Thursday, January 31, 2008

Julie Wilson

I love YouTube.

Not for the idiots who sit in front of their web cams begging for a few seconds of the Fifteen Minutes of Fame that Warhol promised them, but for the clips of outstanding performances by artists who show the world that AMERICAN IDOL and the majority of it's singers... well... suck.

I don't watch that show, don't care for that show and think that any person who tunes in to a program that lists Paula Abdul as a "Arbiter of Talent" is, like Paula herself, in need of some serious medication.

I understand that some incredible talent has come from that show (Kelly Clarkson for one is truly amazing), but if you want to listen to and experience real talent that's been skillfully harnessed and refined to pure grace and charm, you must watch this clip of Ms. Julie Wilson...

Ms. Wilson is one of the - - if not THE - - foremost cabaret singers in the world. I had the privilege of studying with her in 1999 at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center during their Cabaret Symposium. Or as we called it, "Cabaret Bootcamp."

Yes, it was as gay as it sounds.

But getting to sing for and take notes from dynamic and brilliant singers like Ms. Wilson changed me as a performer, as a singer and as a person.

I remember, when I had my one-on-one session with Julie, she started off by asking me about my life in Chicago and I told her where I worked and where I sang and I ended it by saying something flippant and self-deprecating (as I usually do) about how I wasn't rich. Julie looked me right in the eyes, took my right hand in her hands and said...

"I think you're very rich."

And as cliched and silly as that might sound to some, it unlocked something in me. It helped me let go of all the trappings that keeps performers from actually performing at their best.

You see, if I'm worried about making fortune and being a "star," then I'm not concentrating on making the best art that I can with my voice and my body. I'm not listening, I'm not "in the scene" - - I'm simply trying to get somewhere. And the funny part about that is that the wanting of the stardom is usually the thing that keeps you FROM the stardom.

So, I'm not rich. But I am rich.

This song says that much better than I could. I saw Julie perform this song at the Symposium and it was stellar.

I'd love to hear what that idiot Simon would have to say about THIS performance...


Doug said...


Love love love the story about Julie Wilson. It is so beautiful, and well-told.

Now to my beef. I watch "American Idol," but that does not mean that I have any respect whatsoever for the judges or their sad credentials.

I enjoy watching young people put themselves out there and try to improve their performance skills. I enjoy seeing how the popularity dynamic affects their ability to remain in the competition. And I enjoy certain theme nights, and visits from pop legends.

Would I buy an album recorded by an American Idol winner? Doubtful-- they rarely live up to the hype. The simple truth is that for me, this is a reality show that, however loosely, relates to the performing arts-- which is far more interesting to me than watching a bunch of people go without food and water in the jungle for months while conspiring and forming "alliances."

And connecting Julie Wilson's fabulosity and brilliance in any way to "American Idol," or conjecturing what the boneheaded judges might say about her... well, that's irrelevant, no?

So let's clarify... it's not people who tune in to "American Idol" that should be on medication. (Although it's again irrelevant, since I'm on medication anyway!) It's people who consider the judges as reliable, knowledgeable arbiters of talent who should be on medication. With that I will agree.

With that, and with your admiration of the genius of Julie Wilson.


Stephen Rader said...

doug - Good points, but any show that disallows someone to be "The Next American Idol" because they are older than 25 is pandering to the American love affair with all-things young and pre-pubescent. And watching it provides more fodder for more companies to invest more money in things ONLY targeting the young and allows all of us over 25 to be subject to entertainment that is nothing more than DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR?

I know that that's a strong statement, but that's how I feel. I've tried to watch it and I find AMERICAN IDOL insipid and downright hateful in it's treatment of the performers.

Give me Cole Porter sung by Julie Wilson anyday. Especially when compared to Clay Aiken singing... well.. anything.

Aaron said...

Well said. Julie Wilson is amazing (I have to love her if only because she has the same name as my cousin now that she's married)! What a great gift she gave didn't blush and say "Aw shucks" afterwards, did you?! :-)

I hate "American Idol" too--it's a badly irrigated desert of performance art judged by the ugliest Cantina freaks from "Star Wars." If young people really want to improve their performance skills, I can only think that this is the worst possible way to do it--in a mean-spirited fishbowl, where they're worried more about posing and putting up a wall of attitude--instead of the internal concentration it takes to improve themselves. (Yes, I know they have "coaching" before they go on, but it's better to be taught by a REAL voice or music teacher for a proper length of time than some quick-fix, "hot pocket" lessons on how to stand and where to point your fingers from some also-ran celebrity in the employ of the show.) Simon should go adjust his pec implants and leave musical evaluation to someone who's actually CUT a hit single that didn't sound like somebody shut his balls in a car door.

(Actually, this argument is kind of like the "liberal vs. conservative" argument--neither side will convince the other. We should probably just accept that the twain shall never meet!) :-)

Doug said...

I don't feel the need to convince anyone of anything. We are all entitled to watch whatever we choose.

I actually agree with most of yours and Stephen's comments. I certainly don't feel as passionately for AI as Stephen feels against it, and I don't think the show merits any defense... what you say is true.

I just took some of the initial comments personally, and was put on the defensive.

Isabella Snow said...

I'll be a devil til I'm an angel.. yes, I think I like that line. ;)

dollar said...

Hi Stephen:

Here is another YouTube classic; your self-described "personal hero", Aussie party boy Corey Delaney, got his a** kicked in a fight and it was caught on tape. What a douche!

Stephen Rader said...

aaron - Well, I can see where AMERICAN IDOL gives these kids a GIGANTIC break into show business - - that is, if they succeed - - but the cost seems to be so high. And you're right, wouldn't longterm coaching be a better way to make it to the big time?

doug - I am SO sorry if I offended you personally. I guess I just shot off my mouth a little too hard. I just don't understand why the show is a success and I sometimes feel that America would rather know the opinions of Kelly Clarkson instead of Hillary Clinton and that frightens me. Forgive me?

isabella - I love that lyric as well! Especially, the part that comes after it - - "I'll be a devil till I'm an angel, but until then... HALLELUJAH!!!!" Amen, sister. Amen!!

dollar - Thanks for the Corey update, but I don't really see him getting his ass kicked in that fight. Looks to me like he held his own. And a douche would be someone who would NOT show up to at the appointed time for a fight he knew he would probably lose. That takes guts, style and balls. Big balls. Say what you will, but I'm still a Corey fan.