Vocalist Calabria Foti Releases A Stunning Valentine To Her Loved Ones Out June 1
For her 4th CD release, vocalist/violinist Calabria Foti wanted to do an album like her vocal heroes Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Judy Garland, and Nat "King" Cole did back in the day; that is, with a big orchestra and legendary arrangers on the podium in an iconic Hollywood recording studio. Ms. Foti says, "This is the most expansive project I have ever done, and at the same time, it's the most intimate and personal. I recorded at Capitol Records with a full orchestra, singing some of the most endearing, sentimental songs ever written, all for my loved ones. This album is a full-production tear-jerker!"
Prelude To A Kiss is replete with grand, sweeping orchestrations from celebrated arrangers Johnny Mandel, Roger Kellaway, Jeremy Lubbock, Jorge Calandrelli, and Foti's husband Bob McChesney, (also the producer on the album) and small band swingers featuring a stellar ensemble of musical greats: Roger Kellaway, piano; Trey Henry, bass; Peter Erskine, drums; Larry Koonse, guitar; and Bob McChesney, trombone. Singer/guitarist John Pizzarelli guests on "It's The Mood That I'm In" where he and Foti trade jazzy instrumental solos and adorable lyrics.
"I wanted to sing about what's most important in life to me right now; I didn't want to sing about romance, but about love, to celebrate family, and the feeling of warmth, tenderness and belonging we all crave as humans. I wanted to sing for my loved ones, to sing about home. So I brought the project to pianist-arranger-composer Roger Kellaway, who not only played superbly, he wrote a masterpiece of an arrangement on Leslie Bricusse's 'When I Look In Your Eyes', which I have always sung to my daughters. We recorded a sweet bossa nova that my Dad wrote for my Mom, called "I Had To Fall In Love With You", and a song I wrote about the pain of leaving home to follow my dreams, called "Goodbye". Ellington's iconic "Prelude To A Kiss", was hauntingly arranged by my uber-talented husband, Bob McChesney, and the final song is a touching pop ballad by wonderful singer Michael Dees, called, appropriately, "I'm Home". This record is so special to me because of all the elements: The mix of glorious standards with the original songs, recording in the studio where so many of my heroes have made history, a most audacious team of musicians, with my husband at the helm and my daughters in the booth as I was singing. I was so emotional! My heart was so full and is full to this day. I hope this music touches your heart and draws you closer to your loved ones. Because, as Dorothy Gale once said, 'There's no place like home'."
In Prelude To a Kiss, with its 11-song array of stunning ballads and up tempo tunes, Calabria Foti displays her trademark vocal beauty and sensuality, as well as her talents as violin soloist, scat singer, and songwriter. This album also confirms Foti's place among interpreters of the Great American Songbook as one of the finest storytellers of our time.
If her goal was to do a record like those made by her musical heroes of yesteryear, Foti has certainly achieved it. Listening to Prelude To A Kiss is like cuddling by the fireplace under a warm blanket with someone special on a chilly night. No one makes "home" seem quite so desirable as Calabria Foti.
Calabria Foti grew up in Fredonia, New York with musician parents, began singing and playing guitar in church at age 9. By 12 years old, she was a working electric bass player, singing standards every weekend in her parents' dance band. "In my house, I heard everything from Bach to bebop, classical to contemporary and every genre of music in between. I don't know why, but I was drawn to the great movie musicals and songs from Tin Pan Alley, and fell in love with old movies, Broadway shows, the music of the Classic film scores and Bugs Bunny cartoons.
I loved learning songs from the early jazz and vaudeville days, scoured my parents' record collection, discovering great songs from the great stylists, and, I got the opportunity to sing some of those tunes every weekend on gigs!" All throughout her school years, Calabria performed in choirs and musical theatre, and sang professionally in hotels, and nightclubs.
Simultaneously, she was studying violin and began her orchestral violin career as the Associate Concertmaster of the Florida Orchestra at age 20. Her dual skills of vocalist and violinist led Foti to Los Angeles where she began her career in TV/film/CD scoring, and married trombonist Bob McChesney. As a young musician in LA, Calabria had the good fortune to work with her heroes Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peggy Lee, Vic Damone, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Nancy Wilson, Robert Goulet, and many others. "It was so exciting to play the shows and the record dates of those great singers and entertainers, I could barely keep my eyes on my music! I learned so much from those artists and experiences." Wanting to walk in their footsteps, Calabria, a self-proclaimed "Throwback to the 40's" released her first CD, "When a Woman Loves A Man", in 1999, as a tribute to the great vocalists she admired so much. In 2007, her CD "A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening", which follows the arc of a romantic evening, received the praise of Johnny Mathis, who gushed, "Listening to a beautiful voice is one of my greatest pleasures in life. This recording of Calabria Foti's voice is some of the most beautiful and artistic music I have ever heard. Her heart and mind are on display in every well-chosen song. It is a treasure. What a joy!"
After performing a series of live shows in LA singing Rosemary Clooney-Bing Crosby duets with TV's Seth MacFarlane, Calabria and Seth recorded a single, "Let's Fall in Love" as a tribute to Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle, which garnered a Grammy nomination in 2014.
"In The Still of The Night", an acclaimed tribute to Cole Porter was released in 2017, with a New York-based chamber jazz ensemble, featuring Gene Bertoncini on guitar, and clarinetist Eddie Daniels. Her latest release, Prelude To A Kiss, a full-production Valentine to her loved ones, was recorded at famed Capitol Records with legendary arrangers Jeremy Lubbock, Johnny Mandel, Roger Kellaway, Jorge Calandrelli, and orchestra. Foti, who, by the way, possesses the looks and glamour of Ava Gardner along with the sound and style of Frank Sinatra, says, "Prelude To A Kiss is the most expansive record I have ever done, and at the same time, it's the most intimate and personal. It represents the story of my life. With an amazingly creative team of musicians, I'm so proud of what was accomplished. This beautiful music celebrates love, belonging, togetherness and home. I hope it touches your heart and draws you closer to your loved ones."
"Guess Who?" Motion Picture Soundtrack, various artists, 2005
When a Woman Loves a Man, 1999, 2005
A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening, 2007
Let's Be Frank, Peter Marshall featuring Calabria Foti, 2012
Let's Fall in Love (duet with Seth MacFarlane), 2013, Grammy nomination, 2014
In the Still of the Night, 2017
Prelude To A Kiss, 2019