[RADIO] Sheryl Crow Talks About Writing Music for the Stage Production of 'Diner'
97.1 WASH FM Radio Interview
[NEWS] Darius Rucker Was Inspired By ‘Elf’ to Record Sheryl Crow Christmas Duet
By Christina Vinson
Will Ferrell‘s hit Christmas movie ‘Elf’ is a must-see during the holidays. Not only is it funny, full of Christmas cheer and highly entertaining — it also propelled Darius Rucker to record a duet with Sheryl Crow on his ‘Home for the Holidays’ album.
Fans of the movie may remember the shower scene with Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel (no, it’s not that kind of shower scene): Ferrell, who plays Buddy the Elf, overhears Deschanel singing ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ while showering in the mall’s locker room, and he innocently decides to sing a duet with the actress, prompting a hilarious reaction from her — and him.
Rucker loved that scene so much, he wanted in on it.
“I decided to do ['Baby It's Cold Outside'] for one reason … for that movie and how great they did it when she’s taking a shower in the bathroom, and he comes and sits on the counter, and he’s singing along with her,” he says.
Rucker tapped Crow to record the duet with him, but that’s where the ‘Elf’ inspiration ended; no showers were included in the recording. The two country singers were, however, in the same room together while cutting the song, making memories along the way — a rather uncommon way of recording in today’s industry, where most duet parts are recorded independently of one another.
“When we got Sheryl to come and do it … sitting there with her in the studio, right next to each other, singing it over and over and laughing and having a great time, I knew it was a great choice,” Rucker confirms.
The South Carolina native’s holiday album is available now, and he calls it a dream come true. ‘Home for the Holidays’ boasts 12 tracks compiled into Rucker’s first collection of holiday hits.
The ‘Homegrown Honey’ singer has been as busy as Santa Claus this season, most recently performing for the ‘Christmas in Washington’ TV special, which premieres on TNT on Dec. 19 at 8 PM ET.
[PIX] With Dean Alexander
[ CLICK TO ENLARGE ]
Nashville singer-songwriter Dean Alexander has revealed on Twitter that Sheryl recorded background vocals on a new unspecified song:
Photos: Dean Alexander
[NEWS] Sheryl Crow and David Nail to meet at Kennett Crossroads
By Tammy Hilderbrand
KENNETT, Mo. – Exactly what is in the water in Kennett, MO?
I’m not sure, but I’ll bet there are some music industry people who would love to be able to bottle it.
For such a tiny town, it has had some huge names emerge from it. Sheryl Crow. David Nail. And then add emerging artists like Blackjack Billy, Nall Billings, and Trent Tomlinson. The evidence is pretty amazing.
All of those artists are coming home for a concert to benefit their high school, Kennett High School, and the Kennett #39 Educational Foundation, which is working to elevate Kennett Public Schools through grants for innovative teachers, scholarships for students, and plans to help out the school’s Performing Arts and Athletic Departments.
The concert is being called “Kennett Crossroads,” and is scheduled for Monday, January 19 at the Kennett High School Gym. Only about 1500 tickets are available for this rare opportunity to get up close to the stars. Tickets range in price from $50 to $200 each. They are currently on sale at www.kefconcert.com.
Sponsorships are also available for the concert. A sponsorship is $2,500, but includes four VIP tickets, a meet and greet with the stars, and other opportunities.
If you prefer a truly intimate experience, you may want to attend the acoustic “Songwriter’s Night,” held the previous evening – Sunday, January 18. The acoustic set will be held at the Kennett Opera House at 8 p.m. Tickets for that event are $300, and are still on sale.
Both Sheryl Crow and David Nail have made no secret of the fact that their hometown helped make them who they are, as people and as artists.
Crow’s latest album, “Feels Like Home,” is considered one of her most personal works. Recorded under the Warner Nashville label, it takes a country turn. She wanted to write about what she really knows…and that is home – Kennett.
The album incorporates the feel of Kennett, a community made up of small town values, farmland, churches, and schools.
“Back when I was growing up, the outside world wasn’t much of our experience,” Crow said. “I grew up with two radio stations that played country.”
Since his debut in 2009, David Nail has also been making a career singing songs that grew through his Kennett roots.
Kristin McPherson, who has been helping to organize this concert, said it has been a long time coming about.
“It’s not easy to coordinate schedules for something like this,” she admitted.
McPherson is originally from Memphis, and moved to Kennett 23 years ago.
“I think what I’ve loved most about Kennett is that it is such a close community. And I’ve found Sheryl, and David, and this whole group of artists, are just very down-to-earth people, and they truly love their hometown,” said McPherson.
She says Crow’s family has been fun to get to know.
“I remember when Sheryl first moved to LA. I remember her dad was very concerned about her, and then soon as that first single was out, she became known everywhere,” said McPherson. “And Sheryl has been extremely giving to Kennett. She helped fund the city pool, helped build tennis courts for the high school tennis team, and has done several concerts here in Kennett.”
The other artists involved with this Crossroads concert are also Kennett boosters.
“All of these performers come from families who are very involved with the Kennett school system. It’s nice that none of them have forgotten their roots,” concluded McPherson.
[NEWS] "Diner" review: Excerpts from the Baltimore Sun
Levinson's decision to provide more of a female perspective dovetailed neatly with his choice for songwriter.
"Sheryl had a really good understanding of 'Diner' and the guys, but also what I was hoping for in terms of the female characters," Levinson says. "She was able to find the essence of that."
Crow, who has not attempted to write a musical before ("When Barry asked me to do this I was flattered and taken aback"), found particular inspiration in the character of Barbara, casual girlfriend to a "Diner" guy attending grad school.
"She has found out she's pregnant, but she wants to keep her job," Crow says. "She isn't prepared to give all that up. She is the representative of a modern, changing woman in the story. So I made the style of her song different from the others. It's got an almost Burt Bacharach, '60s feel."
That song's expressive heat and strong hook could be easily appreciated during rehearsal, even with just a piano accompaniment.
Getting to the point where she felt comfortable with matching song, character and plot took Crow a while.
"Music was such a huge part of the movie, a dramatic character in and of itself," she says. "The first couple months, I was completely hung up."
But as she delved into the musical history of 1959, Crow found a good deal of inspiration.
"When you look at the 100 hits of that year, there was a whole gamut of styles, some waning, some [pointing to] the '60s," she says. "I knew exactly what I wanted to pull from that world. And I knew what songs I would write for inner monologues and what songs would be part of the action of the play. I'm proud of the music. But I'm hoping people will listen to it and not hear Sheryl Crow."
There are no other plans "on the horizon" for "Diner" beyond its Signature run, Schaeffer says. Whether it will eventually make it to Broadway remains an open question.
"That would be wonderful," Levinson says. "But for now, let's see just if we can put together a good show — that, to me, is the challenge — and see if we get an audience interested in a two-hour journey."
Given the caliber of the creative team, that interest is practically guaranteed. It doesn't hurt that the "Diner" title is such a strong brand in itself.
[2015 TOUR] Mom’s Weekend 2015 at Washington State University
Saturday, April 11
($55.50 for WSU staff, faculty, and students)
On sale Friday, January 16, at 10:00 a.m. at the Beasley Coliseum box office or TicketsWest outlets.
[NEWS] Sheryl Crow expands her range, writing the songs for stage’s ‘Diner’
Sheryl Crow photographed in her recording studio and barn in Nashville,Tennessee. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
By Peter Marks in Nashville
The Washington Post
When Gene Kelly gazed into the camera, 9-year-old Sheryl Crow of Kennett, Mo., imagined he was getting ready to sing just for her. “I loved him so much that I wrote him: ‘Gene Kelly, care of Warner Brothers,’” she recalls, laughing. The swoon hadn’t worn off by the time a signed autograph finally arrived nearly a year later. “I thought, ‘Just wait, please wait, for me to grow up.’ ”
It was the dreamy Gene Kelly in “Brigadoon,” the movie version of the Lerner and Loewe musical, that Crow saw on TV and fell hard for. The production unfolding around him enthralled her, too. “It was everything: the story, the romance, the fantasy of it,” she recalls. “But also I think the music. There’s something about melodies that can really change the molecules, change the emotions. Songs like ‘Somewhere’ or ‘Who Will Buy?’ — Ohhh! — that you just go around singing.”
Crow is sitting in the handsome main house on her rambling property of hills and stables south of downtown Nashville, humming bits of those songs, from “West Side Story” and “Oliver!”, and tracing the long trail that has led her to compose the musical version of the cult movie “Diner.” Crow was approached by Barry Levinson, director of the 1982 film, to write the songs for the show — the coming-of-age story of a group of buddies in the Baltimore of 1959 — which began preview performances at Signature Theatre on Dec. 9. With Levinson writing the book and Kathleen Marshall staging it, the hope is that this new “Diner” — focusing not only on the young men but also, freshly, the women of the story — will find a home on Broadway.
First, though, musical-theater novices Crow and Levinson have to gauge what they’ve got during the world-premiere seven-week run in the 275-seat theater in Shirlington, their first opportunity to do so in three and a half years of endeavoring to make Levinson’s beloved characters sing. Tickets are now selling briskly, but there have been some “stumbling blocks” along the way, as Crow defines them: most harmfully, the scrubbing of a Broadway run, announced by the show’s original producer, that was to have begun in April 2013.
That proved to be wildly, presumptuously optimistic — the piece was simply in no shape to be staged back then — and a setback psychologically. Crow says she felt she was being placed on a pedestal early on, kept away from industry people who might have offered both her and Levinson sounder advice. But a new trajectory for the musical was established under a new producer, Scott Landis, who steered a tryout run to the Tony-recognized Northern Virginia company and Crow and Levinson to a lower-pressure start-up. “Ultimately, it’s made us sort of the underdog,” Crow says. “So I think both of us are now, more than being nervous about it, we’re much more anxious about getting it up on its feet. So we can really see what we have.”
If it’s a coup for Signature to be able to roll out a show with such famous names attached, it’s a hugely meaningful moment for Crow, who joins Cyndi Lauper (“Kinky Boots”), Elton John (“The Lion King” and “Aida”), Paul Simon (“The Capeman”) and Sting (“The Last Ship”) in the growing ranks of recording stars who have taken up side pursuits as musical-theater composers.
“I just never thought that it was an option,” the Grammy-winning Crow, 52, says when asked about a Broadway segue. “There were people who wrote musicals, and then there were people that were in the pop or rock world.” Her faith in crossovers was bolstered by the Broadway success of her own hero and early champion, Elton John, to whom she owes a lot. “He talked about me in Rolling Stone and on NPR, about this girl who made this record,” she says, “and it changed the scope of my career.”
“Diner” has allowed Crow to explore her musicality through characters in a way she has never gotten to in a stadium or concert hall, and so the process for her has been especially stimulating. “It’s been a great exercise,” she says. “I call it an exercise because it’s not like anything I’ve ever done.” Of course, potential hazards exist, of a variety that some of her pop and rock cohorts have run into: The talent that has earned them a following in their own field isn’t easily applied to the matrix of story, dialogue, music, movement and design that is the modern musical.
“It’s not like the movies, where you can rely on the camera to capture facial expressions,” she explains. “It’s a whole different thing, and Barry and I have learned a lot. There’s no slow moment of looking into somebody’s eyes and knowing their emotion. It is more like: Lay that story out.”
Crow composed the songs for “Diner” on piano and guitar at home in Nashville, where she is raising, on her own, her two boys, Wyatt, 7 and Levi, 4. Her spread is a place out of a child’s, not to mention a country singer’s, dreams: One counts 10 horses residing in her stables, near which Crow has built her own recording studio, a rustic sanctuary on whose walls hang her collection of guitars. (She erected a small chapel a few steps away; at the moment, a young man is sprawled on the floor of it, sorting the pieces of the boys’ more than 100 Lego sets.)
She settled in Nashville several years ago, looking for a community of musicians and a refuge. After a “very public” breakup with Lance Armstrong and a breast cancer diagnosis, Los Angeles became an unlivable fishbowl: “Suddenly I was like Kim Kardashian,” she says. Now she finds she’s permitted to kick off her boots and be Sheryl: “That tradition still exists here, and it doesn’t exist anywhere else I’ve ever found, where you go to a dinner party and you eat, and the next thing you know, it’s 2:30 in the morning and you’ve all been sitting around playing guitars.”
Crow has stepped back, too, from the political activism she’s been known for, a devotion on display most visibly through her performance at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. “There came a point where I felt like the energy I was putting into it was just becoming part of the noise out there,” she says, adding that she has paid a price for broadcasting her ideals. “There were a lot of radio stations that wouldn’t play me because of who I was perceived to be.”
So now, Crow sticks closer to home where causes are concerned, working, for example, on a project to attract corporate support to public school classrooms. “My sister is a teacher, and my other sister was a teacher as well. We know what it’s like to try and live on $30,000 a year.”
She has a hard time letting ideological incivility pass, even now. While touring in the South last summer with Rascal Flatts, one of the band members jokingly announced that President Obama was in the house, “and the audience booed. And you know, that’s difficult for me. I just walked up to the mike and said: ‘Oh no, no, no, no, you need to pray for the president. I don’t care what side of the aisle you stand on, you need to pray for the man who is leading all of us at this moment.’ ”
Crow herself started out as a music teacher in the St. Louis suburbs, and in a way, her involvement in this period-specific musical is a summoning of her own past — at least the early part of it that was consumed with the study of music theory and composition, tools she never expected again to rely on so heavily. A phone call one day from Levinson set her on this new path. He’d been listening, he told her, to “Leaving Las Vegas,” a song on her 1993 first album, “Tuesday Night Music Club.”
“You get a sense when you listen to her songs that they are great stories,” says Levinson, who set up a meeting with her in New York to discuss a collaboration. “And just to redo ‘Diner’ wasn’t that interesting to me. I wanted to see how much we could open it up, and now, we could open the door to the female point of view.”
The idea had enormous appeal to Crow, who admired the movie, a character-driven mosaic of post-adolescence forged from Levinson’s own memories that established him as one of the sharpest cinematic voices of the ’80s. She went back and watched it again and this time, had concerns.
“I think the second conversation was when I said: ‘Barry, I love the movie. Nothing happens in the movie. It’s just people talking. So how’s this going to work?’ ”
Finding a through line for the stage proved unnerving early on. Levinson, an intuitive director who for the movie version often resorted to improvisation, was no more schooled in the rigors of this process than she was: “Barry said, ‘Yeah, look at the movie script and write five or six songs where you think they might fit, and then let’s get together.’
“So I spent about six months with this script, walking around like an amateur actor with a script in my back pocket just going: ‘What the hell? What am I doing?’ ”
The breakthrough for Crow occurred after she begged for and received an outline of the show. She stayed up all that night composing. The next morning, she called Levinson and said, “I’ve written five songs.”
One of them was a song for Beth, a number that validated for Levinson his instincts about broadening the perspective of “Diner” to account for the aspirations and frustrations of young women in the late 1950s. In the movie, Ellen Barkin — an acquaintance of Crow’s — played Beth, who is trapped in an unsatisfying marriage to Daniel Stern’s immature Shrevie, and it was with Barkin in her head that Crow wrote “Tear Down This House.” The song has become an anthem of sorts, she says: “All of the women in the production appear, representing all the housewives in the world, asking the question: ‘Am I a person now, or am I just a figure of this person’s existence?’ ”
Levinson became a sounding board she trusted utterly. She sent him snippets of herself playing songs into her iPhone, and “he would do a little just like chiropractic adjustment and I’d be on my way.”
Locating, too, a musicological outline in the styles of the period — doo-wop, early rock-and-roll, the sounds of Frank Sinatra and Frankie Avalon — Crow discovered a teacher’s pleasure in both the research and, later, in giving homework to the actors. She asked each of them to listen to great singers — Sinatra and Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick — whose voices were in Crow’s head, too.
Now, she waits for an indication of how memorably the new music of “Diner” fills the heads of people she doesn’t know. Ideally, she says, they will be thinking of Beth and Shrevie and Fenwick and Eddie and Barbara, and not, specifically, of Sheryl.
“If they leave with songs that stick with them,” she says, “I’ll feel vindicated.”
SOURCE: The Washington Post
[NEWS] At Post POV, Sheryl Crow and Barry Levinson take a seat in Signature Theatre’s ‘Diner’
Arman Azad, YJDP Student Correspondent
Nine-time Grammy award winner Sheryl Crow and Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson sat down on Monday night with Washington Post theater critic Peter Marks for an intimate discussion of “Diner,” an upcoming musical set to debut today at Arlington’s Signature Theatre.
The production, which features music from Crow, was a three-and-a-half year project seeking to adapt the 1982 film of the same name to the stage in a first-ever experience for the songwriter.
The task of creating a theater production was uncharted territory, explained Crow and Levinson, but the artists were eager to attempt to bring the comedy, set in 1959, to the D.C. area.
“There is something about a learning experience that I think is really exciting,” Crow said at the forum. “You’re suddenly stepping into somewhere you haven’t been, and you go, alright, lets see.”
For Crow, a singer whose work has dominated the charts since her first album in 1993, working on a stage production was refreshing “because when you’ve been doing what you know best for 25 years, it’s great to do something you’re not really exactly sure how to do.”
In response to a question from Marks regarding the difficulties of navigating the theater landscape, Levinson replied, “All I know is that we put something together, something that was very different from the way I work…it’s all very new, and that in itself is worthwhile.”
Marks, often provoking laughs in the crowd of the sold-out event, elicited the personal aspects of Crow and Levinson’s experience working on the show. At one point, Crow described late-night conversations between her and Levinson to fine-tune pieces. Her intermittent bursts of song, which offered the audience a window into the show, were met with fervent applause from the crowd.
Following the event, Crow said in an interview, “I love the people and these characters, and I’m excited about the possibility that the music that I’ve written will move people and leave them humming a song as they leave the theater.”
Marks, who moderated the event, noted the show’s contribution to the D.C.-area theater scene. “The theater needs more of this kind of creative energy, and accomplished, skillful artists who want to try their hand at it,” he said. “So it’s very exciting to have this caliber of artist working locally and unveiling this piece to the world through Signature Theatre.”
The event was the final Post POV event of the season, but the first for Marks:
“If the conversation can go on, with people who love theater, it’s an extension of my job and it does me a world of good to have people engaged, so we can actually have a dialogue with people in the arts,” he said.
SOURCE: Washington Post
[VIDEO] "Wide River to Cross" by Sheryl Crow & MusiCorps Wounded Warrior Band (CNN Heroes)
[PIX] Sheryl Crow & Barry Levinson - Diner: An Intimate Conversation
Sheryl, Barry Levinson and WaPo's Chief Theater Critic Peter Marks @ Green Room
(Photo credit: Signature Theater)
Photo: Desh Rager
[ CLICK TO ENLARGE ]
Photo: Scott Ableman
Photo credit: Signature Theater
Photo: Joe Zaben
Photo: Joe Zaben
Signature Theatre's MAX Theatre
Arlington, Virginia (USA)
8 December 2014
[VIDEO] Sheryl Crow interviewed during rehearsal for "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute"
[VIDEO] Sheryl Crow open up at special performance @ Vanderbilt University
:: PHOTOS ::
Blair School of Music
Nashville, Tennessee (USA)
4 November 2014
[NEWS] DINER: Intimate Conversation with Sheryl Crow & Berry Levinson
[NEWS] ‘Diner’ Returns to Its Roots for World Premiere
Northern Virginia Magazine
Signature Theatre will host the world premiere musical adaptation of Barry Levinson’s 1982 film
Who says you can’t come home? After a bumpy road, the musical adaptation of Barry Levinson’s 1982 film “Diner” is doing just that with its world premiere at Arlington’s Signature Theatre. With music from Grammy Award-winner Sheryl Crow, book by Levinson and choreography and direction from Tony Award-winner Kathleen Marshall, Signature has landed a juggernaut to help celebrate their 25th anniversary season.
In development since 2011, the “Diner” world premiere was delayed in San Francisco in the fall of 2012, and then again on Broadway in April 2013. Original producer Scott Zeiger left the production and was replaced by Scott Landis, who, with the rest of the creative team, decided that a regional theater near the Baltimore area, where the film is set, would be the perfect locale to get “Diner” going.
“A call came asking if we would have any interest in premiering ‘Diner,’” says Signature’s Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer. “The writers knew our track record of producing new work and it was the perfect fit.”
One of Signature’s calling cards over its 25 years has been their development of new projects. The theatre has had 38 world premieres since its conception, including a musical adaptation of Iris Rainer Dart’s novel “Beaches,” which wound up being the theatre’s highest selling world premiere. But Signature is extremely excited about “Diner” in large part due to the talent involved.
“It’s not too often an artist who has sold 60 million copies comes to Signature,” says Signature’s Managing Director Maggie Boland about Crow. Boland had to make some last minute shifts, however, to make sure they could lock up the premiere.
“It happened at just the right moment as we were finalizing the season, schedule and budget,” says Boland.
“Diner” was able to slide into a space previously occupied by a revival of “The Fix,” a musical by John Dempsey and Dana P. Rowe. According to Boland, the shows were close enough in budget that the switch wouldn’t cause any problems. “The Fix” has been pushed to the 2015-2016 season.
Above all, Signature is confident in the show. Set in 1950s Baltimore during Christmas, “Diner” follows a group of friends who reunite for an upcoming wedding. Together they face the realities of adulthood—marriage, money and the mysteries of the opposite sex—at the place they will always belong, the diner.
“For folks who love the movie ‘Diner,’ the musical is going to be exactly what they’re looking for,” says Boland. —Michael Balderston
“Diner” premieres December 9 and runs through January 25, 2015; signature-theatre.org
SOURCE: Northern Virginia Magazine