The Collaborative and Creative Spirit of Musical Conductor Kenny Seymour – First Wives Club Musical


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A great article on a friend and colleague Kenny Seymour – an excerpt from this article:

First Wives Club the Musical is excited to have Kenny Seymour as our Musical Director and Conductor. Kenny is in great demand for his exceptional talent. He’s worked with veteran musicians and rising stars. Kenny’s ability to fuse the talent of the orchestra, the vision of the songwriters and the bookwriter and the voices of the actors is what makes each performance unique and resonant. He has brought his special touch to many Broadway musicals, films and other projects.

Kenny took time out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts about working with the creative team of First Wives Club.

How do you feel about being a part of the amazing First Wives Club family?

Kenny: The opportunity to work with Holland-Dozier-Holland, HB Barnum, Simon Phillips and the entire creative team is really thrilling. I think everyone is very excited about where the show is heading and what it is going to become and what it is already.

We always see conductors in Broadway pits, and they look very glamorous and in charge. There must be much more to the job than we realize. What does the music director and conductor really do, and what are they responsible for?

Kenny: They are similar and different in different areas of music. In theater, the main responsibility of a music director from the conceptual stage of production or from its beginning is to teach vocals, to be present at auditions and work with the director as they go through the show in rehearsal. In some cases, those duties may extend to possibly doing some slight arrangements.

Once the show is opened, it also entails keeping the musical integrity, keeping the quality of the show up and putting in rehearsals. My role is to basically be the captain of the music department once the show is up and running and to keep it at a peak level so that everyone who sees it for the first time is seeing the show the way it was when it opened. My goal is also to ensure that it maintains that beauty and excitement.

In the development of THE FIRST WIVES CLUB what are some of the things that you are working on now?

Kenny: Right now it’s marrying song to story, seeing how things work together and making sure everything fits and feels organic. I am so fortunate to be working with Holland Dozier Holland, HB Barnum and Simon Phillips. They are all masters at their craft as far as making sure all the parts fit well. Being in the room observing that is truly fascinating. That’s the stage I believe they are at now – just going through the show and making sure everything fits and moves together nicely.

In your words how would you describe the “magic” of Holland-Dozier-Holland’s music?

Kenny: It’s interesting because there is a marriage of melody, rhythm and lyric, and I think that is the magic. It’s the emotion that goes into the song, it’s the emotion that the melody evokes, the rhythm, the sound – it’s a very organic sound. In some cases, there are so many hits they have composed that it’s become sort of a soundtrack of people’s lives. There was hit after hit after hit of songs that resonated with so many people across so many different cultures. It’s incredible.

Do you like their new music as well as their legendary famous hits?

Kenny: Oh, yes, definitely. Listening to some of the songs from the show, you can hear the talent, you can hear the emotion, you can hear why they are who they are and how they have accumulated so many hits. It’s a sensibility and a musical knowledge along with a heartfelt knowledge that’s just timeless.

Oh, you’re not kidding! Even young people know all the music and love it.

Kenny: I mean, how many times you have heard “Stop in the Name of Love or “Reach Out I’ll Be There.” Their songs are just timeless and they appeal to everybody.

You’re a seasoned theater professional. What are the challenges for a composer and lyricist whose background is primarily pop?

Kenny: They are both creative processes, and I believe that in writing a song in a pop sense, you are telling a story and it has its own parameters and its own environment where it lives and reacts. With a musical, there is a story and each component of that musical helps to move that story forward and they become one. One of the challenges is finding that blend, that balance of “this is a great song,” but does it help move the story along? The beauty about Holland-Dozier-Holland’s music, is that it is so natural and so heartfelt is that it naturally does this.

That’s so true! If you think about it with any visual medium like TV, movies or theater, if you took out the music it just wouldn’t be the same, it would be seem dead somehow. Music adds so much to your experience and how it impacts your emotions.

Kenny: In the early days of film this was the case, I believe around 1895 live music was added to the showing of silent films. Musicians would play from a book containing sheet music that captured different feelings and emotions and they would choose different types of music, for different parts of the film. The music added such a different texture, and it brought things to life. In the essence of Holland-Dozier-Holland’s music, they bring things to life in the way they compose – their melodies, their rhythms, their lyrics.

Read the rest HERE:


The Interview: Joni Mitchell


After reading this interview, I’m a bigger fan of hers. I’ve liked her music and voice, but her outlook on producing, the 70’s, producing, performing, feminism, empowerment and life in general is great.

In a rare and wide-ranging interview spanning 90 minutes, singer-songwriter-artist Joni Mitchell spoke from her home in Los Angeles. Her latest project, a box set called Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, a Ballet, Waiting To Be Danced, combines her experience as a Grammy-winning musician, a painter and a dance enthusiast by collecting 53 songs into four discs from 40 years of recording


Q: You’ve voiced concern over what you call the “push-button generation of today.” What is impairing us the most?

A: Everything is about channel changing. It has ruined attention spans. I spaced out in school but I didn’t develop attention-deficit issues because I placed attention on my imagination and ignored the curriculum. I didn’t have a million newsfeeds to contend with. It is just like when I have people over to my house to watch a film—it’s like living in a Robert Altman movie! They are always talking over each other. We are all losing the plot. It’s an addiction to phones and too much information.

Q: What repercussions do you think future generations will feel now that everyone is on their phone during concerts, etc.?

A: Here’s an example. My grandson and I were sailing on a boat and he said, “It’s boring.” I asked, “How can you say it’s boring? The sun is shining, we’re going across the water so fast . . . ” And he said, “Not fast enough.” Technology has given him this appetite.


Q: Your song Two Grey Rooms was another ahead-of-its-time song. Was there pushback from the record company recording a song about one man falling in love with another?A:

They always pushed me back but I take as much liberty as I can get away with. That’s why I’m not a feminist. When I heard, “You can’t do that, you’re a girl,” I went ahead and did it anyway.

Q: Yet feminism was monumental in the ’70s.Why weren’t you interested?

A: I’d rather go toe to toe with a guy than have a posse. I’m like Katharine Hepburn—I don’t know why but I just feel equal. I thought people should fight for their rights individually—not in a group. The feminists I met were so hostile. They would say, “You like men and they just want to f–k you.” They were browbeating me. They were also so undomestic. I have a lot of respect for domestic women. A lot of them were made graceful by supporting and serving a man. I tried to cook for two men but it was a thankless job

Read the entire piece HERE