A Strange Sort of Christmas
How do New York's cabaret, concert, and theater stars feel about singing during this bittersweet holiday season? Caruso finds out.
CONSIDERING THE WORLD SITUATION, WHAT'S IT LIKE TO BE SINGING IN NEW YORK CITY DURING THE HOLIDAYS?
(Performing Linda Eder: The Holiday Concert at the Gershwin Theater, December 26-30)
"I did a concert three days after September 11, and it all seemed so different. Every lyric seemed to apply to what was going on. Songs that you wouldn't even expect to apply, did. I was singing 'Don't Rain On My Parade' and came to the lyric 'Don't tell me not to fly, I've simply got to.' It felt so good to stand there and belt that line out! The audience felt it, too. They had a sort of pent-up anger, yet they wanted to celebrate and hear some feel-good songs at the same time. Strangely, we had decided to record 'Here Comes The Sun' by George Harrison months and months ago, because I have always loved the song. The day we were going to mix the cut, we woke up and heard that he had died. In fact, the mixing board we used for the song was one that Harrison had used. I'm so glad I was able to do it...it was like my own little private farewell."
(Starring in A Holiday in New York at Feinstein's at the Regency through December 22)
"In one sense, New York feels the way it always does at holiday time. On another level, there's a different subtext; a feeling of determination and gratitude. I see it from the stage every night. Every song I sing has a deeper resonance. When I sing 'God Bless America' towards the end of my show, people stand spontaneously and put their hands over their hearts. It's extraordinary. That wouldn't have happened before September 11; it would have seemed a bit old fashioned and corny, somehow. I just read an article in The New York Times about Tom Brokaw visiting the firemen at Ground Zero. One of the young firemen said, 'Mr. Brokaw, just watch our generation now.'
"People are hungry to unify the world and pull people back together. Singing 'God Bless America' isn't really inclusive enough anymore. When I sing it, I'm really thinking 'God Bless the World.' People have to think more globally...in terms of all humanity. The world right now is a place where we can only survive with recognition of our interdependence. It's a time of transition that people involved in spiritual pursuits have been predicting for a long time. That transition required upheaval in order to achieve the result of unity. That's what I think all of this will lead to. Who knows how long it will take--10, 20, or 100 years--but it's the start of something that will affect generations to come. Hopefully, the world will be a different, nonviolent place. We're moving towards something incredible."
(Starring in Roadside, The York Theater through December 23. Also in concert with Steve Barcus, featuring songs from her new CD All Grown Up, at Don't Tell Mama on Thursday, December 20, at 11pm)
"It's always exciting to perform in New York. I live in Texas now but I came up to rehearse Roadside on October 22. It was interesting, because I felt an amazingly sad yet wonderful feeling in the city. There was so much loss but, at the same time, everyone was pulling together in a feeling of community. There was and is a sense of patriotism I've never seen in this country. Being an entertainer at times like this humbles you because you wonder if what you're doing is that important in the scheme of things.
"During World War II, Winston Churchill was asked to cut back funding for the arts to aid the military and he refused; he felt that they were fighting for their culture, their education, and for their way of life. The arts are a most important part of any culture. The first thing the Taliban did was to outlaw public performance of any kind--no movies, no singing. What a lovely right we have in this country to perform, sometimes even at will! Singing is part of my life and part of my blood. I enjoy it immensely and I hope that people get joy out of it."