When you have done it all in the world of entertainment and done it well enough to remain in-demand for 40 years, one might tend to stop counting their blessings; thinking that all their dreams have already been realized and the rest is just like asking for a second helping when you are already satisfied. Not so for Tony Award winner, recording artist and television & film star, Betty Buckley, who is still realizing lifelong dreams — even after enjoying a long and celebrated career in entertainment. Her latest album release, Ghostlight, is one of the dreams that has been a longtime coming.
Reuniting with longtime friend and producer, T-Bone Burnett, Ghostlight finds Buckley singing songs that are of her soul and captures that hallowed feeling that whittles down into the bone. “I think this one probably reflects my soul more purely than any of my other recordings,” Buckley says of Ghostlight. The original star of Cats on Broadway, Betty Buckley doesn’t limit her love of storytelling to the roles she plays on the stage, in film or on television. Buckley admits that she loves ‘visual lyrics’ that tell stories while performing those songs. Ghostlight is a menu of songs from the Broadway Songbook, standards from the 60s, and some new contemporary music that capture the art of storytelling. Burnett has done a fine job of capturing Buckley’s deeply emoted performance in a recording that might be most experienced in a live performance setting.
With an upcoming performance at Feinstein’s in the Nikko on November 13-16, Betty Buckley will undoubtedly create more of those memories we recall from her award winning performance in Cats. More importantly, Ghostlight will give us some new memories when she takes us on her latest musical journey.
A couple of years ago when we last spoke, you were touring with your stage show “Ah Men! The Boys of Broadway” (album of the same name) and now you are touring with “The Lyricist” which includes songs from your recently released album Ghostlight (September 16). The album reunites you with one of your longtime collaborators, the legendary T-Bone Burnett. How was it for you working with T-Bone again on this project; one you have said is a dream come true? Oh, yes! I love T-Bone so much and (he was) such a gift in producing this record; a real joy and wonderful.
Other than your partnership with T-Bone on Ghostlight, why is this a dream project? It has a lot to do with T-Bone and I knowing each other all of our lives and having a rich and common history together. He really knows who I am as a person and he wanted to get that on recording. The songs come from the Broadway Song Book, great standards from the 1960s when we grew up, and some contemporary songwriters we both love as well. I’ve done 16 CDs and I’ve loved them all, but I think this one probably reflects my soul more purely than any of my other recordings.
What I like about the album is that it goes to the bone (no T-Bone pun intended). It’s not haunting, but rather, a hallowed feeling that I get from each song. A lot of what I get from Ghostlight when listening to the album is much easier to get when watching a performance on stage. It’s a feeling very difficult to transmit through recording. Wonderful, BeBe! Thank you.
Even though many of the songs on Ghostlight go back a ways, there is a certain freshness to the sound of the recordings. They don’t sound dated. I agree with you. It’s due to the phenomenal musicians T-Bone surrounded me with. They were inspiring recording sessions. Honestly, I’ve never felt so profoundly and deeply respected and loved than when making that recording
You sound phenomenal! Even after years of doing what you do, you still have that freshness and crispness in your voice. You’ve been able to maintain your instrument. As you talked about how the musicians played a big part in making Ghostlight sound so fresh, I began to think of your upcoming 4-show run at Feinstein’s here in San Francisco beginning November 13 and how that intimate room doesn’t allow for a large number of musicians on stage. Any concern that performing these songs with a downsized backing band wont produce the same feeling as on the album? We just finished seven sold-out shows at Joe’s Pub in New York with a 5-piece band which included some fantastic musicians. At Feinstein’s at the Nikko, we will only have a trio: pianist, Christian Jacob, and two San Francisco musicians- Alan Hall on drums and Daniel Fabricant on bass. We will be performing several songs from Ghostlight to celebrate the record. T-Bone said when we made the record that he wanted it to be a story about a girl in this little band that told stories about a true life in the city and relationships. It has that affect. So whether we do them with a large group or small group of musicians, it’s really about the stories themselves.
The last solo show you toured with was built around songs from the vixen characters of Broadway (“The Vixens of Broadway”) which obviously has a different vibe than the music of Ghostlight. In contrast, how is it for you to perform these Ghostlight songs, that you say are of your soul, compared to others? Well, I really love performing those types of songs. I have a slogan on the wall in my bedroom that says, “Music is love in search of words,” so I based my show on that by calling it “The Lyricist.” I love beautiful songs that have very visual lyrics that tell stories of love and relationships.
You are a multi-talented person that seems to find time to do it all- stage, film, television and recordings. Do you ever have the thought of slowing down? Oh, God, I hope not! I like getting rest between (projects) but I love my work deeply. It’s an honor to sing and create music for people and tell stories whether it be by film, television or the theater.
Tony Award winner Betty Buckley will be performing her solo show,“The Lyricist,” with songs from her new album Ghostlight at Feinstein’s in the Nikko from November 13 through November 16. www.ticketweb.com