Posted on December 29, 2018 at 7:16 pm

Twenty years ago, Carolee Carmello headed the company of my first Broadway show, Parade, and poured her voice of molten brass right into my music for a Tony Award nomination and a performance for the ages.

Twenty years later, Solea Pfeiffer stood on the stage of City Center to sing in the first New York revival of Songs for a New World and blasted into the stratosphere with her limitless musicality

And on November 5, these two extraordinary performers came to share the stage at SubCulture with me and my gloriously versatile band, and we spent a wonderful night celebrating – and anticipating, with a mixture of hope and dread, the next day’s elections.

There were plenty of highlights, to be sure – Solea’s tessitura-busting rendition of my unreleased song, “I Send My Love”; Carolee’s heartbreaking recreation of “You Don’t Know This Man,” twenty years later and twenty years richer; Daniel Caesar’s beautiful song “Blessed,” brought to life by Solea; and, at my request, Carolee playing the role I never got to see her play, Ella Peterson from Bells Are Ringing, with one of my favorite songs in the whole of musical theater – but there were two moments that really defined the whole night for me.

After the last chord of Solea’s passionate and perfect “Christmas Lullaby,” I told the crowd I had one more number I wanted to share with them. For many of the past twenty years, Carolee and I have both spent one Monday night in December at Hal and Judy Prince’s Christmas party, and at some point during that party, Carolee is always asked to sing “The Story Goes On,” usually accompanied by the song’s composer (and one of my heroes), David Shire. And so for me, and most of the other people who attend that party year after year, it’s really not the holiday season until I hear Carolee sing that song. How could I resist, therefore, having her sing it at SubCulture while I had her standing right there and, conveniently, I also had all the original orchestrations? After hearing her soar through the gravity-defying ending of that magnificent song, everyone at SubCulture had one more thing to be thankful for this year.

And the other moment? Well, if you managed to take your eyes off Carolee for one second of that song, you might have seen Solea off to the side, watching her and absorbing the incredible power of a true star. Seeing Solea’s eyes watching Carolee felt to me like the whole reason I do what I do.

Hope from How We React and How We Recover (2018)
Invisible from How We React and How We Recover (2018)
SOLEA: I Send My Love (2010)
SOLEA: Cassandra from The Connector (2016)
SOLEA: Blessed (Music & Lyrics by Ian Culley, Ashto Simmonds, Matthew Burnett, Nevon Sinclair, Alex Ernewein and Jordan Evans; 2017)
SOLEA: I’m Not Afraid of Anything from Songs for a New World (1995)
She Cries from Songs for a New World (1995)
The Old Red Hills of Home from Parade (1998)
CAROLEE: You Don’t Know This Man from Parade (1998)
CAROLEE: Always Better from The Bridges of Madison County (2014)
CAROLEE: I’m Going Back from Bells Are Ringing (Music by Jule Styne, Lyrics by Betty Comden & Adolph Green; 1956)
All Things In Time from How We React and How We Recover (2018)
Melinda from How We React and How We Recover (2018)
SOLEA: Christmas Lullaby from Songs for a New World (1995)
CAROLEE: The Story Goes On from Baby (Music by David Shire, lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr.; 1983)

Jason Robert Brown: piano & vocals
Carolee Carmello: vocals
Solea Pfeiffer: vocals
Todd Reynolds: violin
Gary Sieger: guitars
Randy Landau: basses
Jamie Eblen: drums

Credits:

Photos, as always, by the dazzling Erika Kapin, https://www.erikakapin.com/