Vivian Reed is done with standards–at least for now. After two successful shows (Standards and More and Vivian Reed Sings Lena Horne) highlighting the American songbook, the two time Tony nominee is switching gears with a brand new show entitled Little Bit of Soul, Little Bit of Pop at Midtown’s Green Room 42 on Saturday, June 15th at 7 PM. “I’ve made my contribution to standards. Now, I want to change genres and be more eclectic,” she recently told Manhattan Digest over a cup of tea at an Upper West Side Cafe.
The classical vocalist was Juilliard trained, but has taken her talent down a different road. During her time at the famed vocal school, Reed took a job singing uptown at nightclub. Her professor was appalled. (She shares hilarious personal anecdotes about it on her YouTube channel). “At the time, they really frowned upon singing any music other than classical.” Nevertheless, she bravely carved her own path. “I didn’t want to sound like a classical singer trying to sing R&B. I wanted to be the real deal. But when you go in that direction, there’s a price to pay. You can’t do both classical and R&B. One is going to suffer and nine times out of ten, it’ll be classical.”
She has no regrets about making the switch and has reaped the reward of sold out engagements around the world. In Little Bit of Soul, Little Bit of Pop, Reed plans to share more about her personal life than she has in her previous concerts. “I’ll talk about the men who wanted to marry me if I agreed to sacrifice my career. Instead, they were looking for someone who would cook, clean, and have babies. I couldn’t do it because singing is my gift from God.”
Reed also talked about “Wind Beneath My Wings,” which audience will hear on the 15th. It was a song she initially performed with reluctance. “I had nothing against it, but everybody was singing it and I said I’d never do it.” One day her phone rang. It was her agent. The sponsors of the 1990 Winter Olympics called and asked if she’d do a concert for them. There was one caveat: that she sing “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Her father was sick at the time and she heard the song in a brand new way. “Everything that was once so mundane about it, became so real to me. Now, I find such joy in singing it. Those lyrics are so reflective of my mom and dad,” she said with much affection.
The evening promises to be a mix of up-tempo and ballads, including a racy song called “Slam Bam.” Reed, who arranges her own music, wrote the original piece about a woman she knew whose husband was not only abusive, but a cheat as well. She’ll also tip her hat to Judy Garland with the poignant “Too Late Now,” and will put her own spin on Justin Timberlake‘s “Can’t Stop The Music.”
In all of her shows, Reed is cautious about maintaining the integrity of the music, but she’s not afraid to make the arrangements uniquely hers. It’s a choice that has raised the eyebrows of some critics. “A lot of people are not ready for a change. They’ll say, ‘I’ve never heard a song that way and how dare she do that!’ But she’s not dissuaded. “If that’s your problem with me,you probably should never come to any of my shows,” she quipped with endearing sass.
She’s also careful about maintaining strong vocal health. Acid reflux is her chronic kryptonite–a problem she shares with many singers, but controls through diet and exercise. She recently paid a visit to Dr. Steven Zeitels, a globally recognized laryngeal surgeon who has helped Adele, Julie Andrews, Steven Tyler and countless other celebrities. “He told me that my vocal folds looked like they belonged to someone twenty or thirty years younger than me, so obviously I’d been something right! I just had to get out of my own head.” She advises other singers not to eat or drink late at night. “It catches up to you,” she warned, adding, “I don’t do drugs or party and I take very good care of myself.”
That doesn’t mean she’s entering a convent anytime soon. Reed has a natural zest for life and is constantly challenging herself with new opportunities. During the run of Broadway’s Marie Christine (in which she starred with Audra Mcdonald), director Graciela Daniele asked her what she wanted to do next. “I told her I wanted to play a bag lady. Daniele said, “Nobody is gonna hire you to a play a bag lady!” Once again, Reed pushed forward and contacted writer/actor Angela Gibbs. Together, they produced “What Goes Around”, a short film in which Reed’s character becomes homeless and mentally compromised. Gibbs asked her how much research she did for the role. Reed joked, “None. I live in New York!”
She also occupies her time designing her own line of scarves and ponchos known as VJR scarves.
This weekend, she’ll jet-set to London for yet another performance of her critically acclaimed Lena Horne act . After that, she’ll put the final touches on Little Bit of Soul, Little Bit of Pop, along with her pianist James Davis and a first rate quintet.
For those individuals out of town or busy on June 15th, cancel your plans and buy tickets now.
While it will mark the debut of her new show, she plans to adds multiple engagements. “I like to do a minimum of six performances for every show I create,” she said. One thing is certain: Audiences should brace themselves for a whole lot of talent and a whole lot of fun.
VIVIAN REED will perform “Little Bit of Soul, Little Bit of Pop” at The Green Room 42 (570 Tenth Avenue at 42nd Street, on the 4th Floor of Yotel) on Saturday, June 15 at 7:00 PM. The cover charge is $20-60. There is no food and drink minimum. For tickets, please visit Vivian Reed @ The Green Room.