Monday, October 13, 2014

Uraina Collazo: Honoring the Greats!

Uraina Collazo is a singer living on the Upper West Side of New York City. She is also an exceptional nanny and proud rescue dog mom. She loves life and the people in it! xoxo

That is how she introduces herself in her twitter profile. I saw her once again last night as "back-up" with Carly Ozard in Carly's amazing show, Midler on The Roof. Check out my blog on Carly.
Uraina has her own show coming up celebrating another pop Icon, The Artist Formally Known as...Prince.
Uraina and I sat down on the eve of her show with Carly to talk about THAT particular show and to touch upon her upcoming show (details below).

Although Uraina was a part of the musical
Carly Ozard in Midler on The Roof
theatre world for years, there was a period that was completely devoid of singing.
She didn't sing for about five years.
She felt that she had somehow had graduated from musical theatre.
When she discovered cabaret and noticed the intimacy, she also discovered that many of the artists were from musical theatre as well. When Uraina was studying musical theatre in school, she knew nothing about this art form or the myriad of venues to perform in in NYC.
She found that this direction gave her more of an opportunity to share herself, as opposed to being confined within a "character". That is what drew Uraina. She has found some great "teachers" and she feels that when something feels this good, why stop?
There are many that inspire Uraina as an artist. Barbra Streisand is one. Growing up, she listened to the original cast recording of Annie, so that is another inspiration.She is an "Eighties kid" so Madonna fits in
Midler On The Roof debuted at The Duplex May 20114
there. Add in Cyndi Lauper and Annie Lennox and Michael Jackson, "of course".
Getting back to Midler on The Roof, pretty much all of the elements were already in place when Uraina came on board. The arrangements, the set list, and everything else. Uraina came into the show two and a half weeks before the show opened at The Duplex in May 2014.   
The lessons of this show are about sticking up for one's self and believing in one's self are the lessons of this show, lessons that Uraina feels she will carry forward throughout the rest of her life and career.
Those lessons come out loud and clear in Carly's show.
It is all about an inner strength to keep going.
When I interviewed Carly, I asked her about director Kristine Zbornick, a force of nature and about the "evolvement" since Uraina came on board. Although the show didn't change, Carly did. She took an amazing journey in growth from the time they began. Interestingly enough, Uraina met Kristine for the first time at Carly's show on Tuesday night!
Honoring Bette Midler in Midler on The Roof
Kristine was away doing Damn Yankees at The Goodspeed Opera House when the show was being developed on its feet and during its initial run last May. Working with Carly has been great, fun, and efficient. EVERYONE had their act together from the start. From the time that Uraina and Karen Mack stepped into the process, they began to "bang it out." It was great to work with everyone with such a collaborative professional work ethic, especially Carly's.
Uraina would not change a thing about the entire process. Uraina strives to evolve as she moves forward as an artist.
I asked Uraina what impact she believes Bette Midler has had on worldwide audiences. "She is definitely an empathetic entertainer. She is 'one of us'.
She is not afraid to share. She has lived through the same emotions that all of us share.She holds a vulnerability that we all feel from an audience's standpoint. Her voice is universal. She speaks to everyone just by being her.
She doesn't have to do much."
As stated earlier, Uraina and I spoke prior to their show on Tuesday night. She was super psyched. She should be gratified. The show was perfection.
Carly is moving in new directions and that excitement is palpable.
Uraina's role basically was that of "back-up" vocalist. She made sure to listen to the music beforehand that was assigned to her. She went in and everything was already laid out for her and Karen Mack.
Uraina's opinion of Bette Midler also evolved since she began work on this project. She admits that she still doesn't know her entire catalog.
Carly even sung songs that Uraina had never heard before. There were also certain things that Uraina didn't know about Bette Midler.
Uraina has always, however been impressed with her.
As stated earlier, Uraina has her own tribute show to The Artist Formally Known as...Prince.We've already mentioned that she was an "eighties" kid. Prince's music was a definite part of that landscape. It spoke to Uraina as well as musical theatre and other types of music. When she started talking with director Lennie Watts about putting a show together, he asked her for a list of songs she loved. At least a third of them, if not half, were all Prince songs.
She was going to try originally to do a Boy George/Prince concert, but the music is so different, it wasn't working out dynamically.
The reason why Uraina desired to do a Prince show is that no one has ever done it, to her knowledge. His musicality is actually pretty phenomenal. To take his music and put it in a cabaret setting actually transitions quite well. Uraina is excited to show everyone that there is meaning behind his songs. She believes many people think of him as dirty". She wants to take everyone on a journey of rediscovering him.
The advice that Uraina gives to any artist wishing to pay homage to any other artist is to research them. A decision needs to be made if it is to be a show about hits, which would be fine, or even obscure pieces, such as songs that were never released by the artist. Putting their catalogs into a cabaret setting, be true to their intent with the songs being presented and what the art meant to the artists and to "YOU". There are a lot of different ways to pay tribute. Everybody's journey is different and personal. As long as that stays in the back of your mind, "What am I actually saying about this person through my experiences, etcetera?"  You need to realize that people are still coming to hear YOU sing these songs. Your job is to make thae audience enjoy it.
 Uraina's upcoming tribute to The Artist Formally Known as...Prince has an electrifying band that includes two back-up vocalists. It has also been a little bit of a journey for Uraina. She hasn't done a cabaret show since 2006. She has kept her chops up by taking classes and doing certain things here and there, but to once again be in charge of her own show is a great feeling. She feels as if she has graduated to this next level.
She is ready to join the ranks of all those other great
singers who have such a great time leading their own shows.
This is a very "private" show as is Uraina. There are a lot of "hidden treasures" within Prince. We all have that kind of special place. As Uraina stripped down the songs that she has chosen, she has found a lot of messages, religion and spirituality in his music. As Uraina was nine, ten, eleven, listening to this music, he impacted her so much. At the time, she really didn't know why. Now that she's older, looking back, she know knows that there are certain things that eluded her like sexuality, of course.
Now, since Uraina has evolved, and Prince has evolved, it's a different message. Uraina hopes the body of work compels people in some way, shape, or form.
Uraina will be appearing at Don't Tell Mama in NYC on October 17th (this Friday) at 7PM, the following Friday the 24th of October at 9:15, and the first Saturday of November 1st at 5:30, and  her closing night is November 15th at 5:30PM.

Thank to ALL mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating the first Fifty Years of Hello, Dolly!


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

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

Rain (YouTube: Uraina Collazo) performing at the Metropolitan Theater on August 11, 2013 singing What's Up.

Be sure and Save The Date to see Jim Speake on October 19th as he celebrates Cy Coleman

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Richard Skipper,

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