BWW Interviews: Ann Hampton Callaway on Barbra Streisand, Upcoming Projects and More
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by Michael Mulhern
BroadwayWorld got to speak with the talented Ann Hampton Callaway on her upcoming concert, her personal relationship with Barbara Streisand, new CDs, and so much more!
Have you been to Denver before and what do you think of our fine city?
Yes, I have, I have been a few times, but I think this is my first major show in Denver, so this is exciting for me. It's a beautiful city. I just have to make sure I don't drink too much wine at dinner. Great people, favorite musicians are from Denver, I love any place that's near the mountains. It reminds me just a tiny bit of a sort of mountain-circled Chicago. The people have a little bit of that kind of openness. That's my home town, so I feel like, "this feels familiar."
So you will be singing selections from Barbra Streisand songbook....what is your favorite Babs song?
My favorite Babs'song is the latest one she's recorded of mine, but actually, there are so many great songs that she does. I have to say that in doing this show, some songs that I have never done before have been incredible thrills to sing and have become favorites that just surprised me. For instance, singing, "Piece of Sky." It's just such an incredible experience emotionally, the journey that that song takes. I think it sort of paints a portrait of not just the character that Barbra directed and acted in Yentl but also it seems to be a portrait of Barbra's exploration as an artist, and a woman, and her life, so particularly I'm loving that song these days.
What can we expect to hear from your concert? Any favorites?
Some of the highlights of the show, I think people really respond strongly to this medley I did of "People" and "Being Alive," it seems to get a huge ovation when I sing that song. People also really love hearing the original songs I wrote for Barbra, we get big ovations on "I've Dreamed of You," the song I wrote for Barbra's wedding; she received the song the day she was getting getting married, and did the most unStreisand-like thing and sang the song at her wedding reception, even though it was brand new and she had to have a lyric sheet in her hand. That was a real thrill. Even straight men cry when they hear the song, so that was a wonderful experience. The song I wrote that Barbra first recorded sold 11 million records at the same time, she did such a beautiful arrangement of that. It's an anthem for world peace and I think a lot of people they may have heard the song, "On Higher Ground" or some of her other collections but they don't necessarily attribute it to me, so that's a part of the personal side of the show. But, something like "Don't Rain on My Parade," the moment I start singing that, the crowd...crowd's always get excited about that. The fabulous moments that you can't wait to hear. I mean, every song in the show ... the great thing about the show is an incredible career of music. I just chose all the songs that have a really strong connection to the audiences that love. I got the top arrangers to orchestrate these songs and many of them have been orchestrating for Streisand herself. But we want to spoil all of you with a really fantastic show.
Is there a song that you feel ultimately represents you?
When I choose songs to sing, I don't choose any song that I don't feel is in someway a representation of me, but I think probably when I sing I've written, that's about as personal as it gets. And, both songs, "I've Dreamed of You" that I've sung at so many of my concerts through the years and particularly love singing with the orchestra, it shows the very romantic, passionate side of who I am. I recently wrote lyrics for same-sex weddings, and I've been singing this songs for those weddings, and it's been wonderful to open up the song to everyone, and it's an exciting time in the marriage world and for human rights. And, I also think when I do the song, "People/Being Alive," that medley, I feel I really dig deep into the ups and downs of my own personal life of opening up completely to another human being and allowing myself to need someone. We all have our aches and wounds and those two songs celebrate overcoming the heartbreaks that we have and embracing the great connection that we all need and seek.
If you were not in theater, what job do you think that you would be doing in a parrallel universe?
Well I would probably do more writing, either be a writer, or therapist, or journalist, like my father. He was an incredible interviewer-moderator-reporter, and he gave me my insatiable curiosity, and I love phography, that probably would be something. The thing with me is t try to use all my talents in my life, and whether or not I'd make money at anything else besides music and songwriting and performing, that remains to be seen. I probably have a few children's books I'm interesting in writing and I'm also a poet, but you see you don't make any money selling poetry. I'm very glad that I've been able to make my calling into a livelihood.
Any projects in the works like a new CD?
I do have a record label that wants to record the Streisand songbook, and we're just in the beginning stages of setting that up. And I also have a new show that I will be premiering on Tuesday that I'm very excited about. It's called, "Bridges,' and it's sort of my response to our country at this time when I think we're such a divided nation. I'm using great songs from the jazz, Brazilian, standard world that really are songs that show how we come together and what things keep us coming together, and sort of celebrate the possibilities that we have as a country to get over our differences. I think that music is such a great tool for that. I'm hoping that that show will be recorded, too, in time. I'm still holding out, though, that the Streisand Songbook, I really wish we can work out something with an orchestra to record the show, because the orchestration is so beautiful.
Will we be seeing you back on Broadway again any time soon?
You can ask the producers of Broadway! It's interesting, I have some meetings with people about writing a Broadway musical, and in the next few months we will be exploring that. Who knows? If I write a great show, maybe it's something I can be in.
Any ideas for the Broadway musical?
Not something that I'm able to talk about at this point...it's top secret, but there's actually a fabulous movie that I'm being approached about. If I feel that the composer is somebody I want to work with, then that looks like a great thing on the horizon. One thing I wanted to mention about the upcoming show on Saturday, one of the most enjoyable things in my performances is creating an improvisation on the spot. And I usually involve my trio on stage, and the orchestra ultimately, and usually I get the audience singing along. We're going to write a Streisand-esque song on the spot with no preparation. The audience is going to call out words and phrases, and I'm going to compose something that sounds Sreisand-esque, with the hopes that it's something we can send to her for her next CD! It's a lot of fun.
Again - thank you so much for speaking with me and BroadwayWorld today!!! You are absolutely wonderful and I look to seeing you perform with our fabulous symphony!
Have a happy new year! If I have the pleasure of singing for you on Saturday, please come. I'll be signing autographs and saying hi to people after the show in the lobby, so stop by and say hi.