"Call Me Adam" chats with seven-time MAC Award, Backstage Bistro Award and Nightlife Award Winner Natalie Douglas about her concert at Birdland in NYC Hello Dolly: The Music of Dolly Parton this Monday, September 15 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets!
Natalie honors another notably-buxom performer: the beloved singer, actor, songwriter and Broadway composer. Fans can expect to hear songs that Dolly wrote such as "Jolene," "Coat of Many Colors," and "I Just Might" from the Broadway musical 9 to 5, in addition to numbers that Dolly creatively covered like Neil Young’s "After The Gold Rush" and Led Zeppelin’s "Stairway to Heaven." Birdland is located at (315 West 44th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue).
1. On September 15, you are presenting Hello Dolly: The Music of Dolly Parton at Birdland in NYC. What made you want to showcase a whole show of Dolly Parton music? Like millions of other fans, I have LOVED Dolly Parton for decades. Since hearing me sing "Jolene" in one of my Birdland concerts back in 2005, Jim Caruso, who’s not only the Broadway @ Birdland impresario, but also a talented entertainer himself, has been asking me when I was gonna sing an entire evening of Dolly music. Recently, there have been a few happy coincidences - I was asked to sing in a Dolly revue, someone sent me a link to Tori Amos' "Jolene" cover, heard someone calling his dog named, "Jolene" - the song seemed to be following me around. Seems like the world is having a Dolly Moment...so I wanted to play along!
2. How did you decide which songs you wanted to include? That's a long story and a short one at the same time...hmmmmm, guess the best way to put it is I try to figure out what best tells the overall story of the concert, plus what songs I REALLY want to sing. That probably seems obvious, but it can be tricky - sometimes a tune I wanted to sing months ago or a tune that seems like the perfect fit, isn't what I want to sing right now - and I've learned the hard way, the best shows are born of what I truly want to say. Also, any tune that makes me cry - that's in!
3. What made you want to do this show at Birdland? Why is Birdland the perfect venue for you to perform at? I've worked a zillion of clubs and they all have things to recommend them, but Birdland has been my NYC concert home for 10 years this month. Ever since my dear friend, Jim Caruso debuted his Broadway @ Birdland series there in June 2004, he, the owner, Gianni Valenti, and the entire brilliant Birdland staff make it a joy to come to play that room! Not only does the room have a truly legendary status, it's run beautifully and it's a thrill to stand on that stage every time! This will be my 28th solo performances at Birdland - it's a room that's all about the music!
4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing this concert? That's an easy one! I hope they have a really GOOD time! I always do scads of research and scour the archives to try to find good stories & good songs, so that each audience member might discover something new about these artists or these tunes or themselves (I really hope they're moved!), but ultimately, in addition to my being a serious history/social studies/culture/politics/trivia geek, I'm out to have a blast & the audience is invited to come along with me! I feel "joined at the soul" with my audience, so I hope they walk away feeling that too!
5. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Joe Williams & my Uncle Beau. My parents took me to hear live music often when I was small. One night, seeing the Count Basie orchestra, I watched Joe Williams come out on stage, begin to sing the verse of Ellington's, "Something to Live For," and completely captivate the audience - not a sound in that hall! I decided I wanted to do that. Make that particular kind of magic.
Also, one of my earliest memories is sitting on my Uncle Beau's lap whilst he played piano. He'd place my tiny hands on the back of his hands and play anything he'd every heard without a leaf of sheet music. I adored him, my mother's brother, and felt as though we communicated perfectly even though he had some difficulties in the outside world and rarely left the facility in which he lived. I thought back on it as I got older & realized how music - the piano & the radio - were his way of making connection. I've always felt so glad he let me into his world.
6. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Oh that's so hard! So many of my Number One choices are no longer with us, (Nina Simone, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Joe Williams) which is the main reason I hope for an afterlife...that would be one cool club in which to hang out.
7. What's the best advice you’ve ever received? Say, "Yes." One of my favorite acting professors in college reminded us how important it is. It's taken me years to really hear what she meant, but since I've started living that way, my life & career have gotten even more enjoyable!
8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? I'm still learning it, but I work every day to find the right amount of "me" in my work - actors can be rather self-obsessed, which is understandable - we are our instrument, but connecting with an audience, other musicians & the people who populate the world around you is the point of what we do, so that ego really needs to get out of the way. It's a balancing act & I feel as if I'm always learning to dance that tightrope.
9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? As a long time Doctor Who fan, I have to go with a combo power - I'd be an absolute darling Time Lord! You'd have, the Power of Regeneration, Super Intelligence, Time Travel, Universal Language & Teleportation. That would be soooooooo totally groovy & also, reduce one's carbon footprint! I mean, I just assume a TARDIS operates green! :-)
10. If you could be an original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? Pineapple, duh.
11. How do you want to be remembered? Well, I'm not planning to go anywhere for a long time (for example, I think it would be fun to stick around for Birdland's 100th birthday party in 2049!), but sometime in the next century say after I pass on, I'd love to be thought of as kind, funny, smart & good at what I do.
Natalie Douglas is a seven-time MAC Award, Backstage Bistro Award and Nightlife Award Winner – has garnered rave reviews for her unique mix of jazz, blues, standards, pop, folk and country music blended together. Most recently, she received the 2014 Margaret Whiting Award at Carnegie Hall from the Mabel Mercer Foundation.
Her recent performances include concerts across the U.S. (Carnegie Hall, Birdland, Café Carlyle, and The Appel Room – formerly The Allen Room – at Lincoln Center) and across three continents (Montenegro, Greece, Corsica, Puerto Vallarta, London, Buenos Aires, Cancun & Germany.) In a Greenwich Village tradition, she also performs an annual New Year’s Eve collaboration with Mark Hartman at the Duplex. Her solo recordings include her debut CD, Not That Different – which was nominated for a 2000 MAC Award for Outstanding Recording – and To Nina...Live At Birdland, (a concert recording of her one-woman show, To Nina: A Tribute to Nina Simone) Both CDs, available at iTunes and other outlets, continue to be featured on NPR and Sirius XM Radio. She also appears on Fine and Dandy for PS Classics and Broadway By The Year: 1940 on Bayview Records.
Natalie is also an actress and is featured in feature film The Camera’s Eye, has appeared on ABC’s Cupid and many theatrical productions, including The People vs. Mona, Thalia Follies, theATrainplays (series 5-22) with The Neighborhood Playhouse, Hillside in Hell with 13th Street Rep and was a featured soloist at the York Theatre Company’s benefit production of Children Of Eden at Riverside Church.