BY YOUR PUPILS YOU’LL BE TAUGHT


Berkshire Music School


It is amazing what can happen if you say, YES!  And I did…

Tracy Wilson, head of The Berkshire Music School called last Friday to ask if I would critique a class of students that were studying to be Cabaret Artists.

Having spent many years in and out of Cabarets…with or without smoke (oh, yes, if they weren’t blowing smoke in your face you were not in a cabaret), or waiters taking and delivering orders and of course, as you are building up to the final crescendo of a very dramatic song,  a drunk yells out, “Sing Melancholy Baby”!

And yet, with all of that, some of my best experiences have been in the Cabaret.  The experimenting  with new material, learning how to think fast on your feet as a lyric goes missing from your brain, there is NO SAFE HOUSE to hide behind.   And most of all because there is an incredible intimacy with the audience…even if you make the connection with just one person, it is a connection you can feel because it is the most intimate venue.

For all those reasons and most of all because Tracy asked me.  What she has done in Berkshire County with all ages of peoples with musical talent at all levels is nothing short of breathtaking.  So yes, I said “yes”.

I showed up at the Berkshire School of Music last Saturday to a Cabaret class taught by Sherri James Buxton with Bob Sheperd as Musical Director.  I was introduced to all.  No one had any real cabaret performing experience.  The age of the youngest was 65, maybe 70 and the oldest was 92.  92!!!!

I had complained about getting out of bed that morning.  Get a grip, SJ.  And if you haven’t heard “My Way” sung by a 92 year old man, you’ve not heard it.  And let me tell you, from that moment to right now, I put my over-the-top sense of judgment (ask my children they’ll tell how well developed my judgmental self is) in the garbage.  I replaced judgment with gratitude:

  • to Tracy for asking me
  • to Sherri and Bob for just being who they are
  • to the four students who performed for a total stranger as if that’s what they did all the time.

I am an ordinary human who feels I have an inordinate right to complain particularly when life doesn’t go my way.  I watched and listened to four people push the envelope of life until it blossomed like the rose you wish you had planted and nurtured.  And yes, they all won the prize.

Each one in their own way went for the dream.  Oh, yes, this was something they wanted to do for a long time.  Life is what happens while you’re making plans, right?  Of course, right!

Many of us go along with coulda, woulda, shoulda.  None of that was apparent in the room as they sang with heart with soul with LIFE.

In my show I ask the audience to check their pulse.  I remind them if they feel it, (and believe me if they don’t they probably didn’t buy a ticket)  GET UP, GET OUT, LAUGH UNTIL YOUR SIDES HURT, BUT MOST OF ALL LOVE!

Oh, my friends there was so much love in that room that morning.

I floated out and am still airborne.  More and more I do not recognize the world around me. But on that morning in Berkshire Music school , students of a certain age were following their dreams and, for me, for just that moment in time I remembered, like the t-shirt says, LIFE IS GOOD.

To you, Tracy, Sherri, Bob… THANK YOU.

Love, SJ

The Road Less Traveled: aka Life Without a GPS

running_girl_sketch_by_toddnauck-d1hr62d

How old do you have to be before you are too old to run away?  Well, don’t ask me.  I was born with the urge to run away and I have a feeling I shall die wanting to run.  It’s in my DNA.

I think it might have something to do with my immigrant grandparentage. “The Cossacks are coming!  Everyone out of the shtetl.”  That’s another Blah Blah Blog.

With this election there has been a lot of talk,”If so and so is elected I am leaving the country”.  I sympathize.  Interesting though, wherever I run I take me with me.

My first adult run away was in 1996.  I was 63.  I was divorced.  That had happened years before.  As divorces go, it was not acrimonious.  We were married 27 years.  The “use by” date on the marriage had expired.  I am not being glib.  There was pain, disillusion, disappointment and most of all a surprising deep love.  I think most of us have learned, usually the hard way, that love is not all.

Then, I had a very intense love affair with a man for 13 years and in 1991, after a long illness in which I was his caretaker, he passed away.  Why didn’t we ever marry?  I could try to give you an answer but since I make it up as I go along my answer would depend on which day you asked the question.  Relationships… can’t live with them, can’t live without them. The last year of his life was important as I was confronted with something that most of us do our best to avoid…Death!

And my most important urge to run came in 1996, when the last of my three daughters married.  I think it is only human as long as the child is not married you are still the “Mommy”.  You have some place to go, something to do, and mostly something to say.  Empty nest? Shmempty-nest!  That too is another blog.

The divorce, the death, the last one married – it was time to run away.  With the help of friends, I rented a house for the month of August in Gascony (Southwest France) and a flat in London for September.  Did I want to be an American in France or an American in England?  Wherever I went, it was clear, I was always going to be an American.  I ask too many questions.  I am too direct.  I am emotional.  I explain how I feel.  Years of therapy can do wonders in some places and make you a pariah in others.

I loved my time in France and on August 31st as I was flying from Toulouse to London, Princess Diana’s car crashed and all in the car died.  I arrived in London as Princess Diana’s death rivaled coronations, weddings, and Edward’s giving up the throne for the woman he loved.

As an American, I watched as a country we think of as quiet and reserved, erupted into an emotional frenzy.  I began to keep a diary.

It is now 20 years later,  I am still divorced, without male accoutrement, all daughters still married with children.  And, TADA!! I’M STILL HERE!

In a recent move, I found the diary.  Moving has to be good for something.  I read it.  Don’t ask me how… yet… but the Princess Diana tragedy was strangely linked with my own journey.  I am still trying to puzzle out just what that connection was and is.

So what has this Blah-Blah to do with the title:  The Road Less Traveled aka Life Without A GPS?  Well, my dears, I am going to take the time to edit and write this story and what form it will take, I know not.  The road is unfamiliar and unknown.  I want to give it my full focus and attention.  This means I am going to step away from performing my shows, dare I say, “for now”.

I have been performing since I was in the womb.  My mother was exhausted after delivering.  It difficult for me to say this, but my performance at Edith Wharton’s The Mount in Lenox on May 12th is my final East Coast appearance.   (There’s a Santa Fe show in early September).

Sketch crowd (2)

Please, no weeping and tearing of clothes.  As a Diva, I have the privilege of doing as many farewell performances as custom allows.

And I shall always be available for special weddings, funerals, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.

In the mean time, I am waiting to hear from Donald Trump about doing a show for his final rant before he leaves the political arena….FOREVER…please!

Love ~ Sally-Jane

P.S.  CD’s and DVD’s of past shows are available at a discount rate.  They are sold out on Amazon.