Betty Buckley Entertains Us With “Story Songs” Her New 2-CD Set
By Starla Smith
April 8, 2017
The legendary Betty Buckley has just released her 17th album. “Story Songs” the new 2-CD set is definitely a labor of love and you can hear it in every note. You can probably tell from the title that it is a collection of songs that tell some of the stories Buckley wanted to convey. Don’t be fooled though, there is a lot more here. Listen and enjoy “Story Songs” almost anywhere you buy music or just click here to go directly to Betty Buckley’s site.
There is a fragile vulnerability in voices of legendary vocalists. Only the truly great singers have it. Betty Buckley does. When she sings, her voice reaches out to embrace your heart. And for those magical moments, you are suspended in a state of bliss and emotional simpatico.
Her show-biz career has spanned almost five decades. It all started with her first Broadway audition. With barely a moment’s notice, she was asked to fly to New York and audition for the role of Martha Jefferson in the 1969 Tony-winning musical, “1776.” She nailed it, and began rehearsals the following day for what would be her Broadway debut. She was on her way.
But it was her turn as Grizabella, the Glamour Cat in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1982 Tony-winning musical, “Cats” and her show-stopping version of “Memory” that made her a Broadway star. She was onstage for only 13 minutes, but her performance earned her a Tony Award. While others have sung and recorded the song, no other artist can pierce the heart in the same way as Buckley.
She received her second Tony Award nomination (1997) for best actress in a musical for her performance as Hesione in “Triumph of Love,” and an Olivier Award nomination (1994) for her critically acclaimed interpretation of Norma Desmond in the London production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard.” She repeated that performance to more rave reviews on Broadway, replacing Glenn Close. And far as this writer is concerned, her turn as Norma Desmond has surpassed all others in the role.
Buckley’s other Broadway credits include “Pippin,” “Song and Dance,” “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” And then there was “Carrie,” a musical based on the Stephen King novel. She took over the role of Carrie’s mother Margaret, after Barbara Cook withdrew. Although “Carrie” closed three days after its opening night, for those of us who saw it, an indelible image remains; that of Buckley floating in gray chiffon down the expansive white staircase like the angel of revenge with an immense butcher knife in her hand.
While Buckley’s roots are entrenched in Broadway, she has also appeared on television and in movies. She starred as Abby in the popular TV dramedy, “Eight Is Enough,” from 1977 to 1981. And In 2001–03, she had a recurring role in seasons four-six of the HBO’s “Oz.” She also appeared as Marion Leckie, mother of Robert Leckie in the HBO miniseries, “The Pacific” (2010), produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.
In January 2013 Buckley was inducted into The American Theater Hall of Fame. The same year, she starred in the London Premiere of Jerry Herman’s “Dear World,” receiving rave reviews. She followed that by starring in the world premiere of Horton Foote‘s “The Old Friends” at the Signature Theatre off-Broadway. She repeated her performance in 2014 at Houston’s famed Alley Theatre. In 2015, Buckley played the role of Big Edie in the musical, “Grey Gardens” at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, NY. She reprised the role in the 2016 production of “Grey Gardens” at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles.
She made her film debut in Brian DePalma’s “Carrie,” (1976) as Miss Collins, Carrie’s gym teacher. She played a country singer in Bruce Beresford’s film “Tender Mercies,” singing the Academy Award nominated song “Over You” She went on to play Sondra Walker, Harrison Ford’s on-screen wife in Roman Polanski’s “Frantic” (1988), Virginia Earp in Lawrence’s Kasden’s “Wyatt Earp” (1994), and the creepy Mrs. Jones in M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening” (2008).
Buckley just released her 17th album, “Story Songs” by Palmetto Records, joined by her longtime musical director/arranger, multi-Grammy nominated jazz pianist Christian Jacob. The two-disc set is comprised of live tracks from concerts in California and New York.
The CD shows off Buckley’s eclectic taste in music. The songs range from Radiohead, Peter Gabriel, Joni Mitchell and Sting to theater composers Stephen Schwartz and Jason Robert Brown. She includes newcomer Joe Iconis, whose songs were featured during the second season of NBC’s hit, “Smash.”
Thus far, 2017 has been a banner year for Buckley. Besides her CD and concert engagements, she co-starred in another M. Night Shayamalan film, “Split,” opposite James McAvoy as his psychologist, Dr. Fletcher. Shayamalan actually wrote the role for Buckley. Critics described her performance as “wonderful” (NY Times), “stellar” (Rolling Stone), and “mesmerizing” (LA Times).
When Buckley’s not filming, recording albums, or performing onstage, she relaxes at her 30-acre ranch in her native Texas. As a Lone Star gal, she grew up riding horses, and she has two on her ranch. She probably sings to them, but not always a Broadway standard. Maybe a little Led Zeppelin? She confides he’s one of her favorites. And we bet the horses rock.
“Story Songs” Track List:
1) “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught” – Music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, from “South Pacific”
2) “Cassandra” – Music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
3) “High & Dry” – Music and lyrics by Radiohead
4) “Chanson” – Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, from “The Baker’s Wife”
5) “All Things In Time” – Music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
6) “Old Flame” – Music and lyrics by Joe Iconis
7) “Another Life” – Music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, from “The Bridges of Madison County”
8) “Prayer in Open D” – Music and lyrics by Emmylou Harris
9) “September Song” – Music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, from “Knickerbocker Holiday”
10) “Don’t Give Up” – Music and lyrics by Peter Gabriel
11) “Throw It Away” – Music and lyrics by Abbey Lincoln
1) ”How Long Has This Been Going On?” Piano solo – Music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin
2) ”Practical Arrangement” – Music and lyrics by Sting
3) Stephen Bruton Story
4) ”Too Many Memories” – Music and lyrics by Stephen Bruton
5) ”Bird on A Wire” – Music and lyrics by Leonard Cohen
6) Howard DiSilva Story
7) ”Both Sides Now” – Music and lyrics by Joni Mitchell
8) Elaine Stritch Story
9) ”I’m Still Here” – Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Listen and enjoy “Story Songs” almost anywhere you buy music or just click here to go directly to Betty Buckley’s site.