Song Title: The Girl Keeps On 4:00
I guess I have read enough of my own bios, written by strangers, that I think it is high time I write my own. Here is my story, the short version.
I grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey. My parents both worked in a water circus on the world famous Steel Pier. My dad was the emcee/comedy high diver. He was good, a little chubby, but very handsome. Basically he and his cohorts , known as the Binswanger Bathing Beauties, plunged 100 feet off the pier into the Atlantic Ocean while telling jokes in mid air. Mom was the platinum blonde lady who rode Steel Pier's high diving horse. She only dove 40 feet into a tank of water, but had a horse between her legs just to add to the drama and excitement. My grandparents led the gypsy lifestyle as Eastern European entertainers. My grandfather was a famous acrobat and grandma was a world reknown opera singer from Vienna. I suppose this is where I get my penchant for singing and performing. Are you laughing yet? I swear it is all true!
Later Mom retired her sequined suit to become an English teacher, and Dad became a hockey broadcaster for the Philadelphia Flyers. In fact, he became one of the premier announcers for the game and basically helped introduce the sport to American fans. He did so well that in late 1997, he was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame in Toronto right beside Mario Lemieux!
I have been singing for as long as I can remember. I had my first band at 14, sang all throughout high school, played piano and guitar, and ended up studying jazz and voice at Temple University in Philly. I left school early when I figured out that I could do what I loved and make money! It wasn't a lot, but always found it remarkable that someone would pay anything me to do what I loved most. I recently graduated college and let me tell you I definitely overshot the four year plan.
My music is an eclectic mix. I grew up listening to soul of Annie Lennox, Nina Simone, and Latin singer Astrud Gilberto. I loved the big way Chrissie Hynde, Ella and Gladys sang. But I especially admired the writers Aimee Mann, Carole King, & Ricki Lee Jones. Pop music can be very smart and still rock. Who came up with the thought of having one or the other? Together they are a powerful combination. A great song in any genre crosses the line and is always a great song.
Through singing, I eventually ended up living in the south of France. I sang and played my guitar wherever I could. I got a good break at the Sporting Club in Monte Carlo and wound up as the house opening act. They don't have the same music niches that we have here, so on any given week I might be playing in front of artists like The Gypsy Kings, Stan Getz or Tina Turner. I once even opened for Frank Sinatra. Fly me to the moon baby.
I moved back to the states a few years later to pursue my career as a recording artist. This is what I truly wanted. Again, I played anywhere and everywhere I could. My band and I have been the opener for Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Train, Matthew Sweet, 10,000 Maniacs, Lisa Loeb and were invited by Bill Clinton to play at his inauguration in Washington D.C.. The President sat in and played sax on a couple of tunes with us. Very exciting, musically painful. In 1996 I signed my first record deal with Columbia records.
We recorded In Los Angeles and shared the studio for those three months with Tom Petty, Johnny Cash and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I had arrived! My mates and I joked the whole time about how we were going to finish the record and then everyone at the label who championed us would then get fired. The typical label horror. Ha Ha. It happened, only several weeks after we finished.
No one was looking out for us and the album is now somewhere on the dusty, forgotten Sony shelves. So with our heads between our legs we trekked back to New Jersey . After unsuccessful attempts to buy the record back. I decided to go it on my own. I started my own label called Gypsy Girl. I wrote, produced and financed my own work. With the help of friends like Eric Bazillian and Rob Hyman of the Hooters producer Phil Nicolo, and my good buddy Chris Z., I finished the CD, PAINTED BRIDE. Victory was mine. A friend from Virgin records stepped up and offered to do our radio promotion. We had air play, we were touring, and we were invited to perform on national TV for CBS This Morning in NYC. Not bad for an unsigned act. We garnered enough attention to get an offer from another label Red Ant/BMG. Mistake number two, as the label slowly spun out of control going bankrupt in a matter of weeks taking Painted Bride and me down with it.
Isn't it three strikes you're out?
Again I returned home to Jersey, and began plotting my next move. I took a job as the national anthem singer for the Philadelphia Flyers. I suppose I had an in, and an unusual fondness for large men with fake teeth. (Oh, by the way the Canadian anthem is much nicer than ours.) I worked several extra jobs such as receptionist, accountant, video game developer, and was the Ocean Spray Raisin Girl. (do not ask)
Determined, I started to write my third CD. During this time, I lost my Dad ( way too soon) to cancer. To add insult to injury, I discovered a few weeks later that I too had cancer. Strangely enough, I was diagnosed with a form of the disease known as NHL. Highly curable, common in young people and very scary. So, I spent the next six months singing only for the hockey club, writing away at home, and contemplating the thought that bald is beautiful. The whole city watched me weekly as I trudged out onto the ice to perform, my voice still ringing , my dome all aglow. We went through it together. In the unusual forum of sport and music, I rallied. Being a tough Jersey Girl I won this fight hands down and am now as happy and healthy as ever!
My story is not a sad one. It is just mine. I could be your friend , your sister, or your girlfriend. We all have had our share. It just so happens that my art is to tell a story, and the one I know most intimately is my own.
So here I am now, 2001. Strong and alive, looking forward to the release of my third CD DRIVE. I already have one of the tracks slated for a new movie called JOHN Q with Denzel Washington and Robert Duvall. Not too shabby. The record is due out late spring.
Oddly enough the fallout from my first record deal allowed me to become a better artist, and to be truer to who I am. The second CD taught me to be self sufficient and that my career is dependent on no one but me. I need no permission to be an artist. Loss has showed me a greater purpose. And, my third CD is teaching me that life goes on and reminds me of why I love my life and my music the way I do.