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The past few months have been filled with so much music and so much collaboration and it makes me smile more than I can tell you. I’ve always known that music played a huge part in who I am but more and more, I’m finding that the part it plays really does orchestrate my life.

Morning, noon and night I hum, sing, listen to and think of music. I don’t tend to lean toward any one genre, but have a “melting pot” theory of listening. Anything that comes into my head, I listen to. SIMPLE! One song leads me to another. One lyric reminds me of another.

In September, when I began work on “This Love I Know” with my musical director, Lawrence “Larry” Yurman, I started by putting together a playlist of Love songs in my computer…some 300 songs and from there narrowed it down to about 30 songs which is when the real work began. Daily, I listened to each song and tried to find a place for them. When I couldn’t find a fit for any song, I erased it from the list and moved on until I got the list down to 17 songs. BINGO! Just the right amount of songs for a show!

Larry and I sang through songs every week, finding the best keys and how we could change certain songs and keep others as straight-forward as they were written. Somehow we seemed to be on the same page with practically everything.

The first song of the show came to me while on a flight to Washington, DC. I was listening to that playlist and Ella Fitzgerald’s arrangement of “Hooray For Love” came on. I knew immediately that it was how the show would start and soon after that, “It’s Gotta Be Love” and “All The Things You Are” found their places in the opening medley. Whew! One down…45 more minutes of music to go.

The next several months went along so smoothly that I began to think it was a little too easy. The only song that had a last minute removal was “I Won’t Dance”. I just didn’t seem to be a fit for what and where the show wanted to live.

Next step, what to wear? Easy. Timelessly classic and chic. Traditional but sexy. I wanted it to be a mix of what this genre knows with an infusion of me. Tailored black suit, perfectly fitted white shirt, no tie, two buttons undone and dark green patent leather loafers. Done!

Next step, other musicians. I knew there had to be percussion and after seeing Miss Marilyn Maye onstage with her trio, I also knew there had to be a bass. I had the good fortune to have both Damien Bassman and Mark Vanderpoel say yes. The trio for the show was complete. I knew they’d be amazing, now I just had to learn all of the lyrics.  There is nothing worse than having an audience filled with lovers of the American Songbook and see them cringe as you destroy the lyrics to some of our greatest tunes. So learn them I did…I learned them well. One verse or one full song a day until I could recite each lyric of the show from beginning to end. Many nights I was doing just that at 2am. The thought of the songs excited me and kept me wide awake. Every lyric had to make sense and tell the story. No paraphrasing…the lyrics needed to be perfect.

Next step, when do you speak and what do you say? I knew that I wanted to “patter” to be as genuine as possible and not feel scripted, so I waited until the very last minute to really nail down what I would say. I gave Larry cues for music entrances which made me HAVE to stick to them. I had the idea for the form of the show about a month before the event but it was all put together on Monday before my Thursday debut.

I don’t think I would advise this for everyone nor would I advise everyone to approach this without using a director. However, I knew exactly what I wanted the show to be…I wanted it to feel like a true extension of me and I didn’t want a director to hamper that in any way. Plus I’ve worked with enough directors, good and bad, to know what works and I’ve seen other artists perform and knew what I wanted the show to accomplish.

I had a great deal of help on the show from Larry Yurman with music and with Tripp Hanson as my sounding board for ideas. Thanks to them both for everything!

Here’s the review from Stephen Holden from The NY Times: