Gretchen Cryer: She’s Getting My Act Together

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Last spring I went to a reading at the York Theater of “Call My Publicist!” written and performed by Joshua Ellis, the very well-known and accomplished Broadway publicist (“The Elephant Man”, “Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby”). The show was directed by Gretchen Cryer. I was so impressed that I thought to myself that’s exactly who I need to direct my show, “The Pass”. I googled her, sent her an email with a link to my own website and told her I was working on a one woman show. She then got in touch; we arranged a meeting so we could assess how we might gel.

I was honored when Gretchen agreed to work one on one with me. It has been one of the most rewarding and invigorating projects of my career. She is an extraordinary force and I can understand why she is considered a theater legend.

Gretchen is well known for writing the book and lyrics and starring in “I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road” (with music by Nancy Ford). The show, originally produced in NYC by Joseph Papp’s Public Theater, was followed by a 3 year run at the Circle in the Square. With Nancy Ford, Gretchen also wrote other shows, including “Now is the Time for All Good Men” and “Anne of Green Gables”. Gretchen has recorded two albums with Nancy for RCA and has starred on Broadway in her own cabaret act, in addition to performing off Broadway and on film. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council and is President Emeritus of the Dramatists Guild Fund. In addition to these accomplishments, she has received various awards and degrees, among them a Phi Beta Kappa from DePauw University and a MAT degree from Harvard.

Gretchen’s enthusiasm for “The Pass”, as well as her vast experience, have been a stellar inspiration. I wish to thank my friend Terry Castillo for suggesting I go to “Call My Publicist!”—not only did I meet a mentor, I also enjoyed Joshua Ellis’s play for its candor, humor and verve.

Here’s EYES WIDE OPEN, a song that we will be featuring in THE PASS and it is getting the most plays on KeyMedia Group Music  soundcloud page! Just recently added it to our player and glad we did.

 

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Sweet Life

Sweet Life written & recorded while I lived in London- simple idea then and now.

Who’s Afraid of Hillary Clinton? Part Two

According to the latest CNN poll Hillary now trumps Trump with a lead of 52% to his 43%. That means she is the front-runner by 9 points. When Hillary is elected, it will be a triumph for women everywhere, especially in the USA. Almost every other nation in the world has had a female leader except for us. Women in the USA must join Hilary to fight for our equal rights everywhere.

I am doing my best to further the empowerment of individual women in the music business and have done so since I began my journey as a young wide-eyed Jersey Girl, labeling myself, a singer/songwriter and producer. Only 4-5% of women singers or songwriters produce their own music. That’s a tiny amount and I have had to stand up for that right many times and walk away from deals that insisted I do the work but not get the credit.

My first recording, Lucky Stars, is a perfect example. My name was nowhere on the single and hundreds of fans in the UK wrote angry letters to Dean Friedman and his label scolding them about their not including my name on the single. The DJ’s announced “and here’s Dean Friedman’s Lucky Stars.”  Eventually Dean agreed to include my name and so did the label so all future vinyl pressings had my name n the record. Now my name is announced each time the song is played. After years of insisting, I finally started making royalties for the famous duet, in 2008. That’s another other blog!

I have always felt the power of being a woman. My songs deal with issues many females can identify with, including the sharing of one’s good spirit. Women are generous by nature. I am currently immersed in my one-woman musical show “The Pass,” my own personal odyssey thus far. The show will be vignettes of incidents that have shaped me with songs woven in and out to express the sign of the times. It will shine on self identity, relationships, challenges with money, family and how to reinvent yourself using your moral compass in an industry not known for high moral conduct. Yes all the cliches are true, in many ways: sex, drugs and rock and roll. Through it all, I have kept my child-like attitude to help me navigate the road blocks and walls. Persistence and tenacity; I want my blanket!

I plan to debut the first reading of “The Pass” in December of this year.  I have much work ahead and this is my greatest challenge to date. I thought recording SELF on my own and starting my label was tough, no comparisons, please. This project is helping me to face my life in a profound way. I am seeing how Karma plays such a big role in how one makes decisions and how to look at life. I have overcome many challenges in my career such as sexism, harassment and male dominant figures looking to control my work and/or disagree with how I wanted to represent myself image wise. In order to stay on track I have used my sense of humor and wit to get me through the toughest of times. Looking back with laughter and knowing, one can stand firm in one’s conviction and that is the win.

To see a woman president in my lifetime is one of the most amazing triumphs for our gender. We must all stand tall.

I hope you will enjoy this track STEADY which will be included in “The Pass”

Women Producers

Here’s an article about women producers you may find interesting: http://www.thefader.com/2014/10/30/why-arent-more-women-becoming-music-producers

Who’s Afraid of Hillary Clinton? Part One

 

hilary Clinton  I often ask myself, why are so many people intimated by strong women. Throughout history, the strength of women has been intertwined with being nurturing, inspiring, creative, supportive–and highly intelligent. Hillary embodies these characteristics, as well as being a persistent fighter who has overcome many obstacles. She is living proof that a woman should aim high and never give up until she reaches her goal.

I identify with Hillary on many levels especially when it comes to her not giving up and being judged on merit and not on appearances. Hillary has said that exposure to the public eye has given her “a sense of being dehumanized as part of the experience”. From my experience performing I also know that it is all too easy to look at people behind a microphone, especially women, as objects.

As a young female artist in the 70’s when I first began to pursue my career I struggled with fighting off everyone else’s opinion of what and how I should sing and how I should dress and the image of myself as an artist. It was always about the music and about creating my own sound. I did not want to dress sexy or sell myself as a provocateur other then the sound of the music.

Also like Hillary, I cannot stay out of the arena!

Hey! Ho! Let’s Go Ramones and the Birth of Punk Queens Museum & Denise Marsa Band

We came in from New Jersey to fill a spot, a band dropped out last minute.  My second gig in NYC. My band from Princeton, New Jersey & I drove in, stepped on stage and played our set at the famed Max’s Kansas City. There were big bands like BLONDIE, TALKING HEADS & the RAMONES on the bill.

I have the poster. It’s different than the one here.

The other day friends said they saw my name on a poster hanging in the exhibit at Queens Museum. Very cool. They even took a few photos.

We step into things sometimes not knowing what we are getting into. In this case, it was a good step.

ps  added 8/17/16:  I went to the Queens Museum the day before the exhibit closed and it was pretty cool to see the poster and feel the impact of the era and music. I loved The Clash Car Jamming and just listened again and had to share.

 

 

Invest in the Best

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Singer/songwriter  and keyboardist NICOLE BERKE 

Nicole Berke is a dynamic young artist with her own musical style that mixes soul, R&B, pop and jazz. I am very proud to share that I have been working with Nicole for over 8 years as her manager and one of her mentors.

As a lyricist she excels in tender yet raw edged reflections on contemporary life.  I am  including a sample track SET ME FREE from her album THIS BRIGHT BEFORE released on my label KEYMEDIA GROUP in 2013.

She is embarking on recording her next group of songs and this time with Plaid Dog Recording as her partner. Since moving back to her hometown of Boston from spending several years living, performing and working in Portland, she has been busy with her job as an associate director of a music school and writing new songs. She is also managing a so far very successful indiegogo campaign with 3 days left as of today and at 88% of her goal reached. I say right on!  Can you invest in the best? Let’s make her vision a reality! Here is her campaign link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/nicole-berke-s-new-studio-album#/ 

Thanks in advance for your support!!

Kudos to Singer/Songwriter Dean Friedman: The Sweet Recognition of A Fellow Artist

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As a young performer starting out, I was intrigued when Dean Friedman invited me to his apartment to hear a new song he had just written. He claimed he had composed this song with me in mind and that he wanted me to record it with him on his second album. He had seen me perform in NYC recently and was inspired. This song became the duet “Lucky Stars”, which is still one of the most infamous songs of the 70’s in the UK.

What has always impressed me with Dean is that no matter what it takes, he continues to play for his audience live. He has always had a sense of personal engagement with his fans. As he has matured he has nurtured his initial audience without the help of a record label or a music publisher. A brilliant marketer of his own work, Friedman has a keen sense of how to use social media to keep his loyal fans listening and to interest new ones.

Over the years Dean and I have remained in touch. “Lucky Stars” has kept us connected. For each of us the song represents many things. As “Lucky Stars” was my first recording, it symbolizes the epitome of success and longevity. I am always in awe of the recordings ability to impact the hearts of its listeners even today. My thanks to everyone who has reached out over the years and shared with me what this record has meant to them.

Wherever we have all been, wherever we are going, this duet will always remain a touchstone in our lives. I am assuming Dean will agree.

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Dean, Denise and Lucky Stars

What's It All About?

It’s Saturday morning and I have loads to do today but first I just wanted to revisit the song Lucky Stars by Dean Friedman. Now this was a song that was very much a two-hander with Denise Marsa but for some reason she didn’t get credited on the record. Time to right that wrong – Lucky Stars by Dean Friedman and Denise Marsa (starts at 0:12).


This does seem to be the kind of song you either love or hate but for me I have always loved it and it turned out that my husband, whom I met 12 years after it was released, also loved it so another reason why we seem to have rubbed along quite nicely all these years. A great little party piece if you are up for the challenge of remembering the lyrics and not afraid to “perform” in front of friends and family!

This again…

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When Musicals Create Interest HAMILTON the Musical Gives New Jersey a Boost

The last piece of entertainment that brought the spotlight on to New Jersey was MTV’s JERSEY SHORE. Being a Jersey girl myself,  and from TRENTON MAKES THE WORLD TAKES territory, not sure that show helped to lift the artistic value of NJ.

What is happening according to this article and a PBS show I recently watched, the Broadway show HAMILTON is bringing back interest in my home state in a good way! http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/16/07/05/hot-ticket-alexander-hamilton-s-new-jersey-connections/ 

Now let’s see musicals about women in history! Though my own history does not extend as far back as the revolution, the Boston Tea Party or Washington crossing the Delaware, the history of my own personal journey in the music business may create some fireworks, laughs and maybe even a few tears. While you won’t hear the sounds of muskets being fired on stage, you will witness the revolution of the female artist in the music business. Me and my sisters!

 

 

Wild Stallions Must Be Free

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As America gets ready to celebrate the 4th of July, I am reflecting on my own independence. The rock n roll business can  take your individuality away, if one is not careful. I was always aware of this poignant fact.  I had to reach deep to remain true to myself while looking to forward my success and forge my own personal and musical identity.  As a young artist I was unable to keep my stride in the presence of all the struggle. In 1997 I became an independent artist and began recording my debut album SELF on my own terms and using my own money.  It was not until I decided to become totally independent that I began to understand the power of one’s own determination without conflict and turmoil from outside sources that are suppose to be on your side.

On this 4th of July I salute all independent thinkers. Some of us start there and some of us travel long and winding roads to get there. Now let me get started on my barbecue as this is the ideal time for me to devour one of my favorite holiday treats!

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