What an honor it is to get to do this new interview with the legendary Luba Mason! I interviewed Luba back in 2012 about her acting when she was starring in NYMF's Who Murdered Love. Now, I am thrilled to have had the chance to sit down with Luba to talk about her other love, music.
In this interview Luba and I discuss the behind-the-scene tales of her newest album Mixtura, a CD featuring a mixture of jazz, world, Americana and shades of Broadway. With three self-penned songs, Luba not only sings her heart and soul out on this CD, but she wrote some pretty terrific songs as well! I can't stop listening to this album! I really loved Luba's special revelation about her time in Broadway's Chicago!
Luba will celebrate the release of Mixtura at The Cutting Room in NYC this Thursday, September 22 at 7:30pm (44 East 32nd Street). Click here fort tickets!
1. This summer you released your latest CD, Mixtura, a mixture of jazz, world, Americana and shades of Broadway. I believe the variety of styles of music on this album is just one of the reasons it's so catchy! What made you decide incorporate these different genres into one album as opposed to sticking to just one kind of music? Did the album title come first or did it come after you saw what this album was becoming? The title came first. I trademarked it three years ago. I came up with the title because I needed a name to describe the kind of music I wanted to play which was ALL types of music. MIXTURA means "a blend of different musical currents." I had folk influences growing up, played classical piano for 12 years, trained classically in voice, listened to pop music, performed on Broadway for over 15 years and was influenced by my Latin husband's music. I was not a product of just performing ONE TYPE music!
2. On this album, you penned three original songs. What do you like about songwriting that you don't get from just singing? Sharing your own personal experiences or feelings. They're not someone else's thoughts or words, they're your own, that you penned yourself.
3. What was the funniest thing that happened during the recording/writing of this album? My producer and I racked our brains trying to think of a title for this album…I finally just said, "Why don't we just call it MIXTURA?? That's what it is!" Duh...
4. On September 22, you are going to celebrate the release of Mixtura at The Cutting Room in NYC. What are you looking forward to most about this concert? What do you love about performing live? I am looking forward to getting everyone from the album on the stage together: the unbelievable horn player Randy Brecker, the talented composer, pianist Vadim Neselovskyi and the ALL FEMALE MARIACHI BAND Flor De Toloache!!!
Performing live is a unique one time experience. You are fed by the energy of the audience!!
5. My favorite song, hands down, is "Freedom." I love the lyrics to this song as well as the melody. The lyrics that particularly struck a chord with me were "Freedom from boundaries. Freedom from expectations..." and then leading into "It's never too late. Never give up on your dreams." Taking these lyrics to heart, how do you keep yourself free from boundaries/expectations that are set either by yourself or others? What is one dream you still want to achieve that you are not giving up on? I wrote FREEDOM as the title song of the album because it tells you exactly what to expect as you continue to listen. No boundaries here, no expectations, just complete freedom in the music…and I keep myself true to these principles by exactly - creating, producing and releasing this album.
I dream to be back on Broadway again.
6. I also really enjoy your version of Van Morrison's "Moondance." I think you did a great job making it your own. Did you have any hesitation interpreting such a well known song in this fresh, new way (a way, mind you, I have never heard anyone else do)? Have you played your rendition of "Moondance" for Van Morrison? If so, what was his reaction? That's exactly why I chose to do "Moondance," I felt I could give it a fresh, new approach. I have not played my rendition of "Moondance" for Van Morrison but knowing that Al Jarreau LOVED the arrangement for the duet was enough for me! BTW - I cover a James Taylor tune on the album called "On The 4th Of July" and it was played for him. He loved it so much he posted it on his FB page!
7. Another song you completely redid and made your own was "All That Jazz" from Broadway's Chicago. When you decided to record this song, what made you want to give this iconic song such a fresh spin? In recording this song, did it evoke any memories of your time starring in Chicago on Broadway? If so, what were those memories? If it didn't, when you sing this song, what do you remember about your time in Chicago? The title is "All That JAZZ" so I really wanted to make it into a JAZZY song. Otherwise it really isn't. Because I have such an extensive background on Broadway, I really like to incorporate some Broadway songs into my repertoire but again, with a fresh, new spin.
My memories of CHICAGO on Broadway were so satisfying! It was seven years since I was last on Broadway before that so it felt like home to be back. The other exciting thing was being coached by Ann Reinking for the show. She was the reason I wanted to be on Broadway when I first saw her in DANCIN'. I came full circle...
8. I found myself most emotional listening to "Hannah," a song about the sexual abuse of a girl by her father and living with a mother who knew what was happening, but stayed silent. Yet, through all of this, the young girl and her sister vow to marry, have kids of their own, and break the cycle of abuse. What is the story behind this import song? What made you go, "I need to put this out there because it will help others?" I know the album has only been out a few months, but in that time, have you heard from any fans about this song helping them? I wrote the song because I have a couple of people very close to me who went through this experience. And not too many people write songs about sexual incest so I felt it was an important message to put out there and be heard. Many people comment about the song after my performance and a conversation starts. That's how it begins. A conversation just needs to be started. It helps the healing process...
9. You also did a terrific job with "Last Snowfall." It's such a great story song...looking back on a relationship that didn't work out. When you've had a relationship not work out, how did you get through the heartache? When the "Last Snowfall" comes every winter, do you still think about this lost love as intensely or is it now more just a passing thought? I wrote this song about my father who passed away last year. The memories, the longing of wanting him back and how he is missed. Interesting how it can also be interpreted as a relationship that didn't work out...
10. My last question is about your song "Beautiful." In this song, the woman you sing about, is so tired of doing everything for everyone, she just wants to do something for herself. That leads into my favorite lyric "Once I started doing everything for everybody else, I wanted to do something for me, I wanted to be beautiful." When was there a time in your life you just had to take a step back and focus on Luba because you were doing everything for others and neglecting yourself? When I divorced my first husband!
Vocalist Luba Mason is "a powerfully emotional song interpreter" (All Music Guide), blessed with "a celestial voice" (Los Angeles Times). The classically trained singer, pianist, dancer and actor who was nominated for the prestigious 2015 DRAMA DESK and LUCILLE LORTEL theater awards as "Best Featured Actress in a Musical," also has an impressive Broadway pedigree that really knocks you out with not only her stunning vocal range but also her extraordinary versatility as a performer. Luba is beyond category.
A native New Yorker born in Astoria, Queens and first generation American of Slovak descent, Luba grew up in a bi-lingual household, Slovak being her first language. She started classical piano at age five and continued for 12 more years while singing in several church choirs prompted by her piano teacher after discovering her talent for singing at the end of a piano lesson. Becoming ever more interested in singing, Luba began to study voice with teachers from The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music recommended by her older sister who was studying opera there. Having sights on Broadway, Luba was later accepted to Circle in the Square Theatre School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in DRAMA. Straight out of school, Luba was plucked by Tommy Tune to sing and dance on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning "THE WILL ROGER’S FOLLIES." She went on to impress director Trevor Nunn, who cast her in the American premiere of "SUNSET BLVD." But it was director/impresario Des McAnuff who placed Luba front and center as sex bomb "Hedy LaRue" next to Matthew Broderick’s "J. Pierpont Finch" in the celebrated first Broadway revival of "HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS…." Featured roles in Paul Simon’s "THE CAPEMAN" and opposite the legendary comedian Sid Caesar in "SID CAESAR & CO" preceded Luba’s return to center stage as she starred in the Broadway production of "JEKYLL & HYDE" and then, as "Velma Kelly" oppositeBrooke Shield’s "Roxy Hart" in the smash musical "CHICAGO." Tapped by Rubén Blades (her cast mate in "THE CAPEMAN") as a guest vocalist for his 2003 Grammy Award-winning CD "MUNDO," Luba's seamless segue from the New York stage to the Hollywood scene, gave her a chance to tackle dramatic roles in guest-starring parts on "PERSON OF INTEREST," "FOREVER," "LAW & ORDER," "NYPD BLUE," "NEW YORK UNDERCOVER," and opposite Jeff Goldblum in the psychic detective series, "RAINES."
As a recording artist, Luba has released three critically–acclaimed albums: COLLAGE (PS Classics), a beautiful marriage of Latin, pop, jazz and poetry; KRAZY LOVE, (Sunnyside Records), "Exquisite, Seductive, Saudade" - (Sting), where Luba debuts her impressive songwriting skills executing a cool, Brazilian mood with an intimate acoustic sound, featuring bassist Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets), Renato Neto (Prince), world renowned flautist Hubert Laws and her husband - 14 time Grammy Winner Rubén Blades. Luba's new release, MIXTURA, features a new musical format she has trademarked: MIXTURA® - "a blend of different musical currents." The record was produced by Jimmy Haslip and Luba with guests Al Jarreau, Randy Brecker, Dori Caymmi, Kenny Loggins, Vadim Neselovskyi and others. The CD is released by Kobalt Music.
Having toured the US and abroad, Luba has been a featured performer at the PANAMA JAZZ FESTIVAL opening for Wayne Shorter, Danilo Perez and Chucho Valdez and has headlined HAVANA, CUBA’S 40TH INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL as well as COSTA RICA’S INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL. In the U.S., she has performed sold out shows at LA’s famed CATALINA BAR & GRILL, YOSHI’S in Oakland, the BLUE NOTE in N.Y., BLUES ALLEY in D.C., WORLD CAFÉ in Philadelphia and the REGATTA BAR in Boston. She has also headlined at VIBRATO and the CINEGRILL in L.A., DIZZY’S COCA COLA, FEINSTEIN’S, BIRDLAND, B.B. KINGS, IRIDIUM and THE METROPOLITAN ROOM in N.Y. In 2015 Luba and her husband performed together on stage at RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL in Paul Simon's sold out benefit for the "Children's Health Fund's 25th Anniversary" alongside Mr. Simon, Edie Brickell, Sting, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder and numerous other luminaries. Last November, Luba joined her husband at JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER with Wynton Marsalis and his band in one of the highlights of the evening singing Otis Blackwell’s "Fever."