Cabaret Life NYC: KAREN OBERLIN Performing the Songs of Doris Day Is One of Cabaret's Most Ideal Matches of Singer to Subject
by Stephen Hanks - May 7, 2014

I was just a little more than a year into my new side career as a cabaret show reviewer when I first saw a Karen Oberlin show. It was Valentine's Day night 2012 and Oberlin—with guitarist Sean Harkness and guest violinist Aaron Weinstein—would be performing her romance-laced set, Stringing Along With Love, at the Metropolitan Room. At the time, all I knew about Oberlin was that she was considered among New York's best female cabaret singers, and I hadn't researched her performing history pre-show. About a third of the way into her set I leaned over to my wife (it was Valentine's Day after all) and whispered, “You know, she has a real Doris Day quality in her voice and in the way she delivers some lyrics.” This immediately ratcheted up my appreciation for Oberlin since there are four passions I inherited from my Dad—baseball, reading the morning papers, sports writing and Doris Day (well, also Sophia Loren, but that's for another column). Since Dad had grown up during the prime of the Big Band Era of the 1940s, I heard the sultry sounds of a young Doris Day singing songs like “Sentimental Journey” on the family stereo more than a few times. Once I saw Day's strikingly adorable blondness on a record cover and her rocking body in one of her films, I knew what Dad was talking about. As popular, famous, and near iconic as Doris Day became, in my book, as a singer and screen beauty she's always been vastly underrated. Little did I know that Karen Oberlin had been doing a Doris Day tribute show so since 2001 at places like Firebird, Iridium, and the late Danny's Skylight Room, and produced a CD, Secret Love: The Music of Doris Day, in 2002. Karen Oberlin had instantly become my secret love. (more...)