Friday, September 19, 2014

Interview with Jane Monheit

Singer Jane Monheit will appear October 19 at the Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills singing the jazz of Judy Garland. Her latest CD - there are 9 - is called the heart of the matter (cover pictured above). Since high school, she has been dazzling audiences world-wide with her beautiful multi-ranged voice. For a young singer to concentrate on jazz and the classics is in itself quite extraordinary in this day and age. Monheit graduated with a BA from the Manhattan School of Music winning many prizes and is a two-time Grammy nominee. She is married to drummer Rick Montalbano Jr. and has one little boy.

What stimulated you to want to become a professional singer?

     I grew up with this music, and my entire family, everybody loves to sing. So, my singing was encouraged from the time I was a little thing, and my family played all this great music for me all the time.

Did you go to Broadway shows all the time?

     Oh yeah, they took me to see everything. From the time I was tiny, I've been on this path.

Do you have any favorite memories from your teen years?

     The Broadway shows were highlights of my childhood. Growing up on Long Island, I was able to see everything. I'll never forget, my first Broadway show was Into the Woods.  I loved Phantom of the Opera. 

Have you ever sung Christine in Phantom?

     Oh, well,  along with the CD over and over again. (she laughs)

You should, because you definitely could. Of your nine best-selling albums, did you aim to create a particular variety of styles?

     I grew up with almost every genre of music going on at once, from jazz to theatre to folk music. My dad's a bluegrass musician, who plays the banjo. It just felt like the most natural thing for me to reflect all these styles in my albums from the time I started. I never thought much about it; I just did what felt right.

Is jazz your favorite genre?

     I suppose. I don't really have a favorite. I love doing all of it. I really do.

Do you have a favorite singer?  

     The favorite of all time is Ella Fitzgerald. The thing about Ella is not only did she have technical prowess that was completely unmatched, but she sang the lyrics with so much love and joy and could break your heart and totally warm it at the same time. She had this magical quality of communicating so sincerely while never sacrificing the technical aspect.

Judy Garland. I can't wait to hear you sing these songs on October 19. You haven't recorded this show. Is it a new show?

     I've done it all over the place, but I haven't done it in Los Angeles yet. It's brand new for LA but I've been touring it around the country. The two major places I haven't hit yet are LA and New York. Garland is my first hero. I think it's that way for most of us who love to sing. We all love Judy, and I just have always been very drawn to her and her way of communicating. She loved jazz so much and was so swinging when she sang that I thought it would be an interesting idea to celebrate that side of her in a show rather than rehashing all the drama.

Which songs of hers will you be performing?

     A lot of the songs she recorded for Decca. Like "That Old Black Magic", "Stompin' at the Savoy", stuff like that that is known as jazz repertoire, but were songs that she performed and loved.

What is different about audiences in Europe and the US from your experience?

     People are very serious about jazz in other parts of the world. Here in the states you get a lot of sincere fans but you also get people who just want to go out to a jazz club because they think it's cool and they've seen it in the movies and they're on their phone the whole time. (she laughs) In Europe the audiences seem to be very very serious about the music.

More sophisticated, like people in New York will always point to a lack of sophistication in LA. Do you notice that?

     No, not at all. I've always had amazing audiences in LA. We've played a ton in Los Angeles; it's a second home to us.

Do you have any goal to achieve that you feel you haven't as of yet?

     I'd love to make a Broadway album one of these days. I'd love to make a big band album. There are some things I'd still like to do.

Jane Monheit performs Hello Bluebird
Celebrating the Jazz of Judy Garland
October 19, 2014

Doors 6pm.  Show 9:00pm.

$25 / $35 / $40 / 445 / $75 + applicable fees

Under 18 Must Be Accompanied by a Paying Adult

                                                      (photo credit: Timothy Saccenti)

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