Honorees at the 32nd Annual Bistro Awards Gala
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love, whom Rolling Stone has called “one of the greatest singers of all time,” and stage actress, cabaret, and concert singer Carol Woods are among the artists who will be honored at the 32nd Annual Bistro Awards Gala on Monday, March 13 at 6:30 pm at Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd St. As is the Bistro Award tradition, the evening will feature performances by the winners.
Ms. Love is receiving the Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award. Still performing widely, and recording well into her sixth decade as an entertainer, Darlene Love is being honored for her career that began in the early 1960s girl-group “wall-of-sound” era, first as a backup singer, then as a solo artist, on such hits as “He’s a Rebel” and “Wait ‘Til My Bobby Gets Home.” In the years since, Love has lent her unique and powerful voice not only to live performances, but also to movies, television, and Broadway, where she starred as herself in Women Who Rock. A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Love sang the acceptance speech on behalf of her fellow former backup singers in the documentary “Twenty Feet From Stardom” when that documentary won the Oscar. (The film’s soundtrack recording also won a Grammy.)
Carol Woods, a veteran of stage, film, TV, concert, and club appearances, is being honored with an award for Enduring Artistry. She has appeared on Broadway in a varied array of shows, including her most recent stint as Mama Morton in Chicago, The Full Monty, One Mo’ Time, Follies, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, and Blues in the Night. Her appearances at major New York club and concert venues have highlighted her imposing vocals, theatrical flair, and thoughtful interpretation of familiar material.
A New York cabaret artist who has made Chicago her home since 1994, Spider Saloff is being recognized for Ongoing Jazz Artistry for her masterful technique and her ability to illuminate the meaning of songs. TV actor and musical improv artist Jason Kravits takes the Musical Comedy award for his show, “Off the Top,” with each evening improvised based on input from audience members, showing off his versatility, quick wit, and musical talent. The multi-award-winning Natalie Douglas scores again with her latest album, Human Heart, a cornucopia of musical styles delivered with superb vocals, impeccable phrasing, and exceptional emotional power.
This year’s Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award — given to an outstanding performer on the rise and named after Back Stage’s co-founder, co-publisher, and first nightclub critic — goes to Matt DiPasquale, who in his debut cabaret show, “Neither Here Nor There,” displayed stunning creativity in both song selections and anecdotes, bouncing from rendered ballads to madcap comic material.
Two vocalists that have been longtime staples on the cabaret scene are getting the Bistro nod for Outstanding Vocalist: Singer/songwriter Meg Flather, whose most recent show, “Carly & Me,” a tribute to songwriter Carly Simon mixed in with some of Flather’s own material, proved one more time her undeniable vocal talent and extraordinary presence. And David Vernon most recently dazzled with strikingly original renditions of Broadway songs.
Songwriters and other musical artists, both male and female, were the focus of a number of shows that caught the Bistro Committee’s attention:
Lucille Carr-Kaffashan’s show “Unwritten — Celebrating 21st Century Female Singer-Songwriters” offered an expansion of our knowledge of the American Popular Songbook; Lauren Stanford’s solo show “More Than You Know” delivered an intimate portrait of Helen Morgan, with a persuasive approximation of Morgan’s singing voice and a touching portrayal of the woman underneath; Sally Darling’s tribute to Noël Coward in “Totally Noël…With a Little Bit of Sally” did full justice to both the serious and the comic sides of Coward; Courter Simmons, in his drag alter ego, Cacophony Daniels, demonstrated how to reinvent a song in drag and an uncanny ability to incorporate his own life with the life of songwriter Howard Ashman; and David Maiocco and Chuck Sweeney share the Bistro Award for “Lee Squared,” a laughter-filled mock joint tribute to Liberace and Peggy Lee.
The songwriting team of Anya Turner and Robert Grusecki are being recognized for a successful career of composing and performing an impressive catalogue of freshly original material—enough to fill three songbooks, five albums, and two Off Broadway shows. “Midnight at the Never Get,” honored for Book Musical, was conceived by Sam Bolen and Mark Sonnenblick, written by Sonnenblick, and directed by Max Friedman; it is an intelligent, funny, but emotional 90-minute piece that chronicles the relationship of two men against a backdrop of the rise of the Gay Liberation Movement. And Jeff Cubeta is being acknowledged for his contributions as musical director for a variety of singers over several years; his piano accompaniment is lush and robust while at the same time exquisitely precise, and his arrangements beautifully support the singers’ vision.
For the fifth year in a row, Shellen Lubin is directing the Bistro Awards evening. Also a songwriter, performer, and vocal- and acting coach, she has been in the forefront of attaining parity for women in the arts.
The gala event will be held on Monday, March 13 at 6:30 pm at Gotham Comedy Club. 208 W. 23rd Street. Sherry Eaker, the former longtime Editor-in Chief of Back Stage and the producer of the event since its inception, heads up the Awards Committee that includes BistroAwards.com critics Gerry Geddes, Roy Sander, Robert Windeler, andMark Dundas Wood. Sander is also the award show’s associate producer.
Fr Jeffrey Hamblin is the Bistro Awards’ Signature sponsor. Premium Tickets are $125.00; General Admission tickets are $75.00. Ticket-buyers in both categories are invited to the “After-Bistros” party as guests of the Bistros. For details about the various ticket categories and early purchase prices, visit www.BistroAwards.com. For additional information, call 917-239-5467.Midnight at the Never Get
Following is a complete list of the winners being recognized for their outstanding work:
- Darlene Love / Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award
- Carol Woods / Enduring Artistry
- Jason Kravits / Musical Comedy
- Spider Saloff / Ongoing Jazz Artistry
- Natalie Douglas / Recording: Human Heart
- Matt DiPasquale / Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award
- Meg Flather / Vocalist
- David Vernon / Vocalist
- Lucille Carr-Kaffashan / Theme Show: Unwritten: Celebrating 21st Century Female Singer-Songwriters
- Lauren Stanford / Musical Portrayal: Helen Morgan in More Than You Know
- Sally Darling / Tribute Show: Totally Noël
- Courter Simmons / Characterization: Cacophony Daniels
- David Maiocco and Chuck Sweeney / Musical Comedy Duo: Lee Squared
- Anya Turner and Robert Grusecki / Songwriters
- Sam Bolen, Mark Sonnenblick, and Max Friedman / Book Musical: Midnight at the Never Get
- Jeff Cubeta / Musical Director