Cabaret, Ruth Roberts, and Me
The Cabaret scene is making a comeback!! The American Songbook has been a steady presence in the background of our lives, but it’s beginning to come to the forefront again. Whether it’s Rod Stewart recording albums of standards, or Michael Buble recording new standards, the hit parade is back! To paraphrase Wikipedia, Cabaret is a form of entertainment featuring comedy, song, dance, and theatre, distinguished mainly by the performance venue — a restaurant or nightclub with a stage for performances and the audience sitting at tables (often dining or drinking) watching the performance. The music itself is often classified as “jazz”, “big band”, or “broadway” in nature.
Ruth Roberts, my late mother in law, was a successful songwriter from the 40’s-60’s . From orchestras of the day, and Big Bands, to Country and Rockabilly, and everything in between. Lawrence Welk, Buddy Holly, The McGuire Sisters, Teresa Brewer, Doris Day, Dean Martin, Jimmy Dean, and so many more recorded her songs. Even the Beatles!!!! (but that’s a story for another time). She was also responsible for writing some very famous sports songs: “Meet The Mets”, “It’s A Beautiful Day For A Ball Game”, “Mr. Touchdown USA” and “I Love Mickey”. She’d had quite a
Living in Los Angeles, I was familiar with the Gardenia Restaurant and Lounge…I had been to their open mic night a time or two, but I didn’t realize it was an official Cabaret until the past few years, when I decided to go to open mics for an opportunity to sing my country music to a more intimate group.
Ruth had given me several of her hit country songs to perform and record, so I decided to try them out, along with other country and pop songs I had always loved. But singing at the Gardenia made me think about doing more of Ruth's songs at their open mic.
I began to realize that many of her hits were never covered after their original success. So, I thought I would reintroduce them through the Cabaret clubs. The response was amazing. The audience remembered so many of the songs fondly, and they responded enthusiastically to the ones they had never heard before.
I began showing up at the Gardenia, when the “regulars” performed, and was inspired to put together my own show of Ruth's music. It was a joyous adventure going through her many file cabinets, searching for new material. It was difficult to choose 12-18 songs for an hour show.
I attended workshops geared to the genre, and slowly started forming the show. The first show was well received, and I was asked to do more. So, I revised the show…added new songs to the mix...some that had never been recorded...and again, the audience loved it.
With the resurgence of interest in it’s music, there is a lively Cabaret circuit around the country and the world. “The Cabaret Scene” is a magazine that has all the clubs and venues listed, along with write-ups about the artists and reviews of the various shows.
For me, it’s music that I love performing, and I want to help keep it alive.
I’m on a musical adventure…and I’d love to share that with you, through this blog.
Sandra performing at the Metropolitan Room, New York - October 31, 2015