Since the August 2001 release of her debut CD, Can I Be Frank? (LMLMusic), singer Betsyann Faiella has been crisscrossing the country, performing in support of her sleek and daring recording: a tribute to none other than ol' Blue Eyes himself. She has appeared in jazz clubs, cabarets, retirement villages and colleges, among other venues. Her engagements have sent her home to her native New York, and to one of her favorite goofy getaways, Las Vegas. In December of 2002, Betsyann Faiella headlined at the Blue Note Las Vegas (part of the venerable chain which includes clubs worldwide) for six nights. Her tribute to Frank Sinatra broke box office records for the club in November and December.
This August, Betsyann Faiella is set to appear at the Blue Note in New York City for a one week engagement, as the featured vocalist in a Sinatra tribute which stars the legendary Hank Jones, Frank Wess and Benny Powell, as well as some other special guests. Faiella is busy preparing for that gig in her adopted home of Los Angeles, where she has resided since the 1980's. "I'm working out vocally every day, experimenting with rhythm, experimenting with melody, and my long time accompanist and collaborator, Shelly Markham, is supporting me in this freedom, just letting me go OFF!", says Betsyann . Her research also includes listening to the Basie/Sinatra recordings which featured Wess and Powell, and to many recordings featuring the work of Mr. Henry 'Hank' Jones, revered jazz composer, solo artist, interpreter of the American Songbook, and beloved collaborator of the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, among other great singers. Betsyann's goal in August is to "just sing the songs and honor the man." This is a simple approach to the Great American Songbook for which she has become known and admired by other musicians who hear her, and the many DJ's nationwide who have consistently played Can I Be Frank? since its release almost two years ago. Her recording is programmed on standards stations, jazz stations, and Sinatra shows.
Fall of 2003 will find Betsyann at the New York Cabaret Convention on October 25th, where she'll participate in a special evening for children hosted by dear friend, Andrea Marcovicci. She will also return to the Gardenia in Hollywood with a magnificent new show, saluting New York., currently in rehearsal with Shelly Markham. This show is scheduled for outings in both New York City and San Francisco in Spring 2004.
In addition to her Sinatra repertoire, Betsyann Faiella has performed a new, eclectic show titled, 'No Ordinary Thing' at Tom Rolla's Gardenia in an eight week engagement in Spring 2002, and most recently in the same venue in a month long engagement in May 2003. Both times, she was featured as a Pick of the Week by the L,A. Weekly. And this eclectic 'cabaret' show was also featured in reviews by jazz critics as a 'must see' event! "I'm glad the lines are blurred right now. They should be!" says Betsyann. Blurring the lines is a trick Faiella accomplishes in part by utilizing jazz accompaniment in all her shows. And she admits that her influences are largely jazz singers, or others who've blurred the lines, like Sinatra himself.
Betsyann Faiella has followed an unusual and diverse path since her cabaret debut at New York City's Reno Sweeney. Discovered by the club's owner one night, while singing at the Empire Diner, she began appearing often at Reno Sweeney and the Grand Finale, among other venues. Ms. Faiella then began a long association with legendary cabaret impresario, Lewis Friedman and his New York club, s.n.a.f.u. Ms. Faiella joined Friedman on-stage as the lead singer of a band that mainly performed Friedman's compositions. The band was called "Loo Tattoo" or "Betsy and the Boys," alternatively, and Ms. Faiella describes the music as "theatrical rock and roll."
Around this time, Faiella recorded the song "Your Lovin' Eyes" with actors Jeff Daniels and Jonathon Hogan, for the Broadway Production of "Fifth of July." While not a musical, "Fifth of July" featured a sub-plot in which the lead character, played on by Swoosie Kurtz, lands a record deal on the basis of her "demo tape." In reality, it is Betsyann's vocal on the demo.
Leaving New York largely behind, Ms. Faiella toured the U.S. and Canada in the 1980's in a variety of musical revues. In between gigs, she performed her own cabaret show, appeared in TV commercials, and recorded jingles and voice-overs. Then she "stumbled" into commercial production by responding to an ad in the Hollywood Reporter. In between producing commercials for Chevron, Lexus, Nissan, Budweiser, Coca Cola and scores of others, Betsyann never stopped singing. She continued to draw sold-out crowds at the hottest cabaret spots in Los Angeles including Tom Rolla's Gardenia, Cafe Largo, Luna Park and the Cinegrill.
For a long time, she was content taking weeks off between commercial productions to pursue her musical career. However, a few years ago, Betsyann began to get restless and simply had to admit to herself that singing needed to be more of a priority in her life. The decision to record a debut CD was a logical progression to this commitment. The decision to record a selection of songs almost exclusively associated with Frank Sinatra was the bravest decision in this commitment. Ms. Faiella acknowledges that Sinatra's voice is one of her earliest musical memories, and he remains her most revered influence.
Can I Be Frank? was produced by Ms. Faiella, Shelley Markham, and Clifford Bell. Ms. Faiella chose a wide variety of Sinatra music, describing the collection as a mixture of childhood favorites, well-knownblockbusters and (naturally) "some less known material from the Sinatra oeuvre. " Her own unique perspective notwithstanding, like Sinatra, she strived for superb song arrangements, which can be accredited to Shelley Markham (who also performs keyboards on the album). Recorded in Los Angeles, Can I Be Frank? features two Sinatra sidemen on the album including Jim DeJulio (bass) and Gregg Field (drums). DeJulio performed with Sinatra throughout the last decade of his career, accompanying him on the Diamond Jubilee Tour and in Las Vegas at the Riviera and the Golden Nugget, among other venues. Gregg Field was Sinatra's drummer on the "Duets" album and performed live with him for the last seven years of his career. In addition, the renowned drummer, Joe LaBarbera, formerly drummer for Tony Bennett and the Bill Evans Trio, is featured on four of the tracks on Can I Be Frank? "
As a singer, I've always tried to transport and transform the listener," says Faiella. " To take a lyric and a melody, live inside the song and tell the story. For this collection I added the joyous challenge of reinterpreting from my female perspective, songs performed over six decades by the very masculine master of the art form, Frank Sinatra."