Album art for Blue Skies

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Track Listing

1 Blue Skies
2 The First Thing You Know
3 I'm Checkin' Out
4 Moon River
5 Baby, It's Cold Outside
6 My Simple Christmas Wish
7 Down WIth Love
8 Here's That Rainy Day
9 Going to the Dance with You
10 I've Never Been In Love Before
11 Beat My Dog
12 Fools In Love
13 The Very Thought Of You
14 Feelin' Good

Praise for Blue Skies…

  • “The album is Blue Skies and it’s sung by Shawn Ryan, who started in cabaret in the City in 2000, winning the Bay Area Cabaret Competition. This young, blond, blue-eyed, out and proud 28-year-old does the classics like a ’40s crooner – adding his own “out there” comedy patter throughout. You might have seen him in the film American Pie 3, First Daughter, or The Job. You might recall him from the semifinal round of NBC’s America’s Got Talent. But this album proves beyond a doubt that Ryan’s got talent! A collection of Ryan’s favorites from mostly bygone years, Blue Skies has everything from cabaret to country.

    Opening with the title song, Ryan starts off a cappella with just percussion and then gets jazzier with piano by Kelly Park and sax by James Grantham. “Nothin’ but blue skies ahead,” goes the song, and could easily be a fortune teller’s prediction for Ryan. He takes the ol’ Mel Torme song, “The First Thing You Know,” and totally gayifies it with same-sex references while singing, “You let yourself go, and the first thing you know, you’re in love.”

    “I’m Checkin’ Out” is a down home country boy’s lament of living in Heartbreak Hotel and drinking too much to drown his sorrows. But “Chug-a-luggin’ Charley” is checking out. Ryan puts the slide in slide guitar (which he does not play, but his voice purposely slides up and down into the notes to give it that country twang flair. Then in just the opposite direction, he goes into “two drifters off to see the world” in a super-mellow version of “Moon River” and a sweeping tremolo piano solo, which Ryan eases into and out of and back in with total placidity. Of course it’s amusing to us queers that the phrase “we’re after the same rainbow’s end” pops up in there. Since this is really winter weather here in the City, how appropriate “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” really is. Making it into a cute duet, cabaret chanteu se Kim Nalley joins with a clever take on this usually hetero song. Their patter back and forth hints rather broadly about Ryan’s orientation. He replies to Nalley that he hasn’t really had many women up to his place. “But you’ve such wonderful interior design here; certainly you must have a woman’s touch around here somewhere,” she hints and he confesses, “I haven’t had a woman’s touch for quite some time.” When he compliments her ‘do, “Your hair looks gooood,” we know the boy is a ‘mo fo’ sho’. Continuing with the winter theme, “My Simple Christmas Wish” is something that the average cynical wannabe singer can relate to: he wants to be rich, famous, and powerful: “I don’t wanna audition; I don’t wanna take class; I wanna be discovered while I’m sitting on my ass.” And when he goes into his gay patter, I dare you not to double over laughing. He recently performed this number to perfection at the Richmond Ermet AIDS Foundation’s “Help Is on the Way for the Holidays” in Herbst and brought down the house. And speaking of down, “Down With Love” is yet another cynical bit, and this time it’s against all the corny clichés about true love: “Down with eyes romantic and stupid; down with sighs; down with cupid; moreover let’s dump that dove.” Then he suddenly picks up the pace with double-time and a massive montage of stupid love song lyrics through the ages. Are you down enough yet? Then take a listen to “Here’s That Rainy Day” and its downpour of depressing lyrics. It’s a great song, and it’s sung great, but yeesh is it ever a call for suicide. Fortunately the next track is “Goin’ to the Dance with You,” and the weather is not a reason to be depressed: “The rain may fall and the wind may blow, it may get down to twenty-below, but I don’t mind, ‘cause I’m goin’ to the dance with you.” Now that’s the spirit! Put away the razor blade and noose, because this bouncy little ditty will pep you right up. Then there’s the sweet son g from Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls, “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” to touch even the biggest cynic’s heart – especially accomplished with the lyrical baritone of Ryan.

    What makes “Beat My Dog” so especially fun is his silly introductory monologue: “This is a song about the wrong kind of man. It makes me feel good, because I get to be a black woman for one number. As we all know, gay men and black women are one and the same.” Oh don’t deny it, grrrlll, you know it’s true. Snap!

    “Fools in Love” is written by Ryan’s pianist Kelly Parker and speaks of how not really foolish it is to be in love, all nicely woven in with the strumming of John Nichols’ guitar. Ryan’s sweet baritone would do Nat King Cole proud in “The Very Thought of You,” as does Park’s piano tinklings. Cap it all off with a gritty “Feelin’ Good” by Nina Simone with Ryan’s sultry voice and Rocky Tatarelli’s sexy sax, and you have definitely had a good feelin’ experience with Blue Skies. To buy it, go to any store or log onto shawn-ryan.com.”

    — Sister Dana Van Iquity, SF Bay Times
  • “This noble quote expresses the artistic talent and contributions of myDecember Artist: Shawn Ryan

    Well, here we are at my last review of the year and I couldn’t think of a better way to end it than with the charm and skill that encapsulates this amazing performer.Shawn Ryan’s Debut CD “Shawn Ryan” and his follow up album titled “Blue Skies” will leave you longing for more from this artist. Please join me on this captivating journey to learn about an artist who has achieved greatness and is taking the world on an unforgettable ride.Shawn’s Debut CD titled “Shawn Ryan” is a remarkable CD full of romance and will impress you from the start. Shawn will launch you into a timeless journey filled with happiness and splendor. Starting with “Somewhere Along the Way” you will hear in this man an extraordinary voice surely meant to arouse the most passionate of emotions. From his soft romantic renderings, he has begun this album with a song longing to live in your heart. The expression of Shawn’s voice will deliver to you hours of enjoyment and you will come to cherish his gift of song. With such songs as “Wink and a Smile”, Shawn will have you racing to dance. The orchestrations only add to the delight you will be feeling. With all debuts, you need one that is going to pack a punch and Shawn hit this one on the mark. A masterpiece for his first album which alone shows me he has so much more in store for us in the future. How lucky are we?? Shawn has given us such beautiful tracks as “Where or When”, “Do It Again”, “It Had To Be You” and “Bewitched” and with these songs you will feel so much love. He truly will enchant you with his honesty and tender performance. Shawn has the ability to speak to you through his voice, telling each of us a love story. How fortunate we are to enjoy the talent of this man for it shows in every song he sings. There is just something about his voice that will endear him to you. With these tracks, you must get out of your chair and dance…..his interpretations and spine tingling vocals will have you feeling so alive. “I Got Rhythm” with the amazing horn section and piano, turn this track into a work of art Judy Garland would approve of! Shawn Ryan has soared somewhere “over the rainbow” and back again…. I also must touch base on “Just You, Just Me” for this song alone combined with Shawn’s vocal wit, make me feel so energized. How can one not love this man? It would be impossible not to adore him. With such tracks as “It Might As Well Be Spring”, “It Had to be You”, “Nice Work If You Can Get It”, “Bewitched”, “Love Me or Leave Me” you will feel the versatility only Shawn can convey. He has proven with hard work and talent, this man can take any song and turn it into a masterpiece of his own. It didn’t take long for me to fall madly in love with this album. To end the Debut CD with “Orange Colored Sky” makes this an album worthy of a spot in everyone’s library. Shawn can sing the standards, the show tunes and make you feel a special part of the moment. What an ending…”Flash, Bam, Alcazam!”……Yes Shawn Ryan has certainly packed his debut with enough punch and fun to last a lifetime. But the fun doesn’t end here, oh no………. Shawn then followed up with an incredible album titled “Blue Skies”… an album that is always with me. I thought Shawn’s first album was spectacular but with “Blue Skies”, you can see how Shawn’s artistry has grown and matured. An album so inviting, he made the Grammy list with the likes of Tony Bennett, Keely Smith and Carly Simon. Yes, Shawn Ryan is well on his way to the stars…. The first track “Blue Skies” starts you on a journey you will take often….What a carefree and innocent tune and Shawn can sing this like nobody’s business. His vocals are pure, smooth and he will have you feeling joy a thousand fold. With such tracks as “The First Thing You Know”, “I’m Checkin’ Out”, “Moon River”, “Down with Love”, “Here’s That Rainy Day”, “I’ve Never Been In Love Before”, “Beat My Dog”, “Fools in Love”, “The Very Thought of You” and “Feelin’ Good”…you have just listened to an album that sets this man apart from the rest. “Goin’ To the Dance with You” is sheer genius. From the onset and hearing the crackling of the record, Shawn swings you into a bygone era. The words are so beautiful, but it is Shawn’s voice and interpretation that stills me with each listen. I can envision Shawn looking for his true love, he does tell a story here and through to the ending he has gained my attention and applause. Well done Shawn! I absolutely LOVE “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” where Shawn duets with Kim Nalley. How I enjoy singing this song with Shawn (in my home!). I won’t surprise the ending but I will say….Shawn…I love you!!!!!!!!!!
    I must write something about this next song and for those of you who are already fans of Shawn, you will remember this song from his appearance on “America’s Got Talent” where all the judges voted him on to the next round. The song is called “My Simple Christmas Wish” and here on this CD it was taped from a live performance. I love love love what Shawn does with this song…so much fun… it shows Shawn at his supreme best. Not just a singer, he is an entertainer, a performer with so much joy in his heart. You can feel how Shawn truly loves what he does…for it spills out from this track.

    Each of these albums can be purchased from Shawn’s website www.shawn-ryan.com and on www.www.lmlmusic.com and of course, www.amazon.com. Shawn Ryan can sing but this is not where his talent ends. Shawn is the Founder of the Young Actor’s Theater Camp, a program for young actors. Celebrities have joined in to help inspire the youth of today. Shawn seems to always give back to the community and offers a helping hand any way he can. Shawn not only encourages these young people, he helps them reach a goal that has brought him so much satisfaction. He strengthens their dreams, and makes their wishes hopeful and well within their reach. Shawn is a true inspiration to those of us who want to make a difference, and he has proved this over and over. If you have the stamina and strength to pursue what you love, it is attainable. Thank you Shawn for showing all of us the worth we hold inside. You encourage and motivate all of us to aspire to be all we can be. Since this review is landing in the merry month of December, and with the holidays just around the corner, I couldn’t think of a better gift to recommend than either one of Shawn’s CD’s. These albums make the perfect gift for the music lover on your holiday list. Christmas for most people is about families, not just the ones you are born into, but the ones you find along the way. I’m happy and fortunate to have found Shawn and will always welcome him into my heart, for his music lives there. Please remember those who are less fortunate and do something wonderful for someone this holiday season. Give the gift and joy of music! Sing out loud, and sing out strong, I promise you, you will be “Feelin’ Good!” “Hang a Shining Star upon the highest bough…..the Shining Star of Shawn Ryan”

    This is my Mo-ment of Music I happily share with you…

    All the best,
    Mo
    About the Author:
    Maureen “Mo” Mahoney lives in Naples, FL and spends her free time travelling to NY, taking in numerous cabaret and broadway shows and seeing these amazing singers perform.

    Maureen has been published in the New England Entertainment Digest, writes reviews and edits websites in her spare time. Her tireless effort ascertained a benefit with the Cancer Alliance for one of the artists on the LML Label this past February, as well as scheduling a performance signing at the local Barnes & Noble Bookstore.

    Maureen has been interviewed for magazines in Naples about her love of the music and various artists.”

    — Mo Mahoney
  • “When all things post-modern, retro, and ironic are the rage, it’s a welcome jolt to hear an earnest standards singer performing without irony or (too much) affectation. In a world of manufactured pop acts and thin-voiced, talentless lip-syncers, a performer like Shawn Ryan seems to stand little chance. A solid vocalist with talent belying his age, Mr. Ryan represents the seemingly-soon-to-be-lost art of cabaret singers. On his second album, Blue Skies, he brings the beauty of a classic group of songs to a whole new generation.

    A younger crop of crooners, including Michael Buble, Josh Groban, and even Clay Aiken, have stolen the hearts of real-life desperate housewives and soccer Moms — a generally-untapped audience for modern music. Whereas the aforementioned trio insures its success by supplying mainstream Adult Contemporary fare (cross-over stuff with mass appeal and little spice or strength), Mr. Ryan produces riskier fare on “Blue Skies,” with its return to simple standards and unassuming vocals.

    Pandering to white-washed mass-appeal may have its lucrative advantages, but it rarely produces anything of exceptional artistic merit. True, the two sometimes coincide — and there is no doubt that all of the above-referenced performers carry a certain amount of talent and musicianship. It’s simply a matter of how they present it, what material they decide to produce, and the manner in which it is executed. There’s something decidedly slick and commercial about the Josh Grobans and Clay Aikens of the world, something that the publicists and the agents and the music industry glosses over all of their products.

    Rather than resulting in sparkle or pizzazz, the results are more often dull and bland, as if all the fiddling has ended up muddling and diluting any power or passion that may have originally been there. Shawn Ryan’s work retains the raw reality of a live performance (two of the tracks were actually recorded live). It sets him a bit apart from his contemporaries – he seems less polished, more gritty, more real. He’s the guy in the lounge, sitting behind the piano and regaling the patrons with authentically passionate performances and honest, from-the-gut banter. Along the lines of that open honesty, he is one of the only openly gay performers out there. Even Mr. Aiken, whom many assume is the gayest thing since Liberace, plays it safely straight – with nary a nod to sexuality of any sort. Of course, political leanings and social matters have little place on such an enjoyable album, and the matter-of-fact way Ryan unobtrusively presents his gayness is charmingly innocent.

    Rather than conforming to any sort of teeny-bopper pop, Mr. Ryan’s style has more in common with an accomplished singer like Harry Connick, Jr. Both share a bit of a Southern drawl, and an often-understated delivery that is at once gentle and soothing. He displays an uncanny understanding of a song — rather astounding for someone of his young age — and demonstrates a masterful sense of phrasing. (Listen to the way he deftly inserts a quick bit of “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” to underscore the sweet bitterness of the goings-on in “Down With Love”.) Though the production is a little rough around the edges, it does not at all detract from the overall performance, and Ryan shows off a knack for selecting songs that perfectly complement his style.

    His greatest strength may be as a performance singer (credit a long roster of theater credits), as in the second track “The First Thing You Know.” Give him a character song and he will absolutely devour the aural scenery. At turns wistful (“Moon River”) and full of attitude (“I’m Checkin’ Out”), there is quite an expanse of emotions conveyed in the fourteen tracks, and Ryan successfully navigates the choppy stretches between innocent and jaded, young and old, and hopeful and cynical.
    “Going to the Dance With You” evokes the by-gone era of the gramophone, with its vinyl scratch intro and innocent lyrics, while “Here’s That Rainy Day” smokes with world-weary resignation. At the same time, his voice lends itself perfectly to a youthful rendition of “I’ve Never Been in Love Before”, starting off with wide-eyed wonder and deepening to a soulful understanding by the song’s end.
    The album takes a slight downturn on “Beat My Dog”, a live throw-away novelty that doesn’t quite mesh with his voice, which is more suitably used to delicately draw forth the subtle longing on “The Very Thought of You” (done so very right here).

    With its jazzy undertones and soulful delivery, the best of this music smolders with sultry pining, crackles with sharp wit, and offers a cozy refuge from the cold calculation of so many young singers today. “Blue Skies” is also a timely holiday album, with its inclusion of a winter staple, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” and a cheeky Christmas ode in the form of “My Simple Christmas Wish,” (a hilariously catty holiday romp invoking Bette Davis, where Ryan ticks off his Christmas wishes to be “rich, famous, and powerful.”) Both encapsulate the warmth and fun of Mr. Ryan’s ineffable charm.

    The future of a dying breed of vocalists may be found in the no-longer-so-smoky lounges, inhabited by crooners and chanteuses channeling emotion and meaning through standards and classic songs. Shawn Ryan finds inspiration here, and his music speaks to anyone with a keen ear for standards and the classy delivery of a seasoned-pro.”

    — Alan Bennett Ilagan, Boston Edge
  • “When all things post-modern, retro, and ironic are the rage, it’s a welcome jolt to hear an earnest standards singer performing without irony or (too much) affectation. In a world of manufactured pop acts and thin-voiced, talentless lip-syncers, a performer like Shawn Ryan seems to stand little chance. A solid vocalist with talent belying his age, Mr. Ryan represents the seemingly-soon-to-be-lost art of cabaret singers. On his second album, Blue Skies, he brings the beauty of a classic group of songs to a whole new generation.

    A younger crop of crooners, including Michael Buble, Josh Groban, and even Clay Aiken, have stolen the hearts of real-life desperate housewives and soccer Moms, a generally-untapped audience for modern music. Whereas the aforementioned trio ensures its success by supplying mainstream Adult Contemporary fare (cross-over stuff with mass appeal and little spice or strength), Mr. Ryan produces riskier fare on “Blue Skies,” with its return to simple standards and unassuming vocals.

    Pandering to white-washed mass-appeal may have its lucrative advantages, but it rarely produces anything of exceptional artistic merit. True, the two sometimes coincide, and there is no doubt that all of the above-referenced performers carry a certain amount of talent and musicianship. It’s simply a matter of how they present it, what material they decide to produce, and the manner in which it is executed. There’s something decidedly slick and commercial about the Josh Grobans and Clay Aikens of the world, something that the publicists and the agents and the music industry glosses over all of their products.

    Rather than resulting in sparkle or pizzazz, the results are more often dull and bland, as if all the fiddling has ended up muddling and diluting any power or passion that may have originally been there. Shawn Ryan’s work retains the raw reality of a live performance (two of the tracks were actually recorded live). It sets him a bit apart from his contemporaries, he seems less polished, more gritty, more real. He’s the guy in the lounge, sitting behind the piano and regaling the patrons with authentically passionate performances and honest, from-the-gut banter. Along the lines of that open honesty, he is one of the only openly gay performers out there. Even Mr. Aiken, whom many assume is the gayest thing since Liberace, plays it safely straight – with nary a nod to sexuality of any sort. Of course, political leanings and social matters have little place on such an enjoyable album, and the matter-of-fact way Ryan unobtrusively presents his gayness is charmingly innocent.

    Rather than conforming to any sort of teeny-bopper pop, Mr. Ryan’s style has more in common with an accomplished singer like Harry Connick, Jr. Both share a bit of a Southern drawl, and an often-understated delivery that is at once gentle and soothing. He displays an uncanny understanding of a song, rather astounding for someone of his young age, and demonstrates a masterful sense of phrasing. (Listen to the way he deftly inserts a quick bit of “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” to underscore the sweet bitterness of the goings-on in “Down With Love”.) Though the production is a little rough around the edges, it does not at all detract from the overall performance, and Ryan shows off a knack for selecting songs that perfectly compliment his style.

    His greatest strength may be as a performance singer (credit a long roster of theater credits), as in the second track “The First Thing You Know.” Give him a character song and he will absolutely devour the aural scenery. At turns wistful (“Moon River”) and full of attitude (“I’m Checkin’ Out”), there is quite an expanse of emotions conveyed in the fourteen tracks, and Ryan successfully navigates the choppy stretches between innocent and jaded, young and old, and hopeful and cynical.
    “Going to the Dance With You” evokes the by-gone era of the gramophone, with its vinyl scratch intro and innocent lyrics, while “Here’s That Rainy Day” smokes with world-weary resignation. At the same time, his voice lends itself perfectly to a youthful rendition of “I’ve Never Been in Love Before”, starting off with wide-eyed wonder and deepening to a soulful understanding by the song’s end.
    The album takes a slight downturn on “Beat My Dog”, a live throw-away novelty that doesn’t quite mesh with his voice, which is more suitably used to delicately draw forth the subtle longing on “The Very Thought of You” (done so very right here).

    With its jazzy undertones and soulful delivery, the best of this music smolders with sultry pining, crackles with sharp wit, and offers a cozy refuge from the cold calculation of so many young singers today. “Blue Skies” is also a timely holiday album, with its inclusion of a winter staple, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” and a cheeky Christmas ode in the form of “My Simple Christmas Wish,” (a hilariously catty holiday romp invoking Bette Davis, where Ryan ticks off his Christmas wishes to be “rich, famous, and powerful.”) Both encapsulate the warmth and fun of Mr. Ryan’s ineffable charm.

    The future of a dying breed of vocalists may be found in the no-longer-so-smoky lounges, inhabited by crooners and chanteuses channeling emotion and meaning through standards and classic songs. Shawn Ryan finds inspiration here, and his music speaks to anyone with a keen ear for standards and the classy delivery of a seasoned-pro.”

    — Alan Bennett Ilagan, EDGE Boston
  • “The upcoming season offers a bounty of lesbian and gay releases. On “Blue Skies” (LML Music), Shawn Ryan earns extra points for covering an unusual array of songs, including “Goin’ To The Dance With You” (complete with scratchy record sound effects), the live recording “Beat My Dog,” Bricusse and Newley’s Nina Simone hit “Feelin’ Good,” Mel Torme’s “The First Thing You Know,” and Shel Silverstein’s “I’m Checkin’ Out,” to mention a few.”

    — Gregg Shapiro, Chicago Free Press
  • “Openly gay and flat-out adorable, Shawn Ryan is also blessed with a warm, buoyant baritone that you can really relax with: He never sounds forced, and he always sounds like he’s having a wonderful time. His second disc of cabaret and pop standards (available at www.shawn-ryan.com) more than fulfills the promise of his first, thanks in part to Kelly Park’s swinging arrangements and a jazzy studio combo. High points include a gay rendition of Mel Torme’s underperformed “The First Thing You Know” and Jay Leonhart’s “Beat My Dog,” performed live with witty panache.”

    — Tom Steele, OUT Magazine
  • “If you think a CD can’t be simultaneously sweet and swinging, if you think a singer can’t be vulnerable and vivacious, then you haven’t heard Shawn Ryan. Blue Skies is his second album and, like his first one, it’s been living in my CD player a lot. Shawn is a young, openly gay performer who uses the pronouns “he” and “him” when singing love songs. In his liner notes, he dedicates the album to his “true love,” John Ainsworth, who is one of its producers.

    This smooth-voiced guy could have easily crooned his way through a full album of ultra-romantic ballads (which he can do very well), and called it a day, but instead he shows us his versatility. A happy, finger-snappy “The First Thing You Know” by Mel Torme is a great pick-me-up that could make a statue smile. Shel Silverstein’s “I’m Checkin’ Out” displays broad humor, a flair for parody and the otherwise unexplored deep tones his voice can reach. It’s a hoot. “Feeling Good” (Anthony Newley/ Leslie Bricusse) from The Roar Of The Greasepaint … shows some soulfulness. He has fun with “Beat My Dog” from the fertile mind of Jay Leonhart, master of the quirky tongue-in-cheek tune. Two Frank Loesser gems are featured: a warm-all-over “I’ve Never Been In Love Before” (Guys And Dolls) and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Duetted with a spunky lady named Kim Nalley, the latter is not handled with its usual boy-girl playful seduction scenario, but is playfully gayfully fun, with spoken asides. I especially like the old-fashioned treatment of “Goin’ To the Dance With You,” complete with a sound effect at the beginning to simulate the scratches of an old vinyl (or shellac) record.

    There’s one original song (“Fools In Love”) by musical director-pianist-co-producer Kelly Park, with whom Shawn continues his partnership. Park’s musicality and skilled playing are even more in evidence in their second outing. Rolf Johnson’s trumpet is a welcome presence, and sax and guitar are used very effectively on a few tracks. Although it’s enjoyable to hear David Friedman’s brilliant and outrageous “My Simple Christmas Wish” and Barbra Streisand’s 1960s tour-de-force version of “Down With Love” with snippets of famous love songs, I’d rather see this talented performer get ahold of some comic special material numbers of his own, tailor-made. Two of the cuts are from a live show, and it’s clear that he has comic timing and a way with an audience.

    Much as I like this recording, and I like it a whole lot, I am willing to bet that each succeeding album will succeed even more to show the full potential of this still-burgeoning talent. But don’t hesitate to get his first two albums now. This one will make you smile a lot, from the comically “coy boy” moments to the happy-go-lucky numbers to the lush valentine-worthy love songs like the nicely-phrased trip gliding along “Moon River.” Highly recommended and a treasure of pleasure. Bravo!”

    Rob Lester, TalkinBroadway.com

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Shawn Ryan is quickly becoming one of the brightest stars in the jazz cabaret world having what the Beverly Hills Outlook calls "that charm that is rare!". After winning the "2000 Bay Area Cabaret Competition" hosted by Piaf's Restaurant and…