** Andrea Marcovicci at Centre East, (847) 673-6300, on April 30
Actress and cabaret legend Andrea Marcovicci's new CD How's your romance? (Andreasong) finds the diva in top form, performing captivating renditions of Cole Porter songs such as 'Let's Misbehave,' 'Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye' and 'I'm In Love Again,' and others. In a show that promises to be glamorous, and certainly romantic, Marcovicci will be performing songs from the CD at Centre East on April 30. I spoke with Marcovicci about her new CD and the future outlook and here is what she told me.
Gregg Shapiro: It appears that major record labels, run by huge conglomerates, don't know what to do with artists or styles of music that don't easily fit into an existing, money-making niche. Would you say that that was your experience and that had something to do with you releasing your new album on your own label?
Andrea Marcovicci: Definitely. At least in my experience, I was never approached by a major label. Not while I was working in the cabaret field. I think the only one of us who had great fortune (with a major label) was Michael Feinstein. When he came out, all of his material was released by Elektra for a while. He did go national with those early records of his. After Michael, was Harry Connick, Jr., and that had to do with him being enormously young and also in the movies at the same time. Most of the people who are in cabaret right now are not represented by those big, national labels. I think Steve Tyrell is doing very well, but again he did it for himself. I spoke to him a lot about this before I started my own label and a lot of it had to do with him figuring out how to get himself into Starbucks.
GS: How does an independent cabaret performer get their music into the hands of Starbucks or Borders?
AM: Right now, I'm in negotiations with a number of investors; people who really know the record business. I just started the label itself, which means a sticker that you can slap onto something. It is a company, called Andreasong. I am legally allowed to release my own CD and to approach other artists, such as Julie Wilson, and take them under my wing. I believe the future of the cabaret artist is not in the big record stores, but in the smaller places, such as lingerie stores and bookstores. I mean the mom and pop bookstores, not the huge ones. You'd want to be in Borders, for sure, but I'd like to have my records in stores that sold cocktail supplies. You want to start thinking way outside the box in terms of distribution. I would like to be downloadable, even though I don't know how to turn on a computer. Most cabaret singers sell their music at the venue.
GS: It would seem that standards are no longer the domain of cabaret artists. Cyndi Lauper released an album of standards last year, Linda Ronstadt is working on an album of jazz standards, and k. d. lang joined Tony Bennett for an album of standards.
AM: And what about Rod Stewart, honey? He's got two albums of it.
GS: How do you feel about sharing that material with performers from outside of the realm?
AM: It is vital to us because it is constantly bringing new audiences and new ears, and reminding them that the greatest songs ever written were written in the first half of the twentieth century. It keeps the ears of the younger audiences open to this. I have nothing but admiration and respect and love for all of the artists that constantly plumb the depths of the American popular song.
GS: Speaking of working outside of the realm, on your 2000 album Here There & Everywhere, you covered 'pop songs of our time' by songwriters such as Jimmy Webb, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel and the Beatles. Are there any members of the new generation of songwriters that you would like to cover?
AM: Oh, I can't wait, to tell you the truth. The show I'm going to do after my next show, which is called Andrea Sings Astaire, is to spend a few years free of … I was about to say free of nostalgia, and it may even be that. I'm going to call the shows 'Just Love,' and for a few years I'm going to spend some time listening and opening up my heart to not only the new songs that have been sent to me for the past few years … for a long time I was responsible for bringing new writers to the ears of cabaret audiences. I feel like I've let a lot of these people down. I'm passionate about the work of Craig Carnelia, John Bucchino. I do Babbie Green and my own beloved Shelly Markham, who writes so well, and Ricky Ian Gordon. I'm very interested in the lady writers that my eight-year-old daughter listens to.
GS: Then you should definitely listen to the new Susan Werner CD.
AM: I would love to. I've always loved Sting, for instance, and Billy Joel. What's really funny is that when I start singing modern songs, I'm still singing songs that are 20 or 30 years old. I think that's hysterical. It's about time for me to wake up and smell something that was written maybe 10 years ago would be okay, or five? My eight-year-old daughter keeps teasing me saying, 'Yes, Mommy, that's from your century.' Alice does teach me about the music that's being written today, and some of it I actually do like. I think Pink is adorable and fascinating. Alice tells me about Avril Lavigne and the difference between the ones that are reaching out to be interesting writers, versus the ones who are just poppy. But, of course, I like Hillary Duff, because she's such a good girl. I want Alice to imitate the good girls, not the bad girls.