What’s it like to dedicate such a large-scale project to the canon of Sinatra & Co.? How do you even decide where to begin? Read on to see what Feinstein, the “Ambassador of the Great American Songbook” had to say.
Frank Sinatra wrote SO many songs. How do you choose which ones you’re going to sing?
It really is difficult but I try to choose songs that I personally most resonate with and feel I can bring something new to. Also, I want to do songs that aren’t over exposed but will give a sense of his persona and style.
There are so many great lines in Sinatra’s songs. Any there any particular lyrics you live by?
My favorite quote is not from a song but something he said: “You gotta love livin’ baby, ’cause dying is a pain in the ass.” Typical Sinatra, isn’t it?
What is your favorite part of a performance like this?
It’s the feeling of connection with the audience and sharing the joy of celebrating the music with a remarkable big band. Watching the audience become galvanized when they hear that swing sound of the band is another thrill. It truly is a joyous experience. The audience gets so involved, between the sounds of the music, the anecdotes told in between and the lighthearted interaction that is different with every group. For me, it’s just fun all around.
How do you balance staying true to the music of these great performers, yet making it your own?
It’s important to find a fresh way to present classics and I do that by approaching the songs as if they’re new and being sung for the first time. Trying not to let other interpretations hover over me like a ghost can be an issue, but I’d never sing anything that I can’t add something to. I also think about how there might be people present who could be hearing these songs for the first time.
What attracts you to the “American Songbook” genre? Have or do you perform any other music?
The songbook is malleable and can be interpreted in infinite ways from Broadway to Hollywood to Jazz to Hip Hop. The bones of these songs can be adapted and changed and they never lose their power or essence. They will last forever and people will always love them and desire to hear them. I have performed a little jazz and a few things for piano and orchestra, like Rhapsody in Blue, but I feel there is still so much for me to learn, explore and share with classic songs, that I doubt I’ll ever tire of them. I love what I do and enjoy the interplay with the audience. It doesn’t get better than that!
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