Tracy Stark!

I aspire to the “Show up.  Pay attention.  Tell the truth.  Don’t get attached to the outcome.” philosophy.   I find the “tell the truth” part easy, because I’m such a horrible liar.
I can’t even fake liking someone, if I don’t.    Actually, I wish I were better at that.
-Tracy Stark
Happy Sunday!
Another week winds down! What a full week it has been also! I saw The Vortex on Monday night by Noel Coward presented by Noel and Company. Artistic director Keith Merrill did it again! Two home runs! (Last month was Design For Living)Next month, they are presenting The Mousetrap starring Carole Shelley.  
I cannot wait!
Patty Gay and chef Terrance Brennan at Artisanal
Wednesday afternoon, I interviewed the contestants in Artisanal's Grilled Cheese Contest. Did you know this was National Grilled Cheese Month? My friend Patty Gay was one of 6 finalists out of over a hundred submissions.

Last night, I went to a screening of a possible new cable show on Keeping America beautiful.
The week ahead is just as busy! The 27th annual Bistro Awards are tomorrow night. I'm having dinner with Ervin Drake and his beautiful wife, Edith on Wednesday night to interview him for an upcoming blog. In the coming weeks, I'm looking forward to Carole J. Bufford at The Metropolitan Room, Peggy Herman at Feinsteins, David Sabella at the Laurie Beechman, Lorinda Lisitza at The Metropolitan Room, and Janis Paige at Feinsteins! 
Live entertainment is ALIVE in New York!

Get out of the house! Put down your blackberries and other devices and mix and mingle! It's great to have choices and next Sunday, I'm going to be busy!
Gretchen Reinhagen, Tracy, Me, Sue Matsuki
I am seeing Randie Levine-Miller's Divo Show at Feinsteins. That has been on my calendar for some time. Before I get to Feinsteins, we will be at Don't Tell Mama to celebrate Tracy Stark's birthday in a show that is part of a series that Sue Matsuki produces called “People You Should Know.”   Only, this particular show is called, “The People That I Know You Know…The Ladies Are Singing Da Blues!”    

They ARE Bluesy women!   
Wonderful jazzy performers – Sue Matsuki, Joan Crowe, Tanya Holt, Laurie Krauz, and Gretchen Reinhagen. Tracy will be doing a set of her own tunes. It also happens to be a celebration of Tracy's birthday. It’s her half-century birthday!   There will be cupcakes.We all will be smiling.  
That’s on Sunday, April 29th,  Don’t Tell Mama, at 3 PM.
I love Tracy Stark. Is there anyone who doesn't. She's a friend. We have broken bread together, however, not as often as I would like. Our schedules preclude that! Tracy is part of my roster of musical directors that I call on from time to time. We have even been on the road together. She is one of the best in the business, so today, I am proud to celebrate Tracy Stark!  

Tracy was a toddler when she started playing piano. When she graduated from college, she immediately took a job musical directing a show. She's been playing the piano for a living for 25 years. 
Cruise ships, touring Europe, shows, rock bands, piano bars. If there’s music involved, it’s likely Tracy has done it. She hardly ever sought jobs out. It was just meant to be, and it came to her. 

I started off this interview by asking Tracy who the most iconic person she ever met is and if they lived up to her expectations. She has met met a few.She guesses Liza is the most specifically iconic person she has ever met, as far as entertainers.She’s the epitome of iconic, wouldn’t you say? Tracy's experience meeting her, was wonderful, and too short. She walked into a piano bar where Tracy was playing. She was funny, clever, and friendly to all the drunken patrons who rushed to bask in her glow. She absolutely lived up to Tracy's expectations. Tracy thinks Liza does glow, by the way.

I asked Tracy if she ever lost her concentration on stage. She said, "Oh sure! It happened last night."

Over-thinking gets Tracy in trouble.
Getting caught up in details, and losing sight of the musicality, is not a healthy state of mind for her.    When that happens, it feels as if she leaves the intuitive side of her brain, and goes over to the analytical side.
That’s fine when she's learning/working on music, but in performance, she really needs to relax, and give herself to intuition.
How does she get back on track?  She gives herself a mental slap. She literally says, “SHUT UP!” to herself. Being aware is half the battle. Breathing helps, as well.   

I asked Tracy what she has learned about making her relationships resourceful and long lasting in this business. 
Tracy has learned to come over-prepared.  She makes sure she is doing her absolute best, no matter how big or small the gig is.And, she is easy to work with. 
 She makes sure of that.
 It’s nicer for everyone involved, including Tracy. She readily admits she is not a great net worker. She wishes that she could tell me that she is sure she always follows-up, and keeps contacts, and has lunch with people, and goes to all the events.
 Tracy tells me she is such an introvert, that it feels awkward when she tries to forge relationships that don’t come naturally. The way Tracy makes her relationships in the industry more solid and resourceful, is to do her best work at all times, and be easy to work with, so people want to call her back!

Tracy's thoughts on Arts in Education
Isn’t it tragic that we need an outside organization to promote teaching one of the basic subjects we human beings need, to get us through our lives!? What are we, without art? 
 We are nearly expressionless. Children NEED a creative outlet, or they will channel that energy elsewhere.
 I was extremely lucky, to be able to go to a performing arts school.
 So, it’s incomprehensible to me that kids are growing up without having a daily/weekly doses of the intellectual, emotional, and intuitive food that music has been for me.  
The fact that Carol Channing has the grace, heart and generosity to make the commitment to bring the arts back into public schools is such an inspiring thing. 
If you could go back to ANY time in history, who would you like to have befriended and why?
Actually, not so far back. Many of the people I would have befriended, are still alive today. But, I would have loved to have hung out with all the singer/songwriters of the 60’s/70’s in their heyday. When they were in their 20’s. When there was a certain creativity in the air, and everything was love, peace music and flowers.Musically, Tracy feels that’s where her blood runs. 
Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Laura Nyro. Joan Baez, Dylan….. that whole gang. 
Tracy thinks she was born about 20 years too late.

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.
 Oh, dear Lord.  She’s incredibly inspiring.  My specific facts may be off, but hasn’t she been in the artistic spotlight in one form or another for 70 years?!  Based on her artistic accomplishments alone, that would be more than enough reason to honor this iconic woman.   But, the fact that she is contributing to the future of arts, at age 91, passing the torch, and inspiring people, and spending her energy to help others find the joy and expression that she, herself had the opportunity to experience throughout her life – this woman really should be acknowledged.
As a musician, Tracy has fallen into a certain niche, for which she is extremely grateful.  She works mainly with singers.  It’s bliss for her, to work with someone who is on her same musical wavelength, where they read each other’s minds, and moods, and tune into each other as if they’re one musician.  When this happens, Tracy feel she's where she was meant to be.
Tracy loves writing arrangements, and she loves writing songs, and she also a solo singer/songwriter, when she gets the urge. But, she really believes she gets the most gratification from working with a great singer with a shared musical sensibility as her own.

Tracy usually enjoys working with all sorts of singers, and most genres of music.   
Of course, in hindsight, there are certainly people Tracy has worked with, who have made her question her open-mindedness.

 One person that Tracy loves working with and does not have any doubts about is the incredible Barb Jungr. Tracy is currently doing a three-week run with  Barb. (I hope to do a blog feature on her soon!)

Barb is doing a show of Bob Dylan’s music.
Tracy says, "She’s beautifully eclectic, and her arrangements are intricate and well-crafted.  
She is smart and funny, and filled with wonderful stories and anecdotes.And, she’s just an incredible musician."

Her show runs at the Metropolitan Room, until April 28th. She has a few other gigs within the next week or so, in addition to Barb’s  shows. 

Tracy is doing Broadway on 22nd St. tonight, also at the Metropolitan Room, which features Broadway performers, on their off nights.
I also need to mention the benefit Tracy doing in addition to Sue's show next Sunday night, April 29th, for the Trevor Project.  It’s called True Colors, at the Laurie Beechman, at 7 PM.   There are a lot of wonderful Broadway performers. Tracy will be doing original tunes.
Tracy considers her biggest success in this business so far singing a duet with Phoebe Snow, on Tracy's last CD
Tracy tells me that it certainly is more of a personal success, rather than a commercial success. Phoebe was an other-worldly talent.   
So sad we lost her last year.
Tracy is in the process of making an album, where other singers cover her tunes.
This is such an exciting venture for Tracy.    
Some truly wonderful people are involved. Jane Monheit, Lesley Gore, Karen Black, Nona Hendryx. They’re still working on it, so there will be more great singers involved. Kitty Scrobela from Miranda Music came into Tracy's life, and made this whole thing possible. (Tracy is hoping this will be her next biggest success in show business!)
Tracy admits that she has bouts of depression. 
She works through it. "At least, so far, I’ve worked through it."   

Sometimes it feels like she's going through her days as if she's underwater. Somehow she forces herself to get up, and put one foot in front of the other.      
Tracy would love the industry to go back to the time when a performer didn’t have to be a producer for their own show.   Pay-to-play is the norm now. 
Do you consider what you wear on stage for your show a costume? Or is it just clothing to you?
Costume. I never wear sparkles unless I’m onstage. Putting my stage clothes on, is part of my preparation to perform.
Tracy is extremely grateful these days.She loves her work, and she often gets to work with great artists.  
She also works with students, and there’s a satisfaction she gets from watching someone go from being scared to sing, to sounding like a professional. 
 Tracy enjoys her work from both of those angles.
Would she like to make more money, while working less? Sure!!! She’d welcome that with open arms.
 When Tracy compares herself to other people, THAT makes her unhappy.
There are so many thousands of ways to go in terms of finding your audiences these days, especially with the internet.   When you are clever enough, you will get your name out there.  
 Not that Tracy is one of those people, by her own admission – but, she does know others who have gained a following through YouTube, Facebook, etc. when they would not have reached them otherwise.
A genie pops out of the lamp, he grants you three wishes. What are those wishes?
1. To be able to add hours onto my day, as needed.
 2.  To be pain-free.
 3.   To be able to shake off  insulting comments.
What is your favorite song? And yes, you can only pick one!!!
This is an unfair question to ask a musician!    There are thousands of songs I could easily put in my “favorite” category.  Sometimes I relate to a certain lyric, or a certain melody, or a certain groove.   On another day, I might feel completely differently about that same song.   But, since I promised to answer your questions, my favorite song TODAY is, “I Want You” by Bob Dylan, sung by Barb Jungr.
What is the last stage show you saw.  Local or professional.  
Lysistrata Jones
Lysistrata Jones. Don’t judge.A friend gave her a ticket.And that was "2 hours of my life I will never get back."
 What do you do to prepare for your performances? 
Putting on my stage clothes and make-up, is my pre-performance meditation. I also do a little yoga stretch of some sort, right before I go on. Doing that, reminds me to BREATHE.
 You do an iconic role. Do you think you should on to an iconic costume piece as a momento OR donate it to a museum for others to enjoy? 
Sell it to the highest bidder, and donate the money to Arts in Education!
Tracy is one of the lucky ones who makes a living at music, and has for 25 years. 
Except for a few months, when she first moved to San Francisco, in the 80’s.Before she made any musical connections, she had a job, pushing a mail cart at Arthur Anderson in San Francisco.It was horrible."Hey! Maybe I should go back to that previous question when you asked me about my lowest low.  Pushing a mail cart at Arthur Anderson, might have been that."
 What is the best compliment you have ever received in this industry?
Phoebe Snow telling me that my song, “You Gave That To Me” was her favorite song to sing to her daughter. 
Here are a few more compliments, Tracy!
"Tracy is a life-force and light like I've never met before. She is beautiful, talented, humble, gracious, joyful and my first call for any "Road Trip" show that I produce because she is what I call "drama free". She can play any type of music. She arranges with an original, fresh take on all songs brought to her and loves to collaborate. She respects singers. She works to make every person she plays for shine at whatever level they happen to be performing at but also challenges them to be better and reach higher.  I trust her when I need to vent. She is an amazing vocalist AND songwriter. I love her hair! She is my friend and I love her like the sister. Happy Birthday Tracy! My life is better with you in it my friend." Sue Matsuki

"Tracy is an angel and a total pro.  She brings a passion and approach to her music that makes it an absolute joy working with her."  Laurie Krauz
Laurie Krauz

"The very first time I worked with Tracy was for a group show. I had been asked to sing a fairly sad song, yet for an event that really called for something more uplifting. I walked into the rehearsal studio (an hour before the show), and said "Hi! Here's my song, and we have to find a way to make it joyous!" We had a good laugh over it, but you know, we actually made it work! SHE made it work!!! It took me a 10 minute rehearsal to know I'd met a kindred spirit. Today, Tracy is one of my closest friends. We teach together, direct shows together, and perform together. Whether I'm singing with her, or working with a mutual client, I ALWAYS know I'm in the best possible hands. 
There's something very special about working in the crazy business with people whom, I quite frankly, consider family. Tracy has an incredible knack for knowing where I am in a song, or what I'm going for, and filling in exactly what the song requires. I'm grateful I get to work with Tracy. I'm incredibly grateful for our friendship. And I wish her the happiest of Birthdays with many many more to come." Gretchen Reinhagen
Working with Tracy is heavenly!!!! What an honor and joy to work with such a talent and wonderful human being!!!
-Tanya Holt

One of the cool things about Tracy is that she is a terrific singer as well as pianist, so harmonies with her are always spot on and very creative. Plus she has GREAT hair! 
Joan Crowe

Tracy, You are worth celebrating!
Your devoted fan,

Reserve today for Peggy Herman. Click on the above banner and be part of our star studded audience!

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..My exclusive interview with Stephen Bogardus!

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 Al Koenig! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!!

with Marcus Simeone


Popular Posts