Ann-Thology Number Ten
I want to offer two poems to you in this troubled time before I share my latest stories and thoughts. They express the need for light that I have been feeling so strongly.
The Peace of Wild Things
By Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and I lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
By Mary Oliver
Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble, breathe out
whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.
Breathe in terrorists and breathe out
sleeping children and freshly mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Play music, learn the word for thank you in three languages.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief as the outbreath of beauty or the gesture of fish.
Swim for the other side.
Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious.
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Don't wait another minute.
I like Mary's idea of saying thanks in other languages. Here are some:
Indonesian: teriman kasih.
It seems that learning to openly express thanks in these times is especially important. Sharing gratitude is such a simple way to help create a sense of unity and mutual respect. I don't think countries and people can necessarily count on agreeing, but I do think we can practice listening if we would like to be listened to, and appreciating if we would like to be appreciated.
I would love to hear from you about what you are doing to find peace, beauty and comfort in these challenging days. If you have anything you'd like to share about how you are coping with war and the threat of terrorism, please write to me in my guestbook and I will share highlights in my upcoming ann-thology.
In my last ann-thology, I asked you to write in songs for me to consider for the recording project "Swingin' Away the Blues". I received many lovely ideas including "Scotch and Soda"; "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most"; "I Loves You Porgy"; "It's Better With A Band"; "I Can Cook, Too"; "Deed I Do"; "Charmed Life"; "Four Brothers"; "There's A Lull In My Life"; "Never Really Mine to Lose" (the ballad I wrote with Lindy Robbins); "Blues in the Night" (my signature song from "Swing"); "I Thought About You"; "L-O-V-E"; "Fever";" Shakin' the Blues Away"; "Love Me Or Leave Me"; "The Man That Got Away"; and "The Meaning of the Blues". These are all excellent suggestions and if they are not included in the CD, I will try to do many of them at some point in my upcoming performances. The latest news about the project is that it has been delayed. I will let you know what the status of it will be when things get figured out at my record company.
In the meantime, I am pleased to announce that my last CD, "Signature" has been nominated for a Mac Award in the category "Recording of the Year: Major Artist". I'd like to congratulate my fellow nominees, Michael Feinstein and K.T. Sullivan. I look forward to attending the festivities where I will be performing "Hard to Be A Diva" with fellow divas Sharon McNight, Lina Koutrakos and Karen Mason, along with Billy Stritch and company. If you would be interested in attending the ceremony, you can call 212-465-2662 or visit the MAC website at www.MACnyc.com. It takes place Monday, April 14th at 7:30 p.m. at Peter Norton Symphony Space on 2537 Broadway, at 95th Street.
I am excited to announce another appearance in New York in the beginning of May. I'll be performing on May 8th-10th for Lincoln Center's American Songbook Series in a series of concerts called, "A Weekend With Ann Hampton Callaway". To find out more,check out "Latest News" on this website or go to www.lincolncenter.com. I love what they are doing with American Songbook nights and am honored to share the series with Lynn Ahrens, Steve Flaherty and my friend, Adam Guettel, to name a few.
This year has brought me many powerful experiences so far. It began with New Year's Eve with The Indianapolis Pops conducted by Jack Everly, followed by a weekend with The Tucson Pops conducted by Bob Berhardt, followed by a swinging weekend with The Columbus Jazz Orchestra. All three experiences were exciting and full of musical and personal highlights. Then, I returned for a two-week engagement at The Colony, in Palm Beach, Florida. If you haven't been there, and are a devoted snowbird, make it a point to hear the wonderful acts they have throughout the season, in the room I have dubbed "The Carlyle of the South". One of the reasons it's such a joy to be there is because it is hosted by the handsome Rob Russell who makes each person feel welcome and important. And before I left the country, I performed a big benefit for AMC in Saint Louis with The Reggie Thomas Big Band and The Gateway Men's Chorus. What a joy it was to raise money for cancer research with such wonderful, generous artists. Thanks to everyone who made the night a big success.
What can I say about February? I will never forget it. It was a month where dreams came true. I have always wanted to perform in Australia and New Zealand and at last the time came. I flew to Sydney with my dear friend and publicist, Miller Wright, where we met the QE2 for a cruise around a country that has captured my heart. I was not prepared for the unique beauty of the ocean there, the sunsets, the flowers, the birds, the trees, the wildlife and the people. Snorkeling in The Great Barrier Reef was extremely moving to me. Going to wild life preserves and getting to feed trusting kangaroos was a treat. I loved petting the koalas who have made hugging a lifestyle. Now, whenever I have trouble sleeping, I will remember how koalas find a eucalyptus tree and snuggle into peaceful reverie. I was privileged to hear live music from Aboriginal artists who conveyed the spiritual beauty of their culture through song and story. And the Australian people we met from city to city were so welcoming. Australians do not see anyone as a stranger; they see new people as friends they haven't made yet. So, I felt the surprise of kinship with unfamiliar people every day. The guests of the QE2 proved fascinating company and a delightful audience. One night I performed 2 shows with their big band and another night I did 2 shows alone at the piano and the response to both nights was so heartwarming. One of the highlights I experienced was coming back from The Great Barrier Reef and interviewing several of the passengers about what they were grateful for. I took the seven pages that they wrote in my journal and improvised a song over the sound system of the boat we were on. We found how much we had in common, all of us, from different points in the world. That is a lesson I can never learn too well.
The second week of my tour, I disembarked from the QE2 and met The Seattle Men's Chorus for a series of concerts in Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney. I have had the pleasure of working with the chorus several times and each time has been extraordinary. Under the direction of Dennis Coleman, they sound better than ever. They performed some beautiful pieces celebrating the sounds of Aboriginal and Maori music as well as rousing crowd pleasers like Patsy Kline's "I've Got Your Number" and a fun medley from "Hairspray". I did a solo set at the piano and two numbers with the guys, "Route 66" and my anthem for world peace, "At the Same Time." The audiences were amazing and the nights partying after our shows were wild and delightful. Crowning the tour with a weekend of concerts in Seattle, with the old friendships I was able to rekindle and the new ones I was lucky enough to form, I became unduly convinced that I am a male homosexual in a woman's body. If you want to strengthen your abs, spend a week with these guys and the laughter you will share will get you into fighting shape. Check out their website www.seattlemenschorus.com.
I am getting ready for some more pops concerts with wonderful orchestras. This weekend I'll be doing a return engagement with The Pacific Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Carl Topilow in Costa Mesa, California at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. And next weekend, I'll be appearing with The Hartford Symphony at The Bushnell Theater with my pianist Ted Rosenthal. I'd like to take this moment to congratulate Ted on his recent marriage to Lesley Friedman. I was lucky enough to be at their wedding and it was one of the most beautiful ceremonies I've attended. Many blessings to them both.
Congratulations are also in order to my sister, Liz Callaway, who is starring in the new Broadway musical, "The Look of Love". Liz opens in The Roundabout production in previews on April 4th and I'll be beaming from the audience on opening night on May 4th. I can't wait to hear her sing the timeless Burt Bachrach/Hal David classics "Alfie", "One Less Bell To Answer", "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself" and Knowing When To Leave" to mention a few. To learn more about the show, log on to www.lookofloveonbroadway.com or www.lizcallaway.com.
The feedback has been wonderful on the Coke commercial I recorded recently. If you go to my jingle agent's website www.fretless.com and log on to my name, you can hear the mp3 of the jingle which is a Peggy Lee-like swing version of "The Boy From Ipanema". I will seize any opportunity to sing a song by Antonio Carlos Jobim, one of my favorite composers and inspirations.
I've been doing a lot of writing lately. One of my projects is writing additional lyrics for Barbra Streisand's upcoming CD. I've been sworn to secrecy about what it is, but fans will be excited to soon learn about her new recording due out later this year. And I am giving serious thought to beginning a recording of my own original songs since there have been so many requests over the last few years for this. I've written a multitude of inspirational songs and have many more brewing in me as we speak, so it seems like it may finally be time for "Ann-dards" while we are facing so much uncertainty and anxiety for our future.
Well, I will close for now. Thank you for staying in touch with me. I wish you blessings of peace and protection. And I leave you with the words of Leonard Bernstein, "This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before."