Call Redialed: NEW Ann Hampton Callaway: The Linda Ronstadt Songbook at Feinstein's/54 Below
Getting to interview one legendary singer about another legendary singer was quite the honor at Feinstein's/54 Below's press day as Ann Hampton Callaway & I discussed the world premiere of her newest show The Linda Ronstadt Songbook.
I don't think there is anyone else who could bring a show like this to life. Ann's voice is a gift to us all and hearing her sing "Somewhere Out There" during this press preview was a moment I will always remember! Ann has done her homework in learning the ins and out of Linda's life & music. This show is going to be something very special.
This show celebrates the many faces of love in Linda Ronstadt’s iconic songs from her Stone Poney Days like “Different Drum” and "Long Long Time” to pop/rock classics like “You’re No Good” and “Desperado” to unforgettable classics from her three Nelson Riddle albums like “What’s New” and “Am I Blue” to her iconic duets which Ann will perform with her brilliant MD, Billy Stritch. Adding to the electrifying sound is Martin Wind on bass, Tim Horner on drums, and Linda’s long time guitarist and arranger, Bob Mann. Romantic, rousing, and joyous, The Linda Ronstadt Songbook promises to be the perfect night of music.
I'm thrilled to be able to share with you this in-depth, behind-the-scenes interview...
The Linda Ronstadt Songbook will play Feinstein's/54 Below on September 19, 21, 22 at 7pm. Click here for tickets!
1. This September is the world premiere of your new show The Linda Ronstadt Songbook at Feinstein's/54 Below. What made you want to perform a show of Linda's music? I have a real passion for women who have inspired me. I feel a connection to Linda because she has always followed her heart and has gone in so many interesting directions. She's a real renaissance woman. She has been so successful with every type of music she's done and has performed with so many different people. She's a kindred spirit.
My wonderful wife, Kari, who's from Tuscan, AZ where Linda is from said to me, "You should do this show" and I just felt, "Why haven't I done this show?" One of the reasons is because I don't really sing a lot of rock 'n' roll or country music kind of things. I sing Nelson Riddle type of Great American Songbook and I thought I might center the show more around that, but now that I'm delving into her pop songs, I'm really falling in love with them and with what's happening to me when I'm singing them.
I think this is going to be very exciting for my fans and friends to see a different part of my musicality. Getting to know Linda personally over the past year has been a breathtaking experience. She's a beautiful human being and to have this much grace and dignity especially during a time when she can no longer sing is remarkable. Performing this show is my way of saying thanks to Linda.
2. One thing I do find interesting, and we don't have to talk about it if you don't want to, but like you mentioned, Linda can no longer sing anymore and last year you had a a little scare...Yes, as a matter of fact, that's when I was starting to get to know her. I thought to myself, "This is really ironic that I'm putting myself in her shoes literally."
Not only could I not speak for two months, my doctor literally told me, "I"m not sure you'll ever sing again." So, I have this new relationship with music as I've been given a new gift to continue to sing. Every time you have a heartbreaking experience, it deepens your soul. So, there is a very poignant aspect to this show on many levels.
I'm going to try to use my gift that I've been re-given to honor Linda and the beautiful music she has done through the years. She's one of our country's most beloved and important singers. I think she deserves to be celebrated in a big fashion.
3. Which song did you know that you wanted to include right away? Well, there were so many songs. "Somewhere Out There" was definitely one of them because it allowed me to sing with Billy Stritch, who is one of my favorite people and musicians, and "Don't Know Much" is going to be a lot of fun to do together. "Heart Like a Wheel" is an incredibly beautiful song. She was also a ballad singer and I'm all about the ballads, so I'm looking forward to doing "What's New" I've never performed that song before. The three albums she did with Nelson Riddle were just amazing, so I'm excited to sing some of those songs.
4. What song just didn't make the cut? You know, I'm still creating the show, but there are so many songs I'd like to do....I'd like to do "Sorry Her Lot" from The Pirates of Penzance, which Linda performed on Broadway. I'm ultimately looking to have this as a two-act show.
I'm premiering the two-act version with the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra in November, so I'm going to get to do more songs and have that beautiful backing. It's going to be a lot of fun.
5. Well, I love that you just performed "Somewhere Out There." That was mine & my mom's favorite song growing up. I even got a little choked up as you were singing it. You made it sound like whole new song, yet you know who sang it originally, yet you gave it your own spin to it....And that's the beauty of doing a tribute show. You don't want to sound like the person that you're honoring. You want to find your own voice and what do these songs mean to you. Not only do they have the meaning in my life now, but I want to go back to that time in my life when I first heard her sing that song and discover where was I then and where have I come from.
There's a real poetic feeling to singing "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" now that the #MeToo movement is going. Linda was there in the '60s singing a song about an issue nobody else was touching at the time. She had the courage to talk about it.
If you read her autobiography she has a lot to say. There's a lot more to Linda Ronstadt than people might know. I'm looking forward to sharing that with my audiences.
Unfortunately we had to wrap up our interview, but be sure to go see Ann Hampton Callaway perform The Linda Ronstadt Songbook at Feinstein's/54 Below on September 19, 21, 22 all at 7pm. Click here for tickets!
More on Ann:
Ann Hampton Callaway is one of the leading champions of the great American Songbook, having made her mark as a singer, pianist, composer, lyricist, arranger, actress, educator, TV host and producer. Voted recently by Broadwayworld.com as "Performer of the Year" Ann is a born entertainer. Her unique singing style that blends jazz and traditional pop, making her a mainstay in concert halls, theaters and jazz clubs as well as in the recording studio, on television, and in film. She is best known for Tony-nominated performance in the hit Broadway musical Swing! and for writing and singing the theme song to the hit TV series The Nanny. Ann is a Platinum Award winning writer whose songs are featured on seven of Barbra Streisand's recent CD's. The only composer to have collaborated with Cole Porter, she has also written songs with Carole King, Rolf Lovland and Barbara Carroll to name a few.
Ann's live performances showcase her warmth, spontaneous wit and passionate delivery of standards, jazz classics and originals. She is one of America's most gifted improvisers, taking words and phrases from her audiences and creating songs on the spot, whether alone at a piano or with a symphony orchestra. Ann has been a special guest performer with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood and is featured at many of the Carnegie Hall tributes. She has sung with more than thirty of the world's top orchestras and big bands, and has performed for President Clinton in Washington, D.C. and at President Gorbachev's Youth Peace Summit in Moscow. Ann performed with her sister, Broadway star Liz Callaway, in their award-winning show Sibling Revelry at London's Donmar Warehouse. Their act Boom!, a critically acclaimed celebration of the baby boomer hits of the 60's and 70's, was recorded on PS Classics which debuted in the top 25 on Billboard Jazz. Ann was featured in the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade telecast watched by six million people singing Emmy Award winning song "Yes, Virginia." She took the symphony world by storm with her latest show The Streisand Songbook which she premiered with The Boston Pops and continues to tour with top orchestras across the country. After performing the show at 54 Below, she garnered two Broadwayworld.com Awards and the 2013 MAC Award for Show of the Year.
Ann's latest recordings have both met great critical acclaim - The Sarah Vaughan Project: Live at Dizzy's in 2014 and The Hope of Christmas in 2015. She is featured on her sister Liz Callaway's holiday EP Merry and Bright as well as Arbor's Records CD Johnny Mandel: the Man and His Music. Her recent solo CD's At Last, Blues in the Night, Slow and Signature have received rave reviews as well. She has recorded two popular holiday CD's - Holiday Pops! With Peter Nero and the Philly Pops, and her solo CD, This Christmas. Ann's other recordings include Easy Living, To Ella with Love, After Ours, Bring Back Romance, Ann Hampton Callaway, and the award-winning live recording Sibling Revelry. Ann has also been a guest performer on more than forty CD's including Kenny Barron's latest CD The Traveler.
Ann's dream of working in film, TV and radio has been realized in several recent projects. She made her feature film debut opposite Angelina Jolie and Matt Damon in the Robert De Niro film THE GOOD SHEPHERD, performing the standard "Come Rain or Come Shine". She recorded "Isn't It Romantic?" and "The Nearness of You" in Wayne Wong's LAST HOLIDAY, starring Queen Latifah. Ann wrote songs for the movie musical STATE OF AFFAIRS, directed by Philip McKinley. And, as a part of her mission to keep the American Songbook thriving, she has produced and hosted two TV specials called Singer's Spotlight With Ann Hampton Callaway with guests Liza Minnelli and Christine Ebersole for WTTW National which dovetails into her highly anticipated radio series This is Cabaret.
Ann devotes much of her time to philanthropic causes, both as a singer performing in numerous benefits, and as a songwriter composing songs in times of need. In September 2005, Ann performed her original composition "Let the Saints Come Marching", written to honor Hurricane Katrina victims, on a national TV broadcast on the Fox News Channel. Her song "Who Can See the Blue the Same Again?" was released earlier in 2005 as a single, paying tribute to the tsunami survivors and raising much needed money for The Tsunami Fund of The PRASAD Project. In the aftermath of September 11th, Ann composed the stirring anthem, "I Believe in America", which she performed on Larry King Live and released as a CD single. Just days after the tragedy, Ann heard an 8,000 year old prayer from the Rig Veda and composed the world renowned "Let Us Be United". Ann recorded the song with Kenny Werner, The Siddha Yoga International Choir and five-year-old Sonali Beaven, who sang in honor of her father who lost his life on Flight 93. It was released on CD and DVD and its proceeds continue to benefit Save the Children and The PRASAD Project.