MULTI-TALENTED MOLLIE KAYE, who happens to be Focus’ arts editor, is having her solo debut as a songstress, at Hermann’s in November. A former member of the Millies, a fine-tuned, taffeta-clad, a capella trio, which disbanded last spring, Kaye says she “wasn’t sure what sort of singing project I’d do next, but I knew it would involve similar repertoire—golden era jazz standards, Broadway, ’50s pop. And I’ve always had a flair for writing satirical lyrics to classic songs.”
Kaye has a love for all things mid-century and has been spending every Tuesday for the past few months dressed head-to-toe, 1950s-style in hat-gloves-and-handbag vintage outfits. It’s a way to connect to both people and to the aesthetics and vibe of that era. (See her blog at www.theyearofdressup.com.)
Trained as a classical soprano and now coached by local jazz singer Susannah Adams, Kaye decided to do a full show of satirized jazz standards, evoking the Peggy Lee/Rosemary Clooney crooner style. “I smile and sing about topics that range from trade wars and despotic presidents to perimenopause and the indignities of online dating and job searches. The ironic juxtaposition of my character, a perfectly genteel and poised lady singer from the ’50s, with modern subject matter—carefully crafted to evoke the same phonic style as the original lyrics—is going over quite well so far,” says Kaye, who has workshopped a few of the tunes on Hermann’s open stage.
Besides the practices and skills she developed with the Millies, Kaye will bring some of her other performance idioms into her cabaret-style show—comedy, puppetry and theatre—“it’s multi-textural, as I like to say. Wait till you see my hand-held percussion instruments! If Spike Jones and Jo Stafford had a love child, I might be that person.”
For her Disappointment Guaranteed performance, she’s collaborating with Jeff Poynter, a multi-instrumentalist who plays in the local band West My Friend; Alex Campbell, a drummer who has played with Rosie Bitts and The Dirty Boys; and Nick Mintenko on bass, whose album Still I Remain has garnered critical praise.
The name of Kaye’s concert is, she says, “a comment on life in general, especially seen through the lens of my 50-plus years. There’s no way to live a life without disappointments, and surrendering to that truth is a big part of my evolution as a person and performer.” Excited about her new adventure, Kaye says, “This project of going solo as a musical satirist is really bringing it all together for me: writing, humour, convening dialogue around relevant issues, the vintage aesthetic, mid-century music, and singing on stage.”
The performance starts at 8 pm (doors at 7:30 pm). Hermann’s is at 753 View St. Tickets $20 at www.hermannsjazz.com.