Abbagirl and Music

Music pretty much is my life. I have to have music every day; listening to it, singing it, attending a concert, etc. My musical tastes have always been fairly varied; I like a lot of different genres from alternative to classic rock to disco to opera! (Usually everything except heavy metal and country, with a few exceptions.) Personally I have a fondness for music from the 80’s; I also like a lot of 60’s and 70’s music, and of course 90’s stuff. I have a huge CD collection, as I only buy things on CD, but I do also still have some old records (I have a record player) and a big stack of tapes.

You can check out my CD collection (which I finally typed up)!

And here’s a list of some of my musical favorites in no particular order:

David Bowie (who I saw in concert – July ’97, in France!)

[Bowie Music] [Bowie Films] [Bowie Links]

Anne Rice, one of my favorite writers, considers David “the ideal androgynous man,” embodying “gender renunciation, romance, and freedom,” according to Katherine Ramsland’s Prism of the Night biography, and I second that statement! At 54 years old, the man is a rock legend and still has a sharp wit and a creative drive that spurs him to move in new musical directions and evolve as an artist. (Not to mention the fact that he’s aged much better than the likes of Keith Richards or even Mick Jagger! He also continues to forge ahead on the cutting edge of music, while groups like the Stones, who I do also enjoy, are still cranking out their greatest hits on tour and predictable albums.) He also paints; check out for some examples of his work. By the way, his ex-wife Angela has an excellent site of her own!

U2 (who I saw on the Pop Mart tour on Halloween ’97 and on the Elevation tour on May 30th, ’01!!) The BeatlesDar Williams (who I saw open for Joan Baez in Feb. ’96, then by herself Oct. ’97, Sept. ’00 and May ’01! I’ve also met her and gotten her autograph! Alas, I missed her on tour with the awesome trio Cry Cry Cry.) Peter GabrielIndigo Girls (who I saw in concert – Nov. 14th, ’97, at Lilith ’98, and Dec. 10, ’99!) Fiona Apple (who I saw in concert – Nov. 21st, ’97!) Madonna (who I’m gonna finally see on August 26th at the Palace of Auburn Hills!!!) Alanis Morissette (who I saw March 10th, ’99 and with Tori in September!) Tori Amos (who I saw with Alanis on September 12th, ’99!!) Melissa Etheridge (who I finally saw at Equality Rocks in April 2000!!) k.d. lang (who I also saw at Equality Rocks, and then on tour in August ’00; for the latter I was so close I got to shake her hand!) Billy JoelShawn Colvin (who I saw in concert – April ’98) Jill Sobule (who I saw in concert – March ’98; I even met her and got her autograph!) Sheryl Crow (who I saw at Lilith in Aug. 99!) Yanni (who I saw in concert – June ’95) PrinceSarah McLachlan (who I saw at Lilith Fair in July ’98 & Aug. ’99!) Placebo (who I saw in April ’01) Savage GardenDuran Duran The three “J”s: Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins (who I’ve met!), and Joan Baez (who I’ve seen twice, in ’96 and ’98) Tom PettyIdina Menzel (who I saw onstage in “Rent” on B’way in ’96!) The Murmurs (who I saw in Aug. 2000) The Cardigans (who I saw in Feb. 99) INXSThe Beach BoysDave Matthews Band (who I saw in Aug. ’95) Chantal KreviazukVonda ShepardSimon & GarfunkelBeckB-52’sThe Rolling Stones10,000 Maniacs/Natalie Merchant (I saw Natalie at Lilith ’98) Aerosmith

And of course………ABBA!!!

(Click here or on the pic below for my mega-under-construction ABBA page.)

Lisa Loeb!

An album that I really dig is Lisa Loeb’s debut album, ‘Tails’ – this girl’s voice sucks you in and won’t let you go. Some of my favorite tracks are “Garden of Delights,” “Alone,” “Do You Sleep?”, “Stay” and “It’s Over” (okay, I like the whole thing! Well, except for “Waiting for Wednesday,” which I usually skip over.) I also love her latest, ‘Firecracker’. Some of my faves on this one are “I Do,” “Falling In Love,” “Truthfully,” “How,” “Furious Rose,” and “Dance With The Angels.” Not to mention the rare “Purple Tape,” an all-acoustic tape of early Lisa that has a few songs not on any other albums, which used to be available at the Lisa Loeb Merchandise page. I finally got to see Lisa live, on April 28th, ’98 when she came to Royal Oak! She gave a brilliant show (with Tara MacLean opening); she and the band truly rocked the house. My little review of the show is at the Lisa Loeb Tour Archive. (Ack, that site seems to have moved…anyone know where?)

Other singers/groups I like: BETTY (who I saw at the Millennium March rally in D.C.!), Bitch and Animal (who I saw in Feb. ’01 at NYC’s Meow Mix!), Sophie B. Hawkins, Liz Phair (who I saw at Lilith ’99), Paula Cole, Joan Osborne, Melissa Ferrick (who I saw in March ’00), Bjorn Again (an awesome ABBA tribute band, I saw them in ’99), Suzanne Vega (who I’ve met!), Talking Heads, Barenaked Ladies (met the drummer, Tyler Stewart, at Horde ’98), The Bangles, Garbage (who I saw open for Alanis in March ’99), Annie Lennox/The Eurythmics, Kristin Hersh (who I saw in May ’98), They Might Be Giants (who I saw in October ’98), Richard Shindell (who I saw open for Dar Williams in ’97 and for Joan Baez in ’98), Heather Nova, John Mellencamp, and more.

Concert Stuff:

Pollstar – Go search their concert listings… Ticketmaster – …then go get your tickets! ๐Ÿ™‚

Lilith Fair – “a celebration of women in music,” this brainchild of Sarah McLachlan has got to be the best festival yet. I missed the first one in ’97 because I was in France, but thankfully I was able to attend in ’98, on July 7th at Pine Knob. What a magnificent event! All of the acts were phenomenal (especially Bonnie Raitt, whatta woman!), and the booths in the village were pretty cool. I registered to vote (yes, I still hadn’t gotten around to doing that), signed a bunch of petitions, bought myself a Lilith shirt and a book, and a little “Uppity Women Unite” pin. Yay. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also made it back to Lilith ’99 (the last one, sigh) on August 14th for another kick-ass show. I especially enjoyed Sheryl Crow, Liz Phair & Queen Latifah (the Dixie Chicks, blech!), as well as of course Sarah. Got another Lilith shirt, a Sheryl shirt, and some more cool pins.

Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival – I missed it again last year…one of these days I shall attend! The Ark – a wonderful little venue in Ann Arbor that gets a lot of folk (and non-folk) artists I love like Dar Williams. Great place to see a show, as it’s very intimate.

A Cappella Groups (Local):

Amazin’ BlueThe Friars

Gilbert & Sullivan:

Gilbert and Sullivan Archive Home PageThe University of Michigan Gilbert & Sullivan Society – a terrific local troupe that recently celebrated its 50th anniversary! (I was in “The Pirates of Penzance” with them in ’97 as well “Princess Ida” that fall, and the spring ’99 “The Gondoliers”. They’re truly a fun and talented company and I look forward to doing future shows!)


Of the operas I have seen thus far, Bizet’s Carmen is a major favorite. A tempestuous, untamable gypsy girl, a three-act tale of seduction and betrayal, full of passionate love and fierce bloodshed, with an especially powerful tragic ending. Plus there’s the obvious; it’s en francais, my favorite language, and I can understand it perfectly. I adore the beautiful, vibrant music and the headstrong devil-may-care characters, Carmen in particular. Truly a remarkable heroine, she makes good-girl Micaela seem positively childish in comparison. Nothin’ like a bad grrl heartbreaker who understands that love is “un oiseau rebelle” and “enfant de boheme”! I especially love the 1984 Francesco Rosi film version with Placido Domingo and Maria Migenes-Johnson in the title role, c’est magnifique.

Soprano Kathleen Battle is one of my favorite opera performers. At the moment I have 2 of her CD’s – “Honey and Rue” (a song cycle by Andre Previn and Toni Morrison) and “So Many Stars,” which I have autographed by her! I’ve seen her perform twice; the first time was in 1996 during my senior year of high school. Our choir director, Mr. Daniels, had friends in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and managed to get 3 of our choirs to sit in on a rehearsal between Kathleen and the DSO for her upcoming concert that weekend. We got to see her rehearse/perform all of the songs from “Honey and Rue” as well as some opera; it was fascinating to see the famous diva in action, in a working rehearsal, especially since Kathleen is notoriously prone to tantrums and perfectionism (hey, what good diva isn’t?) – while we watched, she ordered the DSO and conductor Neeme Jarvi around and constantly critiqued the orchestra. Of course, a lot of people in our choirs disapproved of her as a result, but I knew that this was all simply display of the kind of perfectionistic attention to detail and drive that makes her such a brilliant artist. (By the way, apparently Kathleen has been banned from the Metropolitan Opera as a result of her temper!)

The second time I saw Kathleen sing was in concert at Hill Auditorium here in Ann Arbor in December 1996. It was an amazing concert, promoting her “So Many Stars,” as she performed with the jazz greats who are also on the album, such as Cyrus Chestnut, Grover Washington Jr., Christian McBride and James Carter. Not only did I buy the album on CD that night, but after the concert she signed autographs at a little table in the lobby for a huge line of people, and I got her to sign the cover of the CD; she wrote “Good Luck, Sarah! Kathleen Battle”.

I also enjoy the voice and talent of another opera star, Jessye Norman. While I don’t have any of her albums yet, I have seen her twice as well. The first time I saw her was in 1996 when she came to speak at the U of M School of Music; she participated in a long question-and-answer session for a packed audience of students and fans. I was very impressed by her friendly, helpful, encouraging attitude and professionalism, as well as her sense of humor, and her articulate, slightly accented and very refined speaking voice. The second time I saw her perform, also at Hill, at a benefit in April of ’97, during which she performed mostly opera and some great spirituals (she and Kathleen have an album together of spirituals, I believe), and there was also a retrospective presentation by U of M staff on her distinguished career and her involvement with U of M and Ann Arbor and the U of M Musical Society over the years.

Yet another fabulous soprano is the legendary diva Maria Callas, the woman known as La Divina. I saw Patti LuPone play Callas in Terrence McNally’s fabulous Tony Award-winning play, “Master Class,” on Broadway in the summer of 1996. (I kind of wanted to see Zoe Caldwell, who originated the role and won the Best Actress Tony, but I’m also a big Patti LuPone fan.) “Master Class” is a brilliant and touching drama; I own a copy of the play and even wrote an essay on it once. I also have a Callas CD, a “Master Class” tie-in with songs used in the play as well as some others, and actual recordings from the master classes Callas gave at Juilliard. My favorite is her singing an excerpt from ‘Macbeth’; this one comes in at a particularly climactic part of the play.