Cabaret Month: Anna Danes and MORE!

The key to success is emotional stability.
-Warren Buffet

Happy March 21st, 2018!
March 21 is the 80th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 285 days remaining until the end of the year.
In my continuation of celebrating Cabaret Month, today I would like to introduce you to someone that I have fallen in love with! I love her voice!! Anna Danes.
Discovering a new life, fresh purpose and her true inner voice after years of keeping up appearances in an unfulfilled existence she called a “gilded cage,” Anna Danes is truly flying high. The emerging jazz vocalist and songwriter captures the inspirational philosophy that continues to propel her forward in the opening lines from “Find Your Wings,” the gorgeous piano-vocal ballad that is the title track and centerpiece to her new full length album.
Speaking both to her soul and to millions of women who seek the courage to liberate themselves and follow their deeper creative passions, she sings, “When you feel that you don’t fit/You’re not understood one bit/Find Your Wings/You can rise above the fray/Sing what you can’t seem to say/Find Your Wings.”

The Polish born, San Diego based multi-faceted artist and performer’s advocacy for passion-pursuing and dream chasing has caught on quickly. Upon its release, Find Your Wings debuted at #1 on the iTunes jazz chart. Soon thereafter, it placed on two Billboard charts, reaching #13 on the Traditional Jazz chart and in the Top 25 on the Jazz Albums chart. The collection, a follow-up to her well received 2013 debut Longing, was produced by Dave Darling (Brian Setzer, Tom Waits, Jack Johnson, Motley Crue) and recorded with top L.A. session musicians in Capitol’s Studios A, where greats like Frank Sinatra and Nat “King” Cole once held court.
A true Renaissance woman who has used music as a springboard to become a motivational speaker, budding author, noted philanthropist and live show producer in the San Diego area, Anna recently created a vision board for the way she wants her career to unfold.
It includes images of her flying out of LAX to a multitude of destinations, stages with microphones and large audiences, the Hollywood Bowl, NYC skyscrapers, Grammy Awards, even the cover of Time Magazine. Bold? Yes! Yet none of these hopes and dreams seemed remotely possible just a few years ago, when her marriage was breaking down and the onetime stay at home mom was trying to literally find her wings and start over at the age of 43. Recording her second album in the place where the legends worked their timeless magic was the ultimate confirmation that she had succeeded in re-inventing herself while sharing those long latent musical gifts with the world.
“I could feel my jaw literally drop, walking in there where these icons created their magic and realizing that this was my time to make my mark,” Anna says. “It was truly an incredible trip and dream come true.
Our incredible production team brought in old mics from all the greats that worked with them in the past, we used a Yamaha that Nat had played. I recorded ‘That’s All’ with Richard Shelton, one of the world’s premiere Sinatra singers, in grand Frank style, using his old mics in the middle of the Studio A, Sinatra style!
“For me,” she adds, “the moment went deeper than recording a wonderful track in a historic setting.
For a girl who spent the first part of her childhood in Communist Poland under a repressive regime, it was a moment that reminded me of the freedom and unlimited potential we can reach in America.

It was also a connection to the classic Hollywood movies I watched in those days, growing up with big dreams and fantasies while living in a small apartment in Poland, of what it would be like to be onstage dressed in sequins.”
Darling helped Anna realize her vision to create a recording in the style of the classic 1975 Tony Bennett/Bill Evans album that she heard for the first time a few years ago. “I loved the sparsity of the music and how strong Tony’s vocals were, how absolutely magnificent Bill’s playing was,” she muses.
“I thought that if I were to make another album it would be like that, strong and simple, with exceptional musicians who could tell their own story on their respective instruments.”
Having quickly developed her strengths as an authentic storyteller, lyricist and songwriter, Anna’s initial concept was to create an album of all original songs. Darling had hooked her up with veteran songwriters Cindy Alexander and Mary Harris, which resulted in powerful pieces that doubled as spiritual affirmations and declarations of the joy of finding new love – true emotional progress from her debut album, which centered on her longing for true connection.
Ultimately, Anna and Darling decided on the perfect balance – six originals and six golden standards that would reflect her new outlook on life while establishing a link to the history of jazz even as she was adding her own stamp on the genre.

“Find Your Wings is about me having found my passion and purpose and being set free on this exciting new path of music, which allowed me to leave my cage of self-doubt,” she says.
“I had a cushy lifestyle and could have taken the path of least resistance and stayed in it.
Five years ago I was a pale shadow of myself, dressed nicely for all the world to see but empty inside.”

The six standards on Find Your Wings are all “dear friends” already in her repertoire – “I Will Wait For You,” “It’s Crazy,” “I Want to Be Around/Cry Me A River,” “That’s All” and “In The Wee Small Hours.” The six originals are powerful snapshots of her life from around the time she wrote them. “The Voice,” a co-write
with Alexander, is about life at the end of her marriage, while “Mr. OMG,” co-penned with Harris, reflects on life after separation.
The others – “Long Distance” (co-written with Darling), “See You in L.A.” (with Alexander) and “I Love You,” a hypnotic a capella piece written by Anna that closes the set – are life with a new love and falling in love for the first time in a long time.
Although the title track,  Find Your Wings,  is universal in its emotional impact, Anna says she initially had herself and her daughter in mind when she wrote it. Ironically, the singer initially
discovered her latent vocal gifts via vocal lessons she had won in an auction and originally gave to her daughter, who had expressed a strong interest in music.
When her daughter wanted to quit after a few lessons, Anna stepped in and took one herself. The teacher, upon hearing her voice, said, ‘Wow, where did you come from?’ One of the teachers, veteran pianist, arranger and composer Larry White, became Anna’s mentor, helping her stay in tune, develop a unique style, find suitable songs and reach her potential. As composer, performer and producer, White guided the creative process of recording Longing.
In addition to her career as a singer, Anna produces private and public events as well as the very successful Jazz on Cedros concert series in San Diego that has celebrated sold out shows since its inception in 2014. She is currently writing her first book – also titled “Find Your Wings” – which chronicles her incredible journey from Poland to Canada and Southern California, through her careers as a lawyer and business manager for her husband, and the amazing unfolding of her musical artistry.
It is also a book of motivation and inspiration.
Anna recently began producing another ambitious project, The Jazz Divas, bringing together 15 of San Diego’s top jazz singers and presenting them in a glamorous Vanity Fair cover-style photoshoot held at the San Diego Symphony. Magazine editorials, a documentary and a “Jazz Divas” show based on the concept are currently in the works. She is also an avid philanthropist for causes that support women, children and the arts, with a seat on the board of the San Diego Symphony.

“When I first discovered my gift,” Anna says, “it was such a great feeling being able to sing, and I felt free and liberated for the first time in my life. I believe everything happens at the right time, and lived through so many geographic and emotional upheavals, I can bring truck-fuls of experience into every lyric I share. It’s a lot to have dealt with – three immigrations, losing my entire family, going through divorce, and illness – but from all that I’m able to bring a genuineness and honesty that comes with time and wisdom and not be afraid to show any of it. There’s a dignity that comes from being yourself and letting people know that it’s okay to be vulnerable – because we’re all in this together.”

Enjoy our interview...

What keeps you going in the creative process?
Life unfolding around me! My songs have been largely autobiographical - for me that’s the only way to go.
I cannot write about things that are not intimately familiar to me, that have not left a mark on my heart somehow. I get inspired by love, like most of us. I get inspired by beauty and nature - and hope.  And every day, even the cloudy ones, are an opportunity to see something new, exciting or just through a different lens. I get excited by life, yes!  And even the pain moves me because you have to deal with it and the best way to resolve pain is to create art with it and deliver an uplifting message that others will hopefully relate to.

What, other than music, has inspired you recently?
I’m a very visual and creative person, so my surroundings are key to inspiring me on a daily basis. My house, which is filled with tons of color and folk art, puts a smile on my face every day - that’s my baseline.
From there, I get inspired by a variety of things. Recently, I wrote a couple of blogs about a photoshoot I had in the Hollywood Hills - full on Old Hollywood glamour, under the Hollywood sign - and I discussed what “sexy” means to me. Nowadays, sexy gets lumped with trashier things - we tend to forget that sexy is healthy, normal and feminine for a woman.
I am making jazz sexy again - just being myself, glamorous, confident, curvy, never over-revealing, but always honest.  You can read the blog here - it got published recently:

Who are your biggest musical influences? 
I grew up with disco in the 1970’s in Poland! ABBA was a huge influence then. Also listened to a lot of adult contemporary music because of my parents: Streisand, Manilow, etc. Jazz came into my world when I was in my 20’s and I instantly fell in love with Ella Fitzgerald, the warm tone of her voice and its incredible power. Next came Sinatra. I can’t stop listening to that man.
Every time I turn Siriusly Sinatra on,  I discover yet another song he did that I never heard of, a new way to phrase things, a new way express an emotion - and be unapologetically yourself.

What are your thoughts on today's music industry? Good, Bad, Indifferent
Complex. Still trying to figure it out! And the world of jazz and standards is so much different than the rest of the industry. Jazz is the quiet one that hasn’t been affected as much I don’t think by streaming and other changes.
Jazz lives in the moment so best place to hear jazz is in a live performance. I produce jazz shows in San Diego. They are hugely popular. Are we getting rich on them? No! But is everyone having fun, young and old - you bet!  And it’s different every time, from fun to intellectually complex, from age-old familiar standards to in the moment insane
improvisations!  Getting back to the bigger music industry question, I was reading Billboard Magazine yesterday and their “Top 100” issue. What blew me away is how much music is simply just big business now.

How did your latest CD come about? 
My latest CD is called “Find Your Wings”.  I was inspired by Hollywood and all things classic jazz! I was dating a gentlemen in the entertainment industry at the time too - a high up player.
I was inspired by him and his world and our relationship. So I wrote 6 (co-worte 5) songs about it. And then I decided to follow my musical heroes to the heart of Hollywood and record in the footsteps of Sinatra and Bennett at Capitol Studios!  The sound of the album drew inspiration for the Bennett/Evans collaboration - strong and sparse. The look of the album was all classic glamour and beautiful, complete with a mural of Marilyn Monroe behind me on the album cover.  The other six songs on the album are classic standards, re-worked in a fresh way by some of the best session players in Los Angeles.
Rich Ruttenberg arranged and played piano; Trey Henry on bass; John Ferraro on drums. Dave Darling produced and mixed and Steve Genewick engineered. The album has received countless positive critical reviews and ended up debuting #1 on the iTunes Jazz Chart and Top 25 in ALL of Billboard Jazz.  I am quite proud of my “baby”!

What about your career isn’t working? 

Music business is tricky, like any part of entertainment. It takes years and years sometimes to get wider recognition.  You also have to have a great team around you and know who to trust. I’ve had some trip ups and disappointments, but you just keep going.
Wish I was “there” already, lol! And by that I mean, touring regularly and performing on big stages - that’s the plan!

How did you hear you’d booked your first big gig? 
A phone call from the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club three years ago.
They wanted me to sing the National Anthem for Opening Day of Del Mar Racing, 45,000 people in attendance. I am a new immigrant to the US. I’ve never sang the National Anthem before!!!! But I took the gig and went to work and the following week, nailed it!
And then was asked the last two years as well!

What is your favorite event in the entertainment industry? 
My shows: Jazz on Cedros, now in its 4th year in Solana Beach.
I bring different talent together at San Diego’s biggest urban winery, and we create a jazz night like no other, full of great music, fun, glamour, wine and gourmet food.
My other favorite event in the entertainment industry -  sitting on the couch, watching the Grammys.
I went to the Grammys and the parties last year.
It was better on the couch at home!

If you could have coffee with any living person, it would be...
DAVID FOSTER and I’d convince him to produce for me an EPIC Jazz/Pop record the likes of which have never been heard before, lol, which would smash all of Michael Buble’s and Diana Krall’s records! That’s ALL!

If you could trade places with anybody for a day, you would choose…
I’d kick Tony Bennett off the stage at a sold out Hollywood Bowl summer concert, assuming the LA Philharmonic was backing him up, and take over for the night!

If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

Singing, speaking, writing, entertaining, inspiring professionally on very large stages around the world in front of millions.

If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be? 

What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?
Being asked by the San Diego Symphony four years in a row to produce and perform at one of their key fundraisers where glamour and jazz come together!

When can we expect your next CD?
No plans for release date but the songs are starting to write themselves! Was waiting for new stories!  Maybe in 2019.

Name one person you would like to see profiled in my blog
Daneen Wilburn - friend and fellow singer from San Diego. About to release her debut album produced by two time Grammy Winner Kamau Kenyatta (Gregory Porter). She’s AWESOME!!! (Editor's Note: Daneen, if you see this, contact me!)

What's next? 
 Health. I just got diagnosed with breast cancer. First things first and hopefully the music will resume soon. 

Anything else you wish included?
Always believe in yourself, live with passion, don’t be scared….and “Find Your Wings”!

Order Anna Danes' Find Your Wings HERE

Richard's Picks For The Day
ScoBar Entertainment is pleased to present DON MOST, as he returns to the Iridium stage with his new show Mostly Swinging, for one performance only, Tuesday, April 3, 2018, at 8:30pm. Best known to television audiences as “Ralph Malph” of the long-running show Happy Days, Don will be joined by his quartet.
Read more HERE

The versatile Pearl Bailey (1918-1990) was part comedian, part actress and all singer, with the skill to talk through a song or sing it, delivering the message with canny ease. Will Friedwald’s
Clip Joint – The Pearl Bailey Centennial Special, Monday, March 26 at 12 PM explores Bailey’s legacy through clips of her performances. 

Who is else is going? I am going on 3/26 -- Can't wait! Let's all be mesmerized together! Anita Gillette is captivating! 

On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence in our schools and communities.
I will be among them! Will you? 

I am proud to be part of this short for Rockland Pride. I hope you enjoy:

Thank you, to ALL who are mentioned in this blog for gifts you have given to the world and will continue to give

Now, go and do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return!

April 8th, 2018 

Russ Woolley Proudly Presents
Richard Skipper Celebrates
Broadway and off-Broadway Firsts...and More!

1 PM Brunch Show Laurie Beechman Theater 
Lane Bradbury created the role of Dainty June in the original Broadway production of the classic show Gypsy starring Ethel Merman.
Annie Hughes off-Broadway Closer Than Ever
Lauren Mufson Broadway and National Touring companies of Mamma Mia!
Marta Sanders Best Little Whorehouse In Texas Original Company

Musical Direction Joe Goodrich with Rex Benincasa on Percussion, Steve Doyle on bass, and Erik Lawrence on Sax
With music, reminisces and an afternoon of fun and show business! 90 minutes of merriment and excitement …Right on the heels of the 2/11 Russ Woolley's CELEBRATES Richard Skipper's’ BIRTHDAY…SELL-OUT Extravaganza…

When and Where:
Sunday, April 8th - 1 PM, Doors open 12:15

THE LAURIE BEECHMAN THEATRE, 407 West 42nd Street (lower level of the WEST BANK CAFE) Producer: Russ Woolley $30 ticket plus $20 food/beverage minimum - exquisite and reasonably priced food and drink

Richard Skipper has assembled a great cast to entertain and honor Broadway and off-Broadway artists… RICHARD SKIPPER has become synonymous with “feel good entertainment of the highest quality”. For decades Richard has entertained thousands and celebrated the careers of many of Theatre Row’s finest and most honored stars… It is now our turn to honor artists and the roles they created and/or made their own… The afternoon will prove to be an event where all will arrive and leave with smiles! This will be similar to the old-fashioned TV specials and series where we get to chat with and honor this Entertainment Icon.

So — Order your tickets now online…

A Few Audience Testimonials

Another fantastic edition of Richard Skipper Celebrates 3/18/18 in honor of John Kander’s Birthday. Obviously, the music was terrific but the performances were outstanding. I loved Ms. Asbury’s YES! and Also the duet performance by Jana Robbins & David Sabella. But my favorite, (which RICHARD hinted before the show was just for me was Lucy Spina’s RING THEM BELLS (bells included) .. This show never disappoints... If you’ve attended one or several, you know what I mean, if you haven’t done so yet, you’re really missing out.
-Avi Duvdevani, South Amboy NJ
We had the great joy to be at the wonderful Carol Channing birthday bash Richard Skipper blessed us with on 1/31/18.  Richard is truly brilliant and through him the great joy that was spread throughout the room was perfection. Thank you again.  Each time I am able to be at his "Celebrations" I feel uplifted and so glad that I was there.
-Bob Diamond, NYC

I was so happy that we attended Richard Skipper's Christmas cabaret on Sun. 12/3, thanks to Arlene Jacks, who recommended it very highly.  What a great experience - it was fun, heartwarming and sentimental.  Great performers and great audience!  What a treat to see Kathryn Crosby - that really took me back in time to all the Bing Crosby Christmas specials.  I can't wait to attendadditional shows.  Richard: you and your team are a class act!
Diane Merklinger, Briarwood, New York
The show is also made possible by Wright Bros. Real Estate. 

With grateful XOXOXs ,


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