Saturday, March 8, 2008

Hallways: The Songs of Carol Hall

This is a treasure of a new CD, an interesting selection of love songs -- ranging from warm, to humorous to rueful -- gospel, and country-lite, sung by terrific singers and backed up by fabulous musicians.

As usual, having covered show business for so long, I know some of the singers featured. My favorite selection is “Do You Know What I Mean?” It’s sung powerfully by Carol Woods, whom I don’t know, but backed up by Broadway Inspirational Voices, the gospel choir I first encountered when I interviewed founder and director Michael McElroy for my book Working on the Inside. I love BIV, both in concert and their CDs. We were blessed one year to have them sing at Broadway Blessing. The song they sing here is about keeping faith in the midst of uncertainty:

“Some people say
That the glory of God
Is a sky that’s sprinkled with stars
All twinkled up with stars
Or a moon that’s risin’ bright
Yes, I know what they mean. . .

But I say the glory of God
Is just one human person
Facing the unknown
Feelin’ all alone
But singin’ Hallelujah
Do you know what I mean?
Yes, I say the glory of God
Is just one human person
Hungry to believe
Grateful to receive
And singin’ Hallelujah
Do you know what I mean?”

I also was touched by the soulful lyrics of “The Two Lonely People,” which offers gorgeous music by Bill Evans, piano solo/arrangement by Hubert “Tex” Arnold, and is hauntingly sung by Laurel Mass√©, another singer who has blessed my life. Laurel, one of our new members at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, sang with the Broadway Blessing Choir last year. (Her solo CD, “Feather & Bone,” is fabulous.)

Another Broadway Blessing singer, going back a decade, is Scott Coulter who sings “War on Christmas Day,” a moving song about soldiers and sailors at war. Singing with him are Tim Di Pasqua and Tom Andersen; the music is by Robert Burke.

The CD closes with Hall singing “My Circle of Friends,” a lovely tribute to friendship. The other selections, also entertaining and different, are “Hard Candy Christmas,” performed by Hall and Susannah Blinkoff; “It’s Only A Broken Heart,” performed by Sally Mayes; “Dublin In The Rain,” performed by Farah Alvin, with music by Hubert “Tex” Arnold; “Change In Me,” performed by Johnny Rodgers; “This Is My Birthday,” performed by Halland Rick Jensen; “Tattooed Boy In Memphis,” performed by Amanda McBroom; “Hungry For You,” performed by Lesley Gore, accompanied by Wendy Lane Bailey, Mass√© and Hall, with music by Lesley Gore; “Jenny Rebecca,” performed by Bobby Gosh; “Nana,” performed by Hall, with lyrics by Carol Hall and Jane Hall); and “I’ll Imagine You A Song,” performed by Steven Lutvak, with music by Steven Lutvak.

Kris Kristofferson had this to say about her work: “Carol Hall is a beautiful surprise. One of the lucky experiences that comes along when you’re past expecting anything new under the sun. She is one of the best writers I’ve ever heard. Her songs are beautiful and unmistakably her own, with the paradoxical unpredictability and haunting familiarity of real and creative imagination. Sauce for the soul.”

The first person ever to record one of Hall’s songs was the young Barbra Streisand. Subsequently, her songs were performed by Tony Bennett, Barbara Cook, Margaret Whiting, Julie Wilson, Chita Rivera, Michael Feinstein, Mabel Mercer, Amanda McBroom, Lari White, Olivia Newton-John, Maureen McGovern, RuPaul, Miriam Makeba, David Campbell, Frederica von Stade, Kermit the Frog, Big Bird and many others.

Hall is one of the few songwriters to have a hit Broadway show. Her classic musical, The BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS, entertained Broadway audiences for almost five years, received a Grammy nomination for its cast album, and became a popular film starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton. Dolly’s recording of Carol’s song “Hard Candy Christmas” won an ASCAP Most Performed Country Song Award, and the film generated an Acadmy Award nomination for Charles Durning, singing “The Sidestep” as the slippery Governor of Texas. A recent national tour of WHOREHOUSE starring Ann-Margret enjoyed a run of more than a year and a half.

As if that’s not enough, Hall also does a lot of writing for children. Her “It’s All Right To Cry,” and “Parents Are People” continue to be favorites of generations of children. Recently she created the score to the theatrical version of the popular children's series MAX AND RUBY. Four tours of the show are presently playing across the country, after a successful debut opening Off-Broadway in December.

You may order Hallways here.


Anonymous said...

Cool! See this... Amanda McBroom video

Encognitto said...

i obtain music from ITUNES.... recently i ran accross
Hallways The Songs of Carol Hall. I, like you choose the same tunes off the album. However, in ITUNES selection 7, Hungry for You was attributed to three singers Wendy Lane Bailey, Laurel Masse & Carol Hall. I found this interesting at the time, as other songs attributed to Carol Hall sounded nothing like this cut.. a throaty raw singer.... Thanks to your web page, I found it was Lesley Gore... i checked it out.. I know its an obsure thing but Music is very Very important to me and because of your Web Page, I am re introduced to Lesley Gore ( I grew up with her) who has become an even better singer. I want to Thank You and God Bless You.