Interview with Jazz Singer/Performer Maggie Worsdale of “Jazz Meets the Beatles” Show
New York and Charleston Jazz artist, Maggie Worsdale, was selected as one of the top 10 Jazz Artists in New York/New Jersey from 2009 to 2016. Maggie is part of the jazz ensemble, Sweet Whiskey.
Last year, she brought Patsy Cline to life at Flowertown Players.
Now, she’s performing The Beatles’ music in a jazz style – sounds like a real treat for the audience.
The show will be performed first at 3 p.m. on July 27 at the Circular Congregational Church in downtown Charleston (150 Meeting St.).
Then, it will be here at Flowertown Player’s stage on at 3 p.m. on July 28. The Jazz Protagonists ensemble backs Worsdale as she leads us all down memory lane with The Beatles whom many consider to be the greatest rock and roll band of all time, so don’t miss it.
Regan: Maggie, tell us how this show came to be?
Worsdale: My friend John Pizzarelli put together an album in 1998 arranged by Don Sebesky, “John Pizzarelli Meets the Beatles” and it turned my attention to jazz plus The Beatles over 20 years ago. It has just taken that long for my musical director Barry Brake and I to dedicate this time to The Beatles exclusively!
R: Explain how you began in music and how your career evolved (in jazz)?
W: I was that kid who loved old tunes, particularly the 20’s and 30’s style. When I started singing professionally in my mid-20s, I knew what I wanted to sing and how I wanted to sing it. It has morphed due to what I have heard and learned since that time as well as the influence of the people I’ve been fortunate enough to work with.
R: How would you compare performing Patsy Cline’s works to doing this show?
W: Singing Patsy’s songs and talking about her life and career was solid, straightforward, and true blue. Pick out the best songs and, if you can perform them well enough, you can’t miss. Where does one begin with The Beatles? It’s not just the music but the whole story of their brief time together which—I don’t care if you never bought one of their albums—affected the lives of so many people on this planet during the ‘60s. Their cultural stamp was enormous during that whirlpool decade. Let’s open that bottle of wine and begin discussing, right?
R: What do you love most about The Beatles’ music? How many Beatles songs are you doing arranged for this jazz performance by Barry Brake (jazz pianist of The Jazz Protagonists—who is the arranger and musical director for this particular show)?
W: We are doing about 16 songs, give or take, for certain shows. It took me two years to pick out the songs and to settle on arrangements. By far, this is the most difficult show I’ve put together. Barry arranges all the songs and travels with me for performances, when required. The stories behind the songs are pretty wild and I do share them, which adds so much to the show. Dispelling the myths is an eye-opener. How people love to embellish the truth and this band had its bonanza of falsehoods which have lived on. Over the years, The Beatles songs changed so much and pushed the boundaries of their sound. The production signature of each Beatles tune is as important as the melody and lyric which brings me right back to the difficulty of putting a Beatles song in a different arrangement setting.
Mary E. Regan, Columnist, is a Publicist with her ProPublicist consultancy. Story ideas? Send email to Mary@ProPublicist.com.
R: Who influenced your style the most?
W: No doubt about it, Judy Garland. I remember my mom combing my hair for school the morning they announced her death. She recorded so much while still in her teens that any young girl who was looking for the older tunes naturally found Judy. Then came my obsession with operettas, Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Sinatra, Carole King, Peggy Lee…the list continues. My most played album of all time, Maureen McGovern Sings Gershwin.
R: Who do you admire as a musical artist?
W: Last year, I toured with a show featuring the music of (mainly lyricist) Johnny Mercer (Moon River). His story is over 40 years old, but his music will remain. This was not a perfect man and the nasty stories are out there but his love of life, music, and words were a gift to America from the ‘40s through the ‘60s. My musical director, Barry Brake, was beside himself working on that Mercer show. Don’t get me wrong, Barry loves The Beatles music, but Johnny Mercer is the supreme king in his book and mine.
R: What is next for you?
W: I’m touring with this show in New Jersey and New York in September and then next March. I was in Europe last year and have been chatting with the powers that be to do a small tour in South America during November 2021. Beatlemania reigns supreme in my near future.