Vonda Shepard, who will be appearing at Palma's Trui Theatre.

23-06-2018

Vonda Shepard, the American singer-songwriter and actress who appeared as a regular in the television show Ally McBeal, is going to be performing live in Palma this Friday, 29 June at the Trui Theatre. She has just completed a hugely successful tour of the UK and is now coming to Majorca.

Q.— You clearly come from a very talented family and began playing the piano at a very early age. Was it you plan to carve out such an acclaimed career in music?

A. — Well, thank you! I did start writing songs when I was quite young, and really found solace in expressing myself through poetry and music, but it wasn’t until I played my first gig at the age of 14 that I realised this was what I wanted to do as my career. I had no idea if I’d ever be acclaimed, but that wasn’t my motivation anyway. Playing music was enough in itself, but success certainly was welcome-

Q.— Who or which singer and styles of music influenced you growing up and developing as a musician?

A. — I was very influenced by both the classic singer-songwriters of the '70s, like Carol King, Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, etc. and the great soul singers and writers like Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan. You can hear the blend in my music, I believe.

Q.— As a songwriter, what is your inspiration?

A. — I’m most inspired by trying to work out unresolved feelings or just strong emotions that are difficult to deal with. Also, I adore nature, the rain, the sea, cafes, poetry and people-watching, where I make up stories about people. I love to read, as well - great fiction and non-fiction, but mostly a great novel. I’m not sure how much these make their way into my songs, but they certainly inspire me.

Q.— Just how big a break was Ally McBeal?

A. — It was huge. I suddenly had the doors to the world flung open. I was so ready for this break, and rode the wave the whole way, happily. And now when I tour, I do songs from Ally, of course, but I also am able to play lots of my own tunes from my many albums, as people have become very familiar with my other albums. So it’s a really wonderful balance.

Q.— Would you have liked to have done or do more acting?

A. — I did study acting for five years when I was younger, and it’s a fascinating art form, but I’m not very interested in pursuing it these days, unless I could play a character close to home - a musician or singer. I much prefer making records and touring, but if I got a call to do a great role, I would probably have to say yes.

Q.— What does playing to a live audience mean to you. How does it make you feel? Do you like to develop a relation with the audience?

A. — Playing live has always been a high point. It’s so gratifying to see the smiling faces singing along. I sit alone practising in my "pub" and work very hard alone, then suddenly I’m up there with actual people. I love the energy they give me, and I also sign CDs after the show and get some really lovely feedback, so I’m definitely getting to know my audience.

Q.— Just how much has the music industry changed over the past few decades. Has the download generation forced musicians back out on stage to perform live and if so, do you think that is a good thing?

A. — I think performing is always a good thing, if the artist likes it. In the last five years the industry has changed even more. It feels almost impossible to make a living unless I tour, and luckily I like it. The whole sharing music paradigm is here to stay, so we have to figure out how to make it work and survive. I think many young people are so good at social media, that they generate a tremendous amount of followers/fans, and the next step is to get out there on the road.

Q.— Talking of change, how do Americans really feel right now with President Trump in the White House and how do you think he managed to win the election?

A. — Well, when you ask how Americans feel, you have to understand that America is, in essence, two separate countries or perhaps three. I and all of my friends are appalled and disgusted with our ill-informed, bully of a president. Our country is so divided, as I hope the world understands.

How did he get elected? Well, Hillary won by three million votes, but due to our bizarre system of the "Electoral College", which is antiquated, those votes didn’t all count. I believe he will go down in history as the worst American president by far.

Q.— You recently toured the UK, how was that?

A. — Touring the UK is always wonderful. I’ve come to feel very close to the people and we’ve developed a lovely connection. I hope to continue to tour there and would also love to branch out more to other countries. It’ll happen!

Q.— What are you expecting when you come and perform on the island here?

A. — I’m expecting that we all have a blast. And a moving experience. When I’m on the road, it’s sometimes not easy to get out and see the town, but I do love to wander the streets alone and discover the culture. I always wish I could have a real day off in each city.

Q.— At the same time, what can the audience expect from you?

A. — We’re going to do a dynamic show, with both intimate moments and, as always, get the place on their feet and dancing by the end. I have a fantastic band - I’ve been with my bass player 22 years. He played with Bruce Springsteen and many others. My guitar player was with Tina Turner for over 20 years. These guys are my soul brothers and will get the place hoppin’. We’ll do songs from all of my albums, including By 7:30, From The Sun and of course the Ally hits.

Q.— How to you see the present music scene, do you find it exciting or rather one-tracked and bland?

A. — I adore Spotify (even though they pay artists almost zero), but I constantly discover new music and some of it I really like. But I must admit, I still listen to Stevie Wonder (the really old albums, like Signed, Sealed, Delivered) and lots of '70s artists. I’m still very drawn to that era. A lot of the hard-core pop music sounds so "tuned" and formulaic, that it’s boring, but occasionally something very amazing breaks through. I’ve been listening to Rufus Wainwright lately; he’s quite spectacular.

Q.— Are there any great talents out there we should be looking forward to hearing and seeing in the future?

A. — I love that you’re asking me this. I like The Tuneyards.

Q.— Most musicians have a thread through their work and their songs, what would you say is yours?

A. — Heartbreak - how original!

Q.— Living in California, the sun is going to be shining when you come here, what is your perfect Sunday or day? How do you relax?

A. — Nice question - I would sleep in! I would read the paper, write in my journal whist drinking an espresso Machiatto, then go for a run on the beach. Then some lunch and a good talk with a friend, maybe a thirty minute nap, then play some music, go to the farmer’s market and buy some good local vegetables and cook a great meal on the BBQ, eat dinner outside on our deck with friends and a good bottle of Brunello. Or Chianti. Whatever is on hand. Oh, hey wait a minute … I have to drive my son to basketball, make him lunch, drive him to a playdate, pick him up, etc., etc., etc.

Reality. But I love it.

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