF. Now, this September you are coming to the Laurie Beechman Theatre with POP OUT, a brand-new show about becoming the first openly gay chart-topping pop singer-songwriter. Did performing Bashert inspire POP OUT or were you working on POP OUT already? Bashert was autobiographical, as is POP OUT, and both traced my journey from being a child performer to being an openly gay pop singer. But POP OUT is way more personal and I discovered why I am telling this story right now. The show is really about community and the ways in which we both need community and yet are often injured most by our own communities that reject us-sometimes even the "community" that is our own families.

It took a long time and many rewrites to discover and it also took life happening. Someone I loved very much had to die in order for me to be able to write about the relationship. And I have David Drake to thank for getting the piece to this place, as well as a reading I did for New York Theater Workshop. What I didn’t anticipate was the turn of events in our government that make the show that much more relevant.

2. Like me, you grew up in the 80s. The acceptance of gays was very different back then than it is now. When did you first realize you were gay? How long after this discovery did you come out to your family? My awareness of my gayness was a process that started as soon as I can remember being alive. It mostly manifested in me liking things only girls were supposed to like and only became about sex and an attraction to men later on. I came out to to my family as soon as I was able to leave the confines of the orthodox Jewish community which was in college. I wrote an 18-page handwritten college ruled coming out letter with additional reading materials stapled to the back, handed them each a copy and read it to them outloud. I talk about it in the show.

Sir Ari Gold3. As a gay man, navigating his way through the music world, how do you feel being closeted growing up affected your work or the choices you made along the way? When did you decide to come out in the music business? What happened that made you go, "Now is the time to tell the world?" Getting politicized in college at NYU, reading queer theory, my relationship with Jose Munoz, it all really helped solidify the kind of artist I wanted to be. I knew I had to be the kind of openly gay pop singer I didn’t have growing up. But I don’t think I grasped how many gay men who were older than me, who had survived AIDS, also needed to see a proud out young gay man. And then there were gays in the industry who I believe were too traumatized to appreciate and understand what I was doing—especially those in the music industry. They were scared that the world was still not ready. All I knew is that I was ready. The chutzpah of youth!

4. After you came out, what fell into place for you that you were hoping would? Came out of the closet or came out as an artist? The fact that the LOGO network debuted my video during the commercial breaks for the launch of their network definitely helped bring me to a larger audience. There’s nothing like TV and we didn’t have YouTube then! After I came out of the closet I was hoping I’d have hot sex with men and that has definitely happened!

5. If you were growing up today/just starting out in your career, what barriers/challenges that you faced, do you feel you would not have had to go through because of the world we live in? Well, now because of YouTube and social media, it would have been even easier to get my music out. But early internet did help me by having arigold.com in the 90’s and even myspace! Back in 2005 I worked with a book publisher to get my CD in a coffee table book so that I can get my music out in stores cause there wasn’t any other way except to buy a CD in a store. I also think with artists like Sam Smith, Adam Lambert and viral sensations like Steve Grand, and quite frankly because of the barriers that I worked so hard to break myself, we are more comfortable with the idea of an openly gay artist. Although we still have a huge lack of representation in music. Also, so many more people know that homophobia is wrong thanks to greater representation on TV and such. When I was doing my thing, there really was no one else doing it in the pop world and I still often don’t get the credit for that. It even used to say I was the first American openly gay artist to be out from the beginning of my career on Wikipedia and then someone took it down. It was a whole debate on whether it was true or not. I loved it. I also loved that no one could prove that it wasn’t true.

Sir Ari Gold6. While you hid your sexuality growing up, did you feel you had to hide or play down the fact you were an Orthodox Jew as well? How did being so religious come into play, like, did you sacrifice your religion to work on Shabbat or one of the Jewish holidays? As a kid my parents turned down a lot of work that took place on Shabbat. I remember my Mom taking me on the subway during a holiday for a job, I think it was Sukkoth, and it felt very rebellious and sinful. You can say I received some mixed messages regarding the importance of religion over show business. I did take my Yarmulke off for jobs and tucked in my tzitzit. I was also considered too ethnic to be on camera which you’ll learn about in the show from my actual parents.

7. You've had quite a ride on your journey in pop music. As a kid you were doing child voices for The Cabbage Patch Kids and Jem and the Holograms to performing with Diana Ross & RuPaul. Everything we do in life leads us to where we are, but do you feel there was one thing in particular on your journey that if it did not happen, you would not be where you are? Well I think I’d be a lot further in my career had HBO not stolen my brand with the show Entourage! But I am where I am not because I've ever had a big break or I’ve doing something that made the zeitgeist. It's because I keep working, making music, telling my story and putting it out there and allow it to touch whoever its meant to. It’s what I was put here on earth to do. I’m lucky enough to know that.

8. Now that you are an adult, how do religion and sexuality come into play in your professional life? How do you navigate this business differently than before? I am not religious anymore. That doesn’t mean I don’t have reverence for many of its traditions and rituals. And I also have reverence for breaking the traditional and subverting a ritual. Like wearing teffelin naked in "My Favorite Religion."

9. I'm in the midst of my writing my own one-man show all about my dating life. I feel that show will help release my demons/ghosts of my past relationships. What do you feel writing this show released for you? I realized that I cannot contain my story only in the form of a long form pop record - a form I still love despite a singles driven that’s been going on way too long! Writing and performing this show is Madonna "Blond Amebition level "cathartic" for me every time. I learn so much.

10. What would Ari Gold today tell Ari Gold of yesterday? Yesterday as in Monday? Yesterday as in my 30’s? My 20’s? My teens? My childhood? I’d probably tell them all to forgive myself for the shame and guilt I felt about stuff that was never my fault.

11. I have a new segment in my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now" where I like to clear up misconceptions about people. What do you feel is the biggest misconception out there about you that you would like to shoot down here and now? I was doing a phone interview and this journalist asked me the same question. And then she said, "You know like people who think you’re stuck up." OK, then, I guess people say that! I've read some nasty comments online that I know I shouldn’t read too. But I know how much feedback I get for being a good kind hearted person especially from the people I care most about, so I know what they say about me can’t be true. I’m an Aquarius, so we can be a bit hard to read. RuPaul always says I couldn’t hurt a fly. I hope that’s a compliment!

12. 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? Kindness and appreciation toward my apparent imperfections.

Sir Ari GoldMore on Ari:

Award Winning Billboard Top 10 Recording Artist SIR ARI GOLD was born and raised in an Orthodox Jewish household in the Bronx with his brothers Elon and Steven. His show-business career started at age six when he recorded a CBS Children’s Record Pot Belly Bear: Songs & Stories and made his national TV debut on the Joe Franklin Show. He went on to sing on over 400 TV jingles including voices for characters on Jem and the Holograms, Cabbage Patch Kids, and singing with Diana Ross on her Swept Away album. Ari also recorded many Jewish children’s music like 613 Torah Avenue and Uncle Moishe. He released his eponymous debut album in 2000, receiving critical attention from Billboard, Hits and Vibe for being the first openly gay pop singer who was out in his music from the beginning of his career. He’s toured Europe, Canada and in over 50 cities across the US alongside Chaka Khan, Debbie Harry, and Cyndi Lauper. Ari holds a "Visionary Award" from the LGBT Academy Of Recording Arts and he was Knighted by the Imperial Court Of New York. "Make My Body Rock" from his fourth studio album Between the Spirit & the Flesh debuted at #1 on Logo making him the artist with the most #1’s since the networks launch in 2005. His Billboard Top 10 and #1 Sirius/XM Radio dance hit, "Where The Music Takes You" was voted Logo’s #1 Video of the Year and is the Grand Prize Winner (in all genres) of the 12th Annual USA Songwriting Competition. "I’m All About You" co-written with hitmaker Desmond Child and released by Universal Records saw Ari perform on the legendary Top Of The Pops and gave him another Top 10 hit. Ari’s coffee table book and remix CD, released in 25 countries, includes contributions by Boy George and RuPaul. Ari is an Independent Music Award Winner (Best R&B Song, "Love Wasn’t Built In a Day" featuring Dave Koz), a 2x Outmusic Award Winner, one of the 25 People That Make Us Proud by Metro Source, one of Genre’s Men We Love, and Out Magazine's Out100 Most Influential.