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Vivian Reed: Singing star, actress and Broadway icon (Includes interview)

The multi-faceted American entertainer previously performed Standards & More at The Metropolitan Room on April 2, May 23 and June 17. She will return to the venue once again on July 21 for what promises to be another night to remember.

Backed by a solid four-piece band led by Billy McDaniel, this superlative evening will include unique arrangements of classic standards by some of America’s finest songwriters in a uniquely enticing blend of pop, jazz, soul and R&B.

Hi Vivian, please tell me about your upcoming concert in New York City on July 21. What can we expect to see and hear?

“This particular show is mostly the classic standards, which includes songs by Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Charlie Smalls and several others. The show is quite eclectic and high energy, which is typical Vivian Reed.

“Plus I have two outstanding special guest artists: Andrea Jones-Sojola and Raun Ruffin and am accompanied by four wonderful musicians: Billy McDaniel, Gary Foote, Damon Duewhite and Erik Jacobson. You will laugh, cry, think and smile. There is something in my show for everyone.”

You previously performed Standards & More in New York City in April, May and June. How was it received? Will this one differ in any way?

“All three shows have been packed and I am so happy about that. The reviews have been amazing and audience enthusiasm has been at fever pitch, which is what I like.

“I want my audiences to really enjoy themselves. If a show has been reviewed as this one has, I don’t change it too much. If people come expecting me to sing the songs they’ve read about, I don’t like going in a different direction.”

You include classic standards by the likes of Duke Ellington, Rodgers & Hart and George Gershwin. Was it difficult to decide which songs to sing and which do you particularly enjoy doing live?

“I have been singing standards for a long time thanks to Honi Coles who used to manage me. Even though I do venture out and sing other genres of music, I do enjoy singing the classics. It is very difficult to pick a favourite song because I love everything I sing in any show I put together.

“Having said that, I particularly love doing ‘A Train’ and ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ because some members of the audience remember when I sang those songs in Bubbling Brown Sugar.”

What are your plans for the future as far as the show is concerned? Do you have any plans to take it to other parts of the States and maybe to other countries? Are there other standards you would like to add to the setlist?

“I would love to take it around the US and to other countries. I think audiences would love it because the songs are so recognisable. I do plan to add another song by Duke Ellington for the September 26 and November 10 shows – a duet with one of my special guests. I may also change a song here and there just to keep it fresh…”

As well as appearing on Broadway and performing live concerts, you’ve also been on TV and made albums. Which of these things do you enjoy most? Is there anything you’ve not yet done that you’d one day like to do, professionally speaking?

“I would really love to do films and more TV here in the US. I love character work and the crazier the character, the better I like it. Of course, I will always continue to do concerts – I love performing live. It would also be nice to return to Broadway but it depends on the show. It has to be right for me and vice versa.”

You’ve shared a bill with many well-known entertainers over the years – Patti Labelle, Sammy Davis Jr., Quincy Jones and Charles Aznavour, for example. Which of these experiences was the most memorable? Who else would you like to work with in the future?

“They were all great shows but I think the most memorable was Quincy Jones because I was only going to sing one song, but two of the stars pulled out at the last minute because of other conflicts and the musical director gave me their spots.

“I ended up singing three songs. One at the beginning, one in the middle and one at the end and all three were totally different. What a showcase for me! I loved it and was so grateful for the opportunity. I would love to do something with Harry Connick Jr., Tony Bennett and Brian Stokes Mitchell.”

What are your plans for the rest of 2016 and beyond? Any plans to return to Broadway?

“I had been out of the business for a while to look after my mom who passed away a few years ago. Now I am concentrating on getting my career back together. There are no plans to go back to Broadway but I am sure something will happen soon – from my lips to God’s ears!

“I will be the special guest artist on Jason King’s show at Joe’s Pub on August 1. On August 29, I will be in Broadway Under the Stars in New Jersey under the direction of Scott Thompson with musical director Fred Barton. I will also be performing for the Cabaret Convention on October 18 at Jazz At Lincoln Centre in the Rose Room.”

See Standards & More at New York’s Metropolitan Room on Thursday, July 21.

For more information on Vivian Reed, visit her official website.

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