Jane Monheit is performing Hello Bluebird – Celebrating the Jazz of Judy Garland at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley in Seattle tonight through August 24th. Don’t miss it! Get tickets here. You can always find out more about Monheit on her site here.
Earle Dutton: What made you decide to create a show around Judy Garland’s jazz tunes?
Jane Monheit: Garland was one of my heroes growing up as I think she is for every little girl who loves to sing. We all love Judy. Most of the little boys do to (laughter). I always noticed the parallels between her and the jazz singers that I loved. Judy could really swing. So, I thought it would be interesting to put this show together and look at that side of her personality rather than focusing on the drama and the big ballads.
ED: Were your musical influences growing up?
JM: Besides Judy Garland, there was Ella Fitzgerald first and foremost. There was Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae. All the great jazz singers have influenced me one way or another. They are all in there somewhere. We all become an amalgamation of everything we listen to growing up. A lot of it for me was non-jazz as well. People like Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell were big influences on me as well.
ED: What is your favorite memory of Judy Garland?
JM: I think pretty much like any other kid, watching the Wizard of Oz as a little girl. I loved that movie. My mother even jokes around and says that is the best babysitter she ever had.
ED: If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be?
JM: Oh lord, I have no idea. I have always wished I could perform with Take 6 one day. They are so amazing. I just hero worship each one of those guys.
ED: Do you have a message for LGBT youth?
JM: Well you know, growing up as a kid in school pretty much all of my best friends were gay. I watched them all come out of the closet one by one. I also watched them have trouble at school or at home. I just watched them all go through that. Now, I am still tight with all of these people. They all have beautiful lives with children and spouse and wonderful careers. They have wonderful relationships with their parents and families. Most of all, everything turned out fine. After all of trials and tribulations of being a gay teenager, everything turned out okay and even better than okay. All I could do through all of it was be a good friend. I am glad I did because I am happy that I have all these wonderful people in my life. The whole “It Gets Better” message is the truth. It does, it really does. I have seen it.