Interview: At Home With Meg Flather

The poet laureate of nightclubs has a lot to say, with or without music.

By: Oct. 19, 2020

Interview: At Home With Meg Flather A true Renaissance woman with a list of accomplishments that would give anyone pause, Meg Flather seems most happy when engaged in the act of supporting another person. Using her songwriting, Meg documents the lives of loved ones, and with her performing she inspires the lives of her audiences - and whether she is on or off the stage, she is the backbone of a remarkable group of people, all women. Any member of the cabaret and club community will tell you that Meg Flather leads the women of the industry, as a benevolent sister, best friend, and crusader, determined to elevate the quality of light shining on all of them. Even before the debut of her show Meg Flather SONGS: A CABARET SISTERHOOD, it was clear that Meg is here for her gal pals, so having that particular show take home the MAC Award for Best Special Production surprised nobody. It only confirmed that which everyone, tacitly, understood to be true: Meg Flather is the rock upon which the women of the community can depend.

What a big job for a girl with heart, a voice, and kitty named Roy.

This interview was conducted digitally and is reproduced here in its entirety.

Name: Meg Flather

First Cabaret Show (Title, Year, Club): "Leather & Flather" was the first show with Christian Daizey. I believe it debuted in the spring of 1984 at the original Duplex on 55 Grove Street!

Most Recent Cabaret Show: My last show was on Feb 21, 2020 at The Beach. Tracy Stark, Lennie Watts and I called it, "Cockeyed Optimist."

Website or Social Media Handles: Facebook and Instagram, Meg Flather

Meg Flather, welcome to Broadway World and thank you for chatting with us today - How is the second half of 2020 shaping up for you?

Interview: At Home With Meg Flather Thank you for having me! How am I doing? Hmmm. It's an up and down ride, but I am thankful that when the "downs" happen, something or someone lifts me up just when needed. I think it is important to learn that the feelings will not kill you and are not permanent. My new songs, "Inside" and "Reaching Higher", explore this very idea. We have to make use of this. We have to grow ourselves through this test. There is a great expression, "And this." It basically means instead of fighting it, allow it to teach you. It weakens the blow to partner with it somehow. "Good morning, heartache, sit down."

Find Meg on Apple Music HERE

Interview: At Home With Meg Flather

Earlier this year you were awarded a MAC Award. Now, this wasn't your first MAC Award, but I have a feeling this one was really special to you. Talk me through your experience with A Cabaret Sisterhood.

It was so profound to sit at my computer in my pajamas and watch the MAC Awards on Facebook. When "Meg Flather Songs/A Cabaret Sisterhood" won Best Special Production, "special" pretty much described the whole journey. Since 2004, I was a caregiver; first Dad, then Mom. When Mom passed away on March 2, 2018, I had a lot of grief to process. It all waits for you, you know? You hold it together to complete each day of obligations and then, WHAM! Well, exactly one year later, I lost my voice. I had a fluke tummy bug and head cold at the same time which inflamed my cords. Through the silence of weeks of vocal rest, I wrote a love song to the creative community called, "Only See You." When I finally took baby steps to sing again, I sang the new song at an open mic. After the open mic, the remarkable Sally Darling expressed a desire to sing the new song or any of my songs. I then confided in her of my fantasy show that would feature many women singing my songs (Lisa Viggiano had been on me to do this for a good year at this point!). Well, when Sally heard of this fantasy she basically assigned me to get on it that night. When I texted Lisa all this, she affirmed that I really had to do the show now! So, within 24 hours I had 27 women, a date at Don't Tell Mama, musical director, Tracy Stark, and creative consultant, Lennie Watts. At the end of the day Lennie really was our director and deserves that credit. So, as my voice was healing, these extraordinary women became my voice and brought my music to a whole new place. The whole project felt under God, somehow. Out of grief and silence came a stunning example of sisterhood and community. The women pushed me to believe my songs were of value and then worked so diligently to make the songs their own works of art. I stood in the back of the club in awe of them. I also stood in the back of the club in awe of the audience. The support was overwhelming. Then the MAC community gave the show an award? It was a total lesson in letting go, asking for help and allowing that help to take you to a new place. I share this award with these mighty players.

From the outside looking in, it is very apparent that you are one of the leaders in the sisterhood - tell me about the women of cabaret and the bond that they share.

Because cabaret is an art form that allows each artist to express their individual gifts and musical tastes, there is no competition. We compete with our inner demons, not each other. And we bond through the long journey to overcome our inner demons in order to give ourselves our art. When one of us reaches a new level of creative freedom, we all win somehow. We show up and sit in each other's audiences excited to bask in what our "sister" has prepared for us. We glance at each other in the darkness with expressions that say, "Oh, my God! She is on fire tonight!" Then we stand in line together to celebrate our performing "sister" with huge anticipation. It's an art form of rituals and this ritual is my favorite.

You are a widely acknowledged songwriter, yet when you build one of your own acts, you don't perform your work exclusively. As a songwriter, what is your thought process when tasked with interpreting another writer's story?

When I began writing songs in the early 1990's, I left cabaret and performed my originals in the East Village folk rock scene. I pretty much camped out at The Sidewalk Cafe on Avenue A. But, in time I was missing the theatrical freedom of cabaret and returned to the cabaret community in 2008. It seemed like a lot to ask this audience to sit through a show of originals, so I began selecting covers from the great singer/songwriters who influenced my writing and got me through decades of my life. I believed Mary Chapin Carpenter, Nanci Griffith, Carly Simon, Suzanne Vega, Joni Mitchell, and Joan Armatrading told my story better than I could, but I stayed at it. I would still put a Meg song in here and there and pray. Then I began to revisit my musical theater roots and that material found its way into the shows. So, you, Stephen, saw the result of that whole journey when you attended, "Outbound Plane" on December 29th! I am excited to report that Rosemary Loar, Tracy Stark and I are filming our completely original and MAC nominated show, "Unexpected Trio", for the Urban Stages Winter Rhythm Series this year. Imagine three female songwriters singing originals and providing intricate harmonies for each other (another example of sisterhood!).

Meg, what is a brand ambassador and how does a person decide on that career?

Interview: At Home With Meg Flather I wrote a book about this very story! "Home Shopping Diva...Lessons, Lyrics and Lipstick" tells my coming of age story. After my purse was stolen, I found myself at the Clinique counter repurchasing the makeup that had been stolen and, before I knew it, they offered me a job. They developed me and trained me in sales, management, training, marketing, makeup artistry and customer service. As a "shop girl" I began a parallel career performing commercials, industrials and voice overs and my agent put the two worlds together. I got an audition to sell Moroccan mud for the face on QVC at 6 in the morning and I was hooked. All my "hats" came together. I have been representing quality skincare on home shopping ever since. I proudly represent science-driven and clinically-backed StriVectin on HSN and The Shopping Channel of Canada (now from my living room via Skype!).

Buy Home Shopping Diva... HERE

You create as a songwriter, as an author, and as a performer. When an artistic urge begins to bubble up inside you, what is the process by which you decide into which avenue you will channel that seedling?

My husband made me write the book! I had created a cabaret show called, "Home Shopping Diva" and he insisted more could come of it. It was a quiet time in my creative and professional worlds, so I simply sat down one day. I treated it like a job that I had to show up for. It felt like a completely written book hovered over my head as I typed. I just had to keep up with it. The intention of the book was to share a story of making lemonade out of lemons, recognizing and listening to teachers and mentors, letting go of the plan and walking instead through the doors that say "yes" rather than bang on the doors that say "maybe." My songs, however, come in mysterious ways. An insight to a life lesson or current event will inspire the song title. Soon I hear lyrics in my head to a beat; like a click track. So, I always have the song "feel" from the start. I keep pages and pages of half-written songs. Often these lyrics will jump out to complete a chorus or bridge. Then I sit with the completed lyrics until I "hear" a complete melody. I quickly sing it into my phone (at 3 am!). Then I schedule time with producer, engineer and guitarist, Jon Gordon, at his recording studio to find the chords. We often begin recording on the same day.

Does your mind ever quiet, or is it in a constant state of creation?

It quiets when I get lost in Netflix! "The West Wing" and "The Gilmore Girls", thankfully, quiet me down.

Put a picture in my head of what "Meg Time" looks like at your house.

I knew at the start of the pandemic that I had better get regimented. So, each day I walk 30 minutes inside (up and down the hall), complete a 30-minute Pilates mat class and sing through my teacher, Andrew Byrne's, vocal exercises and legit songs he is challenging me with. These drills have really saved my sanity. I try to remember that this daunting time has its gifts. In addition to writing and recording two new songs, Tracy Stark, Lennie Watts and I have a new cabaret show ready to go. I am forever thankful to them for that focus during the early Covid days. So, my inside days are all about practice, practice, practice and patience, patience, patience.

You have openly shared stories and songs about unhappy times in your life, yet with an always-present optimism. How do you stay so positive?

Oh, thank you for thinking so. I truly believe it all comes from my parents. These two Geminis were devoted to public service. First in the Peace Corps (I was born in the Philippines!) and then through Dad's work in non-profit overseas development and special education and Mom's dedication to women's health as a Nurse Midwife in NYC. They were constantly showing up for others with such passion. They loved their jobs and the communities they served. I think that daily passion was a great teacher of optimism. They didn't complain about the system, they changed it. Mom and Dad were not big on complaining. Optimism got me attention (along with my one-woman musicals performed in the living room!)

Meg, have you considered putting out a Roy Calendar?

Interview: At Home With Meg Flather Roy gets more "likes" than I do! You know I should seriously consider making some cash off this cat! Between his teeth, his thyroid, his finicky taste in food and litter, he is one expensive boy (and worth every penny).

Meg, thank you so much for visiting with us today and the insight into your work and life.

So excited to be of any use!

Interview: At Home With Meg Flather


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