Thursday, February 3, 2011
Deeper Dish with Spider Saloff
"Whether scatting impressively or breaking hearts with her stirring performance, her agile voice and winning stage presence kept the audience totally enthralled" - Asbury Park Press
"One of the finest jazz singers working in this or any other city" - Chicago Tribune
Those are just a few of the critical accolades that Spider Saloff has received over the years while performing at such renowned jazz and nightclub venues as New York's Birdland, The Algonquin and Joe's Pub, Chicago's Gold Star Sardine Bar and The Green Mill, and San Francisco's Plush Room. A five-time winner of the prestigious MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets) Award, including one for Best Female Jazz Vocalist, Spider has released seven critically acclaimed albums on Kopaesthetics Records, and she is the co-star and co-creator of the internationally syndicated public radio series, Words and Music.
And now the lovely and talented lady is making a rare appearance in South Bend, Indiana, on Sunday, February 13, at the historic Palais Royale ballroom, where she will perform My Funny Valentine, a collection of songs about love. She will be crooning such marvelous tunes as "It Had to Be You", "Isn't It Romantic?" and "Prelude to a Kiss" to get everyone in a romantic Valentine's Day mood. I am delighted to have the divine Ms. Saloff here on the Dish to discuss her career and answer a few pop culture questions.
Since Valentine's Day is right around the corner, what is your favorite love song to sing?
That’s a tough one! There are so many. I will say “Isn’t It Romantic?” by Rodgers and Hart, who also wrote “My Funny Valentine".
Did you always want to be a singer?
Yes - since I was a very young girl. My parents were shocked to hear that I could sing at 14 when I invited them to my performance in a school talent show.
What was your very first cabaret performance?
I had worked as an actress in New York before I started singing in clubs. My solo debut show was in March of 1988 at the Five Oaks in New York. I sang a variety of songs from Sondheim to Duke Ellington.
What is the funniest moment you have had while performing in concert?
I was playing a club in Chicago and telling a story to introduce a Gershwin song. I happened to mention that George Gershwin died in 1937. A woman suddenly said out loud in deep concern, “Oh no! What did he die of?” To which I casually answered, “He had a brain aneurysm.” I then tried to continue and she said, “Oh that’s terrible. Did he suffer long?” and it went on. It was like it had been kept from her since 1937 and she was desperate for details. After that, every time I would go to do that song with the band, one of them would whisper, “What did he die of?”
Is there a composer whose music you would like to perform more of in the future?
Actually this year I plan to debut a Sondheim show.
You once appeared on the 1995-96 CBS sitcom, The Bonnie Hunt Show. How was that experience?
It was hiiiiiiilarious! Bonnie is just so funny and such a wonderful person. She had me teaching people on the street to scat sing. One woman blew us off by saying she was going to the doctor. So we showed up at the eye doctor’s office and made her scat sing in the chair - and at the end the doctor was doing it! I wish I could find a copy of that.
Since your definition of “The Lush Life” includes good food and good drink, what is your favorite comfort food and cocktail?
I love cheese! Just about in any form. It is my weakness. And there is nothing like a dry vodka martini with a twist!
What are a few of your favorite restaurants in Chicago?
I love so many. I would say Mon Ami Gabi, Café 28 and Shaw’s Crab House.
If you could go back and give your 19-year-old self a wise piece of advice, what would it be?
Stop being so scared and self-conscious. Just get out and do it!
In high school I was:
A misfit that found refuge in theater and music.
When I was growing up, I never missed a television episode of:
F Troop, Ed Sullivan and Carol Burnett.
Mad Men and Project Runway.
The very first record album that I purchased with my own money was:
If I was stranded on a desert island for a year, I would want to listen to:
Johnny Hartman, Ella Fitzgerald, Django Reinhardt, Count Basie and Duke Ellington.
Three of my favorite movies are:
All About Eve, It’s a Wonderful Life and Casablanca.
If I could have anyone in the world – living or dead – be a guest at my dinner party, I would invite the following three people:
Cole Porter, Dorothy Parker and Harpo Marx.
What’s next for Spider Saloff?
My one-woman play in which I play eight characters and wrote the book, music and lyrics. It is called The Roar of the Butterfly and I hope to have a run in Chicago this year [check out the documentary clips in the video below].
Thank you, Spider, for getting Deeper with us here on the Dish. To learn more about Spider Saloff, check out her website, www.spiderjazz.com. You can also become a fan on Facebook.
For tickets to Spider's February 13th concert, My Funny Valentine, presented by Lampkin Music Group at the Palais Royale in South Bend's Morris Performing Arts Center (105 West Colfax Avenue), call (574) 235-9190 or purchase online at www.morriscenter.org