Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Interview: Songstress/Songwriter Extraordinaire Ann Hampton Callaway Riffs on Linda, Liz, Barbra & More

pixeltracker

Segerstrom Center for the Arts presents for one performance only ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY THE LINDA RONSTADT SONGBOOK July 25, 2021

BWW Interview: Songstress/Songwriter Extraordinaire Ann Hampton Callaway Riffs on Linda, Liz, Barbra & More

Segerstrom Center for the Arts presents for one performance only ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY THE LINDA RONSTADT SONGBOOK July 25, 2021. The platinum singer/songwriter will demonstrate her take on some of Linda's classic songs with her melodious vocals. Ann will be backed by Trey Henry on bass, MB Gordy on drums, and Linda's longtime guitarist and arranger, Bob Mann; with Billy Stritch musical directing. Ann found some time between fielding her many DIAL-A-DIVA requests to answer a few of my queries.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Ann!

This songbook of Linda Ronstadt is not your first. You've done Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland, with Barbra Streisand as recently as June 2ndand 3rd. How did this concept of concert songbooks come about?

As a champion of the Great American Songbook, and the daughter of a legendary journalist, I've been inspired to honor the people who have come before me and helped me to grow me as an artist. These people brought the great songs of our country alive and I love painting portraits of them as people and iconic singers. Ella Fitzgerald was my first legacy show and later came Sarah Vaughan - both themes became solo CDs. The Streisand Songbook is my most successful symphony show, and I love honoring this extraordinary woman who I've gotten to write songs and patter for, sing for and celebrate with her blessing. The Linda Ronstadt Songbook is a big success as well and audiences go crazy hearing all the great BWW Interview: Songstress/Songwriter Extraordinaire Ann Hampton Callaway Riffs on Linda, Liz, Barbra & More songs she's turned into hits. The trick of doing these projects well, is to put my own stamp on the arrangements and interpretations of the songs, and to offer a fascinating narrative of how songs reflect the life of the artists I am covering. So there's song and story that enhance each other greatly.

How was it to perform your first LIVE concert with the Virginia Symphony June 3rd after all these months of virtual shows?

It was an absolute thrill. After singing to the green light on my computer in all my livestream shows during the pandemic, to sing in front of living, breathing, laughing, crying, applauding real people was pure joy!

With Linda Ronstadt's vast library of songs, what criteria did you use to narrow down the song selection for your concert?

I did extensive listening and reading and watched interviews and spoke to her. I tried songs out with Billy Stritch, my accompanist, to see which I felt I could do justice to and have fun singing. And, as I was doing somewhat of a chronological show, the songs revealed themselves as the key ones that were standouts as her career unfolded. I wanted to highlight the diversity of her career and celebrate the extraordinary faith she had that what she wanted to record could be successful, despite the show biz naysayers. I wanted to show the different sides of her as a person as well. Originally, I thought I'd be doing more of her great standards, but the fun of her pop music won my heart. And boy, it sure gets the audience moving and singing along. I feel like a rock star when do this show!

BWW Interview: Songstress/Songwriter Extraordinaire Ann Hampton Callaway Riffs on Linda, Liz, Barbra & More Billy Stritch will be musical directing you at Segerstrom. When did you first meet/work with him?

Billy and I met in the 80's when I was singing at a little club on Central Park South in New York called Les Tuileries. We first performed in concert in 1991 at Carnegie Recital Hall. During those early years we became chums, hanging out with Liza Minnelli, who in time Billy became extremely close to. We've always had great chemistry onstage and off, and I so admire his superb artistry. He's also great fun to share martinis with after our shows.

How old were you when your father John taught you scatting?

Three years old!

What did you want to be when you grew up - a singer or a songwriter?

Singing was my first dream, but before too long at the age of ten I started writing poetry and at twelve started writing songs; so writing became a very important part of expressing myself and how I see the world. I had many dreams - acting was another one of them - and I am so grateful my dream of being on Broadway was realized when I starred in and helped to create the hit musical SWING!

BWW Interview: Songstress/Songwriter Extraordinaire Ann Hampton Callaway Riffs on Linda, Liz, Barbra & More You've written hit songs for a plethora of singers. Have you already written one for that one singer that was your ultimate get? Or is that still to come?

I wrote a peace anthem for Barbra Streisand and though it was a pipe dream, Barbra recorded it on her CD Higher Ground ten years to the date of writing it, selling 6 million records and making me a platinum writer. She's featured my songs on seven of her CDs, and I hope she will record more.

Which songwriters did you look up to in your early career?

I've always had diverse taste in music, so the classical composers Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms, Debussy and Rachmaninoff inspired me. Gershwin, Arlen, Rogers, Porter, Berlin, Kern and Sondheim are favorite writers I love singing and aspire to emulate. In the pop vein, the Beatles, Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder are key influences. Now, many of my friends are my inspiration, like John Bucchino, Amanda McBroom, Michele Brourman and more.

Growing up in a musical household, with your mother Shirley, a singer herself and in-demand vocal coach; when did you and your sister Liz finally decide to perform together for a public setting?

We were so fortunate to have such an amazing mom to give us the gift of music. Liz and I moved to New York and were very busy with our solo careers. But one year in the late 80's or BWW Interview: Songstress/Songwriter Extraordinaire Ann Hampton Callaway Riffs on Linda, Liz, Barbra & More early 90's, cabaret presenter, Donald Smith, asked us to sing at The Russian Tea Room and we said, "Yes." We're been performing together ever since, and it continues to be a thrill like no other.

Is there just one particular song that you just love your sister singing?

It's very hard to pick just one, we have so many favorites. I think one of our favorites is Sondheim's "Our Time" from Liz's first Broadway show because it feels like it was written for us. Another favorite is our famous "Huge Medley" which is epic fun and makes audiences go crazy.

What cosmic forces converged to have you write and sing the theme song from The Nanny? Fran came to a show of my original songs in New York in the mid 80's and met me after the show, declaring her love of my writing and her interest in me writing for her projects. I wrote some songs for pilots that did not succeed and when The Nanny was being developed, I had to finally complete with some famous L.A. writers. I was honored she chose my song for the theme, and as I like to say, "Thanks to Fran, I have written what my accountant STILL calls, 'my finest work to date.'"

You were most creative and productive during these past pandemic months offering DIAL-A-DIVA. What's the most unusual request that you accepted?

BWW Interview: Songstress/Songwriter Extraordinaire Ann Hampton Callaway Riffs on Linda, Liz, Barbra & More I had to write a celebration song for parents who lost their son to suicide. It was such a sad story but he was such a remarkable person that it inspired quite a beautiful song called "We'll Meet On the Trail" that both acknowledged the pain and loss but also celebrated his beautiful soul and life. You can hear this song and many of my other commissioned songs on my YouTube Channel Ann Hampton Callaway.

What sage advice would you give a budding singer/songwriter?

Be true to yourself. Work hard, learn from the best, say yes to as many opportunities that will help you develop as an artist, face your fears, find what is unique about you and honor it in imaginative ways. Don't let your ego get in the way of your heart. When music comes from your heart, it will touch other hearts. Don't let failures or dry spells stop your dream. Dreams come true in many different ways, and just keep on believing and working towards them with faith and imagination. Take care of your health, your mind and your heart and think - "How will this impact who I am?" before you wander down the wrong road. Develop great relationships with fellow artists and support and encourage each other. Don't associate with people who try to tear you down. Be brave and know that you are a vessel of love, truth and beauty. Stay open to inspiration in all its forms and it will appear every single day.

What's in the near future for Ann Hampton Callaway?

BWW Interview: Songstress/Songwriter Extraordinaire Ann Hampton Callaway Riffs on Linda, Liz, Barbra & More Thankfully, many live shows are finally happening again as well as more livestream shows at "The Callaway Hideaway" and you can find them all at annhamptoncallaway.com. And a big project this year is a string of singles I am releasing which will lead to the very first CD of all original songs. I am working with Trey Henry and Paul Viapiano of The Chemistry Set and the project has been underwritten by arts angel extraordinaire, Debra deMartini. This dream only took 40 years to come true so, if there's a lesson here for everyone, it's "never give up!"

Thank you again, Ann! I look forward to hearing you live July 25th.

For tickets for the LIVE performance of Ann Hampton Callaway July 25, 2021; log onto www.scfta.org/events/2021/ann-hampton-callaway

Check out Ann's latest single "The Moon is a Kite" @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WMqmJQtfQ4&t=86s


Related Articles View More Los Angeles Stories

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

From This Author Gil Kaan