Interview: LUCILLE CARR-KAFFASHAN Honors Two Centuries of Strong Female Songwriters at Don't Tell Mama

One show focused on the 70's and another focused on the 21st century will play at Don't Tell Mama in February and March respectively.

By: Feb. 05, 2024
Interview: LUCILLE CARR-KAFFASHAN Honors Two Centuries of Strong Female Songwriters at Don't Tell Mama

Interview: LUCILLE CARR-KAFFASHAN Honors Two Centuries of Strong Female Songwriters at Don't Tell Mama

RK: Can you tell me a bit about your upcoming shows?

LCK: Of course, and thanks for inviting me to do this interview.

Last year I revisited three singer-songwriter shows that I had created over the last dozen years or so. I called the series “3 Seasons of Singer-Songwriters” and scheduled two performances each of three different shows for spring, summer, and fall. As I have been joking in my promotional materials for the two upcoming shows, winter was feeling a bit neglected, so I’m bringing back my two female singer-songwriter shows this winter, in February and March.

On Saturday February 17th, I’ll be performing Diamonds and Rust – Female Singer-Songwriters of the 1970’s. This show features the songs of women who flourished during the golden age of singer-songwriters, and, as I say in the show, whose voices ushered me into adulthood: Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Melanie Safka, Laura Nero, Carly Simon and others.

On Saturday March 16th I will revisit Unwritten – A Celebration of 21st Century Female Singer-Songwriter, a show for which I received a Bistro Award in 2017. This show features songs released since the year 2000, and highlights artists in their 20’s and in their 70’s and every decade in between. There are songs by Sara Bareilles, Meghan Trainor, Taylor Swift, Kacey Musgraves, Annie Lennox and others.

I love both of these shows so much. I had last performed Diamonds and Rust in 2012, and by 2014 when I was considering what my next show would be, it seemed like a natural progression to focus on contemporary women artists. So, for me, Unwritten was the obvious counterpoint to my 70’s show.

RK: What are some of the things that speak to you or that made you decide to highlight these two decades, the 1970s and the 2000s?

LCK: As I mentioned, I have a deep connection to the songs of the 70’s. I was in college from 1969 to 1973, and many of the songs in Diamonds and Rust were released in that timeframe. The songs reflect the socio-political issues of the times, as well as the themes that we were all thinking about as a result of the women’s liberation movement. Coming into adulthood at that time was both exhilarating and confusing. Although I guess that’s true for anyone as they transition into their adult lives.

RK: What made you decide to bring back Unwritten now?

LCK: Well, frankly, I’ve been having flashbacks to the 70’s for the last year and a half or so, and that’s what originally propelled me to bring back Diamonds and Rust. But, as often happens, the project grew from there since I thought, “hey, why not bring back all four of my singer-songwriters shows?” In the end, I opted to leave my Beatles show for another time and focused on my two female singer-songwriter shows and my most recent show that features male artists, How The Light Gets In that I had last performed in 2019. Hence, the “3 Seasons”.

RK: Has anything about the shows changed?

LCK: Well, first and foremost, I’ve changed, and I was excited to see how the songs affected me in the here and now, and how that would affect my connection to them and the way I communicated with the audience. I updated the patter significantly for both shows. Musically the biggest changes were to the 70’s show since I created that with a different music director, the incredibly gifted David Brunetti. My current music director (Jeff Cubeta) and I switched out a few songs and changed the feel of others.

RK: Do you have anything else coming up this year that you're excited about?

LCK: Well, I definitely want to bring back my male singer-songwriter show, How The Light Gets In, for at least one more performance.

And, the chances are very good that I’ll be bringing back a version of my Beatles show this year. I initially performed it in 2005 as a 40th anniversary remembrance of their first concert at Shea Stadium, a concert that I attended. I re-booted the show in 2015 at the 50th anniversary, and, oh my god, we’re coming up on the 60th anniversary, so the show is calling me back.

RK: Is there anything I haven't asked you about that you'd like to add? 

LCK: Yes! On February 17th Jeff and I will be joined by the amazing bass player Matt Scharfglass, and on March 16th guitarist extraordinaire, Sean Harkness, will join us as well. Both shows were directed by David Hilder, and Kelly Wohlford will be the technical director for both shows.

RK: If you could ask yourself one question about these shows what would it be?

LCK: Yes, I’d ask, “what did you learn from doing these shows back-to-back in one year?” I was struck by the strong through-line of gender roles in all three shows: how people are affected by and are constrained by them. Not surprising, I guess, given my professional career as a clinical psychologist, and as someone who reached adulthood at the height of the women’s movement.

Lucille Carr-Kaffashan will perform Diamonds and Rust at Don't Tell Mama on Saturday 17th at 4 pm. Tickets are available here.

Unwritten will be at Don't Tell Mama on Saturday March 16th at 4 pm. Tickets are available here.