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THE LIZ SWADOS PROJECT to Feature Ali Stroker, Sophia Anne Caruso, Michael R. Jackson & More

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THE LIZ SWADOS PROJECT to Feature Ali Stroker, Sophia Anne Caruso, Michael R. Jackson & More

GHOSTLIGHT RECORDS has announced that The Liz Swados Project will be available on digital and streaming formats on Friday, May 22. The Liz Swados Project - a newly-recorded tribute album to the visionary artist - features an epic tribe of diverse performers, composers and lyricists, who have been influenced and inspired by Swados as a performer, composer, lyricist, teacher, and trailblazer. The all-star cast of luminaries from Broadway, downtown and beyond, including vocalists Starr Busby, Sophia Anne Caruso, Damon Daunno, Amber Gray, Stephanie Hsu, Jo Lampert, Alicia Olatuja, Ashley Pérez Flanagan, Grace McLean, and Ali Stroker, in addition to songwriter/performers The Bengsons, Heather Christian, Michael R. Jackson, Taylor Mac, Dave Malloy, Shaina Taub, and the late Michael Friedman, among others. The album - featuring the world premiere recordings of 14 songs - is produced by Lauren Fitzgerald, Kris Kukul and Matt Stine, with Kurt Deutsch and Rosalind Lichter serving as executive producers. Kris Kukul, Ms. Swados's longtime music director, provides orchestrations and arrangements. To pre-order the album, please visit ghostlightrecords.lnk.to/lizswadosproject

The Liz Swados Project celebrates the Swados legacy with songs from 10 of her works for the stage sung by some of the most influential performers and composers in theater today. In the words of the late Michael Friedman, who studied under Swados, "Liz is in the DNA of my work." You can hear her influence in the work of this new generation of theatrical music makers, all of whom honor her with their recordings of her songs. Each artist performs a selection in their unique style, ranging from Vaudeville-tinged chf pop, contemporary blues, and haunting art songs, to raw indie rock, spare classical ballads and sweeping middle Eastern-inspired choral pieces.

Works are featured from her Broadway hit Runaways (1978), about the lives of children who run away from home and live on city streets, including a performance by Sophia Anne Caruso, who appeared in the show at New York City Center's Encores! Off-Center series in 2016. Selections also come from Swados' little-known masterpiece The Beautiful Lady (1984), a deeply felt meditation on the triumph and catastrophe of the Russian avant-garde; Alice in Concert, her 1981 Public Theater production which updates Alice in Wonderland, originally featuring Meryl Streep and Debbie Allen; Nightclub Cantata, the revue which became a downtown sensation in 1977, and other pieces throughout the decades. Swados herself is represented on the album, performing her composition "Bird Lament," echoing the natural world with guitar and colorful vocal sounds. Her work was featured on a 2017 concert evening for Lincoln Center's American Songbook series; Michael Friedman's live performance of "Things I Didn't Know I Loved" from that special show provides the fitting closing track for the album.

Swados introduced new forms to the genre - world, folk, rap and experimental music - and wrote of topics not usually seen in musical theater: racism, murder and mental illness. She defied "downtown" categorization, with her work performed at La MaMa ETC, The Public Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall and Broadway, as well as cabarets, rock clubs, churches and synagogues around the U.S. and Europe. Swados is one of the few people to have been nominated for four Tony Awards in one season, for Best Direction, Score, Book, and Choreography.

"I just remember Elizabeth as a person with an inexhaustible creative energy. The voice that emerged - unique, female, eternally young and tied to childhood - has not been duplicated in the theater." - Meryl Streep

Elizabeth Swados received her BA from Bennington College and an honorary Doctorate from Hobart/William Smith College. She composed, wrote and directed over 30 theater pieces including The Trilogy, Nightclub Cantata, Runaways, Alice in Concert, Doonesbury and Rap Master Ronnie (both with Garry Trudeau), The Haggadah, Jonah, Job, Esther, Jerusalem (with Yehudah Amichai), The 49 Years (with Estelle Parsons), Bible Women, Jabu, and Missionaries. For Runaways in 1978, Swados was nominated for Tony Awards in the categories of best direction, best original score, best book of a musical and best choreography, plus Runaways was nominated for best musical.

As a composer, Swados wrote music for films, television shows, and performed at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, the Asia Society, as well as cabarets, rock clubs, churches and synagogues around the United States and Europe. As an author she published three novels, three non-fiction books, and ten children's books. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, Vogue, O Magazine and she is included in a number of journals and anthologies. She also collaborated on film scripts with Milos Forman (based on her musical Groundhog), Marlon Brando, Sean Penn and others and television scripts with Tom Fontana and Kelsey Grammer's television production company.

Her expertise with young people is exemplified by eight shows made for and with teenagers (Runaways - Broadway, "The Hating Pot" - PBS Special, as well as two new works "Heart and Mind" about mental illness in children and "Everything is Different" about diversity, both for national video release). She developed "The Reality Show" for and with the students of New York University to introduce incoming freshman to their first year of college.

Swados was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Ford Fellowship, a Convenant Foundation Grant, three Obies, four Tony Nominations, a Special Pen Citation, a Cine Award, a Mira Award, and many other awards and grants.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos


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