Life has certainly doled out its share of lemons for LaCHANZE but like Senator Elizabeth Warren, she has persisted. The Broadway, concert, and film star was eight months pregnant with her second child when her husband, Calvin Gooding, tragically perished in the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. The Florida native has also managed to navigate through the difficult entertainment industry, all while balancing the endless demands of motherhood.
On Monday, February 27th, she will launch a new concert entitled “Feeling Good” at New York’s Highline Ballrooom. A national tour will follow.
Manhattan Digest recently spoke with the tuneful ray of sunshine to discuss the show and her upcoming memoir.
MD: Talk a little bit about your name. I know it is Creole for “the charmed one.”
LC: It’s my grandmother’s name. We have a tradition in my family that one of the daughters is always named after the grandmother. My daughter is named after my mother and before my husband passed away, he named our soon to be born youngest daughter and he gave her my name as a middle name.
MD: That’s beautiful. Why did you decide on just the single name?
LC: I got teased so much as a kid since my last name was “Sapp.” With a name like that, I thought it would be really bad to go into a career where I’d often be in the press . I’m used to having one name now. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to having two–at least not professionally.
MD: Your upcoming show has been a work in progress since 2014. Is it more of a musical memoir with dialogue or more of a concert?
LC: It’s a little bit of both. There will be scripted moments and moments of poetry and also stories that I share with the audience. My director, Tamara Tunie, has been able to take this idea I had and give it the structure I’ve wanted. I hope it will be able to bring audiences a little closer into my life. I’ll be doing some funny music, some original, and well-known tunes. I’m writing a memoir right now and I’ll be sharing some things about my life from that book that people don’t know. I’ve been working with my editor on it and it covers my own personal 9/11 moment, being a mom after that horrible experience, being a girl growing up in the 70s, and working in the entertainment industry. We’ll go on a pretty long ride.
MD:The title of your show, “Feeling Good”, seems to be the perfect antidote for all of the societal ills that we’re experiencing. How do you maintain your positivity in these times of conflict and confusion?
LC: That’s one of the reasons I’m doing this show. It’s about taking the elements of one’s life, whether they be good, bad, scary, traumatic, or wonderful and not getting stuck in them. How do you move through them so you do end up feeling good? Sure. I’m terrified about the current political state that we are living in. It’s important for us to see what is going on, but to not get stuck in that mud. We need to move through them and thrive in this life. I’ve lived a long time and I think it’s a good time to talk about what I know so far. It’s essential to our health and longevity. One of my friends calls my show “the Oprah of musical theater.”
MD: It’s easy for someone to say “Be positive” when they haven’t been through great pains and tragedies in their life, but when it is someone who has been there and done that, it magnifies the impact and listeners think, “If they survived that, I can too.”
LC: Well, I’m hoping. And it isn’t easy, but my goal is that people will see the interesting layers of my life and that it will somehow help them through their own struggles.
MD: What legendary artists have inspired you?
LC: Nina Simone. Barbara Streisand, or course. And I love me some Patti LuPone. She is a force to be reckoned with. I’m a huge fan. At some point, I am going to be Evita. I’m gonna call Lin-Manuel-Miranda, have him write a new version, and cast me! (Laughs). Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan are also major influences. There are just so many that have inspired me throughout my life. I’ve always loved music that is about looking forward and being happy with the spirit in your life. That is what I’m hoping to convey in this show.
MD: Well, I’m inspired just talking to you now, so I’m excited to see the show. I wish you the best on the upcoming concert, the national tour, and on finishing your memoir!
LC: Thanks so much.
LaCHANZE will appear at the Highline Ballroom (431 West 16th Street between 9th/10th avenue) on Monday February 27th @ 8 PM. For tickets and more information, click here. For a sneak peek at the show, check out a clip here.