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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 14 - Volume 42 Issue 46
The best belter around - An interview with Linda Eder
Arts & Entertainment
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The best belter around - An interview with Linda Eder

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

SEATTLE MEN'S CHORUS
'... OUR GAY APPAREL'
WITH SPECIAL GUEST
LINDA EDER
BENAROYA HALL
November 29 & 30 only


You may not know Linda Eder's name, but her voice is unmistakable. Her melodious tones have been compared to the greatest of singers of the Broadway/Pop/Swing era. Strong and clear, Ms. Eder's powerful belting takes control of any song and makes it perfection. Having a special connection to the Emerald City, Ms. Eder will soon be singing alongside the Seattle Men's Chorus for their annual holiday production.

Eric Andrews-Katz: You've said that there were three women who influenced you. What was it about each of these women that inspired you?

Linda Eder: JUDY GARLAND: She was the one that made me want to sing. I was about eight-years old when I saw The Wizard of Oz, and heard her sing 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' for the first time. That was what made me say, 'I want to sing!' Not necessarily in that style. As a child I loved opera because I thought that was 'real' singing. I did this pseudo-opera thing as a kid and started training my voice. I didn't start performing until later. BARBRA STREISAND: Her voice was what was pulling me away from opera. I saw that you could sing with a beautiful voice and not be in the opera world. She has such a beautiful and lyrical sound. It was a lot more like my style - preferring sweeping lush melodies, and that was key in my not going down the opera route. EILEEN FARRELL: When I was 10 years old, I was given an LP by a family friend that used to sing in the chorus with Eileen Farrell. I then saw the movie The Marjorie Lawrence Story, a Hollywood bio-musical about her life. A lot of opera singers can sound the same, but I thought Eileen Farrell's voice was distinctly beautiful. I became very attuned to her voice.

Andrews-Katz: There has always been a persistent rumor about you. Is it true that growing up you never had a singing lesson?

Eder: Yup, that's true. I'm basically self-taught.

Andrews-Katz: Do you think that helps or hinders someone?

Eder: I don't know. I can't know what I don't know. I think there are pros and cons to being self-taught. I come from not having lessons, but I always say that lessons are good; you just have to be careful whom you take them from. It's important - at least - that someone has performed and has some degree of success in that area before they start teaching. I learned that as I take on teaching Master Classes and private lessons. Teaching voice is difficult because you can't consciously control the muscles in the beginning. It's not like moving your arm or having someone else manipulate it for you. So if you are going to pursue classes, find a good teacher by all means.

Andrews-Katz: In 1988 you won 'Star Search,' one of the original reality shows and definitely the forerunner of shows like 'American Idol' and 'The Voice.' Can you tell us what the process was like?

Eder: I just wanted to win one show! I'm a very shy auditioner. I don't do well in front of judges or at auditions, but I am comfortable on stage and in the recording studio. That's about it. 'Star Search' all came together and I went on the show to become an undefeated champion. That's good because it could be so damaging to be judged and lose when it comes to doing something so personal as your voice. I really just went on with the hopes of maybe winning once.

Andrews-Katz: Seattle had the pleasure of hosting Jekyll & Hyde's pre-Broadway production run in 1995. The show didn't reach Broadway until 1997. Is the delay typical?

Eder: No, it wasn't typical. We did it because we needed to drum up interest in the show. I was the only name attached to the whole program, and that was because of the 'Star Search' national credit. The pre-Broadway tour really helped. We played a week in each city to build up momentum.

Andrews-Katz: You created the role of Lucy for the Frank Wildhorn musical Jekyll & Hyde. There have been many rumors as to why your hit song 'Bring on the Men' was eventually cut. What's the real story?

Eder: It was just a mistake. A big mistake. 'Bring on the Men' was a great song and people loved it. It was the perfect entrance for Lucy to make. I think it had to do with the director wanting to put his own stamp on the show, and started changing things around. He wanted to try different songs there. It was a mistake for me not to have stood up to him. I went along with it and shouldn't have. The director put a different song there but it didn't help move the plot anymore than 'Bring on the Men' would have done.

Andrews-Katz: You recorded a version of 'I, Don Quixote' from Man of La Mancha becoming, I believe, the first woman to record that traditionally male song. Whose idea was it to orchestrate it that way and what kind of reactions have you received?

Eder: It was my idea. It was always the way I had heard it [in my head] with that rhythm. I always loved it and just decided to put together a medley of songs traditionally sung by men. It became one of my signature songs. I wasn't really familiar with the original show, nor did I listen to the cast album. I had heard others do versions of it. In my mind it was the version I heard. I felt like I wanted to sing it that way. My musical director helped work it out.

Andrews-Katz: You have released over 15 CDs. Out of all of the wonderful jazz, swing, ballad numbers, which would you be favorite and why?

Eder: Song or CD? Either way that's a hard one. I like to create, so what I'm creating at the time is what is most fun, and then it's on to the next project. We make music while creating it for ourselves, but after it's produced it's for the enjoyment of others. I can't listen to my music the same way after it's recorded.

Andrews-Katz: Do you have ambitions to return to Broadway or would you rather travel doing concerts?

Eder: I love Broadway, but I don't like the time commitment it requires, or the way it beats you up vocally. When you are doing eight shows a week, it's not healthy for any voice. That's just the way that Broadway is - they aren't going to change that. Even the people who have been doing Broadway for a while, you can sometimes hear the strains in their voices over time. Especially if you are a big belter, like I am. That's one of the things people like [about my work] is that I'm belting. You have to be able to take care of your voice.

Andrews-Katz: For the CD Christmas Stays the Same you wrote the lyrics to the song 'Christmas Through a Child's Eyes.' How did this song come about and was this your first try at being a lyricist?

Eder: I've always written songs on the guitar and tend to write more country-pop. [Eder's CD The Other Side of Me is more in this style.] Over the course with working with Frank [Wildhorn] I've collaborated on songs. I've always loved to write and I love music. He had written that melody [for 'Christmas Through a Child's Eyes'] and I had an idea for the lyrics. That CD was really successful and last Christmas I decided to become my own recording label. (I think that most recording artists are doing that more and more.) I decided to fund my own first project, and that was another Christmas CD - Christmas Where You Are. The title coincides with Christmas Stays the Same. I wrote the song 'Silence of Snow.' I asked Frank for some other melodies and wrote a few others on that CD. I wrote 'Christmas Through a Child's Eyes' when my son, Jake, was little, and with the new CD it comes full circle. The song 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' was chosen, so I flipped the melody and sang the male lyrics. I rewrote what lyrics were needed to make it more about us, and asked my son (he was 14 at the time) to sing it with me. I was shocked he said he'd do it, but it came out really well.

Andrews-Katz: Can you please tell us about some of the selections you've chosen for the Seattle Men's Chorus concerts?

Eder: (laughing) I knew you were going to ask that. I haven't looked at my list in a while. We're doing some non- holiday songs, I know that: 'Don't Cry For Me, Argentina,' 'Climb Every Mountain,' and 'I, Don Quixote.' We are also doing 'Silent Night: and 'O Holy Night' among others.

Andrews-Katz: If you could play any role on stage - regardless of any limitation - what would it be and why?

Eder: That's a hard one. People think I'm a Broadway person, but I'm not. I've seen very little shows. If people asked me to list my favorite 10 shows, I'd be pressed to even think of 10 shows. The first one that pops into my head, probably because of the song, is Man of La Mancha. The character is supposed to be crazy anyway, so why not have it a woman thinking she's a man?



Linda Eder captured attention by winning the soloist category from the television show 'Star Search.' It was only after the musical Camille, that Ms. Eder made her Broadway debut in the Frank Wildhorn musical Jekyll & Hyde. Since then she has recorded over 15 CDs including several cast albums and two Christmas CDs. She's recorded theme compilations of Broadway classics and movie soundtracks as well as a tribute CD to Judy Garland.

Linda Eder will be joining the Seattle Men's Chorus for the opening weekend of their holiday concert '...Our Gay Apparel' November 29 and 30 ONLY at Benaroya Hall at 2 p.m. each day. Tickets: $28-$78. 206-388-1400; www.SeattleMensChorus.org.

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