Thursday, June 9, 2011

Happy Birthday, Marcus Simeone and Celebrating Valerie Lemon!

""You never find yourself until you face the truth."
-Pearl Bailey (1918-1990)

Happy Thursday!

We are in the midst of a freakish late spring heat wave here in NY. They are expecting temperatures to rise to almost 100 today! And, why not, it's Marcus Simeone's birthday! So today, I would like to honor Marcus Simeone. We've known each other approximately 11 years. He continues to make great music. We've appeared together several times including singing a duet of "YOU'LL NEVER GET AWAY FROM ME" in Bob Ost's "WAR OF THE MAMA ROSES".
We also appeared together in an infamous AIDS benefit in Minneapolis several years ago hosted by Bruce Vilanch and also co-starring Mark Nadler and Karen Saunders.


Marcus won yet another MAC AWARD this year! This time with Tracy Stark. They won for their song, "HAUNTED"

Since his sensational cabaret debut in January of 2000, Marcus has emerged as one of the most celebrated singers to grace the stages of Manhattan's nightclubs since the days of Streisand and the Bon Soir.
Universally regarded for his heart-wrenching interpretations of ballads, red-hot jazz sensibility, and powerful pop flair, Simeone's musical genius is in evidence on his original material as well. Earlier in his career, this native of Brooklyn appeared on the original Star Search as well as Showtime at The Apollo.

You know you can cut it when critics can't agree on whether you sound more like Bobby Darin or Tony Bennett.
"When Marcus Simeone first came on the scene some years ago, a lot of people were taken with his voice—as was I. Pure, lovely, and ethereal, it is quite a striking instrument. However, I found his approach and sensibilities lounge-y, with too much emphasis placed on producing sounds, rather than on content or meaning.
Over the ensuing years, I have seen him perform many times, and I was pleased to see growth. A turning point came a few years back, when his show included several interpretations that were dramatically grounded and free of extraneous embellishment. Most notable of these was "Strange Fruit," Abel Meeropol's chilling song about the lynching of blacks in the American South. Simeone's rendition was compelling."
Roy Sander, See Full Review HERE

Both a singer and a songwriter, Marcus has been performing in NYC metropolitan area bands, with orchestras on both U.S. coasts, and as a solo act, for the past 16 years. His haunting, multi-octave voice has been compared to many greats, including Al Jarreau, Marc Anthony, and Johnny Mathis. Simeone cites among his greatest inspirations Jane Olivor
and Phyllis Hyman.

After having staged nearly a dozen distinct shows, Marcus has received multiple awards from the Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs and Back Stage among his many accolades. He has also been invited to perform at the annual Mabel Mercer Cabaret Convention, representing today's scene, numerous times.

Simeone's eagerly awaited second live CD, Everything Must Change was released in April of 2010. The album showcases the various musical styles he has perfected including a demanding song list that includes R & B/Pop tunes as diverse as "Many Rivers To Cross," "A Change Is Gonna Come" and "Everything Must Change." His voice soars with ease through some classic and rarely heard tunes that also includes "Since You Stayed Here" and "There'll Be Some Changes Made Today." All the electricity that sparked his most exciting show to date has been captured on the new live album. Musical director Barry Levitt heads the trio.

His new show includes "Strange Fruit," and his performance remains strong-though a few words are not clearly delivered (easy to correct). There are other good turns, especially with a couple of comic Janis Ian songs: "Married in London," a cute and pointed comment on the geographically varying legality of gay marriage, and "Autobiography," a shameless celebration of oneself."
Roy Sander
Happy Birthday, Marcus!

As I've mentioned before, I always having music surrounding me.
I truly believe there would be no violence in the world if everyone began each day with a show tune! When I got up this AN, I grabbed two cds. One to download into my Ipod (I currently have over 6,000!) and one to listen to for inspiration as I write this blog. The two cds this AM happened to be Valerie Lemon's. I'm downloading Valerie;s "JANE FROMAN SONGBOOK" By the way, a cabaret show that I still cherish! One of the best!! I'm listening to "THE WAY OF THE HEART". What a great cd!
In the liner notes, Valerie writes, "Knowing that our hearts journeys begin at birth, perhaps even conception, I was surprised that I became acutely aware of mine one night while watching a friend perform. It seemed, sitting there in the dark, that the two halves of me collided: the 17 year-old girl, who years before had come to New York City and had the honor of being the vocalist, in concert, with the incredible Marvin Hamlish; and the active mother and wife, who for the last decade has been a perfectly happy woman."
I get it Valarie! This happens to me EVERY TIME I am sitting in a darkened room watching an artist at work. All of these singers and artists that I write about are my mentors. When I first started out in this business, my mfirst mentor, when I was 13, told me that every time I walk out on stage, I am carrying the mantle of ALL of those who have gone before me. I still hold on to that and when I go to be entertained, I'm also going to be a student. A student of life and a student of the arts.

Valerie Lemon can be described
as nothing short of incandescent.
- Thomas Pileggi The Actor’s Fund

VALERIE LEMON has performed across the United States as concert soloist for Academy Award-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch.
Her twelve-year association with Mr. Hamlisch also resulted in a solo corporate industrial act which he wrote for her and which she has performed to great acclaim in venues around the globe. Her client list has included, among others, Starlight International, AT&T, Coca-Cola, and Gulf Life.
Valerie made her New York City cabaret debut with the sold-out run of her solo show, The Way of the Heart, and returned with her triumphant tribute to the legendary Jane Froman, The Jane Froman Songbook: A Song in My Heart.
Successful runs at Mama Rose and Helen’s Hideaway have been followed by engagements the Sheldon Center (St. Louis), the Music Conservatory of Westchester, and the 2005 Summer Concert Series in Pelham, NY, sponsored by Senator Jeffery Klein.
A three-year veteran of the Mabel Mercer Cabaret Convention (2003-2006), Valerie has also entertained audiences at the Hamptons Cabaret Convention, the 92nd Street Y Lyrics & Lyricists Series (Women of Rhyme and Song) and as a special guest of Andrea Marcovicci
, at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel.
She recently returned to the 92nd Street Y in A Tribute to Mabel Mercer: The Words Came First with KT Sullivan
, Jeff Harner, Craig Rubano (seen in this clip from THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL)
and Lumiri Tubo and narrated by Donald Smith. Also a special, by-popular-demand, extension of The Jane Froman Songbook at NYC’s Helen’s Hideaway. In addition, she is already hard at work with her collaborator, Eric Michael Gillett, on a brand-new songbook project and bringing her Jane Froman show to symphony orchestras.

Valerie Lemon’s voice, and smile, puts
an audience in the palm of her hand.
- Marvin Hamlisch

The Jane Froman Songbook: “A Song in My Heart”
Dawn Productions

Tributes to singers are tricky. This one keeps things simple in that "less is more" credo with the performer just getting the gist of her subject’s style, not attempting an out-and-out imitation. The spoken biographical information is tightly scripted, too. The accompaniment is nothing elaborate either, just piano and bass.
Check out Valerie the next time she is appearing anywhere! You'll thank me!

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Richard Skipper,

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