By Scott Barbarino***The CD Forever Me With Love was brought to my attention in a phone call with Ralph Lampkin, whose recent passing will be felt deeply by all who knew him, but especially by the clients he tirelessly championed. Knowing what an incredible ear he had I sure did take a listen and was impressed.
Her show at Don’t Tell Mama celebrating the release of her album did not disappoint. While she’s clearly had plenty of ups and downs in life, including two failed marriages, which led her mother to say, “Do me a favor… just live with the next one,” you can’t help but see that her hard work and determination has led to a new reality. Brown has finally achieved a charmed life, ending up “lucky and blessed.” And she’s lived it on her own terms, eventually meeting her Prince Charming.
I know these things because her show was autobiographical, with Brown interweaving her life’s story and song choices to reveal that she fell in love with wanting to fall in love, and that she always wanted to be a performer. She finally started to pursue that dream at age 50. So, she’s no kid, but is a mature and very classy woman, yet still with childlike eyes wide open.
Brown has a certain quality about her, especially when delivering the songs in her set. I suspect these choices can be derived from and attributed to watching her parents and their 62 years of wedded bliss, which spurred her own search for that same thing. Tanya Moberly’s deft direction kept the plot thickening through Brown’s early failures with love, to focusing on personal growth, to becoming the successful business woman she is now, to finally finding the right partner in love. What makes her story familiar is that so many women have had this similar experience in a changing world and their place in it. You know: Family? Career?—Career? Family?—that old tale which in a new world has enabled independence and for Brown has led to a happy ending.
Backed by two of New York’s finest musicians, musical director Jon Weber on piano and Steve Doyle on bass, her set started with the Gershwins’ “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and rolled along with “Make Someone Happy” (Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Jule Styne), “Two For the Road” (Henry Mancini, Leslie Bricusse), coupled with “Summer Me, Winter Me” (Michele Legrand,Alan and Marilyn Bergman), “The Very Thought of You” (Ray Noble), “All The Things You Are” (Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II), “Where Do You Start” (Johnny Mandel, Alan and Marilyn Bergman), “The Summer Knows” (Michel Legrand, Alan and Marilyn Bergman), “If We Were in Love” (John T. Williams/Alan and Marilyn Bergman), and “How Do You Keep the Music Playing” (Michele Legrand, Alan and Marilyn Bergman). Fans of the Bergman’s incredible collaboration clearly will not be disappointed. The music rounded out with one of my favorites, “My Favorite Year” (Michele Brourman, Karen Gotlieb) as well a the classic “The Nearness of You” (Hoagy Carmichael, Ned Washington). Just reading these song titles tells Brown’s story. Everything about this performer and her performance was impeccable; she dazzles!
Margo Brown’s Forever Me With Love will be presented again on Thursday, July 13th at 7 PM and Saturday, July 15th at 4 PM at Don’t Tell Mama, 343 West 46th Street between Ninth and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan,