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Playwright Chip Deffaa's New Vocal Album Is Out Now

Playwright Chip Deffaa's New Vocal Album Is Out Now

ASCAP Award-winning playwright/songwriter Chip Deffaa has just a released an album of his own.

ASCAP Award-winning playwright/songwriter Chip Deffaa--author of such Off-Broadway successes as "George M. Cohan Tonight!" and "One Night with Fanny Brice"--has just a released an album of his own, which includes guest appearances by stars of his Off-Broadway shows. On his new album, "Chip Deffaa's Tin Pan Alley," Deffaa not only sings vintage show tunes and vaudeville numbers, plus material he's written for his own shows, he shares reminiscences of showbiz notables he's known, such as Carol Channing, George Burns, Ruth Brown. The album--available from Amazon, iTunes, Footlight Records etc. as both a physical CD and in digital form--may be ordered here:

Joining Deffaa as special guests on select numbers are performers who've appeared in musical plays that Deffaa has written/directed and have sung on albums he's produced, such as Jon Peterson (who's starred in Deffaa's show "George M. Cohan Tonight!" at the Irish Repertory Theater in New York, then throughout the US and abroad, and in the new film adaptation); Keith Anderson ("The Irving Berlin Ragtime Revue"); Michael Townsend Wright ("The Seven Little Foys"); Katherine Paulsen ("Mad About the Boy"); Broadway's Olivia Chun (from "School House Rock"); jazz singer Molly Ryan; and singer/songwriter Brian Gari (creator of the Broadway show "Late Nite Comic"). Joining them are music director Richard Danley on piano and Grammy-winner Andy Stein on violin.

The author of 20 published plays, Deffaa started as a child actor, sharing stages with the likes of William Devane, M. Emmet Walsh, David Hartman, and Anita Morris. "But the performer I learned the most from was actually an ex-vaudevillian named Todd Fisher, who befriended me, mentored me, and directed me when I was young," Deffaa notes. "He'd share stories of performers he'd worked with, like young Gypsy Rose Lee and her sister, June, and their Momma Rose; and teach me old-time songs that I could talk/sing--and I've performed these songs all of my life. He put together variety shows, structured like old-time vaudeville bills. A kid like me who could talk/sing an early Irving Berlin or Cohan song was a novelty. 'Have fun with it,' Todd Fisher would tell me. I'd protest that I didn't have much of a voice. He'd say, 'Neither did I, and I played the Palace Theatre in 1913. You'll talk/sing your numbers. If that was good enough for Cohan and Cagney and me, it's good enough for you. They would have loved you in vaudeville!'"

The senior-most guest artist on the album, making a spoken cameo appearance, is Okey Chenoweth, 93--who first directed Deffaa on stage when Deffaa was just 14 years old. He introduces Deffaa singing a never-before-recorded song that the legendary George M. Cohan wrote when Cohan was dying, "Life is Like a Musical Comedy." Deffaa notes: "Cohan's been my most important source of inspiration since I was nine. I'm grateful I get a chance to make the first studio recording of his final song--his last statement on life. And i means the world to me to have Okey Chenoweth, who's been a terrific friend and guide since I was 14, introducing the number."

Deffaa has sung numbers from time to time on the 38 albums that he's produced; at jazz festivals (like the Flushing Town Hall Jazz Jams, where he's performed numbers heard on this album); and at clubs like Birdland. But "Chip Deffaa's Tin Pan Alley" is the first vocal album of his own. He notes: "Carol Channing used to tell me, 'Create something every day.' She felt it was good for you--it lifts your spirits and helps keep you whole and well. And I agree. I've kept above my desk since college days a quote from the author-adventurer Richard Halliburton: 'If a man does not sing while he works, there must be something wrong with the man or with the work.' This album was so much fun to make.

"The first number I recorded for it was 'I Know Darn Well I Can Do Without Broadway But Can Broadway Do Without Me?," performed with a couple of young singers I always like seeing, Logan and Lawson Saby. We had such a good time, I knew right away that we were on the right track. We're singing with joy--and that's the best feeling in the world. And Katherine Paulsen--always a treat to sing with--joins me on a number from my show 'George M. Cohan Tonight!,' 'All-American Sweetheart' that I actually originally rote when I was just 17. And the one-and-only Jon Peterson, who stars in the new film version of my show 'George M. Cohan Tonight!'--which has won 18 awards on the film-festival circuit so far--sings and tap-dances as only he can. All of the guest-stars have long associations with me, and it's an honor to have them join me."

The album is sub-titled "Songs I Sing to My Deer." Deffaa adds: "I sing these songs--and many more--most nights to the deer where I live. They'll gather close as a I sing to them and feed them. It's a nice way for me to end the day. My friend Lori Jacobs suggested that sub-title 'Songs I Sing to My Deer." I hope the deer approve!"

Frank Avellino handled graphic design for the album; and Steve Garrin, Matthew Nardozzi, Jessee Dakota Riehl, and Bryan Guillen are credited with production assistance. Slau Halatyn recorded, mixed, and mastered the album. Jonathan Melvin Smith did the photography. The album is jointly dedicated to veteran radio-host David Kenney (and even incudes a recording of Kenney's theme, "Everything Old is New Again') and to the late Todd Fisher

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