Sunday, January 25, 2015

2001 Bistro Award Winner for Outstanding Male Vocalist:Scott Coulter!

To achieve success in all areas, shift your consciousness to an appreciation for all you are and all that you're blessed to have.
What are you grateful for today, at this very moment?

Dr. Wayne Dyer

On March 4th, the 30th Anniversary celebration of The Bistro Awards will take place. Once again, Shellen Lubin will be directing and Sherry Eaker will be producing.
This years recipients will be announced this Friday. In anticipation of this year's awards, I thought it would be nice to look back at some past winners and once we find out who this year's honorees are, I will be doing blog features on them leading up to this year's awards.

Today, I celebrate a TWO TIME Bistro Award winner: Scott Coulter and his body of "worth"!

For his work in cabaret, Scott Coulter was awarded both the 2001 Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs (MAC) Award, as well as the 2001 Bistro Award for Outstanding Male Vocalist. He received a 1997 Bistro Award for the revue Get Your Tickets Now! and his debut solo show won the 1998 MAC Award for Male Debut. Time Out New York picked Coulter’s Unexpected Songs as one of the ‘Best of 1999’.
Coulter’s self-titled debut CD won the 2003 MAC Award for Outstanding Recording and was chosen as the best recording of the year by Scott and Barbara Siegel of Theatre Mania and Jeff Rosen of Cabaret Scenes magazine. He won two 2007 Nightlife Awards including Outstanding Male Vocalist.



It is music that brought Scott into this profession and it is music that has compelled him to stay. As a kid, he sang and played the piano. He loves to tell stories through music and he loves to hear others tell stories through music. He loves the creativity surrounding that and he loves to be a part of that process.
He was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee and his mom and dad were incredibly loving supportive parents, but were not the least bit musical.   
His path and journey began because his grandmother used to take him to movie musicals the Tivoli Theatre in downtown Chattanooga. He saw all the great classics like Song of the South, The Music Man, The Sound of Music, and Mary Poppins.These were classic films on the big screen. They also did live productions. He also saw classic films like All About Eve and Casablanca.
It was through the musical films that he first found music. His parents did have records. However, they were not soundtracks and original cast recordings! Their fare of choice was Linda Ronstadt and Gordon Lightfoot.It was not what many of us consider to be part of the Great American Songbook, so Scott grew up listening to mostly pop music and country music; IE, Tammy Wynette, Charlie Rich, and Dolly Parton. He pursued the path of musical theatre pretty much on his own.
When he was thirteen, his family moved to Nashville, which is about two and a half hours from Chattanooga, where his family, beyond the immediate family, still lived. He wanted to go to school for music. He thought he wanted to be a music teacher. He always loved to sing and he always did very well, but nobody encouraged him to pursue this as a profession. He did not grow up with that support.
It wasn't that his parents discouraged him, it just wasn't their thing. When he was in Nashville, people in his church were telling him he should be doing this for a living. He would respond by telling them that he couldn't really do this for a living. He went to a small school just outside of Murfreesboro, home of Judy Garland's father! It was Middle Tennessee State University. He knew he was going for music. His parents thought he was going for communication, but he had an ulterior motive! When he finally accepted the fact that music was what he wanted to do, he started searching for really good schools. Around this time, his grandmother, who was his be all and end all, passed away. At her funeral, her best friend, a friend of the family, suggested that if he was serious about a school for music, he should consider the Cincinnati School for Music. He went to Cincinnati to look at the music education program and Scott wasn't impressed. The music theatre program seemed much more interesting. He auditioned on a whim and he got in. After three years in Murfreesboro for three years, he went to Cincinnati for three years, a total of six years!
He graduated with a BA in musical theatre.
What was Scott's first PROFESSIONAL job? He was the youth choir director in his church all through high school.He was also paid to play the piano on Sunday mornings. His first profession THEATER gig was a production of Jesus Christ Superstar when he was in college, up in New Hampshire.
His first professional gig out of school was the world premier of Floyd Collins, by Adam Guettel (book by Tina Landau, and additional lyrics by Landau). It played The Plays and Players Theatre in Philadelphia.
Scott recently got married. However, his partner and him have been together many years.He mentioned that someone recently posted on their Facebook page, "Today, I was awakened by a fairy with wings!"
Scott responded, "I was wakened by a fairy, too! But, alas, no wings!!" He still has a hard time embracing the word "husband". They have a lot of laughs together. For "nonsense", they hang out with friends. It is almost as if they are living parallel lives, with my husband, Danny, and I. Like Danny, Scott's partner, Davis, is a landscape architect.        
What does Scott want more than anything? Just to keep doing what he is doing! He considers himself to be incredibly fortunate and blessed. Most people in life have a "job". Very few of those people get to make a living doing what they love. The fact that he gets to do what he does and work with the people he does, he considers to be a major gift.
I asked Scott about his subtext when he is singing. He says it is different with every song. He actually teaches a class out of his home called Songbook which focuses on that. He says that if twenty people sing Someone to Watch Over Me, there will be twenty different versions simply because each person has their own story to share. Billie Holiday once asked what she thought of other people singing God Bless The Child.Her response was that their experience was not her experience. That is why people zone in on the songs that work for them. Sometimes there story perfectly matches with the song, and not necessarily with just the lyrics. The two songs that Scott likes to do most are the title song, The Sound of Music, which he admits, that most people may think they never want to hear, and For Good from Wicked. Those are two songs that you never think of a guy singing.
For the last eight years, Scott has had a concert booking company called Spot On Entertainment, booking acts around the country. He had two business partners, Lee Lessack and independent producer Rob O'Neil.Last summer, they decided they would better serve themselves, and the company, if they dissolved.Lee now has a concert presenting company called LML Music Presents.Spot On Entertainment is now Scott's solely. It is focused on creating shows and presenting shows. Some of the shows that were being presented by the partnership are still being promoted by Scott. He is also doing a lot of work with symphonies which is very exciting. He has also recently written the book for a new musical. That has been a terrifying, but thrilling experience for Scott. The current working title is Got To Be There. It is about the man who wrote the song Got To Be There for Michael Jackson, Elliot Willensky.
Tony Orlando and Dawn: Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent-Wilson
He was an American composer, lyricist and music producer from Bayonne, New Jersey. In addition to Michael Jackson's first solo hit, Got to Be There, and the Jermaine Jackson/Whitney Houston duet If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful, which was Scott's favorite song in high school.Willensky composed the music for the 1999 off-Broadway musical Abby's Song and served as the music coordinator for the Tony Orlando and Dawn variety show on CBS.
He was a nice white Jewish guy from New Jersey who wrote pop hits for some of the biggest African American artists of that generation.
In addition to the a fore mentioned, he also wrote for Smoky Robinson and Gladys Knight. This will not be a juke box musical, although these songs are very much a part of the story. A lot of the songs in this musical have never been heard. A few years ago, Elliot's brother, Steven, did a musical tribute to him in Cleveland, a memorial. Steven sat at the piano and played and told stories about their lives together as brothers and about their family. It was very well received and people were incredibly moved.People told Steven that he should do something with this show. Steven contacted a guy named  Matt Schicker who puts projects together.Matt has shepherded more than 40 musicals and plays since 2002, from developmental readings and showcase presentations to full productions.
Matt contacted several people asking them how they would turn it into a show. They were looking for a revue type show. When Scott met with him, he pitched a book musical with a story. They liked Scott's idea and hired him to write a treatment.
Scott is also terribly proud of PBS' Christmas Carol, which just aired. It was a symphonic concert which Scott was part of which was a thrill. He directed the original staging and program.  It was filmed before a live audience using a full symphony orchestra, a choir made up of members of the Elmhurst College Choir and
the Children’s Choir of Chicago and a rock/pop rhythm section. It starred Michael Aaron Lindner as “Scrooge”, E. Faye Butler as “The Narrator”, Scott Coulter as “Fred/Bob Cratchit & others”, Kyle Scatliffe as “Marley/The Ghosts and others”, and Arya Daire as “Belle”. It was filmed last May.
As if all of this wasn't enough, he just got hired by 54 Below as one of their resident directors of programming. There are five now doing that. That is one press list I would like to be part of! Each are responsible for a program a month. Scott has already done a lot at the club in the last year through the graciousness of Phil Bond.
Photo coutesy of Theatre Pizzazz
Scott created a Dolly Parton show for them which was a great success. That was followed up by a Cher show. His first show as an employee of 54 Below was just last week with Mary Testa, Julia Murney, Lucia Spina, and Klea Blackhurst leading an all-star cast trumpeting all that brass, all that sass of Kander and Ebb ... Created and Directed by Scott Coulter.
When Scott and I sat down to talk last week, he had just come from meeting with a Tony winning friend of his (name withheld to avoid jinxing!). They are creating two programs for symphonies.
Scott is absolutely positively sure that he is doing EXACTLY what he should be doing at this point in his life.
His only regret is that he isn't taking more naps!
Within the first couple of months after moving to New York years ago, his roommate, Jessica Hendy, who he had grown up with and went to school with and Scott rented a one bedroom apartment on 9th Avenue and 1st, went to a fortune teller downtown. The fortune teller looked at Scott's hand and said, "You are going to be very successful but it will take a very long time." Scott now feels that "very long time" is starting to take shape. He thinks back on the past years. He was a nanny for nine or ten of those years. He raised two boys down in Tribeca. He also had many other odd jobs along the way. He and Klea Blackhurst also hand out fliers at the TKTS booth.
Tom Andersen, Scott Coulter & Tim DiPasqua Wrap SOUTHERN COMFORT at Metropolitan Courtesy: BroadwayWorld.com
He was doing it for Smoky Joe's Cafe. He used to have so much time on his hands. He would read books and go to the gym.
He didn't know how good he had it. Now, he craves a nap!
One other thing that he would like to change is the fact that he has always been dogged by the lack of a Broadway credit. He is thrilled by all that he has been able to do and accomplish without it. He has these great shows that he does all over the country getting great response and standing ovations. A Broadway credit would make things a whole lot easier. It won't make the show better, but it does in people's minds. The PBS Christmas Carol was nominated for an Emmy last year. One of the songs in the show is sung by Robert "Bob" Cratchit after Tiny Tim dies was nominated for an Emmy. That song was Scott's performance. He hopes that trumps and skips over the "Broadway thing".
Scott has also created an Elvis show for symphonies. It is four guys performing in a Jersey Boys type evening. The first act is the fifties and sixties which includes the four part harmony that Elvis did with the Jordanaires. The second act is the Las Vegas Elvis. Crowds go nuts over this show. They are screaming on their feet. That's a real thrill.
Songwriters Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich, BroadwayWorld.com
That is something that Scott has created that stands head and shoulders above everything else. As far as something he has done, his collaboration with Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich is one of the great joys of his life. Also, working with Stephen Schwartz, whom he has been traveling with since 1999. Being chosen by singer/songwriters to perform their material is something that Scott feels is the greatest thrill and blessing career wise. It feeds his soul.
Sometimes he will be doing the Stephen Schwartz concerts and singing Corner of the Sky from Pippin with Steven Schwartz at the piano.

He is performing this in front of audiences who have paid to be there and he will have this feeling of not believing this is happening washing over him, OR Debbie Gravitt singing Defying Gravity from Wicked (she was the first person who performed the song) OR Liz Callaway singing Meadowlark from The Baker's Wife, once again with Stephen playing at the piano and he is thinking to himself, "I would pay to be here!"
It is the same thing with Marcy and Zina. They share a lot of laughter and tears. To be able to be on this ride with them is something he wouldn't trade for anything.
I asked Scott how much he felt that he had manufactured himself in his career and how much was a product of circumstance. He loved the question because this is something he talks about in his classes in schools around the country. He said to me he knew EXACTLY why he was in the booth that we shared at The Westside Diner in NYC at the time of our interview. He can trace it back to everything that led to that moment. He moved to New York to be a musical theatre performer. He got into a national tour of Forever Plaid.
At the audition for Forever Plaid with Stuart Moss Casting, he was asked if he could sing a particular song and he was handed the music for Those Magic Changes from Grease. Sam Harris was doing it on Broadway at the time. Scott told them he could do it. They were very specific in what they desired. Scott answered that he could do it and asked if this meant he wasn't getting the tour of Forever Plaid. They responded, "No, no, no. We just want to see what you can do with this." While he was on the road for Forever Plaid, he was called in to audition for the Broadway production of Grease.Sam Harris had left the show and Ty Taylor was playing the role. Scott flew in and he was the only person auditioning for the role.
He actually auditioned in the theatre. He sang it and he thought he nailed it. The musical director, John McDaniel, saying, "Oh my God! You can really do this!Are you available for the next three days? How can we reach you?" When he left, the stage manager and one of the cast members backstage said to him, "Congratulations! You totally just got that job." He went out that night and was telling everyone, "I got my first Broadway show!"
Patti LuPone was opening that night in her one woman show. They got tickets to celebrate. He knew he had it. THEN...he never heard from them! He wasn't asked to come back in...NOTHING! He doesn't know if John remembers this story, but when he left the theatre, John told him that when he came back to "lower your focus." Scott was filling the house with his voice. He told him to just "sharpen your focus." Again, he never heard from them AGAIN. It ended up becoming a turning point in Scott's life. He was now tired of waiting for someone else to give him a chance. He knew he had to be in charge of doing what he desired to do. He called a couple of friends that he had graduated with and asked if they would do a cabaret show with him. They remounted their senior showcase which was called Get Your Tickets Now.
It was a revue of shows that had incredibly short runs. On the last night of the show, Roy Sander came in to see the show and they ended up receiving a Bistro Award. At that year's Bistro Awards, Scott got to perform for the first time for many members of the cabaret community. Although Get Your Tickets Please was a four person cast, the two girls were out of town, so it ended up just being Scott and the musical director. As a result of that night, he was encouraged to do his own show. He also met Marcy and Zina at that Bistro Awards show. Marcy said to Scott that she was going to steal him away. They took him to the Berkshire Theatre Festival for a concert version of Dear Edwina.
Stephen Schwartz
Stephen Schwartz was there and heard Scott sing and took him on the road with him! If Scott had not said, "I'm going to take control of this", all of the years that he has traveled with Steven and Debbie and Liz Callaway in Stephen Schwartz and Friends would not have happened. These were booked by a wonderful man out of California.When he got tired of booking, Scott asked Stephen if he minded him taking over that responsibility. That man told him to "knock himself out!" Scott put together a little roster of shows to book in addition to Stephen Schwartz and Friends. He hooked up with Lee Lessack. Once again, everything came from not waiting around. It goes back to that fortune teller telling Scott that he was going to be successful but that it was going to take a long time.
Johnny Rodgers, Scott Coulter, Lee Lessack, Brian Wilson
When he was told that, he thought he was going to wait for it to happen as opposed to getting off his butt and making it happen.
The biggest change that Scott has seen since he first got into this business is easy accessibility. He can't begin to tell you how many emails he gets each day. He doesn't consider this a bad thing but he gets emails all the time saying, "Please consider me." In addition to his own shows that he books, Scott also does Scott Siegel's events at Town hall.
People are constantly sending him their resumes. He never thought to do that. He thinks the ease with which we can all contact each other now has changed things. Sometimes when he gets an email from someone who's work he is familiar with, Scott sometimes thinks, "What a great idea! Why didn't I think of that?' In the past, he doesn't know how they would have contacted him or visa versa. Social media has given so many people opportunities through You Tube and given many a chance to be discovered. Songwriters have showcased their work through this new medium. There is such ease. Performers can contact directors. Songwriters can
Zina Goldrich, Scott Coulter and Marcy Heisler
assemble the performers they wish to work with on any given project.
If Scott Coulter could change one thing about himself it is that he could get thinner effortlessly! We ALL want that! He used to think that he would have a full head of hair, but he has let go of that!
As Scott and I were laughing over his comments, lo and behold, Marcy Heisler stopped by our table!
I asked her what her thoughts are on Scott Coulter. She said, as a lyricist, there are not enough words in the American musical theatre cannon or dictionary to describe Scott Coulter and his amazing contributions to life as both a person and as a writer and a director and a visionary.
Jill Abramovitz, Clinton Kelly, Scott Coulter and Marcy Heisler
He makes everything better.
I asked her the same thing I asked Scott. If she could change ONE thing about Scott, what would it be? She would change the fact that he lives so far away from the Village so she could have him near her at all times. She would also have him have at least five more hours each day to work on her harmonies.
One other thing that Scott would work on is his short fuse. He admits that he is quick to anger. He is aware of that and is trying to work on that.
If Scott could change one thing about cabaret, he looks at both sides of the coin as far as the world of cabaret is concerned.
Jim Caruso, Gianni Valenti, Margo Siebert, Karen Mason, Jill Abramovitz and Scott Coulter
It is an hour of one's time to attend a show. Every audience member takes a chance. So what? It is hard to get started. The thing that is so great about it is that anyone can do it. The thing that is awful about it is that anyone can do it. There is no panel saying "you can or cannot do this." Who are any of us to say what is worth seeing?
We never know what is going to touch a certain person. Scott admits that he has seen certain shows that he thinks is the worst thing he has ever seen that people gravitate towards. He has also seen shows that he thinks are works of art that most people don't have the time of day for. Everyone has their own opinion, their own agenda, what they like and what they don't like.
One thing that Scott and I share that we miss and that is a sense of community.  Scott thinks that when Eighty-Eights and Danny's Grand Sea Palace left and Don't Tell Mama changed hands, those old fashioned watering holes left us and things changed.
I believe if anyone has the tenacity and the fortitude to change things, it is Scott Coulter. I am anxious to see what 2015 brings!

I hope to see you on the Red Carpet at This Year's Bistro Awards!
Like The Bistro Awards on Facebook.

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


 

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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!
Scott's Father
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Scott with his mother
Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
 
TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY


Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com

Scott Siegel and Scott Coulter



1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful tribute to an extremely talented person that I have the good fortune to know and call my friend. I wish he had gotten the Emmy for the Christmas Carol song, which left no dry eyes in the house! Scott has been "coming true for his dreams" since I first knew him and he used to sing my songs at the Duplex. I watch with glee as he touches more people and rings more bells. YAY!

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