Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Two Divas at the Top of Their Game: Barbra Streisand AND Carol Woods

Barbra Streisand launched her latest tour last night
The 1st step is always to ask. Once you've done that, you'll be amazed at the opportunities that present themselves. If you never ask, you'll never know.
-Jack Canfield 

Happy August 3rd, 2013!
August 3 is the 216th day of the year. There are 150 days remaining until the end of the year. 
A diva is a celebrated female singer; a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera, and by extension in theatre, cinema and popular music. 
As I sat down to begin my blog today, I was listening to Julie Reyburn singing Speak of the Devil.  
There may be some of my readers outside of the realm of NYC cabaret who has no idea who Julie Reyburn is. She is, however, the real deal. To me a great artist is someone who can stand center stage and hold an audience in the palm of her hand with nothing more than
Used with permission by artist Ken Fallin

the first place.  Another thing that makes them great artists is their instant "recognizability". The moment that I hear Doris Day's voice, for instance, I KNOW it is Doris Day. To drop another cabaret name, Karen Mason, also possesses that. 
With most artists today, I cannot tell when one artist and/or song ends and another begins. Most DJs mix them together with no clear way to distinguish one from another. 
Today, I wish to celebrate these great artists and the contributions they are still making to the world of entertainment in a positive way. 
What is it about these artists that drives us into a darkened room with complete strangers to focus on them for the time they allot to us.
 Two nights ago, I went to bed depressed. The reason of my depression was a green eyed monster called jealousy. I was seeing post after post of so many friends, both real and imagined, who were celebrating their excitement of being INVITED to Barbra Streisand's "dress rehearsal", directed by  Barbra Streisand and Richard Jay-Alexander on the eve of her first appearance at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, before embarking on a multi-city tour.
Streisand brought her A Game (does she have any other?) when she kicked off a  star-studded, sold-out show at Los Angeles’ Staples Center Tuesday night. (Read MORE)

Last year, she became the only recording artist or group to achieve #1 albums in each of six decades. She is bringing her legendary live performances to 9 cities.

A friend of mine, who is another great singer: Devlin, wrote to me : It was a phenomenal opening night for Barbra. I loved the whole scaled down concert she gave.
She was in fantastic voice and she made the whole show so intimate in that massive space. Her manner was relaxed and happy. It felt like she was having a ball. Best of all she sang songs from albums that she had never sung live in addition to fan favorites.
Her duet partners were in great form with Jamie Foxx ripping the roof off the Staples Center with her. Anyone who says she has lost her voice is crazy. Huskiness and lower keys maybe, but it enabled her 74 year old voice  to sing comfortably and that also gave her the confidence in belting higher notes.  It was a glorious evening for her and the audience. I was in the presence of a gift from God

Another Review: The lights went down abruptly for the first concert in Barbra Streisand’s nine date tour; a return after three years off the stage, and one does wonder how much longer the 74-year-old will continue to mount such shows. She has her 35th album to promote, but with a back catalogue like hers she’s certainly not here for the cash.  (Read MORE)
I saw the photos, the selfies, the comments and I thought
Barbra Streisand made no effort to hide her disdain for Trump at her latest concert READ MORE
how exciting it would have been to experience her first concert in two years before it is shared with the rest of the country with 3,000 of her closest and dearest friends.

I immediately got my tickets for August 13th  where she will be when she returns to her home town of Brooklyn next week at the Barclay Center. 
This will be the fourth time that I have seen Barbra live in concert. Each time seems to mark milestones in my life.

The opening night of Barbra’s mini-tour is now one for the record books! READ MORE)
As a child, I fell in love with her, as most people do, first through that ethereal voice that still gives me goosebumps every time I hear her sing. 
She has made me laugh, cry, and CARE for an entire lifetime. For that, I thank her.
Barbra is my holy grail interview for my Dolly project. She, so far, is out of reach. But I hope!

Our genetic makeup is 99.9% identical to every person on the face of the earth. The other .1% is Donald Trump.
-Barbra Streisand
From another great singer, Lorraina Marro
Last night was definitely a night I will never forget! Barbra Streisand was personable, funny, down to earth; and vocally so spectacular still to this day. I enjoyed hearing her stories about the music she has recorded, movies she's been in and directed, people she has worked with, and her stand on the environment and spreading the love among one another. 
This was from a previous concert.
Absolutely loved her duets with Babyface and Jamie Foxx!! Such a wonderful and unexpected surprise! Another surprise was seeing our friend Dave Tull playing drums for Barbra!!! How fabulous is that?? Barbra left me feeling so inspired and driven to continue doing what I absolutely love to do. I so appreciate that my children would accompany me to see one of my idols. It meant more than I can ever convey to them.
Eve Barlow of the UK's The Telegraph said of the concert, "Across the night, Streisand's songs seemed to encapsulate the entirety of human experience. The huskiness that's enveloped her voice over the years just enriched the complexity of her story-telling, stories told through melody and floor-to-ceiling notes. This was more than just singing."

Please visit Barbra's Website to Order Tickets and for more Info
One diva that I also love has been garnering rave reviews at

The Metropolitan Room in celebration of Richard Whiting. THAT Diva is Carol Woods.
Carol Woods is an actress and singer. She is best known for her roles in Across the Universe (2007), Sweet and Lowdown (1999) and The Honeymooners (2005).  
In February 2008 she received a standing ovation during the 50th Grammy Awards broadcast singing Let It Be from the soundtrack of the film Across the Universe, with Timothy Mitchum.
The iconic Carol Woods is full of fun (title of her show “Ain’t We Got Fun”) but it’s much more involved than that.  In a tribute to her longtime friendship and alliance with the Whitings – – Richard, Margaret (her mentor) and Debbi – – she tore the house down at her opening night at the Metropolitan Room on August 1 celebrating the memorable music of Richard Whiting. It’s really a love story of chain reactions. (Read MORE Source: Sandi Durell: TheatrePizzazz). 

If the air was electric before, it was positively supercharged after the debut of Carols Woods’ Richard Whiting show, Ain’t We Got Fun. From the moment Woods stepped on stage with “One Hour with You” (words: Leo Robin) and “Breezin’ Along with the Breeze” (words: Haven Gillespie, Seymour Simons), it was apparent this undertaking was going to be a spectacular winner. 
To start with, there was delightful motivation: the show was a family affair—a tribute not only to Richard Whiting, but to Woods’ mentor Margaret Whiting, daughter of the composer, and her friendship with Debbi Whiting, Margaret’s daughter (in attendance). 
Richard Whiting died too young; when he passed in February 1938 he was only 46 years old. Who can say what he could have written had he lived, but what he left was a prolific body of work fittingly honored in Woods’ performance. (Source: Marilyn Lester, Cabaret Scenes Magazine)

Two words that apply to the mighty Carol Woods in their most sincere sense are “diva” and
Photo: Maryann Lopinto
“entertainer.” Woods knows how to put on a pleaser of a show, and gives her all to do it. Her patter is quick, witty and full of charm. From the opening number, “Orange Colored Sky,” to the last, a tribute to Billie Holiday, who –with Arthur Herzog, Jr. —co-wrote “God Bless the Child” (“my mantra,” she called it), Woods rocked the house with her warm personality and robust vocals, drawing on gospel, jazz and Broadway influences. Her second song, I Can’t Give You Anything but Love was an upbeat number that put everyone in the mood, while her penultimate song, “Here’s to Life,” could well have been a tribute to the diva herself. (Source: Marilyn Lester, Cabaret Scenes Magazine)


Carol Woods
Carol and I sat down this morning for a mini interview. The following is the result of that conversation. 

What does this time in your life means to you?
Life is a gift and I am very thankful and grateful for every day. I am doing what I desire to do at this point in my life. I've taken care of the world and now it is time for Carol.

Musical Director: Tex Arnold
Finish this sentence: I'm very good at...
Taking care of people. Cooking. As opposed to what other people might think. I'm a great driver.

I'm Very bad at...
Trying to lose weight

I always roll my eyes when... 
I see someone bullying another person.

What interests you the most about your profession?
The satisfaction of sharing my gifts with an audience. What we do is healing. I had a lady who wrote me a fan letter when I was working at the Piccadilly Theatre in London doing a show called Blues in The Night
She sent me a letter that read, "When I came into the theatre, I felt blue, and when I left, I felt all colors of the rainbow." 

Can you name one piece of art (music, theatre, prose, poetry, etc.) that you wish you had created and why
Phantom of the Opera. Why? Because it's STILL running! 

Do you think there is a stigma about your profession. and if so, why do you think the stigma is there?   
The stigma IS there and the reason it exists is because we allow it. 
IF there is any stigma, we have the power to move it. We don't use our power.

How important was your training?
Absolutely at the top of my list. Learning timing, for example, can be the difference between life and death. 

What is your favorite thing to do to fuel your creativity?
Get lots of rest.  

Read about Carol in a previous blog I wrote

Do you have the career you envisioned? Do you have the career you desire? If not, what kind of a career did you envision?
I never desired to be in this business. The career I desired was to become a nurse, which I did and I loved it. I got sidetracked, or should I say got ushered into this business, which I don't regret. It was nowhere in my dreams. 

A former boyfriend of mine heard me sing and insisted that I go to this club so the managers could hear me sing. I finally relented and went to this club called Frank's Steakhouse. The manager heard me sing and hired me on the spot. That's how it Astoria, New York. 

Who was the most influential person on your work?

Margaret Whiting was really influential in my work. My first Equity Show was One Mo Time.  Written by Vernel Bagneris, he was very influential to me. When I left there, and my next Equity show was Taking My Turn,  an off-Broadway musical revue put together by director Robert H. Livingston, composer Gary William Friedman, and lyricist Will Holt. That;s where I met Margaret Whiting, who was so instrumental in my career and became quite a friend and mentor.

If you could go back and change a choice that you made along the way as an artist, what would that be?
I don't know if I would change anything because they all have led to who I am today. Every experience builds character. All of this has helped to make me a better performer and a better person. I had to get through all of this to get to where I am. 

If you could or accomplish ANYTHING in the world and money was no object, what would that be?
It would be to give the world peace 

How far do you think your dreams can take you?
I think if you can see it and believe it, it can be done. You can conquer the world if you have those dreams. 

Carol Woods and Tex Arnold's Show Ain't We Got Fun returns To The Metropolitan Room on August 8th.  
As I told you before, Margaret Whiting was my mentor. When Margaret passed away, it left a hole in my heart. Tex was going through Margaret's music, and I said I wanted to do a tribute. Initially, I wanted to do a tribute to Margaret. When Tex and I got together and he started pulling out music, he was bringing out songbooks. The first songbook that he brought out was a Richard Whiting songbook. We started looking through the music, and in that one songbook, we found our show. I then said to Tex that perhaps we should do a tribute to Richard Whiting, Margaret's father. He was phenomenal. His music just lifts me. Before I even started in the business, I was a sucker for a good melody. 
Cast of Taking My Turn
I love melodic songs. I learn the melody before I learn the lyrics. 
Margaret taught me to combine the two, which is telling the story, which is important. I just hook into Richard's melodies. They are so beautiful and then the lyrics like He's Funny That Way and My Ideal, those songs are just fabulous and I have a great time singing them. 

What do you hope people
I Remember Johnny with Carol and Margaret
will take away with them after they see your show?

I hope they will take away how talented this man was. All of the composers that he partnered with, how beautiful they were and they are still relevant today. 

Why are you in this business?
Because I want to be!

Carol: Please leave the part out about Donald Trump.

Richard: I didn't hear you say anything about Donald Trump.

Carol: Exactly!  

Order Tickets for Carol's Show on August 8th HERE.

Please visit Carol's Fan Page

Thank you, to all mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!

With grateful XOXOXs from YOUR pro-active friend,

Check out my site celebrating the legacy of Dolly Gallagher Levi!
Louis Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971), nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, was an American trumpeter, composer, singer and occasional actor. Had a Huge hit record with Hello, Dolly! Appeared in a cameo in the film of Hello, Dolly! with Barbra Streisand
Carol and Debbi (Courtesy Kathy Brown)
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!
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Keeping Entertainment LIVE!

Richard Skipper,

1 comment:

  1. Richard, your blog made me get tearey-eyed. Every word about what you feel and what others feel about her describes my feeling and emotions as well. She has always gotten to my core. The fact that one voice can stand on a stage and hold an audience of that magnitude in the palm of her hand is mind-boggling. And I did notice the lower keys in some songs, but the power is still there. Her voice cracked a few times, but sometimes mine does too, so it alleviated my concerns and focus on that minor detail when the rest of her show was so grand. I have heard that she does not like performing live, but she didn't seem nervous at all - quite the contrary. Very relaxed and charming with her audience. Its interesting to note that even the biggest stars like her and Sinatra get butterflies just like we all do! I suppose its that desire to not disappoint; to do the absolute best performance each and every time. All I can say she did not disappoint. I will treasure and remember last night for the rest of my days. Lorraina Marro