Karen Mason Talks About Her New Album, Broadway & “Mamma Mia!”

Karen Mason just released “It’s About Time”, her first album since 2009. There is some Judy Garland, Broadway, original music, a celebration of marriage equality and even a tribute to a long lost friend. It is a wonderful album. It covers the full gamut of emotions. Mason really has fun with this album and you can here it in her voice. She is pretty spectacular. You need to add this album to your collection today. It is available on iTunes, Amazon and by visiting www.KarenMason.com.

We had the opportunity to speak with her after her CD release. Check out our interview below.

Earle Dutton (ED): Could you tell me a bit about your new album?
Karen Mason (KM): ‘My new album.’ That’s funny you call it an album, it’s funny, I called it an album for a long time, then it was a CD now we are back to album again. I’m thrilled with whatever it is. We just had the CD release here at Birdland Jazz Club (NYC), and had a fantastic time. It’s a wonderful CD. I’m so proud of it. I think it is one of our better CDs. I think we just feel it’s nice to feel things just get better and better. I love it because its got a little bit of everything. It has some Judy Garland and some Broadway and then it has two beautiful original songs. The first song “Once upon a Dream Come True” and the other one is the title track, “It’s About Time,” written for marriage equality. It was written for two friends of ours who were getting married right when New York passed marriage equality.

Karen Mason "It's About Time"These two friends of ours decided to get married and asked me to come and sing at the wedding. My husband and I got together with the two grooms, Peter and Perry. I wanted to make sure we were really doing music they loved for their wedding. As we were walking away I said to Paul, my husband, you have to write them a song!

This is a perfect opportunity because they are two amazing men, and what a great opportunity to write a song, the beginning of marriage equality in NY state. So he wrote this song for them. He presented it to them and sang it to them. I sang it to them at their wedding. It has brought us a lot of joy to perform it. I love singing this song. It makes it point about love and marriage equality in a real and beautiful way. I’m so proud of my husband for writing it. He wrote it with Shelly Markham who is Andrea Marcovicci’s musical director for many years. It’s just a beautiful tribute to marriage equality.

ED: It sounds like the boys and your husband should become a barbershop quartet! It seems all their names begin with the letter P!
KM: Ah (laughter) now that’s funny. I never noticed that. Well I think Peter and Perry are doing other things, but I will mention it to them. I don’t think they want to be in show business though. (Laughter)

ED: Is the whole album built around marriage equality?
KM: I don’t think the entire CD is about marriage equality. It’s just we wanted that song to be the title track. This is my first CD since 2009. I have 6 others. We were both feeling that it was about time to for another CD and I think that was our motivation for it.. I just love the title track so much, I had to include it. I mean the CD has songs all the way from “Impossible Dream”, “Somewhere”, “The Man That Got Away”, “Just In Time”, “Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart”, there is an awful lot of Judy Garland on the album. I did a concert honoring her and her music with a lot of her orchestration. So to sing some of those songs that I grew up listening to and to hearing was so wonderful. It was such a thrill to do that. I had such a great time singing those songs. So we included those songs on the CD as well. It’s kind of a potpourri as to where I am in my life right now. I am just enjoying the songs that mean something to me. I think that was what the CD is mostly about.

ED: How hard is it to narrow the number of songs to fit on a CD?
KM: Honestly, my husband and I go through the material and decide what we like and you just need to have a balance of dramatic songs. It’s just like putting together a show actually. You can’t hit too many of the same points too many times We have a certain number of ballads and up tempos, swing tunes and dramatic numbers and the two new originals.

We end it with two bonus tracks that really mean something to me. The first one is the song “Fifty Percent” which is from the Broadway show “Ballroom” but I sing it with the composer Billy Goldenberg at the piano. It meant a great deal to have that as a bonus track. Then the other bonus track is “Our Love Is Here To Stay” with the gentleman who was my music director for the first 16 years of my life. His name was Brian Lasser, he passed away in 1992. My husband who is the producers for all my CDs found a track with Brian playing with someone else on a demo CD and was able to lift his portion off the track which allowed me to sing with Brian once again, so many years after his death. That is the closing song of the album.

ED: What is your favorite song from the album to perform live, right now?
KM: You know, I just really like all of them. I guess that just sounds so cliché. We open with “Our Love Is Here To Stay” and those lyrics could not be more contemporary if they tried. We did some other cuts from some of my other CDs. I love singing “Finding Wonderland” which was from a show that I did on Broadway called “Wonderland” written by Jack Murphy and Frank Wildhorn. You know I like singing all of them.

ED: “Mamma Mia!” Farewell Tour was just here in Seattle. Didn’t you play Tanya on Broadway?
KM: (Laughter) Yes that was a lot of fun. It was kind of an amazing thing being part of the first Broadway Company which was right after 9/11. We opened a month and a half after 9/11. It was quite a time to be in NY. Doing something crazy and seemingly kind of fluffy but I think this was kind of a perfect diversion from what was going on outside the walls of the theater.

Karen Mason as Tanya in "Mamma Mia!". Photo courtesy of KarenMason.com

Karen Mason as Tanya in “Mamma Mia!”. Photo courtesy of KarenMason.com

ED: What is your favorite part of the show?
KM: My song, of course! (Laughter) I love doing the mega-mix at the end, that was always fun, because people were really into it, people were up and screaming and especially after 9/11 the energy in that theater was overwhelming. So that was very exciting. I loved being part of the opening company because of the timing. It was good for us to have a little distraction and it was good for the people in the audience to have a distraction. It was really special being a part of that company, although they should have done an original Broadway cast recording! (Laughter)

ED: You tell them! (Laughter)
KM: We did actually, because we wanted a Broadway recording. We were the original Broadway Company but they said they didn’t need to because they had their London cast recording, but they were selling it as the Broadway version.

ED: You have played so many iconic roles. Is there one role you are just yearning to play?
KM: On Broadway? Broadway is a different animal. I love the idea of creating roles. I was just thinking before you called I’m involved with a few new shows that people are working on and some of them are very interesting. People are putting themselves out there politically these days and trying new things. I think the good thing, if there is a good thing about where we are politically right now, is that it is galvanizing artists in a way that was not happening for a while. It’s exciting to see all of my artist friends willing to put themselves on the line to say what they believe in. And that’s very exciting. Roles that I would like to do at some point, the role of Mrs. Lovett.  I would love to do “Mame” as well.  Those are two that I would really like to do. I would love to do “Dolly” but as I said, Broadway is a different animal. I would love to create roles that haven’t been written yet, ones written for me, that’s the exciting part of show business.

Karen Mason “It’s About Time” is available on iTunes, Amazon and by visiting www.KarenMason.com.

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Earle Dutton

Earle Dutton

Earle Dutton is the Chief Blogger and Editor of Equality365.com. He founded Equality365.com in 2013 to provide information about LGBTQ friendly events of interest, and to support LGBTQ entertainers and supportive artists who visit our community. Earle is a successful businessman in the Pacific Northwest with a long history of support for and involvement in, the Northwest LGBTQ community. His personal interests include: music, theater, pets, culinary arts and technology.

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