I don’t ever remember NOT singing.
As a kid I would run around singing songs, whether or not they were actual songs depended on my mood. I’d write songs if I was mad at my mom, or one of my brothers. I’d write songs because I was happy that we were going to the grocery store.
Here’s a fine example:
Nobody likes me, no siree, they don’t even like me like a money tree,
I’ll go away, and 1, 2, 3, you won’t even know where you can find me.
I think this was because my mom wouldn’t let me get the toy at the bottom of the cereal box before we were finished the box of cereal…
I grew up in a household full of music. My father, Leon Kelly, was a band singer in the 1930’s & 1940’s, and a radio broadcaster, then television news anchorman, and my mother, Shirley, loved Broadway shows. Our big stereo, which looked like a roll-top desk, would go back and forth between Ella Fitzgerald, and “I Do, I Do“, or The Andrew Sisters, and “The Sound of Music” (the Broadway version with Mary Martin).
Right before the start of 5th grade we moved to New Jersey, from Upstate New York, and everything changed. There was a choir, ad I joined. Next year I auditioned for choir, and my 6th grade choir teacher, Wanda Howell, said that we “need to do something with your voice”. Horrified, I thought it must have been the worst she had heard… She meant that I needed to get solos, because she liked it. All of a sudden I found new confidence that I hadn’t had before.
Many choir solos, theme parks, and dinner theaters later, I finally got my Equity card with a show called “Forbidden Broadway“. We opened in November 1983 at The Bellevue-Stratford in Philadelphia, and we were the first company of the hit show out of New York City.
I started doing Fran Charnas’s “The All Night Strut” in 1985, and continued doing it off, and on until 1999. This show was a true fit for me… all swing, all dancing, all singing in really tight authentic harmonies. It was also my first time in a recording studio, and it was one of those old Motown / 1960’s studios. Imagining some of the recordings done there just elevated the session.
I did my first cabaret show at Odette’s in New Hope, Pennsylvania in 1987, thanks to Bob Egan, who started the whole series there. I found that it was the perfect medium for me…to stand in front of a microphone, and talk, and sing. I continued to do about fifteen different cabaret shows there before it closed in 2006.
In 1995, I received Philadelphia magazine’s “Best of Philly® – Cabaret Act-1995” after performing for over a year at a small, now defunct, club called “The Club Above“, in Philadelphia.
I’ve never had “voice lessons”. I don’t know where any of my notes are “placed”, and I didn’t know that I breath correctly, naturally. For this I am very thankful. I can say that I learned “phrasing” from listening to the singers of The Great American Songbook, all the while never knowing that I was learning.
It is my joy, and privilege, to get onstage when I can, and share my talent, stories, and life experiences with my audience. At a time, and in a world where most singers sing AT their audience, I welcome the change to sing FOR my audience.