Friday, March 16, 2012

Tom Vaughn!

"Molly sure knew what she was doing when she painted the room red, it helps to hide the blood" - from the "Unsinkable Molly Brown"

Happy Friday!

It is a foggy day here in New York. Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. The weather people are promising springlike weather. 
Spring officially arrives next week. We have been spoiled here in New York. It has been a very mild winter. A drastic change from last winter! Next week will be in the mid to upper 70s! Flowers are blooming everywhere. And there are new cabaret artists on the horizon as well. The subject of my blog today is a prime example. 
He was brought to my attention by Raissa Katona Bennett. 
So, today I'm celebrating Tom Vaughn.

The first show Tom saw as a kid was a country show with his parents in Pigeon Forge Tennessee, featuring the cast of Hee Haw including the Hager Twins (whom he had a crush on but couldn't admit to) Archie Campbell, Roy Clark and Buck Owens.  

Tom's desire is to make a living or spend as much time doing what he truly loves to do in the "zone".  When he does his own recording of his original music in his home studio and mix, hours literally fly by without his knowledge and he's in the "zone".  If that includes being a star then sprinkle his stardust across the night sky. 
Tom has learned about building relationships in this business. 
To quote Hillary Clinton (not that he ever thought he would) it takes a village.  You learn in the corporate world that you NEVER stop networking because the corporate world is always changing.  It's easy to get into your own shell and stay entirely focused on you as an entertainer.  But as in the corporate world you must NEVER stop networking as an entertainer because we ALL need each other's talents - in recommending us for other theatrical productions, in helping with or being in our own productions, in creating concepts, in executing the best product, in directing the project, etc.  This is a business - the same rules apply to a singer, dancer, songwriter, actress, actor, producer as they do to a CEO, Manager, Coordinator, Administrator, etc. 
Your thoughts on Arts in Education
 It seems as though in today's society the arts are treated as an added value, not a primary source of eduction and is often a first considered for budget cuts which is entirely nuts.  I know for a fact that musical theory is a very highly advanced mathematical study having taken courses in college.  The arts are the biggest proponent for teaching perspective, creativity and emphasizes the power of diversity.
After all, it was Claude Debussy who did not resolve the leading tone in many of his compositions which was totally against the rules of harmonic progression during his era yet he brought to light a new form of expression and advancement of music which can be felt to this day.
Have you ever felt like you were born in the wrong era? 
What other period of time do you relate to and why?
 Totally.  I've often felt like more of a legitimate singer that would have prospered more in the late 40's and during the 50's - especially in pop culture and the early days of television.  

Your thoughts on Carol Channing (All my blogs focus on Carol Channing’s Foundation For The Arts)
I’m campaigning for Carol Channing to receive the 2012 Kennedy Center Honor in 2012. If you agree that she should receive this honor, can you say why you think this should happen (See below on how YOU can help!)
 OK - Carol Channing is one of the pioneers of true character women in musical theater.
Say her name - the image is THERE - that hair. those big eyes, glasses, wide mouth, accent and voice.  She has an unmistakable brand. Nobody but NOBODY can say raspberries without thinking about Carol Channing and Thoroughly Modern Millie.  I saw her do Sugar Babies at the Muny in St. Louis in the mid 80's - that performance is ingrained in my mind for life.  Mrs. Channing at the curtain call - "Dear People of Sssttt. Louisssss"....Classic Carol.
Most recent appearance
 Tom Vaughn in "Trail of Cheers" at the Metropolitan Room.

Next appearance
 Tom Vaughn in "Trail of Cheers" at the Laurie Beechman Theatre March 20, 30 and April 11 at 7:00 pm.

What is your biggest success in Show Business?
 My most recent success was that I got to sing back-up with Lucie Arnaz along with my dear friend Raissa Katona Bennett on her most recent album "Latin Roots".  I absolutely love Latin music and the history created by Desi Arnaz in the development of "Latin Swing".  That was a real charge.  Plus what a beautiful and wonderful woman Lucie Arnaz is.  Otherwise my touring in the "Golden Musicals of Broadway" in the 90's" gave me the benefit of extensive international travel - productions at Seaside Music Theater back in the day gave me the greatest satisfaction of singing Broadway classics supported by a large orchestra.
What was your lowest low and how did you surpass that?
 My battle with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Cancer was perhaps the lowest low and I surpassed it by being pro-active, searching the best treatment, thinking positively and surrounding myself with friends and family who held me through the chemotherapy - literally!  I didn't feel like it was my time or that I was  finished or that I had achieved all I had thought I could.  I thought about the light at the end of the tunnel and used my ability to write music to get there.  

What one change would you like to see in today’s industry?
 I'd like to see less reality based programming (my scenario mentioned above was enough).  More specifically, less hate based and "product packaged - i.e. vapid contrived situations and over-the top glam to compensate for the lack of talent.  Seriously - what is it that Snookie does again? - where's my roaming camera!!
I'd like to see more true talent rise to the top no matter what age or stature which would include writers, directors and the creators of shows or vehicles for true talent to shine.
Do you consider what you wear on stage for your show a costume? Or is it just clothing to you?
What I wear is an extension of the project I'm involved in - if it's personal based, or cabaret oriented, it is more of me or that which helps me to facilitate the music or through- line - I want my cloths to feel like my second skin - that they represent me and present me in the best way possible.

Are you happy at the point you are right now in your career?
 Actually I am - I have more freedom to achieve so much more artistically than in the past.  I'm more focused than the twenty year old that moved here almost 25 years ago.  I'm more comfortable in my skin and have a point of view that is often more fact base than not. 

Do you feel you have achieved what you set out to do?
 If it all ended today I'd say heck yeah.  I've travelled more than I ever though I could and much of it was through performing.  I've also written more than I though I would and new ideas keep me fresh.  However, there are even bigger and more specific goals that never occurred to me in the past.  There's still much more to do and achieve in performing and writing music wether I sing it or not.  I would love to get my songs to other artists who need original material.  I keep focusing on my message and where my strengths lie.

What do you do to remain positive when life's hiccups get you down?
 When life gets me down I try not to react as I did in years past.  My brain used to fast forward to the future at warp speed and I would think of all the bad that could come out of the situation.  I would spiral into doom and gloom.  Now - I sit with it for a little bit and start plotting solutions.  Furthermore, those hiccups give me pause to think and put pen to paper.  Real life situations of trial and error and ultimate triumph yield the greatest stories for writing.

How on earth do you reach theatregoers now that newspapers are obsolete and there are so many channels on TV you can’t pick the right ones to advertise on and with the web being so hit and miss.
With Mirta Lina Radkov and Veronica Morale
 The average users of content for theatregoers have never had so many tools at their access for achieving a desired stimulus through social networking.  Conversely, the creators of content have never had such tools for creating content and reaching their audience through the use of social networking.  I think it is up to the creators to really concentrate on demographics and avenues most travelled in the digital world by their market.  As a composer for instance, look at all of the original music within an episode of Grey's Anatomy.  There are more creative ways now to take the reigns into your own hand to create the splash before getting into a costly method of mass distribution such as television.
You have to really concentrate on what your building and who will buy it - once identified - - "If you build it - - they will come"

A genie pops out of the lamp, he grants you three wishes. What are those wishes?
 Location, Location, Location 

How did you get into this business?
 I fell in love with musicals during high school, studied music, trained vocally through college and left Southeast Missouri to pursue my dream. 

What is your favorite song? And yes, you can only pick one!!!
 This Bitter Earth by Clyde Otis and sung by Dinah Washington. 

What is the last stage show you saw.  Local or professional.  
 Priscilla Queen of the Desert 

What do you do to prepare for your performances?
 Get a good nights rest the night before, eat a good lunch the day of, vocalize in a hot steamy shower and allow enough time for brief meditation before the show so that I'm relaxed and ready to go. 
When do you know it’s time for a Tom Vaughn show?
                       I get an uncontrollable urge to audition and get out on stage with a production or my music.  I especially do so if I feel like I've got a great through-line for a show or a collection of music that is uniquely cohesive and needs to be shared.  It's in my gut so to speak. 

 Do you make a living at this or do you have a survival job?
 Ok - I have a running joke with my friends.  I have a B.A. in Vocal Performance from Southeast Missouri State University and a business administration minor, it's the way I set up my education and my life. Historically there have been times when the bread and butter came from a majority of one or the other - so I say right now my music is my major and my minor is my minor or my minor is my major and my major my minor.  Truthfully I have gone for 9 years doing primarily stage, vocal and pick-up work with the holes filled in by corporate temping AND 14 years with a major career in business development and marketing with stock theater and various performances between lay-offs or on the side.  I'm at the point NOW where I've a panoply of skills in both businesses.  It takes a combination of the two to support myself in the city.  We are still in a recovering economy and it is downright difficult, coupled with a need for continual health care given my medical history, the cost of covering expenses is palpable.  It is for anybody this day and age - especially those families with the head of the household earning one income for an entire family including several kids.  That said, my current focus is on a successful run of "Trail of Cheers", the original music featured in the production as well as other composing projects.

"What is your favorite compliment?"
  "When I saw you on stage I thought you were really in your light, that you had been doing this for years and years"

Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!

Tomorrow's blog will be...Terese celebrate her new CD, LIVE FROM THE IRIDIUM, NYC and the occasion of her third anniversary at The Iridium!

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

  Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

Richard Skipper,
This Blog is dedicated to ALL ARTISTS: Past, present and future and the gifts they give to the world!

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