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INTERVIEW:   AMANDA McBROOM

They called Amanda McBroom “..The greatest cabaret performer of her generation, an urban poet who writes like an angel and has a voice to match."
Bette Midler’s "The Rose” was not the only reason behind the international success of Amanda McBroom.
True, very true, when Bette Midler sang Amanda’s song, the fame of the screen star launched the career of Amanda McBroom but, did not create her genius and phenomenal talent. For, everybody knows that Amanda McBroom as a singer is far better than Bette Midler or any contemporary torch and cabaret singer in the business, to a certain extent.
On stage, she is magic in motion, a mesmerizing diva who spread beauty, elegance, class, drama, enigma, joy, style and roaring artistic talent. As soon as Amanda appears on stage, the audience is immediately taken and mesmerized by her lyrical, nostalgic and melodic mezzo soprano voice, her strong yet welcomingly tender and warm personality, her artistic projection, the way she moves and she looks at her audience, the truthful inner feelings she expresses in the shadows and lights of her eyes and voice, the poetic forms and drawings of her hands movements, her intimate musical projection, her phrasing, her intelligent articulation and her ease in adding more warmth, joy, drama, reality and fun to words…and of course, her way with words.
Some critics have misinterpreted her stage “persona” and depicted her as a Prima Donna who tries to steal the show through accentuated theatrical mannerism but, the overwhelming majority of heavy weight critics, informed connoisseurs and millions of her fans around the globe think differently.

She does not need to steal the show, simply because she is the show herself, the only show in town…As such, she appears before our eyes as a “Cabaret Femme Fatale”, a Marlene Dietrich’s Blue Angel…A sweet and tender nymph as well; a woman who graciously leaves behind her shadow a touch of her scent, so you might fantasize about how a Diva’s aroma blends with a few bars, and the eloquence of unspoken words.
Amanda McBroom wrote more than one great song. “The Rose” was one but a glittering bead in a rosary of one thousand shining songs and whispers. She wrote a lot. And her songs were sang by more than one celebrated motion picture star or one single famous singer.

A considerable number of her compositions were recorded by super stars and worldwide famous singers, including but not limited to Judy Collins, The Manhattan Transfer, Stephanie Mills, Anne Murray, Barry Manilow, Barbara Cook, Leanne Rimes, Harry Belafonte, Donny Osmond, the Chipmunks, and the Baby Dinosaurs in LAND BEFORE TIME (she wrote all the songs for 11 Universal Cartoon videos with longtime collaborator Michele Brourman) and Betty Buckley. Amanda also wrote Iyrics for a considerable number of songs in the experimental TV series "Cop Rock". And as expected, she was nominated for an Emmy for her song which featured on "As the World Turns". In addition, she wrote songs for the video releases of "Land Before Time" and "Hercules and Xena." Her first two albums, "Growing Up in Hollywood Town" and "West of Oz," were recorded for the prestigious audiophile label Sheffield Labs in collaboration with pianist Lincoln Majorga. Those two albums imprinted the seal of excellence on the landscape of world music. They were called "striking and complete artistic successes" by Billboard Magazine. Amanda has three albums on her own Gecko Records label, Dreaming, Midnight Matinee and her most recent release, A Waiting Heart, which have enjoyed an international success, a worldwide appeal and soaring popularity.
She also recorded a live album for DRG Records of her appearance in New York at Rainbow and Stars, Amanda McBroom Live from Rainbow and Stars; an outstanding, most captivating and up lifting repertoire, a testimony to her genius and unsurpassed cosmic talent.
In addition, Amanda composed numerous songs for the television series Cop Rock and most recently was the lyricist for the musical films Land Before Time III, Land Before Time V, Land Before Time VI and Hercules and Xena.
She has been the recipient of the Johnny Mercer Award for Songwriter of the Year. Do you want to hear more? Get this: Her first release, "Dreaming," has sold over 200,000 copies worldwide. Her second release, on Gecko, "Midnight Matinee," featured performances by musicians such as jazz legend Bob James and blues guitarist Robben Ford It sets the standards of excellence for Jazz and Cabaret requisites. Her fifth album, "Amanda McBroom Live From Rainbow and Stars," which was recorded at her sold out engagement atop Rockefeller Center in New York and released on the DRG label redefined the concept of musicality perfection and the codes of “Divas’ Live Entertainment”. Her latest release, "A Waiting Heart," on Gecko Records, was released in March, 1997. This album recaptured and developed the essence of lyricism and romantic realism in contemporary music and innovative nostalgia.
In television, Amanda has appeared on programs ranging from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" to "Hawaii Five-O" to "The Grammy Awards to the NBX special” From The Heart”. Hold your breath, read this: Amanda‘s most versatile and astonishing background in musical and dramatic theatre, included starring in the New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and European productions of JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS, and on Broadway in SEESAW, as well as, in leading roles in landmark productions and major stage appearances, to name a few: The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, ACT in San Francisco, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon, The Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and the Pasadena Playhouse. In New York she has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Russian Tea Room, Rainbow and Stars, and as the headliner for two sold-out engagements at Piazza on the Park in London. And yes, she toured the globe and took by storm her international audiences in Australia, Europe and Asia. And taught at the Cabaret Conference at Yale!

Amanda wrote (From her song The Rose):
“Some say love, it is a river that drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor that leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower, and You its only seed.
“When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes
The Rose.”

Exclusive Interview with Amanda McBroom
Q- It was said that your songs are a reflection of real life. How do you describe "real life" in your lyrics and music?
Amanda: That's a very esoteric question. All I can tell you is I write stories about the lives of myself, my friends, and people I read about in various media formats. People's lives sing to me, and I set them down on paper. That, to me, is real life.
Q-And everybody, you think would relate to it regardless where they live and what they do?
Amanda: I am always delighted and amazed by how people from many different walks of life seem to identify with my music.
It just proves to me that though we may live thousands of miles apart, our hearts and souls are very much the same.
Q-How about those sad souls who gave up on life.
How does your music comfort them and bring them hope?
Amanda: Sorrow is a color in everyone's rainbow.
Stronger in some than others. Necessary to all. I feel music, in almost any form, is one of the great healing powers on the planet...at the most cellular level. I am honored if some of my music touches and lightens anyone's heart.
Q-Is music to you an art expression, a talent, a universal language, a therapy or a way of making a leaving?
Amanda: Music is, to me, everything BUT a way of making a living. I have been extremely lucky to have found a niche, and to have written a song than the world seems to love.
It has afforded me many opportunities not open to many other, much more talented writers.
Q-Many talented but unfortunate artists fear a lot of things in life, particularly rejection, career failure, financial difficulties, etc. What the very successful, brilliant and secure Amanda McBroom fears most?
Amanda: What I fear most? Whew! Big question.
The devastation of the planet...ecologically or militarily...The ease with which people give up hope for a loving future and follow anger into destructive behavior.
Q-Did you write about it in your music and lyrics?
Amanda: Yes.
Q-What did you write?
Amanda: A song on my DREAMING album called "For Nothing".
Q-If you were not a singer, a composer, a musician and lyricist, what would you be doing today?
AMANDA: I AM A MUCH BETTER POET THAN COMPOSER.

Amanda: Acting, which is what I used to do...or working in animal protection and rescue.
Q-What instrument do you use to compose your music?
Amanda: Piano.
Q-What did you do with the very first song you wrote?
Amanda: I played it for my husband and then I put it away, although it was pretty good for a first attempt.
Q-Did you want to keep it for yourself or sell it?
Amanda: I kept it in a closet.
Q-What was the title of the first song you wrote and what did you write about?
Amanda: It was called "Losing You Again". About a love affair that fails twice." Gone with tide...lost in the sea... Left on the shore...the shell that was me...again losing you again...”That's the end...You get the idea.
Q-Besides Bette Midler, who are the recording artists who sing your songs?
Amanda: Barbara Cook, Barry Manilow, Judy Collins, The Manhattan Transfer, Leanne Rhymes, Nana Mouskouri.
Q-Which comes to life first, the music or the lyrics?
Amanda: Always the lyrics.
Q-Why is that?
Amanda: I'm a lover of language. I am a much better poet than composer.
Q-Did you write your "masterpiece" or not yet?
Amanda: I have no idea. Hopefully, not yet.
Q-What are the 3 most important qualities of a successful singer?
Amanda: A good instrument...an actor's mind...and the ability to sing the truth.
Q-And for a good composer?
Amanda: Writing a melody everyone thinks they can sing.
Q-Do you have those qualities?
Amanda: Sometimes.
Q-How long it took you before you became famous?
Amanda: I still find it hard to think of myself as famous. I'll take your word for it. I have been and still am actress. That came first. The singing thing and the writing came much later. The ROSE was the turning point my precognition factor. That would be 1980.
Q-What did you do before you reached the top? Did you go through what many other struggling artists experience and suffer from, such as odds jobs, double or triple shifts, trying everything…|knocking on impresarios and agents doors and such?
Amanda: I have been blessed with luck always. I take no responsibility for it. I have never worked in any other field than entertainment. I have been an actress since I was 10 years old. I still struggle. All artists do. All people do. And I still can't get in MANY impresarios' doors!
Q-When and what was your first big break?
Amanda: THE ROSE was my big musical break in 1980.
Q-Was it luck, right time/right place, talent or something else?
Amanda: A gift from Heaven...All of the above.
Q-And then, what did you do first or what did you decide to do right after your first break and great success?
Amanda: Kept trying to write more songs and get through impresarios' doors.
Q-Amanda, what does success mean to you?
Amanda: Another BIG question. Professional success???? To have offers on your table without having to keep auditioning and submitting over and over again. To have a name people respect. Personal success...Health, happiness, just enough divine discontent to keep you creatively hungry.
Q-Frank Sinatra once said "Of course, it was luck at the beginning but hey, once you are in, you got to have talent." Is it always like this in show business or the way around?
Amanda: It is not always like this....And luck has everything to do with it. There millions of extremely talented people we will never have the privilege to experience because luck was not there to meet them.
Q- How do you explain and define your success?
Amanda: I don't know. Luck, of course. And, I guess, the ability to exchange feelings with others in a simple, clear way. Someone told me I let people know we all feel the same way about certain things, and there is great comfort in knowing you are not alone.
Q-What did you do to get noticed?
Amanda: After THE ROSE, for a while.
Q-And then?
Amanda: I disappeared again.
Q-Did your good looks help you in your career?
Amanda: You think I'm good looking?
Bless your sweet heart, as we say in Texas! I don't think I was beautiful enough or young enough to make a huge splash when my opportunity came. But I am not complaining. I am beyond happy with my life, with my art.
Q-What makes you mad?
Amanda: Cruelty. Hypocrisy. Rudeness.
Q-And do you make people mad at You?
Amanda: I'm sure I do. Not often.
Q-What do you do to make them mad?
Amanda: It varies.
Q-Do you follow fashion?
Amanda: Somewhat. I don't have the body for most modern styles...
I'm afraid, I'm built like a regular woman. But I have my own style.



MEMORABLE & DELIGHTFUL MOMENTS IN OUR LIVES

THE MAGNIFICENT ALISON ENGLAND


Memories which mean something are made from moments like these…


Eleven years ago, we knew an American lady who was on her way to stardom, for she was a superb Opera singer with a voice stronger than destiny, and sweetness in her character which set her apart from the rest of the pack. She was young, very pretty, effervescent and so warm. Everybody who met her fell in love with her. We wrote abundantly about her and we interviewed her several times. At that time, she was living in France, playing in some Opera productions, and teaching voice. She did not become worldwide famous, but she reached fame for a short period of time and made huge impression on her audience. All of us at FAMSPA loved her. And for some reasons, we never heard from her again. We missed her a lot, and especially we missed the way she talked to us, the way she expressed herself, her sentences, her colorful vocabulary, telling us jokes, her radiant smile, and above all, her mesmerizingly sweet and tender nature. 
We lost her, she vanished, until, today, and while digging in the 11 year old archives of FAMSPA (Federation of American Musicians, Singers and Performing Artists), we remembered her all of a sudden upon finding one of the interviews Mr. Maximillien de Lafayette had with her. It is a charming and lovely interview we are so eager to share it with you. 

But who is this delightful Opera singer and our American Contessa who took Paris by storm? 
Her name is Alison England, and astonishingly, she is HERE in New York, in our backyard so to speak, and we are trying to reach her via her facebook page. Of course, (and possibly), many things have changed in her life… let’s have another adventure with Diva Alison England. 
Here is the interview with Alison, some 11 years ago. 

INTERVIEW WITH ALISON ENGLAND IN 2007. 
Q: What an Opera Diva does in Paris when she is not working? 
Alison: This Opera Diva teaches! Yes, I teach voice classes at a place called Harmonic Studio and private students as well! We really tackle the basics of singing; breathing, placement, tone, ease etc.... and I have constructed these classes for actors, dancers, and beginners! We dance; we move; we work hard! I also love the park and walk in it to ponder deeper questions and to study spiritually every day. This is my foundation and support for sure! And I try to cook dinner for my honey! (He is the real cook in the family). 
Q: Which part of Paris, do you live in? 
Alison: I live in the 19ere, next to a park called Parc Buttes Chaumont! A gorgeous man-made park that has a lake, ducks, waterfalls, bridges, caves (it's like Disneyland) and such fabulous clean air! When you climb to the top of the park you can see Montmartre, Sacre Coeur and much of Paris. 
Q: Where do you shop? 
What usually you buy from those Parisian department stores? 
Alison: Parisian department stores!! I go straight to the heart of Paris and shop in the Quartiers for example on market day, down on Pyrčenes or at Place des Fetes! Cheeses, fruit, baguettes, legumes, wines and even scarves and gloves for the cold weather! (We love to have friends for dinners and this is a perfect, wonderful way to be in Paris and do great dinners not so expensively - a thrifty diva!). 
Department stores for me are make-up and perfume and lingerie! For that it is Sephora for example or LAFAYETTE GALLERIES. 
Q: How do you describe a busy day in the life of a busy Opera Diva? 
Alison: Wow, a great question! The basics are always the same! I start with spiritual study; getting centered and this I concentrate on and take throughout the whole day; physical exercise as much as possible! Then work the voice; warm up, move it around and finally, study of music and listening to recordings just to get a jump on an audition for example. And for this diva, I study French and am preparing an operetta all in French so I have the text with me on the metro in the street, in the bed and I p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e s-a-y-i-n-g t-h-e w-o-r-d-s v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y! Then dinner or lunch for my cherie; a student maybe; send out promo material and talk to the agent, and keeping up with my daughter on the phone and email while I am away from her! 
Q: Paris is a very expensive city. Do you bargain with the French? 
Alison: Yes, whenever I can! It is great to use the "poker face". I am not good at this and it is good practice. State your price; hold to it and be willing to walk away! It is like opera contracts or even life opportunities; life choices! I find that every MOMENT is an intersection to bargain with - where you have to choose ...."Do I do this? Do I want this? Can I do this? Can I walk away? How important is it? Bargaining in a Paris market is good life practice! 
Q: What were the most colorful gossips about Diva Alison you have read lately? 
Alison: That I am a TV Pop star in Europe! Do you love that?! 
Q: I love it. You are a superstar. Do you like to give interviews? 
Alison: It is always my pleasure to share and to speak the truth! Especially to Maximillien! 
Q: Do you live a normal life, being a diva? How does an Opera superstar like yourself spend a normal day in her life? 
Alison: Normal days are such blessings really! And these happen because of my wonderful partner and friend, my man; and when my daughter comes to visit. Being in a real relationship grounds me. Coming home to a great meal and the smell in my kitchen. Having my daughter here and doing the daily things; baths; bedtime stories; playing in the park; putting on a bandage; talking about dogs and being silly, silly! We love to be silly; all of us! Crazy moments when you are just stupid and wild, and you dance around making up songs or saying crazy things! 
Then most important...quiet time. Reading, pondering, waiting...resisting the insistence of the world to go at a hell-bent pace that leaves everyone in the hospital anyway! Calm music; a deep, profound kiss. 
Q: What is and what is not an ordinary life for you, Alison? 
Alison: Honestly?! I cannot run around all the time like I used to when I lived in the States! I felt so driven all the time and felt it was my duty to be busy and run and take every opportunity, even if it pushed me to exhaustion! "But really! I finally told myself...."If God really IS God.... why am I running around like a chicken with the head cut off pretending I am God and doing all the work! Relax! Wait! Stop!" And you know what? When I finally had the courage to stop running...things came to me! 
Q: Is Alison England your real name or a stage name? 
Alison: It is my real name! I have never changed it even with marriage! It is great, yes?! I appreciate my parent's choice very much! 
Q: Tell me about your wardrobe. Do Opera singers shop differently for their stage and grande galas affairs? 
Alison: I do have a closet for gowns and dinner events and parties. Jewelry! Pant suits of velvet -comfortable formal clothes! I love to dress up, every little girl does! How nice to do it when you are a big girl! My everyday wear is also who I am in my nature in that I favor scarves and shawls that drape over me and bold colors and big earrings. Also collars that turn up and shoes that have curves in the heel and special toes.... pointed or square with buttons or spots. Hose are fun too like fish-nets and big holed socks! 
Q: And how about you, Alison, do you go for all the glitters, the sequences, the velvet, the beads? 
Alison: YES!! In my One Woman 
Q: Any big Opera project for Paris, London, New York? 
Alison: For starters. The Merry Widow in and around Paris! An Opera called Greek out of Vienna! Opera, B'Way and Beyond in Paris too! 
Q: Some folks are telling me you walked out on the America Opera. Is it true? 
Alison: WHAT? Can you hear me laughing from here? NO! NO! NO! What I left was a saturated market that, for a time, thought it knew all about me and wanted to discount the talents given me because I was in my 30's! This happens with many artists even though we are like wine, better with. Dare I say, oh, hell, you fill it in! And honestly, I have always wanted to come to Europe and it felt like the right time this for many reasons! I adore American Opera; have worked in it a lot and have been very blessed! I plan to be there when the right project happens for sure! 
Q: Are you a calm diva or a bursting one? You know what all those who worked with Opera stars, say and think about Prima Donne? They are difficult to work with? True? 
Alison: NO, I can be both, but I am more a bursting one, to use your words, but bursting with joy and the appreciation of what I am doing. Bursting with thanksgiving when the orchestra roles out its first notes and one goes crazy with the sheer beauty of the sound! Bursting with laughter when there is fun or a moment really inspired and extraordinary. In the past, there have only been 2 times that I was annoyed and I bursted briefly to adjust the situation because it warranted that, and then we all apologized and we dropped it! Have never been a yeller because there are a lot of great singers that can take your place that are kind. In fact, the bigger they are the more honest and even and down to earth I find. And yes, all kinds of Divas can be difficult! It isn't pretty but, in the defense of my colleagues, there are sometimes that the only way to be heard is to say hey stop! Just as long as it is not a constant, to me, then there is no problem! 
Q: How easy-going are you? 
Alison: Very. My tendency is to be hard on myself. Which I am giving up for Ramedan and Lent! 
Q: Your voice is so rich and vivacious. Sweet and tender. Classy and even folk. Have you ever considered singing pop? 
Alison: Yes absolutely! In fact, I have done a cabaret act using my voice and recorded certain pop, rock, and cabaret pieces. What I love about pop or cabaret for example is its immediacy of communication in the text! The nakedness of feeling; the directness and the use of a mic! I love creating a mood. A trained voice can do this without damage especially on a mic. In my show, I use all kinds of music and the audience is bowled over by the range and also by how accessible an opera voice can be - or rather an opera singer singing this type of music. 
Q: What would be a perfect question to end this brief chat with you? 
Alison: "How does one face the down times and the empty times?" I find that everyone loves to hear how great it is for the other guy, but in truth, everyone is looking for answers about how to get through their day! isn't that true?! 
Reproduced with permission from FAMSPA.