I'm a singer from Minnesota, living in Saint Paul. When I met Richard Rodney Bennett in 2012, we quickly connected over Noel Coward, cats and cooking. While perusing an exhibit together at the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts, he was able to point to himself as one of the performers in a photo of the Midnight Matinée celebrating Coward's 70th birthday--just one of the first delightful discoveries I made about Richard, and the beginning of a great adventure for me.
I had been introduced to Richard through email correspondence when he expressed interest in my work and particularly my choice of songs. We had each recorded a neglected Johnny Mercer/Robert Emmett Dolan composition called "I'm Way Ahead Of The Game" and I thought it was an amazing coincidence that he'd been the one to introduce the song to the singer I'd learned it from. I found out that not only was he responsible for the scores of such films as Murder on The Orient Express, but also a raft of classical works, as well as writing for and accompanying singers from Cleo Laine to Blossom Dearie to Lena Horne.
He was the most generous of mentors, inviting me repeatedly to stay with him in his home in New York. He gave me his time and encouragement and shared his perspective, his humor, his friends, his cats. We listened to a lot of music together. I understood later why this came so easily to him after a lifetime spent like this with people such as composers Elizabeth Lutyens and Pierre Boulez, who took him on as an eager disciple. He wrote wonderful letters and was an inspired cook.
Richard and I performed together in concert only once, in what turned out to be his last public performance, for the long-running Midtown Jazz at Midday concert series in Manhattan. The day was musically indelible for me, and the radio silence that soon followed seemed impossible, as Richard became ill and passed away within weeks. I sorely miss his company; but it's consoling now when I notice the results of his nurturing weaving themselves into my craft.
My interest in his compositions has flowered, and last year at the Chicago Cabaret Convention I performed "Soliloquy", a song-cycle he wrote in 1966 with playwright Julian Mitchell. The Chicago Tribune's Howard Reich called it "the dramatic centerpiece of the night." It is just one of many undersung jewels in a catalog of music from a composer so prolific and catholic in his tastes and abilities that "crossover" only hints at the qualities of his unusual work. Among his illustrious collaborators are Franklin Underwood, Charles Hart and Johnny Mandel. I've been lucky enough to be able to work from Richard's original manuscripts as I've done my research, thanks largely to Richard's friend Scott Merrell.
I would like to bring Richard's many-faceted songs together in one recording, and feel well positioned to be able to contribute a worthwhile interpretation from my own musical perch. I have several of the most talented musicians in the Twin Cities ready to help me bring this project to fruition. I've created a budget that includes musician and technician salaries, recording studio time, manufacturing and licensing, photography and graphic design, as well as the costs to do business with Kickstarter and Amazon Payments. This project will only be possible if the goal is reached, no money changes hands unless it is fully funded, and the total budget is the bare minimum for materials and personnel. I only get paid once the CD is selling to the general public. Any funding exceeding the goal will go toward adding talent to the recording.
If you pledge, you will be the first to hear the finished work and you will get exclusive updates on the creation process. Higher pledges will be rewarded with a private recording of a song of your choosing, a private show in your home (or live streaming outside the Twin Cities), and your name in the album credits. My recording career has been mostly fueled by the past support of my listeners, so I'm already indebted to them for providing experience that will help me in this newest venture into musical territory so inspiring to me. I hope you will decide to come along with me for a wonderful time with Richard's music.
Risks and challenges
The biggest risks and challenges are concerned with completing tasks alongside the commitments of everyone involved and maintaining a reasonable timetable. I have tentatively scheduled sessions with personnel during low season and done other preemptive planning to minimize these difficulties. My goal is to have the CD finished by the end of May and out to you by summer, with a fall release.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)