The Voice



(photo courtesy TCGMC)

On August 23, 2013, Linda held a Master Class with the members of the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, who would also be joining Linda on stage at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota on the following evening. As Linda listened to the chorus warm up from another room, she was so impressed with what she heard and couldn’t wait to get out there and work with them as a group and as individuals. Likewise, the members of this incredibly talented chorus could hardly contain their excitement at the prospect of having this once-in-a-lifetime experience of learning from the best and performing with the best… the incomparable LINDA EDER!

Ryan Mayer, Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus Board Member and
Upper Tenor 2, writes…

Linda with Jason Schuck and Ryan Mayer (right)
(photo courtesy of TCGMC)

My name is Ryan Mayer, and I am a board member and singing member of the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus (TCGMC), in Minneapolis, Minnesota. To say that I am a Linda Eder fan is an understatement. I fell in love with Ms. Eder’s vocal prowess back in the late 90’s, after catching the last 15 seconds of “It’s Time” in a Camelot Music store and promptly buying every one of her albums they had in stock. I have followed her ever since. I have seen Ms. Eder perform in venues all over the Midwest, and ALMOST at Carnegie Hall in New York. I had the concert tickets in hand, plane tickets paid for, and hotel room within walking distance of the Hall waiting for my arrival. Mother Nature, however, had other plans, and a blizzard grounded me in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with no chance of catching a later flight to make the concert. Talk about heartbroken! But I digress… This most recent concert at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on August 24th marks my 16th time seeing Ms. Eder live, but the first time FROM STAGE! Words cannot express how thrilled I was to be a part of it all! 

As one might expect, I follow Ms. Eder on every website and form of social media known to man. One day, I read an article about Ms. Eder facilitating a recent Master Class for a performing arts organization on the East coast and immediately reached out to her representation to see how we could possibly get Ms. Eder to come to Minneapolis and work with TCGMC. Within 20 minutes, I received an email back from her PR woman, Maureen, which outlined some of the details. I immediately replied back expressing my enthusiasm, and Maureen told me she would reach out to Linda to discuss. Within two days, I received a phone call from Maureen explaining not only would Linda do the Master Class, but after checking out the Chorus’s website (tcgmc.org) and YouTube channel (TheTCGMC), Linda was so impressed with our group that she was curious if we’d be willing to perform with her when she came to town in August. I enthusiastically (read: giddy with girlish glee) accepted on behalf of the Chorus, figuring that if anyone said “no” when I told them about this amazing opportunity, I was going to quit on the spot! Well, long story short, everyone was as thrilled as I was, and the rest, as they say, is history! 

Having only briefly met Ms. Eder a couple times at a stage door to get a picture taken or a ticket stub autographed, I was very excited that she would be coming to work with our group and impart her musical wisdom to us, let alone share the stage the following night. Since other members of TCGMC will be writing about their experiences with Ms. Eder’s coaching during the Master Class, I won’t go into detail. But, I will say this: she delivered like no other! Ms. Eder truly is nothing like you’d think a celebrity would be and everything you hoped for! She was so down to earth and beyond generous with her advice and coaching. Every soloist who performed during the class left having learned something and feeling positive about himself. Ms. Eder’s advice was spot on, tailored to each performer, and always positive. Ms. Eder truly has a gift for building you up to inspire results. All the rest of us who observed (logistically we just couldn’t have 100+ performers work one-on-one in a single evening) also were able to learn something. I know I did, and I won’t forget it!

As if the Master Class wasn’t exciting enough, the following evening we observed Ms. Eder, Billy Stein, and the rest of the band during sound check (another rare treat) and then had a rehearsal for the evening’s show. After a 2-hour dinner break, it was show time! Ms. Eder was gracious enough to have 12 (yes TWELVE) of the 21 songs she performed that evening arranged for our TTBB choir, so we could share the stage for the entire show and accompany her on classics like “Vienna” to newest hits like “The Mad Hatter.” Being on stage and watching Ms. Eder do what she does best (from the other side) was a dream come true, but she took it one step further. She asked us to perform a solo piece for her audience (“Defying Gravity” from WICKED)! I am once again without proper words to express our gratitude for the entire experience. It was amazing!

Thank you to Linda, Billy & Jerry & David, Maureen, Kim, Ellen, Jeffrey, Dave & Lucia for working with us to put this all together! We are truly grateful for the entire two-night experience, and should Team Eder ever find itself back in Minneapolis and in need of some backup, you can count on us!

 

Lon Lamprecht, Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus Bass, writes…

Linda works with Lon Lamprecht
(photo courtesy of TCGMC)

When I was asked if I might consider being an active participant for the Master Class offered by Linda Eder to TCGMC, I was intrigued and, of course, very excited to have the opportunity - not every day that you have a chance to learn from a real talent. Having had previous Master Class experiences, what I learned FAR EXCEEDED my expectation and hope for what could be possible from a few minutes. I've received coaching and/or training by several very competent instructors who have all tried to help me get my best tonal placement, but Linda is the first to actually “connect the dots” for me. With two suggestions, she has helped me get a sound that I've been working toward for a long time! I'm working with this new “space” regularly and though I haven't yet gone on “auto-pilot,” I'm very pleased that I can find my new sweet spot every time. The right teacher at the right time makes ALL the difference!

 

Chris Mellin, Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus Upper Tenor 2 and total Linda Eder Fan writes…

Linda works with Chris Mellin (left) and Nathan Croner
(photo courtesy of TCGMC)

Hello to Linda Eder and all you Linda Eder Fans! I was asked to share my recent experience with you. I ramble. Here goes.

My name is Chris Mellin. I was a music major in college (JMU ‘84!), sang and danced for five summers at theme parks throughout college (1981-1985), and have sung as a paid church choir section leader for many congregations since then. I sang with the Cincinnati Men’s Chorus from 1990-1992, and after going back to school in my 30’s, finally joined Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus (TCGMC) in 1997 where I sing Upper Second Tenor. I have had more than my fair share of solo opportunities.
So, yeah... I LOVE to sing!

I first heard of Linda Eder in 1997 as well, when my twin sister’s bestie (and sorority sister) asked that I sing in her wedding. I was informed the song, “Someone Like You,” was from a new Broadway musical – JEKYLL & HYDE - and that I should listen to the recording to familiarize myself with the piece. I bought the CD and my jaw dropped to the floor listening to Linda Eder sing. I was immediately hooked on her voice and talent! And Frank Wildhorn’s music. I have since acquired many of Linda’s albums and have been to five of her concerts here in Minneapolis. Huge fan!

Fast forward to this past spring, 2013. Through the magic machinations begun by Ryan Mayer - one of TCGMC’s own who is also a member of the Linda Eder Fan Club - TCGMC would be singing backup for Linda at her upcoming concert on Saturday, August 24. Not only that, but Linda would be doing a Master Class/rehearsal with us the night before the concert. I squealed with glee at the thought!

Fast forward to the week of the concert. It had originally been suggested we would sing backup on about 6 songs. Once all was said and done, we had twelve (12!) of her 20-or-so songs to learn. We were gonna’ be up there the whole time. Again with the giddiness!

Five of our members - Bobby Schlidt, Matthew Reeves, Lon Lamprecht, Nathan Croner and I - were each asked to prepare a piece to sing for Ms. Eder at the Master Class. First of all... YAY!

So then one’s question becomes, “Omigawd! What to sing for her?”

Nathan and I had been looking for the right opportunity to sing a duet we’ve had in our back pockets for a while. He knew it from a musical review AND THE WORLD GOES ‘ROUND – THE MUSIC OF KANDER AND EBB. Since both of us had been chosen to sing, we thought this was the perfect opportunity! The duet: a quodlibet of“I Don’t Remember You” and “Sometimes A Day Goes By (When I Don’t Think of Her).”

TCGMC rehearsed the Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday prior to the concert. Six is one thing, but 12 songs now? The pressure was on the group to be prepared. Not to worry: TCGMC’s Artistic Director, Dr. Ben Riggs, was energized, prepared and concise in his directing. The week’s rehearsals were well attended, the guys focused and enthusiastic. It was great to see one another after the summer hiatus, but Dr. Riggs was also very down to business. The rehearsals moved along at a pretty fair clip. We had several of Linda’s recordings to listen to as reference.

In addition to learning TCGMC’s background vocals, I found myself singing “I Don’t Remember You” all week long - in the shower, in the alley on a break at work, walking to and from lunch downtown, driving in the car, everywhere I had to go myself. I needed it to be memorized, and I hate being unprepared! Prior to Thursday night’s rehearsal, Nathan and I ran through our duet with Tim De Prey, TCGMC’s amazing accompanist, and that went really well. I was stoked for the upcoming weekend!

And so the day had arrived: it was Friday and I would meet Linda Eder in person that evening! I think most of us in TCGMC thought that Friday night would be more of a rehearsal than a Master Class, and we weren’t quite sure what the evening would entail. Dr. Ben Riggs had as many butterflies as the rest of us, I think. I felt fairly secure in TCGMC’s preparedness for rehearsal with Linda. But... you just never know....

TCGMC rehearses at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church on the second floor in the Art Room, a large art gallery whose walls are covered in immense Renaissance Biblical paintings and one immense Asian wool carpet on the hardwood floor. As you enter, the room expands to your right. Grand piano at the right wall, facing center. A huge semicircle of chairs, enough to seat nearly 100 singers, fans out around the conductor’s podium, which is near the crook of the piano. A row of visitor and observer’s chairs lines the back of the rehearsal space.

Friday evening’s rehearsal began at 6:30. We were seated in our normal semi-circle. We had quite a few guests watching from the back of the room that night. Everyone was excited to meet Linda. You could feel the energy in the room.

Dr. Riggs took the floor, welcomed and introduced the guests in the back that evening. And then he introduced Linda Eder. Did I mention being giddy before?

TCGMC was to sing “Defying Gravity”(from our June concert) as our feature piece during Linda’s concert. So we began Friday evening singing that for her. And then the Master Class began. Linda mentioned she had done Master Classes with individuals before, but not normally with entire choirs.

And she nailed it with one of her first comments: “Singing is like a sporting event. You should be exhausted and used up when you’re done.” It’s physical. It’s emotional. I completely agree.

It was great to hear Ms. Eder go on to tell us some of the same things Dr. Riggs is always trying to get from us, and then some: A better sound. How to get a brighter sound up in your “mask”. The abdominal muscles being used when you breathe, when you sing. The carriage of your arms. How they can help you sing, especially singing solo. Your feet, your stance. Staying on top of the pitch. Word stress - singing with similar inflection to speech - to emphasize the important words, not plodding through it as if every note had equal value. Having an arc to the musical line.

I really respected everything she said, cuz... I’d heard much of it from my own voice teachers and choir directors in the past. Everything she said and tried to draw out of us was spot on.

Chris and Nathan sing for Linda
(photo courtesy of TCGMC)

Then it was time for the soloists. First up, Nathan and Chris (me). GULP!

It’s one thing to sing with over 100 of your peers for one person. It’s quite another for one person to sing for over 100 of one’s peers (and invited guests) sitting RIGHT UP IN YOUR FACE and oh-by-the-way, Linda Eder is going to critique you.

I’ll add the caveat that the lyrics to“I Don’t Remember You” are a little confusing. It’s sung by a young cad trying to woo back his girlfriend for the Nth time, trying to jokingly convince her that this time is different. But lacking that context, one could also think this beautiful song was being sung by some amnesia victim singing to his wife/love whom he does not recognize. One take is funny. The other is tragic. And Nathan had originally told me this song was funny! But... the music is beautiful. Anywho... I had found the song confusing until I knew the context of the plot line. 

So, I asked if I should set-up the song to let the audience know what was going on? Linda remarked, “If you sing it right, you don’t need to set up the song much. We’ll know.”

Fair enough.

I forgot just how very short the introduction to the duet was. Chord-chord, chord-chord SING! Not much time to “get into the right head space.” But we’d begun, and I think it went well. I sang, trying to impart that bit of humor to the confusing lyrics. Sans context for the audience. It felt like my song and verse were over in no time flat. Then Nathan’s turn came, and he sang beautifully. Then the quodlibet, where we both sing our melodies overlapping one another. It’s a great piece. And I thought we were good. Darn good. Like “this needs to be in our repertoire” good.

Feedback from Linda (and she nailed it): “You both have lovely voices and did a great job with the piece. What I just saw was a great... ‘performance.’ But it didn’t come from here,” as she tapped her heart. So right. We were both a little nervous, a little off our game. Specifically, she worked with me on brightening the sound I was making. And how to back off on the second syllable of the word “moment” and lighten up on it at one point, try using more of my sotto vocé (head voice, but not falsetto), to give it a different spin. And then after all the technical stuff... really just... sing From My Heart. I’ll let Nathan speak to his own experience, but we both came away feeling like we really got a LOT out of the opportunity.

My biggest compliment about everything she did for everyone that night: she told us each exactly what we needed - to improve. Her demeanor was the definition of Positive Criticism, only to make one better, not tear you down. She was so genuinely giving of her knowledge and experience.

Whether it was about how to better physically produce your sound. Or get in touch with Whatever Gets You There Emotionally to really connect with the song to really Put Yourself Into It. Because the audience may already know the song. Or not speak the language you are singing. But they can tell when it’s just a performance (albeit a good one), but not really from your heart as a performer. And that little bit of You is what They are hoping you will share with them. 

I feel like that is a gift she has given me since I first heard a recording of JEKYLL & HYDE. Here was this Voice that was not only singing like an angel, but blessing us with a little of Her as she shared that gift God gave her.

I hope the other solosits give their angle on their experience as well. Friday night became solely a Master Class, no rehearsal. Yet Linda took her time with each of us in turn and really made a difference in each of us, and I hope everyone got a lot out of watching the Master at work. Hearing the improvement in each singer made me want to take voice lessons again, or at least get some vocal coaching! I have a whole new set of reasons to love her.

Since we never really rehearsed Friday night, Saturday was it. Everyone was commanded to be ON TIME to the theater.

A comedy side story: Parking in the multi-tiered municipal lot at the edge of downtown Minneapolis, a block and a half from the Pantages Theatre. The structure straddles the highway both directions in and out of downtown. The median between inbound and outbound is a sporting event bus terminal something-or-other, which I had never experienced before. There I was being efficient, parking nearby. I think I know what I’m doing. I decide to be healthy (and faster) by taking the stairwell instead of the elevator down to street level. I walk out and I’m in this median thing surrounded by the highway. And the door closes and locks behind me. I had to run across two lanes of (thankfully empty) inbound highway and along the retaining wall a short distance to get back up on the intended city street. Doh!

The show was at 8p.m.; we were there at 4p.m. for sound check and rehearsal with the band. Dr. Riggs watched Linda’s musical director like a hawk in order to cue us properly. A few tweaks here and there, but it all went off without a hitch. And dear God in heaven - Linda, what a pro!

The Pantages is rather old and grand, but made for smaller productions. TCMGC filled (and then some) the choral risers and platforms they had for us on the stage. No room to hang out in the wings. The Green Room downstairs was reserved (kinda sorta mostly) for Linda and her troupe. It was a snug fit getting ALL of us onstage. Our sheer volume of singers could only be contained offstage in the loading dock to the theater. It would take far too long for us to process on and off the stage, so we were out there on stage the entire show. It was a lot of standing in a sardine can and worth every second of it.

If the audience is at high noon, I was standing at about Linda’s 4:30 position, just off the bass player’s right shoulder in the back cuz I’m tall. Gazing out towards the audience, I had a little bit of vertigo looking upwards at the steep sweep of the theater. Or maybe I was just plain excited. A little of column A and a little of column B.

There was enough time between the sound check and curtain to go grab dinner, which I did with two good friends from TCGMC. It was such a memorable night, so the food should be, too. We got back in plenty of time for call.

Linda and her band were inCREDible! Having seen her perform five times already, it was such a treat to be UP ON STAGE WITH HER (excuse me while I give a little “gay gasp” of excitement!). Linda explained to the audience that the show was “influential music from her past.” If you’re a Linda Eder fan, then the songs you’ve heard her sing, you might expect. Part of the fun was hearing the stories of the songs you’d never heard her sing like “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” from her senior high school musical (She didn’t get the part of Maria.), and she truly made them her own. She gave us that piece of herself talked about in the Master Class.

With such interpretation. Clear as a bell. Nailing the center of the pitch. It makes your heart jump up in your throat to hear such music. LIVE! IN PERSON! Mere feet away.

To be up there WITH her and her band… I don’t know if there are words that express the… honor… thrill… joy of such an experience? It is one I would wish for all of you.

Most thankful for two evenings I shall never forget.

 

Nathan Croner, Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus Tenor 1, writes…

Linda works with Nathan Croner (right) and Chris Mellin
(photo courtesy of TCGMC)

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of singing for Linda Eder’s Master Class with the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus. Obviously, I wanted to please her. I got up there and I tried really hard. Too hard. I was singing to impress, and to have people like me. It takes a lot of work to sing like that, but it lacks the big pay off. Linda called me out right away, spoke directly to my weakness, and moved me to a place of genuine emotional connection in only a matter of moments. Showing that much vulnerability is not as easy for me as is singing pretty. Under her direction, I stopped worrying about singing correctly and began to focus on the feelings I get from the music. Through tear filled eyes, I showed a truer version of myself – the piece of me I was originally too scared to let surface. Linda created a safe environment in which I could experiment. She was thoughtful and straightforward and reminded me the reason I sing is to share the emotional journey with others.  The more I pushed into real, raw emotion, the less scared I became of being vulnerable in front of the rest of the chorus members. I almost forgot anyone was watching at all. I wanted that feeling to continue. It was astounding to glimpse into Linda’s world of experience. She had an amazing ability to explain the craft of singing, and I am inspired to search more purposefully for a more emotionally exposed quality in my music.

Soloists who worked with Linda from left to right: Matthew Reaves, Chris Mellin, Linda, Nathan Croner, Lon Lamprecht, Bobby Schlidt (photo courtesy of TCGMC)

Linda kicks off the Master Class
(photo courtesy of TCGMC)
 
Bobby Schlidt sings for Linda
(photo courtesy of TCGMC)
     
Linda works with Bobby Schlidt
(photo courtesy of TCGMC)
 
Linda works with Matthew Reaves
(photo courtesy of TCGMC)
     
Linda works with Lon Lamprecht
(photo courtesy of TCGMC)
 
Linda works with Matthew Reaves
(photo courtesy of TCGMC)
     
"Like this!"
(photo courtesy of TCGMC)
 
Linda working with Dr. Ben Riggs and the full choir
(photo courtesy of TCGMC)
     
Linda conducting the TCGMC
(photo courtesy of TCGMC)





It’s always a special occasion for Linda when she is able to “go back home” to her roots in Minnesota. When Linda has a show in Minneapolis, it is also a special occasion for her family, friends and fans, many of whom can recall attending shows when Linda was first starting out after graduating from high school. This most recent trip in August, 2013 was extra special because Linda was able to combine “work” with her Dad’s 80th birthday celebration and also because her whole family was able to attend the show.


Ann Johnson from Linda’s hometown of Garrison, Minnesota writes…

My family has been following Linda since her early years in Garrison, Minnesota. We enjoyed her so much and always knew her powerful, outstanding and lovely voice, lively personality, and contagious attitude would propel her to STARDOM.  

After 30 plus years of following Linda, my two daughters, granddaughter, Noelle, who is 11 years old, and my friends are all Linda fans! Her show on Saturday, August 24, 2013, LINDA EDER with special guests TWIN CITIES GAY MEN'S CHORUS, at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota was a  collection of hit tunes from past to present. Her performance was authentic and down to earth with her positive energy coming out in her music. Once again, she looked beautiful in a blue flowing top and pants, sparkling shoes, necklace, earrings, and belt.  

She sang some personal favorites: “Through the Eyes of Love,” “Something to Believe In,” “Someone Like You,” “Fernando,” “Don't Cry for me Argentina,” “Now,” “ I Dreamed a Dream,” “The Mad Hatter,” “More Than Heaven,” and “Son of a Preacher Man.”

I am not alone in my love of her voice and connection with the audience. Linda received four plus standing ovations throughout her performance! Together with her band and the Gay Men’s Chorus, the event was spectacular and memorable! The best show yet!

The following summary of her show I received from my friend who was seeing Linda for the first time. She sent this to me at 11:55 P.M. after the show. She said, “Words came tumbling out of my head into my fingers and onto the computer.” As you will read, she loved LINDA!

“Linda Eder is a delight to behold; she puts on a most entertaining concert. She is quite eclectic in the array of musical song types and categories from which she selects the songs to sing for us. She can sing Country, Jazz, Soul, Opera, Pop, and Broadway Show Tunes. Yet, no matter what her song choice of the moment is, she delivers it with finesse and verve.

She is so at ease on the stage.  Her interactions with her musical colleagues, as well as with her audience, are charming and from the heart. Nothing with Linda seems phony or only-for-show. Each person in her audience feels that she is speaking to and performing directly for him or her. She totally connects with each and every person who is there, as she shares who she is. She often uses stories from her own personal life to add meaning to each chosen song. She is not only a talented and gracious entertainer, but she makes her audience members see her as a very real personality; in fact, it is easy to feel like you actually know her and that she is your friend.

The range of her voice is most amazing; it is also powerful without being inappropriately loud and/or screechy. Her stage presence, her personality and her powerful voice radiate through to the heart of each person in her audience. She is the essence of warmth and talent.

Someone once said about her, ‘She is such a teacher and such an amazing spirit.’ I think that this truly summarizes what was felt by many who sit in awe of her at her concert(s). She also has a darling sense of humor, which is especially present when she performs some of the more ‘fun, campy songs.’”




Sound Check with the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus




Linda on stage with the TCGMC at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota



All performers on stage! (photo courtesy TCGMC)




Write to us at thevoice@lindaeder.com and let us know what you'd like to read about in THE VOICE!

 

(c)2013 Linda Eder