Saturday, July 16, 2016

Taking a Chance on LOVE with Larry Kerchner, Wendy Lane Bailey, Linda Wexler...and MORE!

I live in Gratitude. Linda Wexler
Opposite of love is not anger, but indifference.

Happy July 16th, 2016!
My head is reeling over the events in Nice two days ago, Turkey yesterday, and recent events here in the United States in the past weeks.
I think there is a huge disconnect in the world and we have to bring empathy back into our lives. These events are not something that is "out there". It is in each and every one of our souls. It is in how and what we put out into the world. It is in every post we put on Facebook. It is in every tweet we share with the world. It is in every blog I write. There are some things that we have no control over. However, we all have control over not only how we react to what is going on in the world, but the actions we take in response to what is going on in the world.

We need a revolution of love that creates so much peace, we just can't help but emit it out!
Shannon Algeo

I have spent the past month in response to Orlando's Pulse massacre getting pro-active. I spoke at a rally in Rockland County, New York, where I live in response to the massacre.
I joined forces with the Brady Campaign for Gun Violence Prevention under the umbrella of LGBT4GVP. Our group marched as part of the Heritage of Pride March last month marking 46 years towards getting Equality for ALL in this country.
Here is a letter I received from songwriter Larry Kerchner on June 26th, 2015:
Hi Richard,

I’m sitting here still with tears of joy in my eyes, having just heard the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage and President Obama’s speech.  I’m so happy for humankind.  Maybe "love conquers all" after all!
Please accept the attached song as my gift to you and the entire LBGBT community.  It’s called “Love Is Love."  I wrote it in the mid-70s for a children’s TV show to teach kids that love has no boundaries.  I cited examples to which they could relate, but it was all a metaphor for understanding and tolerance regarding the many gradations of sexual preference.  My little 1980s demo recording may be dated in its technology, but its message has finally been heard.  I would love to help bring that message to the entire world.  When President Obama used those very words, “Love is love,” a few minutes ago, I knew I had to come forward with my song.  I only wish I knew how to share it with the world.  If you do, it would be so wonderful.  I think it might make lots of people happy and give them long-overdue affirmation.
Warmest and happiest regards,

I also got a call from Larry after the Orlando massacre reminding me of this song.
 Seth Rudetsky had just come out for his Broadway Sings For Orlando recording of What The World Needs Now in which many in the Broadway community came together to raise money for Orlando's LGBT Center. The stars of What The World Needs Now Is Love in the wake of the tragic shooting that cost 49 people their lives and countless others injury at Orlando’s Pulse gay nightclub.
Broadway Stars Record What The World Needs Now
Broadway came together to record a cover of Burt Bacharach and Hal David‘s
This, of course, was similar to when many in the pop world came rogether to record We Are The World in the eighties.
When Larry mentioned his song, I thought it would be a great idea to do the same with the cabaret community. Larry loved the idea and we started reaching out to many in the cabaret community and the response was overwhelming.
We got seventy five people to sign up and over the course of two days we divided them into 8 recording sessions. Mark Janas came on board to musically direct the singers and tracks were laid down and now the mixing process is taking place.
Glen Charlow came up with a great design with a little input from Larry and myself.   I wanted the logo to include the Pride colors, a nod to music, Orange County is also the home of Orlando.
with one of our singers, Marieann Meringolo (Photo credit: Sandi Durell, Theatre Pizzazz)
and orange which is the color of healing on the pride flag and also the color adopted by Gun Violence Prevention organizations.
We hope to launch within the next four weeks! Monies earned though this venture will benefit the LGBT Center in Orlando and The Brady Campaign for Gun Violence Prevention.
Larry recorded a brand new contemporary track for our project.

Sue Matsuki graciously offered to help out with all of the coordination of scheduling and did a yeoman's job of following up with all of the artists and making sure that everything stayed on track. I was unable to be there on Wednesday and I can honestly say I could not have done this without her. 

John Kilgore donated all the studio time for the tracking.  I want to stress the kindness, generosity, and philanthropy of people in making this possible.  Additional help is needed to press and package the CD as we move forward.  We are open to all suggestions!
"We are in mourning, and the world will remember the unthinkable loss and suffering in Orlando for a long time to come. But as this tragedy takes its place in history, I can only hope that the lives of those affected will serve as a beacon, and that from their sacrifice, change will emerge and the world will finally see what hate and fear has done to millions of people through the ages. It needs to stop.

I wrote “Love Is Love” as an inclusive celebration of life — life not bound by size, shape, age, color, language, ethnicity, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation, rather life defined by its shared humanity.  I offer my song not as a eulogy, but as an anthem for a new era.  One with a message easily understood by children and adults alike.”

-Larry Kerchner
Stay tuned for exciting announcements.

I would like to thank Larry Kerchner for writing the song, Richard Skipper for producing and the many talented artists for their participation in this project for the victims of the Orlando massacre. I'm am proud to be a part of this and proud of this community. 

-Aaron Lee Battle 
Larry Kerchner

Wednesday, July 13 and Thursday, July 14, 2016 -- two dates that will live not in infamy, but in myall don’t seem to be able to embrace as humankind.  As a straight male, I have a duty to those who don’t and haven’t enjoyed the same freedom as I to literally be who they are!  An absurd reality.  My statement below will tell my feelings on this matter.
heart always — the answer to a dream forty-one years in the making.  My song, “Love Is Love,” was recorded by the most elegant, most sincere, and most giving group of people I will ever know.  A representative contingent from the always-caring Cabaret Community came together to lend their voices for a plea for peace, understanding, compassion, and all the things we all want, but we

But first, in addition to the singers who beautifully gave life to my song, I must acknowledge the team of people who made this all possible.  The first person I approached was
Helping Peggy Eason with her Release form
Richard Skipper, who came to mind as the perfect facilitator -- a talented performer, publicist, and one who has his pulse on the community I only know peripherally.  Boy, was I right!  The next thing was to secure a studio in which to record “Love Is Love.”  The first person I contacted was John Kilgore, a top-drawer audio engineer whose studio I had used many times with terrific results.  After John heard the scope of our project, he told me “Yes,” but more than that, he magnanimously offered the use of his studio as his contribution to a cause he believed in.  Then Sandi Durell, my long-time friend, writer, and producer, came on board with her usual ferocity and lent

her considerable talents to our quickly-widening quest.
One of the first things she did was enlist Glen Charlow to do graphic design — again both were happy to donate their time and talent.  Then there were people like Sue Matsuki, whose organizational skills were paramount to our success.  It was a labor of love for all concerned, and there are others who deserve our thanks and will be recognized with great appreciation. 

“LOVE IS LOVE” What it means to me.
We are in mourning, and the world will remember the unthinkable loss and suffering in Orlando for a long time to come. But as this tragedy takes its place in history, we can only hope that the lives of those affected will serve as a beacon, and that from their sacrifice, change will emerge and the world will finally see what hate and fear has done to millions of people through the ages. It needs to stop.
I wrote “Love Is Love” as an inclusive celebration of life — life not bound by size, shape, age, color, language, ethnicity, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation, rather life defined by its shared humanity.
Bob Diamond, Sandi Durell, Peggy Eason
I offer my song not as a eulogy, but as an anthem for a new era. One with a message easily understood by children and adults alike.
It’s hard to believe that I wrote “Love Is Love” in 1975, but sadly, I was vilified back then by many who didn’t understand or didn’t want to understand. I’ve tried so long to reach people’s hearts and minds through my song and by example. I was starting to think that it would never happen. But 41 years is long enough. Its time has finally come and its message has finally been heard as almost daily events keep popping up to remind us that this message cannot be forgotten!
Larry and Mark working with Laurie Krauz, Wendy Lane Bailey, Wendy Scherl, Kim Sutton
I acknowledged most of the wonderful people who helped make the recording of my song, “Love Is Love,” a huge success, but because we’re musical kindred spirits, I wanted to separately laud praise on (and thank profusely) Mr. Mark Janas.  When I asked Mark if he would conduct the singers in the studio while I produced from the control booth, he generously stepped up to the plate and I must say, knocked it out of the part!  What a pleasure it was to work with a professional of Mark’s work ethic and talent.  Toss in his genuineness and likability, and it was a singularly rewarding experience.  I can’t imagine the session being as successful without his help, and I feel very fortunate indeed.  So thank you, Mark Janas, from the bottom of my heart.
-Larry Kerchner
(Thank you, Sandi Durell for the use of photos used here)

I cannot wait to start sharing this with the world!

"Love Is Love” 
Words and Music Larry Kerchner
Copyright 1975, 2016 by Larry Kerchner
Produced by Larry Kerchner for LaCait Productions
 The Love Is Love Remember Orlando Project
Larry Kerchner and Richard Skipper, co-producers
for Richard Skipper Celebrates
Richard Skipper, Publicist

There is STILL a lot of love going around. Today, I celebrate those artists that are making a difference.

The following was posted on Facebook by my friend Elynn Diamond:

I pray for our world to be healed...
for every soul living to find peace within...
to be a peacemaker.
our souls are needing this more than ever.

i cry out for the lives that were taken today in France...
i cry out for all the lives that have been stopped
around the world through this horrific evil that is walking the earth.

i pray.
i keep praying.
and i know in my heart that it will take each
and every soul alive to breathe in to their faith
with the knowing that:
we are here to be peacemakers...
we are here to love one another...
we are here to forgive one another.

we all need to be a part of the healing,
and not part of the fear.

only love will free the earth of this evil...
nothing else.
a love that is so strong and that is behind each word,

action and thought of each living soul...
a love so powerful that no darkness can shake it...
faith so deeply unwavering that it will fill each star
in the universe to shine upon all souls with healing.

keep your love strong.
keep your faith in action.
keep being a peacemaker for all souls.

radical love is the only way.
love with every cell of your being...
with every word you speak...
with every action your take...

BE a peacemaker in this world...
BE part of the healing.

-Elynn Diamond

Today, I would also love to celebrate Wendy Lane Bailey, who recently had a birthday. I originally met Wendy when I was booked, by Judy Simmons, many years ago in Washington D.C. Wendy graciously opened her home to me and we have remained friends every since. Wendy is a great talent but also does so much behind the scenes. Wendy also joined us on the recording of Love Is Love earlier this week.

In love with music and lyrics, Wendy Lane Bailey has a powerful classic pop voice (think Ronstadt crossed with Adele with a bit of Patsy Cline thrown in for good measure), and a rather cavalier attitude towards the idea of “genre”. Fusing elements of pop, jazz, country, folk, and musical theatre into a sound that is lush and romantic yet thoroughly contemporary, she makes the old sound new, and the new sound timeless. She firmly believes that a great song never really goes out of style, but can be reinterpreted to reflect changing times.

Here is our mini-interview
What does this time in your life mean to you?
They (whoever “They” might be) say to do one thing every day that scares you. I seem to have entered a time in my life when I’m averaging about twelve of those things on a daily basis. Though I may have my moments of shaking my fist at the sky and complaining vociferously about it, in the end, this can only be a good thing. I think I’ve come to a place where I’m open to expanding creatively in ways I’ve never thought of before. It is exciting and terrifying all at once, and yet I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Right now I’m working with Gretchen Cryer and Michele Brourman on a woman theatre piece called Hot Coffee, MS that explores the lives of three generations of women.
Not only am I writing the script, but they have me writing lyrics! That’s something I never ever thought I’d do. I’m also working on revamping my website, and hope to have a little mini recording project to go along with that.  Finally, I’ve taken up ballroom dance, and even though I sometimes I look like a stork on crack I love it.
I keep an index card on my desk with the words “Sing! Write! Dance! “emblazoned on it. A good day is one where I get to do all three of those things. I don’t always know what I’m doing from moment to moment but I’m having a great time figuring it all out!

How did your career start?
It was a dark and stormy night in the Mississippi Delta…Sorry, sometimes I just can’t help myself.
I started out singing and then I discovered acting. For a long time I felt that I had to choose between the two, and then one day I discovered this whole world of artists who combined both those things and used it to tell stories. I was hooked from that moment on.

What is your dream gig?

This is one of those “If I won the lottery” questions… My dream gig would be to create a space for a collective of artists not just myself. I’d love to take a great old building and turn it into a thriving arts center where performing and visual artists can flourish.  It would be more than a place for events, it would be a place of community and collaboration. The type of place that would certainly feature established artists, but also gives emerging artists a place to hone their craft.
Somewhere audiences would go because even if they don’t always know what they’re going to see it will always be exciting, fun, and even a little bit challenging.

What interests you most about your profession?
The opportunity to create my own unique artistic voice and to use that voice to tell stories which aren’t often heard.

What inspires you the most?
Deadlines! Bills! Not really. Well… maybe a little, but in reality, there’s really no one single thing that inspires me. I find inspiration everywhere! In colors, sounds, words strung together in just the right way, a lush melody, art, stories. I’m a magpie, easily distracted by any shiny beautiful thing that crosses my path.

Do you think there is a stigma against your profession? Why?
Yes. I think sometimes people have the idea that we get into doing this because we couldn’t do anything else. For me, the opposite is true. I do this because it offered me a place to create my own vision, to take risks, and discover who I am as a performer.

Finish this sentence: I always roll my eyes when…
Oh, so many things…But I think, for me, the biggest thing is when someone displays blatant bad manners. Being a creative person does not excuse you from behaving graciously. I’ve seen so many terrible examples of people being downright rude before, during and after shows that it’s one of my biggest pet peeves. Whether you’re a part of the show or part of the audience there is no excuse for rudeness. It costs nothing to be considerate, and it means so much to everyone around you.

How important was your training?
Very! I’ve had so many wonderful mentors who have taught me, and I can’t imagine where I’d be without their guidance. It’s an ongoing process. I don’t think there should ever be a point where I say “Okay, I’m done with my training”.
I think learning, any kind of learning, is essential to a performer. It doesn’t always have to be the kind of learning that deals directly with what happens on-stage. The more you learn about the world around you the more you have to bring to your work.

Birthday thoughts?
This year in particular, I’m reminded how grateful I am to have friends and family and friends who have become family (Fremily?) who love and support me, and even tell me when I’m wrong. It helps me realize what’s truly important to hold tightly and what I can let go. As long as I’m still loving and learning and growing and laughing it’s a successful year.

What kind of career do you want?
Most of all I want to do the work that I love and to do it well. I want to have collaborators who inspire me, and audiences that connect to what I do.
If I inspire someone else to tell their stories because I share mine that would be a lovely bonus.

Who was the most influential person on your work?
Only one, huh?  That being the case I would have to say my mother, Frances Carter.  Not only was she one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, but she had superb timing, and a wonderful way with words.

I’m pretty sure I get my love of music from her but she was a much better dancer than I. She had great style and beautiful manners. Mom was also the first person to recognize that I loved to perform. She bought me my first microphone. It was an eight track player with a built in microphone, and I would give concerts in the living room singing along to Donny and Marie.

If you could go back and change a choice you made along the way as an artist which one might that have been?
I think that there have been times when I let fear stop me from doing things, and those are the times I regret the most.

If you could do or accomplish ANYTHING and money wasn’t an object, what would that be?
This one goes back to the dream gig question. I would definitely love to establish a space not just for me to create but for a whole community of artists. I love the energy of being with other creative people, and to be surrounded by that on a daily basis would be heaven.

What is your favorite piece of art?
This is another one I have trouble narrowing down because there are so many.  If we’re talking visual art I’m going to cheat and give you two of my very favorites. One is John Singer Sargent’s Madame X, I have to stop and visit her every time I go to the Met. Number two would be George Seurat’s The Models.
If you want art in terms of music and theatre I’m going to plead the fifth here, as that’s like asking me to choose my favorite child.

How Far do you think your Dreams can take you?
I think they can take me as far as I want to go as long as I’m willing to put the work into it.

Name one piece of art (music, theatre, prose or poetry) that you wish you had written, and why. 
Sunday in the Park With George, I think. It has so much to say about love, art, and obsession that every time I see it or listen to it I discover something new.

Please visit Wendy Lane Bailey's website. Here's to the next chapter!

I also would like to celebrate an artist that I have come to love through the visual arts: Linda Wexler!
Linda Wexler
Linda was born and raised in and around New York City, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from City University of New York, and a Masters in Education from Hofstra University. She taught Art in Public School, Kingsboro Community College, guest lectured at various colleges and museums . For the past 20 years Linda has lived and worked in South Jersey, doing commission art, such as Portraits, Public and Private Murals and Art, as well as art illustration. with accomplishments in several mediums; these include museum quality Miniature Furniture Reproduction, Murals, Artworks for the Healing Arts, Licensing of Original Art, and an Author/Illustrator of a Children’s Book.
Order Linda's book on Amazon titled "The Sleepy Animal ABCzzz"
Here Is our mini-Interview:

What does this Time in your Life Mean to you?
To a large extent, it means that I personally create what I really want to do, without consideration or necessity to keep my commissioned Art priority; I am truly grateful for every piece of commissioned Art I have ever been hired to do, and am thankful I can now fulfill the imaginative pieces in my mind; this is the third act of  my life, and I want to realize several goals saved for this time of Art freedom.

What is Something that People Do Not Know about you…that you don’t mind sharing ?
I am a history buff; I firmly believe that learning from history is paramount to a better nation…and hope we can integrate those lessons more fruitfully in our near future.

Finish this sentence: I Wish Parents Would…
Remember that children learn most from what they see their parents do.

What is One Thing you Would Like to be Known for ?
If I can humbly gather from the reviews I have received, it is my commitment to honest caring about the quality of my commissioned Artwork; from the medium chosen, to constant communication with my clients to integrate them in the process…I have found this procedure concludes with a far more fulfilled client.

How would you Finish this Sentence: I Always Roll My Eyes when…
People say one thing, and do another….and seem unrealized about their contradiction.

How Important was your Training ?
It gave me a foundation of basics, which provided a springboard to my own development in techniques

Who was the Most Influential Person in My Work ?
I cannot say just one Artist…because so many have influenced me; but if I was to generally identify with one Artist it would be Gustav Klimt, because he utilized decorative Art techniques while expressing humanity.

If you Could go back and change a Choice you
Made as an Artist, what would it be ?
That I allowed life circumstances to undermine confidence in my Artistic Ability during my young adult years.

If you Could do or Accomplish Anything and Money was not an Object, what would it be ?
Open a Multi-Generational Art Education Institute inclusive of all genders, and ethnicity.

What is you Favorite Piece of Art you have Created?
If I answer in terms of a commercial piece that has power to bolster and encourage…Love Who You Love;
(Which happens to be a co-creation with my partner)

How do you practice gratitude ?
Well, each and every morning after breakfast, my partner and I read from a book of positive affirmations...each day is a different word or expression...all of which remind me to integrate a sense of gratitude for all that will happen during my day.  If things occur during the day that challenge me...before I choose my response...I give thanks for all that I have...and know that I will meet the challenges...whether they be physical, financial, or emotional...with my best intent....and have faith that "all is as it should be".
Linda’s book on Amazon.

Linda’s book with an online preview.

Linda’s honor: UCLA chose her Artwork for website.
their award-winning new dining services and included her on their

Linda’s products store online with Society6.
 As you can see, we have a LOT to be proud of. Let's all agree to celebrate that pride in each other! 
Please send your suggestions for future blogs to

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!
Happy Birthday, Ginger Rogers


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

Please join us! Contact me for more details

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

Richard Skipper,

1 comment:

  1. I am so proud and honored to be featured in part of your wonderful blog. As always.. I am grateful! Linda Wexler