Once Upon A Time
She wraps her voice all around her lyrics
By STACY BRIGGS
August 21, 2007
Some sing it.
Others play it.
Still others listen to it.
Katie Eagleson lives it.
Day in. Day out.
The Springfield Township, Montgomery County, resident has been involved in music throughout the Delaware Valley for more than 25 years.
Her varied performance experiences have led to an obviously diverse repertoire, but it's in her interpretation of the Great American Songbook where she believes she shines.
When she sings, it seems clear she has great respect and appreciation for the composer.
Performing songs by George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim and Alan and Marilyn Bergman, among others, she delivers the lyrics — whether funny, romantic or sad — with great sincerity.
“A song is likely to become a favorite of mine if the words express something I can sing with emotional honesty,” says the 55-year-old Eagleson. “When those words are combined with well-crafted music, I think the impact of each is intensified. And that to me is magic.”
Although she eventually would study music and voice at Temple University and at the Jacob Neupauer Conservatory of Music in Philadelphia, as well as privately, Eagleson's real training actually began in her family's station wagon.
“My earliest memory is riding in the car with my mom, singing along with the radio to a Patti Page song called "Let Me Go, Lover' — except I was singing "Ging Ging Go, Gover' — because I was 2,” she says. “My mother taught me and my sisters a lot of songs that we could sing in harmony.”
Her early influences naturally include the great singers of American popular song, such as Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and Nat King Cole. Starting in her teens, she listened to contemporary folk singers such as Joni Mitchell and James Taylor and later to the eclectic choices of Linda Ronstadt.
She's been married to Lenny Pierro for 18 years. They met when both performed with the Joe Luca Orchestra — “I was a singer, he was a sax player,” she says — and since then, they have performed in a number of venues, including hotels, restaurants and, yes, weddings.
But getting those gigs can prove frustrating at times.
“It's hard to get restaurant work — well, at least for me,” says Eagleson. “When I was first starting out many years ago, I would make maybe 100 calls to a hotel, and I just couldn't get anybody to call me back. Then, the one time I do manage to get through, it's only to find out that the person I'm calling, the one I'm supposed to contact, has been fired.”
These days, Eagleson is heavily into marketing.
As in marketing “Once Upon A Time,” her first CD, arranged and produced by her husband.
She released her debut work, recorded at Glenn Barratt's Grammy Award-winning MorningStar Studios in Spring House, in May.
“It's music in the Great American Songbook tradition,” says Eagleson. “It's not your standard standards. It's material gathered from over the years — a lot of it when Lenny (who also plays piano) and I worked as a duo in restaurants. These are songs that move me, I'm able to relate to the lyrics and I enjoy singing the melodies. You know, when you're in a wedding band, you do what you're told. Oh, we still do weddings, but not as much.”
It is not totally jazz, not totally cabaret, not totally the Great American Songbook — but it is influenced by all three, she says of the 16-track disc. Most of the material was written after 1960 but is in the tradition of the “golden era” of the American popular song.
The performances are personal interpretations of the lyrics and melodies with a tip of the hat to the composers.
“Making a record has been something I've wanted to do for about 30 years,” says Eagleson. “It's really a milestone in my life and my career. It's been challenging and fulfilling and exciting to record my interpretations of these songs with such great musicians. I appreciated every minute of the experience.”
And why did it take so long to put out a CD?
“Well, I think we were both busy,” says Eagleson. “We both work in other bands and it just seemed like the right time. And I think I had a little more to say now. When you're doing wedding bands, it requires a certain energy ... but the more intimate style requires putting your energy in a different direction.”
Eagleson also teaches vocals at three area studios: DeLuca Music in Hatboro, Sound Music Studio in Willow Grove and Springfield Music in Springfield, Delaware County.
She has a total of 35 students in all three studios ranging in age from 8 to 45.
“For the older ones, it's just something they love to do — to sing — and I think it takes some time to get the gumption to come for lessons,” she says.