Linda Eder sings of the movies

by Kay Bourne

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday December 3, 2009

Linda Eder is singing songs of love - but not for her. ?

"Almost a year ago, I had my heart broken for the first time," says the diva of power ballads and show stoppers who came to fame more than a decade ago from her appearance in the musical Jekyll & Hyde, her enthusiastically received concert appearances and a string of best-selling CDs.

Ironically she is often referred to as a Broadway diva, though Jekyll & Hyde was her sole Broadway musical; but such is the power of her clarion voice, which could rival the great Merman in its ability to reach the deepest corners of a theater.

Belting, though, has long been her signature style, which has led to comparisons to such singing superstars as Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland -- two of her muses (along with opera-turned jazz chanteuse Eileen Farrell) when growing up in Minnesota in the 1980s. More recently she made a change-of-pace, moving beyond her Great American Songbook repertoire into the break up/ heart bruised world of country pop music with the 2008 Verve CD The Other Side of Me. ?

A cougar?

As for her heartbreak, her gal pals took matters into their hands and provided a girls night out as the prescription for Eder's moving on. They took her to the elegant bar at Madison Hotel in Manhattan for some frivolity.

There to her amazement, "I was hit on by a 27-year-old" as handsome as Eder is gorgeous. A buoyed Eder told him, thanks but no thanks, "I'm not the cougar type," she says. ?

But she got a song out of it: "Cougar Run." A composer as well as a songbird, Eder, says "it's the kind of song (in the c&w vein) I have a knack for. It's the me I am at home versus the standards (which have made her famous). ?

At a recent in-person interview with EDGE, Eder says she's considering introducing "Cougar Run" as part of her current tour, which takes her to SF's Marines Memorial Theatre on December 11 and 12. ?Story continues on next page.

Watch Eder sing "Don't Rain on my Parade."

Going Hollywood

But the show, An Evening With Linda Eder, showcases Linda Eder Soundtrack, her new album devoted to theme music from the silver screen.

The 12 selections span roughly the last 50 years in cinema, from the Henry Mancini "Charade," the title tune of the 1963 movie starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, to "Falling Slowly," the Best Original Song Academy Award winner from Once, the 2007 Irish musical film. There is unabashed romance ("I Will Wait for You,") Beatles' pop ("Help"), Elvis ("Can't Help Falling in Love"), 60s country ("Everybody's Talking"), 70s disco ("If I Can't Have You") and an 80s power-ballad (Phil Collins' "Against All Odds"). This writer's personal favorite is a cover of Dionne Warwick's pop hit from 1968, the Andre Previn and Dory Previn "Valley of the Dolls." ?

The songs on Soundtrack may now run through your mind as rendered in the films but Eder has given them a new ring. She got a core group of musicians together in Woodstock (near where she lives) for a week's rehearsal of the songs she'd chosen. "I love movies and I love old movies," she said. ?

"I had a core group of five pieces, two guitars, drums, piano, and bass, and for a week we rehearsed until we started to feel like a band. We sat around Dreamland Studios - which is a cool place, it used to be a church - and we just played. The band would start with a tempo idea and I would start singing and we would adapt it. Then we took the weekend off. ?
"In the recording studio we did complete takes (except for "Valley of the Dolls" which was done at a later time), she said. ?

Eder's taste in films leans toward romance and adventure. "I love a romantic movie with a good murder. Great movies are emotional," she said.
She likes emotional response at her concerts too. "That's one of the pluses of having a gay following," she said. "They're unafraid of being emotional. The gay struggle had given them a heightened sense of life, I think." ?

Eder's big break came in 1988 when she successfully auditioned for Star Search, the American Idol of its day. She went on to win the competition 12 weeks in a row. The exposure let to a meeting with Frank Wildhorn, co-writer of the Whitney Houston smash "Where Do Broken Hearts Go."

At the time -- 1990 -, he was working on a musical adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's gothic horror Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in which Eder became involved as it made its six-year crawl to Broadway. RCA signed her and her first release, Linda Eder, came out in 1991. Over the 1990s she recorded a number of solo albums, as well as contributing to studio recordings of Jekyll & Hyde,as well as two other Wildhorn shows: The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Civil Wars, both of which made it to Broadway, but without Eder. When Jekyll & Hyde did make it to Broadway in 1997, Eder played the doomed prostitute Lucy, a performance for which she received 1997 Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations, and a 1997 Theatre World Award for her debut performance. ?

Show tunes have been her tour de force. She ventured a distance with the country & western oriented "The Other Side of Me." Her new turn with "Soundtrack" brings her closer to home base but broadens her métier at the same time.
Linda Eder presents All of Me at the Marines Memorial Theatre, San Francisco, CA at 8pm on December 11 and 12, 2009. For more information visit her website.

Watch Eder sing "Over the Rainbow."