A Conversation with Meg Flather
and her Cabaret Sisterhood
July 7, 2019
Meg Flather has made a name for herself in cabaret as a performer and songwriter. On July 14 and September 14 at 4:00 pm at NYC’s Don’t Tell Mama, she gathers fellow singers in a performance of her songs for A Cabaret Sisterhood. Tracy Stark is MD and Lennie Watts is creative consultant.
We have asked the singers to tell us what it means to them to be a part of this show and what drew them to the song they will be presenting.
Before we get to that, here’s a bit about Meg and our conversation with her.
Meg Flather is a two-time Bistro Award winner, three-time MAC Award Winner, and five-time Broadway World nominee. As a singer/songwriter, she has released seven CDs of her original music and has written and recorded songs for independent films, Off Broadway, and on behalf of HIV/AIDS, 9/11, Alzheimer’s, Autism, and suicide awareness. She has also been a featured performer for The Gay Men’s Health Crisis at New York’s historic Webster Hall, the Vermont Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival, and to benefit the 2013 victims of Typhoon Yolanda at the Philippine Consulate in NYC. Meg made her Mabel Mercer Cabaret Convention debut at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater on October 9, 2018. She is a member of SAG/AFTRA & AEA, and after years serving as a Brand Ambassador for five International skincare brands on all home shopping networks in North America and Australia, Meg released her autobiography, Home Shopping Diva…Lessons, Lyrics and Lipstick available on Amazon. Her new show, Outbound Plane opens at Don’t Tell Mama on July 28 at 5 pm.
What was the spark that brought this show to life?
I have had this quiet dream of sitting in a dark theater and hearing my cabaret “sisters” sing my songs for some time now. While walking Sally Darling to a taxi, I shared this quiet dream with her. She basically made me do it. “You go home and email Sidney Myer for show dates right now!” (Who doesn’t do what Sally Darling says?) I did it. In 48 hours I had two dates, my musical director (Tracy Stark), my creative consultant (Lennie Watts), a cast of 27 women, and a beautiful postcard designed by Helane Blumfield. A perfect example of when something is “right” it flows and comes easily. (I must add that Lisa Viggiano has been pushing me to do this since we became friends in November, 2016! It took our Sally to make me do it!)
How did you select the singers?
Several of the singers had already covered my songs in their shows. (The greatest compliment of all. Thank you!) The other singers were artists that I had worked closely with in group shows and who have expressed personal interest in my songs. Each choice was very personal. The hard part of this project was dealing with the fact that I could not ask every woman I love in cabaret to sing my songs. These “firsts” were already fans of my tunes and made that fact clear. That is why they were chosen for this maiden voyage.
How did you decide who should sing what?
This was completely channeled. I think the Sally Darling “fairy dust” was still at work. I came home from her strong instruction and created a list on my phone. I could not type fast enough. I heard the songs and the specific voices in my head. It really was that easy. At a rehearsal, Lennie Watts turned to me and basically said, “Great casting, Meg.” I am most proud of this fact. Each song fits each singer like a custom-sewn gown.
What to you hope a show like this does for songwriters?
I hope this show inspires others to create opportunities that are inclusive. Blending a cast of those who are “well known” and “award-winning” with those who should be well known was my intent. The goal of this effort was to create community through my songs—a sisterhood. (Hence the title.)
What do you hope the lasting effect of such a show has?
In addition to creating community, I hope to expand the boundaries of cabaret. As a female contemporary songwriter, I believe if songs tell a story they are part of the American Songbook; relatives. Why not? Isn’t it always evolving?
And now, a few words from the Cabaret Sisterhood!
Corinna Sowers Adler
Photo: Maryann Lopinto
Corinna Sowers Adler
I am thrilled to be part of the Cabaret Sisterhood! My student, Elizabeth Nucci and I have been singing Meg’s song “On the Second Floor” for about a year and a half. It is part of my Second Stories show. I know that Meg wrote this song in tribute to her mother and what she was suffering through. But this song has taken on a new meaning for me as I connect it to my students and our voice studio, which happens to be on the second floor of the Oakside Bloomfield Cultural Center. I was alone in the studio, listening to Meg’s album, when I found myself so moved by the lyric about role reversals. I saw myself as a young singer walking into a beautiful old mansion (one that is incredibly similar to the one I now spend my days in teaching) to find the teacher that changed my life. I was struck by how the cycles and lessons of life seem to sometimes repeat themselves in such a beautiful serendipitous way. It is a joy to get to sing this song with Liz. Every time we perform it I am grateful to have been part of her life and her development as a performer and person. I don’t take lightly that responsibility, and Meg’s song reminds me that “her laughter let me in.”
“Yes, Meg! I’m In! Yes!” Honestly, I didn’t even finish hearing the question when I immediately responded YES! To be a part of anything that Meg Flather is putting together is a honor. Meg is such a smart, tireless performer and all-around amazing human. I have never met anyone like her. Her kindness, empathy, humor, heart, and talent pull you in and instantly make you feel like family. The entire idea of the evening is just so totally Meg! A Cabaret Sisterhood perfectly describes how Meg sees and approaches life. She always tries to make everyone feel welcome, valued, and part of the community. I can’t believe that I get to share the stage with so many amazing women and sing Meg’s work. I love Meg’s songwriting and especially the tune she picked for me. The song is called “Like Me.” It really taps into the darker, more desperate side of social media, the unraveling that can occur to one’s spirit and life that most people don’t like to discuss. Thank you so much, Meg, for inviting me to be a part of this magnificent night.
Photo: John Rogers
The obvious thing that makes A Cabaret Sisterhood so special is that it’s an all-female cast singing the music of a female songwriter. But anyone who knows Meg knows that what makes it so special is Meg herself. She honestly takes pleasure in seeing (and hearing) others shine. What better way to do that than by entrusting us with her songs? Josephine Sanges and I are each doing “Hold On Tight” on different days. It’s an anthem about moving forward and—as Michelle Obama would say—going high. Now doesn’t that sound like Meg??
Being a part of this show is a cabaret dream come true. To perform a Meg Flather song with my friend dear Mary Sue Daniels and to share the stage with so many women that inspire me is more than I could even image. Our song “Downstream” is about creating your own path and not listening to talk around you—a lesson we can all be reminded of. When thinking about what to write I looked up the definition of “sisterhood”: “an association, society, or community of women linked by a common interest.” I am so grateful for this community and to be a part of our sisterhood. Thank you Meg Flather for including me in your journey.
I first met Meg in March, 2017 at the Bistro Awards show where we were both recognized for our work. As I left the stage and walked past her that evening, she whispered her congratulations along with a quick “you should check out my songs!” What an honor to have a songwriter immediately imagine you singing one of her beautiful songs!
And, the rest is history. We became fast friends, and my admiration for her songwriting and performance skills have continued to grow. I was thrilled when she asked me to participate in the Cabaret Sisterhood showcase. Amazing songs and such accomplished women singers—what’s not to love?
Meg asked me to sing “My Heaven (a song for Bonnie).” She described the event that triggered the idea for the song, and explained that Bonnie was a beloved caregiver for her mother during the final years of her life. For me, the song conveys a powerful message: that while others interpret heaven as a place to aspire to after death, heaven exists every day in our lives, especially in the kindness and care-taking of others. This song is an expression of Meg’s take on spirituality and a reminder to be grateful and in the moment. But, like all really good songs, there are layers and layers to be discovered over time. I find this song to be particularly poignant in our current socio-political environment as we consider the value of all lives, and the contributions, large and small, that all humans make. I am so happy to be singing it in this very special show.
Mary Sue Daniels
Mary Sue Daniels
Meg Flather is such a beacon of light in the cabaret community, incredibly supportive of her colleagues and a powerful performer/songwriter. By offering her music and bringing us together in a creative nurturing environment, Meg is continuing to set a positive example for all of us to follow. I am singing a duet with Helane Blumfield. The song, “Downstream,” is about a time, even just a moment, when you realize that you can stop struggling and enjoy some peace and contentment in what you have already accomplished. The metaphor of swimming downstream, instead of fighting the current, is a great lesson. I am beyond grateful to be “in the ‘hood” with these excellent women.
Meg Flather is beautiful person, singer, songwriter. To be in a program of her songs with such a stellar company of singers seems incredible. And I have the joy of singing her appreciation and affirmation for all cabaret singers. It’s very special and I’m honored.
Photo: Bill Westmoreland
Meg Flather is simply made of light, so anytime one gets to bask in her glow is an absolute joy. She and I have shared all kinds of moments over the years, but the musical, political, and emotional ones are the most resonant, so singing her song, “We Are as Strong,” brings back those moments and the ways in which Meg and other Sister-Goddesses like her have taught me so much. Not to mention, when you look at this cast list, you just know backstage with these women is gonna be a freaking good time!
I am so honored to be included in this group of incredible women. Meg is quite simply one of the most authentic, intuitive, and open-hearted people I’ve had the pleasure to know. She shares her truth in her life and in her music. She truly believes in the marrow of her bones that there is room in this world for everyone to express themselves. She is incredibly supportive, and brings out the best in everyone. She certainly has in me. I stepped away from my music a few years ago when I became a mother. She never let go of the rope and has gently coaxed me back on the boards now that I’m ready. I’m so moved to be singing one of her songs, “Cause I Do.” It truly expresses the longing that I feel to leave the world a better place for my daughter. What a joy this night will be.
Photo: Natasha Castillo
I’m singing “Too Intense For You.” I’m a very passionate person. I can spend hours talking about my favorite celebrities, TV shows, or philosophy, and not everyone is comfortable with that. What I like about the song is that it says, “this is who I am, if you can’t take it, just keep walking.”
First of all, it’s Meg. Meg Flather. If there ever was a purer female heart I have yet to meet her. She is an Aquarian female so she is also a team player, a human’s human, and a woman. Put that all together and it screams SISTERHOOD. Bringing women together to sing her compositions is perfect and I can’t believe she hasn’t done it before this. (I do think she is on to something now, tho!) I am singing a song that is not really in my wheelhouse and I choose it for that reason. As Meg and her music always seem to inspire the best in us, I thought I should say “thank you” to this lady by stepping a bit out of my comfort zone and doing…well…better. I’m thrilled to be in the company of good women. Thanks, Meg, for gathering us!
We always say how thrilled we are to be part of a group show, but there is something extra special about this one. The Sisterhood we experience in cabaret for me is real and has become more so as the years have passed. I’m so honored to be part of this amazing cast of female vocalists. And SO privileged to have been asked to be in the “delivery room” when Meg births the babies of all of her creations. I know how personal these songs are for her—that’s what makes them so brilliant; they literally live and breathe life, every one of them.
When Meg assigned “What Only We Can Know” to me she hit a home run. I’ve heard Meg sing a zillion times but I’d never heard “What Only We Can Know” and I fell instantly in love with the song. Meg is also the only human being to have sung this previously, so it’s pretty exciting to be the first non-Meg to sing it. The song is so brilliantly crafted. It allows me the opportunity to do what I love most when I sing: dig down deep to my soul and express through both lyric and music. The first time I had the opportunity to rehearse with Tracy Stark, it just took us to a musical/artistic/emotional place that I yearn for as an artist.
I’ve heard a couple of the other numbers in rehearsal. Folks, this show will be one for the ages as both art and community.
Photo: John Quilty
I’m thrilled to be a part of A Cabaret Sisterhood. It speaks to my belief that women have to start showing up for each other whenever and wherever then can if things are going to move forward for women. I have four sisters myself and growing up I knew first hand the value of having a tribe that would always have my back. As an adult I have widened the circle of sisterhood to friends and colleagues in my theater life and in the cabaret community. I love that Meg put this show together as it celebrates not only her excellent music but a group of women that I am proud to call my “sisters.”
asked me to sing “My Heaven” with Lucille I was thrilled. This song is a
real anthem to the invisible people who populate the world. In our
present culture there is a near adoration of fame, power, artifice, and
superficial beauty. I love that Meg wisely celebrates and recognizes the
importance of the wonderful people who do the jobs that are, for the
most part, under paid and under appreciated. This is a real example of
how Meg’s music is a reflection of the generosity of spirit and deep
Photo: Eric Stephen Jacobs
I’ve known Meg for over 30 years and have always adored her. I also love her music. She writes from a place of an open heart and always moves me. The song Deborah Stone and I were assigned is “Like a Sunday” and it could not be a more perfect song for the two of us or for the blend of our voices (Who knew? We’ve never sung together before!) We decided to perform it with Deborah on guitar and vocals only (as Meg originally recorded it) because we felt it was how this song should be presented—purely. I’ll let Deborah speak for herself, but I think that we both “get” this song and are grateful that Meg asked us to be a part of what is going to be an extraordinary event. The singers on this bill are all family and yes, part of a huge sisterhood, so I could not be more proud and honored to be a part of this show.
Meg and I have been friends since 1991 when we did Company together (she was Marta, I was April), and I am thrilled to finally be performing one of her songs. It is going to be a spectacular event.
Being part of A Cabaret Sisterhood means more than anyone can possibly know. Meg’s music has brought to light some of the most humbling, heartwarming, and loving messages that the world needs to hear. Her song “On the Second Floor,” written about a personal experience with her mother, speaks to me as a song of hope and love. The song tells the story of new beginnings and, for me, brings out my love of music. Getting to perform with my role model Corinna [Sowers Adler] is an added bonus, as we reminisce about our beginning together, and how we look forward to continue our journey.
Photo: Bill Westmoreland
The moment I first got to have a full conversation with Meg Flather, I loved her. Plain and simple. She has a passion for women and a humanity she fearlessly shares with endless enthusiasm, and I think many people have a similar experience with her. She is also a constant, bottomless creative force. Just being in her company is inspiring! I LOVE her songs, and I’ve happily sung backup for a song of hers in the Stephen Hanks democratic fundraising events. I felt honored to be asked to find a song that I felt suited me, and the harmonic complexity of the song I chose perfectly, and organically, suited the lyrics. It was impossible to resist. There’s so much strength, bravery and TRUTH in her songs, just as there is in her singing. I’m very happy to say Tanya Moberly and I will be performing this special song on alternating nights, and I love sharing it with her.
Meg and I have often spoken about what life caring for an ailing parent is like. Worrying about what tomorrow will bring only serves to trouble our minds and hearts, making us fearful of what is to come. It can be a struggle to let go of all that fear and learn to live in the present moment. Meg wrote “Hold On Tight” as a reaction to a beautiful moment of clarity that she was able to experience with her mother, a moment when the “window had opened” just long enough so that she could receive her mother’s fullest expression of love. I’m honored to sing “Hold On Tight” for this special showcase of Meg’s songwriting and to share its inspiring message with all of you.
I love Meg as a person and a talented and unique singer/songwriter. Her passion and warmth always come through—in her life and in her music. My first reaction to being invited to sing in this show was feeling deeply honored and validated as a performer. To have Meg really see me means a great deal. As for the song, Meg actually “assigned” our songs to us. I trusted her to know who should take on which of her songs, and did so with joy and enthusiasm. Sue Matsuki and I have become close friends, much to my delight, so doing a song together is the proverbial icing on the cake. I’m very happy about this whole experience.
Those Girls. (Back) Eve Eaton (L), Wendy Russell (Front) Karen Mack (L), Rachel Hanser
Those Girls were absolutely tickled to be asked by Meg Flather to be a part of her Sisterhood show! We all love and respect Meg so much, and are grateful for the support she has shown each of us as individuals, as well as our group. The sisterhood among the women in the cabaret community is strong and we feel extremely lucky to be a part of it. Having Meg invite women to come and perform her songs is a fantastic idea, and is sure to make that bond we all feel even stronger. Meg has asked us to sing “Like Me,” a quirky song with a message about social media and the need to feel accepted and liked. Rachel heard Meg sing it and told her after the show that this would be a fun one for Those Girls to sing…and now we get the chance! We’ll be performing it in the September show, and the fabulous Amorika Amoroso will do it in July!
So this is the thing about Meg Flather: no matter who you are, and no matter how many flaws you think that you may have, Meg can immediately see your very best qualities. Next, she will eloquently let you know exactly what those qualities are, and she will shine the most brilliant light upon them as if to say “I believe in you!” Meg has a way with words that is infused with her beautiful mind, her beautiful heart, and her beautiful spirit. To further her exquisite way with words, Meg has a way with a melody. Lucky for us, she uses her elegant gift of words, melodies, and wholeheartedness to create these incredible, relatable songs about truth and life. As you may imagine, I am thrilled and honored to be a part of Meg Flather Songs, A Cabaret Sisterhood on so many levels. The community that Meg’s heart can create is beyond measure, so I cannot wait to join in the warmth of celebrating her songs through the talents of these women. In addition, I have the supreme pleasure of singing the very first Flather song that I heard on YouTube a couple of years ago, I”It’s About Time,” with one of my cabaret sisters, Heather Villaescusa! The lyric resonates with the both of us and it is a sheer delight to finally sing together! Finally, I am overjoyed to witness my cabaret sister, singer/songwriter Meg Flather delight in her songs from the new perspective of having all of us “cover” her tunes. It’s About Time!!
Photo: Greg Mills
I am so thrilled to be a part of this show. Meg is such an intricate part of the cabaret world and the heartbeat of what I find I love about cabaret. She is a constant supporter and to be a part of this show giving her songs a voice that is other than her own is truly a remarkable gift she has given us. Meg has called it “A Cabaret Sisterhood.” The cabaret community is filled with incredibly talented women from all walks of life, and I think it’s important that we embrace and support each other. By Meg pulling this together, embracing us, leads to a stronger sisterhood and support of each of our crafts. When she asked if I wanted to participate, it was an easy, “Yes.” And when she told me that it was a duet with Lisa Viggiano, it was a booming, “YES!” And when she told us the song she picked for us to share, I thought, “Of course that’s the one she chose for us.” Meg has an innate ability to see you for who you really are.
I like to say that I hit the jackpot when I met Meg Flather. She’s a true champion to our cabaret community with her passion, honestly, and amazing talent. I am honored to be a part of this incredible group of soul sisters she has put together. I will be sharing the song “Cause I Do” with Kathy Kaefer. Meg wrote this piece for the parents in her life as a modern day lullaby. As a mother, I am humbled by her beautiful lyrics and thrilled to be able to share her song. Thank you, Meg Flather, for your gifts of song and friendship.
I am thrilled to be part of this show for so many reasons. It means a great deal to be invited to sing one of Meg’s beautiful songs and to do so in company with singers I admire for their artistry and treasure for their friendship. I feel that Meg’s songs speak to our experiences as women but even more so, to our common humanity. Her gift is to give expression to the commonplace things we do and feel, and then raise those things to the extraordinary by the way she crafts words and melody together. I think that hearing Meg’s songbook in so many different voices will be amazing. I’ll be singing “He Shares Me with a Lot” which I also sang in my debut show a year ago. When I heard the song for the first time, I was instantly drawn to it because it spoke to me of how as a congregational rabbi for 32 years, my family—my husband and my children—had to share me with the demands of a growing and active synagogue. Meg addressed that reality so beautifully in the song. Since my circumstances were unique, she gave me permission to write several new verses that were specific to my life, which my phenomenal music director Tracy Stark masterfully crafted. For this show, I am honored to sing all of the original verses.
A Cabaret Sisterhood
July 14 at 4:00 pm
Don’t Tell Mama
343 W. 46th St., NYC