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Take Five With...

Take Five With Quinn Lemley

By Published: January 11, 2013
Well, our shows got standing ovations and wonderful press. Buffalo is Merete's hometown, she had an amazing feature as the cover story in the local Buffalo News. Saturday night was packed; we were on a roll till we get to the end of the show. The girls and I are singing Tom Jones' "She's a Lady." I hear the girls, "whoa whoa," "Whoa, whoa"—there's nothing coming from my mic. The theater was on a tight budget, so there were no stage managers on the stage. Paul runs down the aisle of the theater from the sound booth at the back of the house, runs onstage with a handheld mic and somehow I finished the number not missing a beat with the handheld.

The dilemma, the next number was a Sally Rand "Fan Dance<" with two huge heavy pink fans, where I sing, dance and peel off my costumes with the girls. Now, now! After all, it is a burlesque show! My mic pack was underdressed underneath all the layers of clothing under my fishnets. How was the soundman going to get from the booth, re-rig me and not lose the audience? I started vamping, joking about technical malfunctions; then the band yells, "Tell them the mushroom joke!" So I told the audience, "A mushroom goes into a bar and orders a drink. The bartender says, "I'm sorry, but we don't serve your kind here." The mushroom looks up and says, "Why not? I'm a fungi!" The drummer gave me a crash, a "bada boom" and the band started riffing on "Makin' Whoopee," as I shuffled stage right into the wings. In less than a minute I was center stage back in action. It brought down the house!

Standing ovations, the audience stayed. I think they feel even more connected to the performers when there are technical issues. The lesson learned? The Golden Rule: always> have the soundman change the batteries and always wear a second pack. I guess, when you are going to develop your show, you shuffle off to Buffalo! (bada boom!).

Favorite venue:

The Kravis Center in Palm Beach, FL—a jewel of a theater, the best staff ever.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

Cocktails with A Twist; they are some of my favorite songs ever.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Lena Does Latin at The Sands, Lena Horne.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

Taking the audience on a journey. I am an entertainer. Music is an international language and it connects us all worldwide. My music and my shows have played around the world, the music has connected me and my band with people everywhere.

Did you know...

I make the best soufflés, especially chocolate, thanks to James Beard and my parents.

CDs you are listening to now:

Diana Krall
Diana Krall
Diana Krall
, The Look of Love.

Desert Island picks:

Anything Michael Bublé

Anything Sinatra;

Anything Eartha Kitt.

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Exciting, diverse. Eclectic. Underpublicized and underfunded.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Exposure to younger audiences at young ages. Education. Programming more jazz in mainstream media and venues. More funding to get the music out.

What is in the near future?

My show, Burlesque to Broadway is a 10-piece big band that uses the hard-hitting sounds from Burlesque and Broadway to celebrate the women who went from Burlesque to Broadway and beyond. It's a celebration using music from the standards to pop, to describe the journey and a celebration of these icons. We have everything from Irving Berlin to Tom Jones.

We have an exciting tour lined up this spring starting with The State Theater in New Brunswick, NJ March 1st and ending in Montreal, Canada on May 31st and June 1st in Montreal at the Theatre Corona Virgin Mobile. I'll get to practice my French!

I love sharing this big band pop sound all over the country. Audiences are on their feet, so we know we are connecting with them. It's exiting. Plus I have the best creative team. It is so much fun!

This year we will tour all over and plan to record a CD of Burlesque to Broadway.

What's your greatest fear when you perform?

That I'll forget the words; that I won't connect.

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower?

"C'est Si Bon" and "Don't Fret World."

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

Performer, producer, writer, actress, speaker, teacher.

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Quinn Lemley
Quinn Lemley
Quinn Lemley


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