Michele Brourman: LOVE AND TAKE-OUT: AN EVENING OF ORIGINAL SONGS

Michele Brourman

Michele Brourman, MD to Amanda McBroom and many others, is a singer-songwriter in her own right.  She made her London debut at Crazy Coqs in her own show Love And Take-Out. Read my interview and review here.

Michele Brourman in CC

Michele Brourman at the Crazy Coqs

Michele Brourman is a singer songwriter and a composer of film music. She is also Musical Director, pianist for and co-writer with cabaret singer and fellow songwriter Amanda McBroom, who has been performing with her singer husband George Ball at Crazy Coqs throughout this week. Monday is the turn of Brourman to debut her own solo show in London at the same venue.

I asked Brourman what had drawn her to cabaret and how the long collaboration with McBroom had come about. She explained that it had never been an ambition to join the cabaret scene in her early days, though she sang in places in LA where she could showcase her work. No, she had wanted to forge a career as a singer songwriter recording artist, along the lines of James Taylor and Joni Mitchell who were coming to the fore at that time. Writing and performing her own work is for this quiet spoken, unassuming yet steely woman the ultimate form of self-expression.

However, for one reason or another, all her early offers to produce and record her work fell apart for one reason or another – either the producer got fired from the company, or the timing didn’t work or something else happened. She is also fiercely loyal to those she loves. The leader of a famous American band Robbie Robertson wanted to produce her at one point, but she turned him down in favour of her husband. Her manager was livid, apparently, but these kinds of ‘choice points’, as she calls them, have played a large part in the trajectory of her career.

And not only hers! She personally ensured that her friend Amanda McBroom’s song The Rose was placed into the hands of the producer of the now stellar film of the same name. That changed everything for both of them.

Brourman had met McBroom through her then boyfriend who was living in the same apartment complex as McBroom and George Ball. They immediately hit it off and began writing songs together right from the start. The film producers of the Janis Joplin-esqe figure were initially hesitant to use McBroom’s song, but then the Musical Supervisor heard it and immediately recognised its potential. Bette Midler also liked it and made it a huge hit.

Offers and new doors of opportunities came in and Brourman has travelled far and wide with her as her MD. It was the world of cabaret which embraced them the most.

Both of these artists truly love cabaret. Brourman aptly describes it as “..personal theatre – like performing in your own living room in front of your friends”. And that is what we can expect from her own cabaret on Monday. She describes her music as “.. accessible, emotional, fun …it runs the gammit”. Her work is not known here and she is looking forward to giving her songs a place to breathe.

I asked her about other activities she engages in, and she supplements her cabaret work by working as an MD for other artists, producing recordings, coaching singers and helping other artists build their own cabaret shows.

I know people who have been taught by her, and they say she is a wonderful teacher.  And listening to her, I can well believe it.

She describes her role in coaching and writing arrangements for artists as “…like that of a couturier draping the fabric over a body. I don’t just write an arrangement, but shape the song to the singer. I like to explore where the singer and the song meet, that nexus, and heighten that point. Music is alive, right now. Who you are today isn’t where you were a week ago. It is a cobweb created right that second, and where I or the artist breathes, that’s where it happens”.

Well, who wouldn’t want an MD like that! I have seen her play for McBroom a few times now, and her playing is sublime. She is fascinating to watch, moving as the music enters her body and moves through her. She loves London with its energy and vibrancy, and I am greatly looking forward to Monday’s show.

Fiona-Jane Weston

Review:

Lovely – great variety with blues, comic songs, some romantic ballads, delicate and very dark material (one very disturbing one on a mass murderer). Fabulous.

See her next time she comes – it’s a rare opportunity.

Fiona-Jane

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About Fiona Jane Weston

I am Fiona-Jane Weston and as well as being a performer myself (see website), I write reviews of and features on shows, mainly on the London cabaret and theatre scene. I have worked in theatre for many years, but decided to embark on a new direction in cabaret in 2009, when I produced 20th Century Woman: The Compact Cabaret. Not wanting to neglect my love of spoken word, particularly drama and verse, I made the conscious decision to include these elements in the programme, as well as wonderful songs, to tell the story of women's changing status and preoccupations throughout the 20th Century and up to now. I was invited to audition for the renowned Cabaret Conference at Yale, run by the late legendary Erv Raible, and that was thrilled to be one of only 26 accepted that year, where I was taught by the masters of the genre. Amanda McBroom (composer of the Bette Middler hit "The Rose" and the poignant "Errol Flynn"), Laurel Massé, original member of Manhattan Transfer, Sally Mayes, Tony Award nominees Sharon McNight and Tovah Feldshuh, and New York cabaret veteran Julie Wilson were all on the faculty. We were also treated to the musical direction of Alex Rybeck, Hubert Tex Arnold and the now late Paul Trueblood. With the benefit of their insightful teaching and great encouragement, I took my show to The Duplex in New York, where I was delighted with the response. Since then, I have produced Loving London: The Capital Cabaret, using the same format of songs, poetry and drama, in various London venues, including Leicester Square Theatre and The Crazy Coqs. 2014, the centenary of World War 1, saw the launch of Wartime Women: the Khaki Cabaret to a sellout house at St. James Theatre, London, garnering great notices, including from The Times and Musical Theatre Review. I have since been touring the show to Belgium and throughout the UK. I hope these reviews and interviews entertain and educate at the same time, and if please do leave comments in the box. It's great to engage in a conversation about the Arts. Fiona-Jane Weston
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