Debby Boone released Reflections of Rosemary
Debby Boone's first Concord Records release, Reflections of Rosemary, is an intimate musical portrait of her mother-in-law, the legendary singer Rosemary Clooney. The CD is a collection of 16 songs distinguished by Boone's strong, striking vocal talents and a very personal, emotionally rich story line.
Artist: Debby Boone
Title: Reflections of Rosemary
Release date: 04/26/05
Label: Concord Records
N / A
Buy at: Amazon
"I wanted to select songs that would give an insight into Rosemary from a family perspective, and from the more than 30-years that I spent with her," says Boone. Although some songs were either recorded or often performed onstage by the "Girl Singer," including Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies," Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo," and Sammy Cahn and Jule Stynes' "Time After Time," Boone included other tunes for more personal family reasons-all of which are lovingly and beautifully described in the liner notes for Reflections of Rosemary.
Boone movingly details why she included each song on the CD, from Clooney's respect for Frank Sinatra ("In The Wee Small House of the Morning"), to a song the family agreed expressed their feelings for Rosemary and her home, fondly referred to as "The Roxbury House" (Randy Newman's haunting and deceptively simple "I'll Be Home"). "Blue Skies," for example, has special meaning for Debby's son, Jordan. "He was the first of Rosemary's grandchildren and the relationship they shared for twenty-two years was one of pure joy," explains Boone. "When Jordan was two years old, Rosemary began singing the song to him. He loved it! She would sing it to him when he was sad, when he took a fall and was crying, anytime he needed his spirits lifted. She'd call him from the road,and he'd listen to her sing it, and it never failed to put a big bright smile on his face."
Boone tips her hat to fate when she performs "It Might As Well Be Spring," a song from the movie "State Fair." The screen version of the musical starred her father, Pat Boone, and was directed by her future father-in-law, Jose Ferrer. Debby says, "When Pat and Jose were working together all those years ago and fast becoming friends, little did they know that 24-years later they would share four grandchildren." And for her husband, Gabriel, Debby selected a joyous expression of love in the Jule Styne / Bob Merrill song, "The Music That Makes Me Dance."
Boone amusingly relates how Clooney used to laugh at her lengthy vocalizing before each show. The extent of Rosemary's vocal warm-up was a quick pass at the opening melody from "The Best Is Yet to Come." "One good cough and she'd head for the stage," laughs Debby. Rosemary's presence can be felt as Boone sings Dave Frischberg and Johnny Mandel's treasure, "You Are There," while Clooney's good friend, Bing Crosby, is remembered on the CD with the medley from Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke, "But Beautiful / Moonlight Becomes You / Like Someone In Love." And, "You're Gonna Hear From Me," has special meaning for John Oddo, Clooney's longtime arranger and musical director, as well as the conductor and pianist on Reflections of Rosemary-it was the first tune he ever arranged for Rosemary.
Reflections of Rosemary was produced by Clooney's long-time producer / manager Allen Sviridoff, who helped to fill the CD with musicians who had meant a great deal to Rosemary throughout her career. In addition to John Oddo, there are special guest appearances by tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton and guitarist John Pizzarelli, both of whom toured and recorded with Clooney. Throughout the CD, Boone's beautiful vocals are accompanied by Gary Foster (alto and tenor saxophone), Warren Luening (trumpet, flugelhorn), Chuck Berghofer (bass), Gregg Field (drums), Jim Fox (guitar) and Daniel Greco (percussionist). Cellist Armen Ksajikian appears on "I'll Be Home;" Dan Higgins appears on "I'm So Lonesome I could Cry" (tenor sax) and on "It Might Be As Well Be Spring" (alto flute).
Debby Boone earned instant fame in 1977 when "You Light Up My Life" became an overnight hit. The tune, which outranked even The Beatles by claiming the #1 spot on the Billboard charts for ten straight weeks, sold in excess of four million copies; the album went platinum with sales in excess of two million. The song went on to win an Academy Award® for Best Song in a Motion Picture, and Debby received the GRAMMY® Award for Best New Artist of the Year. Since her remarkable entrée into the music industry, she has won two additional GRAMMY Awards and has received seven GRAMMY nominations.
In addition to her recording career, Debby has starred as the lead in numerous stage productions, such as "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" on Broadway and as Maria in Lincoln Center's 30th Anniversary production of The Sound of Music, which garnered a Drama Desk nomination. She also starred as Rizzo in the Broadway production of Grease, and toured nationally in Meet Me In St. Louis. Most recently, Debby performed the role of Anna in the 50th Anniversary staging of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I and launched her symphony program "Debby Boone Sings Stage and Screen." Debby has also written six charming children's books in collaboration with her husband, Gabriel Ferrer, who created the illustrations for the best-selling series.
This latest project, Reflections of Rosemary, is clearly more than just a performance for Debby Boone, however. It is a deeply heart-felt tribute to a woman for whom she had great love and respect.
My son Jordan was the first of Rosemary's grandchildren and the relationship they shared for twenty-two years was one of pure joy. When Jordan was two years old, Rosemary began singing "Blue Skies" to him. He loved it! She would sing it to him when he was sad, when he took a fall and was crying, anytime he needed his spirits lifted. She'd call him on the phone from the road and he'd listen to her sing it, and it never failed to put a big bright smile on his face. Eventually, Rosemary made her own cassette recording of the song to give to Jordan so he could have "Grammy" sing "Blue Skies" whenever he wanted her to. Jordan played it frequently on his little Play School tape recorder (once he must have pressed the record button accidentally because there was a brief 'skip' in the middle of the song.) A few months after Rosemary died I remembered that I had saved that cassette. It was labeled in her own handwriting "Jordan's Blue Skies." I immediately put it into a player and listened to her sing the song a cappella, keeping time by tapping on her leg. It was as if she were right there in the room singing those words to me, to Jordan, and to everyone she loved. Like Jordan, I will always find comfort in this beautiful Irving Berlin song.
I'LL BE HOME
When selecting songs that I felt could create a musical portrait of Rosemary, I was searching for a song that personified her. I was also hoping to find a song that could convey the feeling family and friends had when spending time at Rosemary's home lovingly referred to as "The Roxbury House." A feeling of warmth and acceptance was palpable in that house. Rosemary became a surrogate mom to so many people who I'm certain, like me, always felt as if they had come home when they walked into the den to see her sitting in her favorite chair. Recently, when my daughter Dustin was home for a week from college, I asked her if she had any suggestions for a song that could convey the feeling we all had about the Roxbury house, or a song that reminded her of Rosemary. Without hesitation she answered, "What about 'I'll Be Home,' by Randy Newman?" She pulled it up on iTunes, and before the song ended we both had tears running down our cheeks, and I knew that Dustin had found the perfect song. Being with Rosemary was like being home. I am sure anyone who ever experienced the intensity of her love and loyalty can imagine her singing these words to them.
THE BEST IS YET TO COME
Beginning in 1989 for about 7 seasons, Rosemary included me and my four children in her annual tour of "Rosemary Clooney's White Christmas Party." Sharing the stage with her, year after year was like a Master Class. I was always inspired by her impeccable performance, and the ease with which she communicated with the audience.
Before every show I would spend about 30 minutes vocalizing with a tape of warm-up exercises. My husband Gabri used to say that Rosemary would laugh at the sound of these exercises through the dressing room wall. Rosemary never once took a formal voice lesson but like the inscription on a 1995 ASCAP award said, she was "one of the best friends a song ever had." The extent of her vocal warm-up was a quick pass at the opening melody from "The Best Is Yet To Come" (bah-DAH, bah-DAH, bah-DAHŠ) and then one good cough and she'd head for the stage.
I'M SO LONESOME I COULD CRY
Rosemary said that she spent a lot of her childhood listening to country music with her maternal grandmother, Grandma Guilfoyle. She and her sister Betty sang together while growing up in Maysville, Kentucky and eventually auditioned for Cincinnati, Ohio's WLW radio station. The Clooney Sisters were featured on the live radio shows for two years. They would arrive when the station was playing all country music as the farmers were beginning their day. Though Rosemary is not perceived this way, a huge portion of her body of work reflects her strong connection to her Kentucky roots. Her first real hit was a country song "Beautiful Brown Eyes" in 1951. Later, she had an even bigger hit with Hank Williams' tune "Half As Much." Red was a contemporary of Hank Williams, Sr. and in fact sang "Peace in The Valley" at Hank's funeral as he had once promised him. Red grew up in Berea, Kentucky, not far from Maysville where Rosemary was born. I chose to sing the Hank Williams song: "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" for Rosemary and for Daddy Red.
Red Foley's wife Eva, my grandmother, sang on live radio with a girls group called The Three Little Maids and taught my mother to sing with her sisters growing up. My mother in turn taught me and my three sisters to sing in four-part harmony when we were very small, and for years we performed and recorded together just as Rosemary performed and sang with her sister Betty when they were teenagers. Rosemary and I often talked about the "family blend" when brothers or sisters harmonize together.
One of Rosemary's favorite albums that she ever recorded was Blue Rose with Duke Ellington and his orchestra arranged by the legendary Billy Strayhorn. This version of "Mood Indigo" (which includes my three sisters) is an homage to this great Clooney/Ellington collaboration. I asked the incomparable Earl Brown (who has worked with every singer from Crosby to Elvis, and so often with Rosemary) to do the vocal arrangement for us.
IT MIGHT AS WELL BE SPRING
This song comes from the Broadway musical State Fair. In 1962, my father Pat starred in a film version directed by Jose Ferrer. Little did they know as they enjoyed working together all those years ago that they'd be sharing four grandchildren 24 years later after I fell in love, and married Jose and Rosemary's son Gabriel.
VAN HEUSEN MEDLEY
Rosemary often told a story about her long-time friend, Bing Crosby, and how he never liked to say the actual words "I love you" when singing. These three Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke songs (written for Crosby) were put together by Rosemary to illustrate how brilliantly songwriters could state the substance in a lyric without actually saying "I love you." Rosemary left me all of her musical arrangements. The magnitude of such a gift is immeasurable.
THE MUSIC THAT MAKES ME DANCE
My husband Gabri is a combination of the very best qualities of both his parents, and anyone who knew Rosemary and Jose will agree that makes him pretty formidable. In the 30 years that I have known him, he never ceases to surprise me. I could go on and on, but this song says it best.
TIME AFTER TIME
In 1996, I fell in love with an album called Chet Baker Sings. I spent the summer tirelessly delighting in his trumpet playing and melting at the sound of his voice, not to mention his picture. I developed a real school girl's crush on Chet. I sent a copy of the record in the mail to Rosemary knowing that she would absolutely love the way this guy sang. My phone rang in my hotel room one evening and when I picked up it was Rosemary's voice, "Do you know I carry around a picture of Chet Baker in my wallet to this day?" We had a crush on the same guy! That was the beginning of a shared obsession between us.
This is one of my favorite songs that Chet recorded. The music was written by Jule Styne and the lyrics written by Rosemary's great friend Sammy Cahn. She sang "Time After Time" at a tribute to Jule and Sammy in 1986.
I'VE GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO HIS FACE
Early in his career Jim Henson was a huge Rosemary Clooney fan. When he decided to give a voice (lip synched) to a little green frog puppet who eventually became Kermit, he chose Rosemary's recording of this song. Rosemary absolutely loved Jim Henson and his Muppets and was thrilled to be the first voice of Kermit the Frog.
YOU'RE GONNA HEAR FROM ME
This song was the first arrangement that John Oddo ever wrote for Rosemary. This version was adapted for a small group from his big band arrangement for her Woody Herman album entitled "My Buddy" (1983). John was playing with Woody's band when he met Rosemary. She heard his terrific arrangements and hired John immediately. Rosemary was very proud of the story that when she was working with Count Basie's Orchestra, Basie was listening to John play at the rehearsal and leaned over to her and said, "You got yourself a great piano player there Rosie". John became Rosemary's musical director and arranger for twenty years! With John Oddo as conductor/pianist, I looked forward to every second of rehearsal and performance each year on the Christmas tours. John's sensitive accompaniment made me a better singer. To find myself in the enviable position of working with John on this record was a dream come true.
IT NEVER ENTERED MY MIND/IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS OF THE MORNING
I had the honor of working with Frank Sinatra on several occasions, including an engagement at The Resorts International Hotel in Atlantic City where I opened for him. He sang the Rodgers and Hart classic "It Never Entered My Mind" in that show and it took my breath away. Live or recorded on his In The Wee Small Hours album, Rosemary and I both loved the way he sang it. Of course Rosemary adored Frank from the time she was a teenager, and throughout their years of working together. When he died, she said she "couldn't imagine a world without Frank Sinatra in it". As a tribute to Frank after his passing, Rosemary would sing "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning" at every concert. I wanted to combine both songs on this CD for Rosemary, and for Frank.
YOU ARE THERE
When my son Jordan was around twelve or thirteen years old, Rosemary began recording Dave Frishberg songs like "Sweet Kentucky Ham" and "Let's Eat Home." Jordan took a real interest in Dave and bought every Frishberg CD in existence. He discovered this song off of Dave's 1991 "Classics" album and had always wished that Rosemary would record it she never got the chance. I will never forget sitting in Jordan's car one afternoon, a few years before Rosemary died, as he played me this song. I too wished I could hear her sing it. I still do.
Reflections of Rosemary Tracklisting
1. Blue Skies
2. I'll Be Home
3. Best Is Yet to Come
4. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
5. Mood Indigo
6. It Might as Well Be Spring
7. Van Heusen Medley: But Beautiful/Moonlight Becomes You/Like Someone in
8. You're Gonna Hear from Me
9. It Never Entered My Mind/In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning
10. I've Grown Accustomed to His Face
11. Time After Time
12. Music That Makes Me Dance
13. You Are There
"Reflections of Rosemary" by Debby Boone - release date: 04/26/05..