Debby Boone Swings This (and That) on New CD
Debby Boone goes where the spirit moves her. Since her career started in the late 1970s, she has created her own success in the music genres of pop, country-western and gospel music. None of this should be surprising for the two-time Grammy Award-winner: she comes from a family - Dad is 1950s pop star Pat Boone - who knows a thing or two about putting over a song.
Her latest musical adventure takes her back to the music and artists who filled rooms at the very finest Las Vegas establishments of the 1950s and 1960s. Taking a cue from the time her father spent performing there over the years and the countless entertainers who worked the Strip, Ms. Boone is poised and ready to "Swing This," on the aptly titled new set of songs set for release in early summer.
If the only 'light' bulb that goes off in your head in mentioning Debby Boone is "You Light Up My Life"... well, let's just say there is some catching up to do.
Showcasing the Strip
EDGE: When did you come up with the idea to showcase your dad’s [Pat Boone] Las Vegas years in a show?
Debby Boone: You know... umm, it probably was a couple of years back. Actually, I was just talking to my manager and one of my agents at ICM [International Creative Management] about how much fun all of that music is. I’ve always loved it and it makes me feel good immediately. No matter what mood you’re in, you start to hear some of that big band, high-energy music and great songs. I would love to do a show that made people feel like that makes me feel.
As we started to just think it through, I realized I had so many stories to tell from back then when my dad was working there and some of the relationships that developed over time from that point on. That had really had such a major influence for me.
EDGE: Nice. Yeah, on several of the songs on the EP, it reminded me of my parent’s record collection, like Nat King Cole’s version of "Get Me to the Church on Time," which you sing now. I’m enjoying it. The cover art is cool too with you shooting a game of pool.
Debby Boone: We just shot that very fun session. Some of them were musicians and some of them were friends and family (laughter) Central Casting.
EDGE: Do you have any plans to take the show you recently did at The Carlyle Café and expand upon it to make it a theatrical event and tour?
Debby Boone: I had been doing something similar in my tribute to Rosemary Clooney for many years. I’ve been out doing that. This is not all together different although musically of course, it’s much more fun and high-energy than what I have been doing and with a bigger band. But, it’s the same kind of thing where it’s personal experiences and stories.
The show at the Carlyle is one hour of cabaret. When I take a show out on the road, it’s a longer and expanded version with costume changes, you know?
EDGE: Definitely. I’ve never been to New York but I looked at the Café Carlyle room online. It’s so chic and beautiful. These songs need to be sung again for a new generation of audiences.
Debby Boone: Yes. Yeah, I agree. It’s interesting as on the opening night [Café Carlyle] my daughter’s in-laws were in the audience. My father-in-law is kind of a music aficionado. He saw the show and said, "Songs that I didn’t even like then, you made me like with different treatments of them." It was really interesting. What a great compliment.
EDGE: Yeah, that’s the whole point. Back in the 1950s or 1960s, entertainers could take a "standard" and make it their own, just with their delivery of it.
Debby Boone: Yep, that’s so great. I wish it were still more like that... to tell you the truth. I love listening to different versions of the same song. When it’s a great song, it affords many different kinds of interpretations. I find that really interesting. There is a great show ’Martini Lounge’ with Brad Chambers and they would take the same song and play it by different artists and I always liked hearing them back-to-back.
EDGE: Are you able to tell me some of the songs that I’m not aware of from the preview CD?
Debby Boone: Some of the ones that are not on the EP would be ’Sway’ and ’Mack the Knife’ with a Perez Prado arrangement. We’ll be doing a beautiful John Oddo-arranged ’Cry Me a River.’ Let’s see, let me think... what else?
EDGE: You’re not going to do the Julie London version of ’Cry Me a River?’
Debby Boone: It’s kinda like that, one of my favorites. (laughter) Though John has re-invented it with his beautiful arrangement, it’s got that great feel.
EDGE: You’re very blessed to be part of such a great theatrical family and your musical director John Oddo was your mother-in-law’s [Rosemary Clooney] musical director?
Debby Boone: Yes, he was for twenty years.
EDGE: They are both phenomenal.
Debby Boone: Yeah... I agree. I agree.
EDGE: Right now, ’Round Midnight’ is my favorite track on the sampler.
Debby Boone: I love you for that, I love you for that. Not everybody gets that one, as much. Obviously, jazz aficionados recognize it and I think one of the greatest compliments for me was the incredible musicians leaving the session saying, ’I kind of came in here going, Wow, she thinks she can do this one.’ and came out saying, ’Yes, she can.’ (laughter)
EDGE: Your rendition is beautiful. It really hit me. Please share a bit of performing at the Café Carlyle?
Debby Boone: It was amazing. Tony Bennett came to see me the fourth night, exciting yeah? It was a dream come true. I loved it there.
EDGE: In regards to your phenomenal hit ’You Light Up My Life.’ Your recording is still powerful to this day. Did you ever hear Whitney Houston’s version of your song?
Debby Boone: I did. I did hear it. There wasn’t anything Whitney couldn’t sing. I think she did a beautiful version of it.
EDGE: I had no idea that you and Olivia-Newton John [’Physical’] had tied on ten weeks in the No. 1 slot in the top ten of the Billboard 100 Chart. "’Light Up My Life’ is a wonderful accomplishment to always have. There is a song you did previously that hasn’t been around for a while and it’s called ’See You in September.’ Will you tell me about this song?
Debby Boone: Yeah, definitely. Wow...golly, that’s going way back. I don’t know if I have much back story except at the time that I recorded that, I was working at Warner/Cube Records and Mike Curb, who was the president of that subsidiary company of Warner Brothers [Curb went on to became Lt. Governor of California for a while].
He loved doing covers. So, before I had the hit with ’You Light Up My Life’ he had my sisters and I in the studio doing a lot of covers. I’m trying to remember if I did ’See You in September’ before ’Light Up My Life’ and we just put it on one of the recordings, I think that’s how it worked. I had already recorded it with my sisters and then when ’Light’ took off, we needed to make an album.
EDGE: Oh, okay. It’s the same song that I think The Four Freshmen did back in the 1950s?
Debby Boone: Yeah, I think actually that was for a special release in Japan.
[Boone sings "I’ll see you in September..."]
EDGE: Yeah! Well, here are a couple of questions just for fun. My guy and I have been together nineteen years and we’re celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary in October.
Debby Boone: Congratulations.
EDGE: I had no idea your husband and Judge Judy presided over the wedding of Michael Feinstein.
Debby Boone: (laughter) Yes, he did! I think most people are somewhat surprised... most people don’t even know that I’m married to a guy who has become an Episcopalian priest, but then surprised again when they hear he officiated with Judge Judy at that particular wedding.
We’ve been longtime friends of Michael and Terrance. You know, we knew Michael before the world knew Michael. Way back to when he was living next door to Rosemary [Clooney] and before I was even married. Michael and Terrance came in to see the show I just did at the Café Carlyle and it was really nice to see them.
About that double-chin...
EDGE: Excellent. Now, this is funny. I have a slight double chin...
Debby Boone: (laughter) I know where you’re going with this.
EDGE: What cracked me up about Lifestyle Lift (Boone is the product’s television’s spokesperson) is that men have been coming up to you and telling you it works.
Debby Boone: Yeah, oh yeah. I’ve definitely met men who are very pleased with the results. If it worked for women, why wouldn’t it work for men? A lot of men kind of don’t have the same obsession I guess with staying young and maybe don’t feel the same pressure that women do. I don’t know.
EDGE: That’s true. Though, I’m annoyed at shaving every three days.
Debby Boone: I bet! (laughter)
EDGE: Thank you Debby. I hope you do eventually have an engagement closer to me. I would thoroughly enjoy catching up and seeing your show.
Debby Boone: That would be great and I hope it happens sooner rather than later. We’ll see each other face to face. Thank you.
Debby Boone’s new CD "Swing This" is set to be released in early summer of 2013. For more information and to learn of upcoming dates, visit her web page.