in my humble opinion

Women, women, women!

By JONATHAN CHARLES FOX
Posted 8/26/20

“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” a female friend from California chided when informed that I had no fewer than four singers, all women, on my calendar of events list last week. …

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in my humble opinion

Women, women, women!

Posted

“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” a female friend from California chided when informed that I had no fewer than four singers, all women, on my calendar of events list last week. “Oh, good lord, no!” I protested. “Quite the opposite—I like women way more than men. And even more so when they’re musicians, or singers, or both.”

Before all you cowboys and crooners get your feelings hurt… don’t pout. Yes, you’re great too—everybody loves you guys—yada, yada, yada. But at the end of the day, it’s always going to be a woman who wins my heart, whether she’s baring her soul, making me laugh, strumming a guitar, playing an Appalachian dulcimer, or just standing in a spotlight belting out a song. I suppose that “playing an Appalachian dulcimer” sounds oddly specific, so allow me to explain.

“Kali Seastrand is an artist and singer/songwriter.” Seastrand’s Facebook page simply states. “Her passion for expressing herself has led to a life devoted to the arts.” I had seen Kali play said dulcimer once before, and when I heard that she and singer/songwriter Veronica Ann were slated to perform outdoors in a park last Thursday, I tossed a mask on my face, my dog in a sack, and headed for the Bethel Lakeside Music concert series, held each Thursday in Kauneonga Lake, NY.

 As I listened to Seastrand’s unique voice and instrument, I thought about her “passion for expressing herself” and another artist, whose words reminded me of Kali. “Music makes us want to live,” singer/songwriter Mary J. Blige once said. “You don’t know how many times people have told me that they’d been down... But then a special song caught their ear and that helped give them renewed strength. That’s the power music has.” Yeah. Kali Seastrand does that.

Not to be outdone, Veronica Ann displayed her prowess on the guitar and wowed the crowd with her earthy, strong vocals that she consistently delivers throughout the Upper Delaware River region with original songs like “Old Time’s Sake” and “Not My Fault.” Veronica’s got skills and a voice that belies her young age. “I want women to be allowed to be weak and strong and happy and sad—human, basically.” Actress Natalie Portman (Titanic) once said. Yeah. Veronica Ann does that.

I had never heard of Christina Bianco before last week, but apparently, I’m late to the party. Before catching her show at The Forestburgh Playhouse on Friday, I looked the entertainer up online. “Known as ‘the woman with a thousand voices,’ Bianco is an American actress, singer and impressionist” her Wikipedia bio reads, “best known for her theatrical work, television appearances and YouTube videos in which she impersonates celebrities, both singing and speaking.”

I was not prepared. Not only is Bianco all those things, but her sold-out safely-distanced outdoor show “Me, Myself and Everyone Else!” was (IMHO) astonishing. Her dead-on impressions of famous singers like Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland and Julie Andrews were amazing and a laugh riot, while her vocal calisthenics included hilarious spoofs skewering the likes of singers Patti LuPone, Dolly Parton, Shirley Bassey and Celine Dion. Even non-singing but famous-nonetheless women like Sofia Vergara and Sarah Jessica Parker could not escape unscathed, but Bianco herself, as herself, is clearly a force to be reckoned with. She occasionally took center stage as Christina Bianco, causing the audience to roar in approval each time. In describing her own distinctive style, ‘70s musical icon Carly Simon once said, “As a singer, I tried on all these hats, these voices, these clothes and, eventually, out came me.” Yeah. Christina Bianco does that.

I went online the next day to learn more about Alice Ripley, who was on the bill for Saturday’s “Forestburgh Under the Stars” series that is drawing to a close far too soon but has hosted some incredible women throughout the summer. Ripley is an “American actress, singer, songwriter and mixed-media artist known, in particular, for her various roles on Broadway in musicals,” Wikipedia informed, “including her Tony award-winning performance in the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘Next to Normal.’”

“I’m not going to talk much, but instead let the music speak for itself,” Ripley shared with the audience, many of whom were clearly fans of her work in Broadway shows like “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Dreamgirls” and “Side Show.” She sang with heartfelt emotion, musically telling a story with each and every song. As the last note of the last line seemed to linger in the cool night air, yet another famous woman came to mind. One of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century, Maria Callas was often praised for her (Wikipedia to the rescue) “wide-ranging voice and dramatic interpretations.” Yeah, Alice Ripley does that.

 What would Lady Gaga say? Glad you asked. “Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”

For more “wise words from the most quotable women in music” go to www.hypebot.com.

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