Linda Eder gets intimate (with Michael Feinstein)
Singer Linda Eder brings her big voice to the intimate and posh Feinstein's at the Regency for a month-long engagement performing with Michael Feinstein (as well as having two solo shows on September 24).
Now 50, Eder recently released her thirteenth album, "Now," which reunited her with the collaborator with whom she is best known, composer Frank Wildhorn (also her former husband, whom she divorced in 2004).
After a few years doing the hotel and club circuit, Eder first rose to national prominence on television's "Star Search," winning a record thirteen straight weeks in 1988. That exposure not only drew the attention of Angel Records, but also of Wildhorn.
Eventually, Eder starred in the Broadway production of "Jekyll and Hyde" (music by Wildhorn, lyrics by Leslie Bricusse) and earned a Theater World Award for her performance in the long-running show.
Since then, Eder has continued to record and perform in some of the greatest concert halls in the world, including Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, among others.
It has been quite a journey for the girl born in Arizona and raised in Brainerd, Minnesota. EDGE recently caught up with the singer to talk about her career and current show.
A more intimate style?
EDGE: I would think Feinstein’s would be a little intimate for your concert hall voice. Do you make any vocal adjustments for the space?
Linda Eder: I just sing the way I normally do. For the show with Michael, it’s more about the dueting, so you really have to listen to each other and blend.
EDGE: Michael Feinstein has been doing a lot of duet shows in recent years with a variety of amazing performers. What is it like working with him?
Linda Eder: First and foremost, you have to admire the talent and the way he can sit down and play like that as well as sing. Also, the learning experience of being with the caretaker of the American Songbook is hard to beat. Years ago, I asked Michael to sing a duet with me on one of my albums, and it started there. We’ve actually done "Two for the Road" several times around the country but this is the first time we’ve done it at Feinstein’s.
Story continues on the following page.
Watch Linda Eder sing "Don’t Rain on my Parade"
The new Barbra?
EDGE: How will your individual show differ from the duet ones?
Linda Eder: It’s heavy on the new album, but I call it "All of Me" because I’ve branched out in so many ways from the show tunes and standards in recent years.
EDGE: As someone who came up from a television talent contest in the ’80s, what do you think of today’s contests? What was the value of that experience for you?
Linda Eder: My show was much kinder. It was just about the talent, not all the reality show mixed in with the drama and tears. Standing up there to compete is tough enough as it is. I can’t imagine what it’s like for these kids today. One the one hand, these shows are giving careers to wonderful talents that may not have been discovered otherwise. But I worry about the damage to the psyche for a lot of these young people. A lot of people, especially artists, are fragile and sensitive and it’s devastating to lose, not to mention the comments they hear. I mean, I often agreed with the basis of Simon Cowell’s criticisms, but to be on the receiving end of it is another thing entirely.
EDGE: When you first became widely known because of "Jekyll and Hyde" some were calling you "the new Barbra." Did that kind of comment put any added pressure on you as a performer?
Linda Eder: In the beginning, a little bit. I was such a fan myself. It was more about trying to live up to a standard of what I wanted to be. I didn’t have it too badly with the critics, but when they did criticize, it usually had to do with Barbra. They wanted me to be the poor man’s Barbra Streisand and I tried for many years. Eventually, I found my own strengths. I can sing a country/pop ballad, for example. I got divorced, went out on my own. It has taken me this many years to find my true voice.
EDGE: You’ve done so many recordings and concerts, but is there any particular reason why Broadway never happened again? Was it your choice or was it a matter of timing or lack of appropriate roles?
Linda Eder: It was mainly because I had a son. I realized that life is short and I had him when I was thirty-seven and knew it might be my only chance to have a child. I’ve been offered and I’ve been tempted. I was offered the revival of "Annie Get Your Gun" and I turned it down. Sometimes I kick myself because I am Annie Oakley. I’m a farm girl who does all of the things she does. But when you have a child, your life is not your own. I know some people manage it, but I can’t do a Broadway show and be a good mother. But the recording and concert work really works out well.
Her big birthday
EDGE: How much work goes into maintaining your voice?
Linda Eder: Not much of anything! It used to be that once I got warmed up, I could sing for hours and get better the more I sang. Now, the most important thing is that I have to make sure I get enough sleep and warm up before performing.
EDGE: You hit a big birthday this year. Has it caused you to pause and reflect on your life and career?
Linda Eder: More on life in general. As you get older, you realize there are more things you are never going to be able to do. So you think about how you are going to wrap it all up in the best possible way. I was never afraid to tell my age; in fact, I often add a year once I reach the halfway mark of a year. However, back in February right after I turned fifty, a reporter emailed me some questions and asked me my age. [Laughs] When I actually typed it out, it threw me a bit. But I look good. I’ve been blessed with my Norwegian heritage, which has given me good skin.
EDGE: How would you describe your new album "Now"? What was it like to work with Frank Wildhorn again after so many years and after the personal separation?
Linda Eder: No problem at all. I was the one who wanted the divorce and it was pretty amicable. But for many years I did not want to work with him. I wanted to work with other people and learn new things. I felt I was being passively-aggressively controlled to sing his music. But the timing was right and we even brought back the original teams to work on this recording.
EDGE: Your son is now twelve. Is it getting more difficult to balance the demands of show business and motherhood?
Linda Eder: It’s actually a little easier. He can be by himself a bit more now.
EDGE: You seem to have the most fanatical of fans. As a fan of Garland and Streisand yourself, why do you think people are so enamored of big-voiced singers?
Linda Eder: I think it’s mostly about the emotion. Big, ballady songs have an impact. With me, I think there’s a cry in the tone. Musical tones do something to us physically, not just emotionally. Like when someone softly plays the piano, I can just lie down on the floor and get lost in it-it’s like crack! Other than that, I’m also not a diva. I don’t ever turn anyone away, and I’m always there until the last CD is signed.
EDGE: What is on your career wish list for the future?
Linda Eder: I’d like to do a record of all my own songs. I wrote a song for "The Other Side of Me" album and got some really good feedback on it. I’d also like to do a straight play. Broadway musicals are so hard on your voice. I get bored doing the same thing all the time. Basically, I just want more time. Since I was nine years old, I’ve always been aware of the passing of time. I’ve been very lucky and I love life. I just want more time.
Linda Eder appears with Michael Feinstein, Tuesdays through Saturdays at Feinstein’s at the Regency (www.feinsteinsattheregency.com), through October 1st. She performs two solo shows on Saturday the 24th. Go to www.lindaeder.com for more information.
Watch Linda Eder sing "A New Life":