SHOWBIZ NATION with MICHAEL ROBERTS: Interview with KAREN MASON
KAREN MASON – the acclaimed Broadway star and concert artist – will release her new album It’s About Time from Zevely Records is now available. In a variety of settings from a lavishly-orchestrated full-band with exciting brass and lush strings to hushed solo piano, she performs timeless standards (“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Just in Time”) and theater classics (“Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “Somewhere/The Impossible Dream”). The album also features fresh original songs by the album’s producer Paul Rolnick, including the album’s lead single, the title track “It’s About Time” which honors our national victory for Marriage Equality. Inspired by her recent turn in the Broadway-bound musical Chasing Rainbows, Karen honors the legendary entertainer Judy Garland with selections such as “The Man That Got Away,” “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart” and the iconic “Over the Rainbow.” To order the album, please visit www.KarenMason.com.
It’s About Time – according to the liner notes by longtime WBAI Radio personality David Kenney – is “yet another stunningly beautiful album of songs by one of the best girl singers on the scene today. What is on display here, beyond that powerful voice with the gorgeous tones or the brilliant actress, is the heart of Karen Mason.”
“Why It’s About Time?,” Mason asks. “Well, it has been too many years since my last CD. And I feel like I’m in a great period of my life for exploring my favorite songs and new additions to the canon. This collection reflects so many parts of my personality. It’s the perfect time to create new music!”
The album’s title song was written by Paul Rolnick and Shelly Markham for a wedding of Karen’s friends after Marriage Equality passed in New York State. “I was thrilled to be asked to sing at their beautiful day and told my husband Paul Rolnick, he should write this custom song for the happy couple. It continues to inspire me because I still feel the power of love and truth! It’s about time for us all to stand up for what we believe.”
A special highlight of the disc is the debut pop recording of the song “Finding Wonderland” from the Broadway musical Wonderland by Frank Wildhorn and Jack Murphy, Karen’s most recent appearance on the Great White Way. “It’s a wonderful song,” says Mason, “and it brings back great memories of performing in the show. This number is about finding ourselves and finding our truths, which fits in beautifully with the album’s themes.”
Her rendition of “Fifty Percent” from the musical Ballroom features the song’s composer, Billy Goldenberg, at the piano. “This was created for the newest demo for the stage show,” says Karen. “I am over the moon we could include this!”
The collection’s final song, the Gershwin classic “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” honors Brian Lasser – Karen’s friend and first Music Director – who died in 1992. But it’s more than a mere homage. “Paul found a recording from 1989 of Brian actually playing the song,” she explains. “He lifted the track and told me to sing along. I put it off for a long time, and this year I was finally fearless enough to tackle the project. Now I am so happy we did. After all these years, I get to sing with my friend again. It’s about time indeed!”
KAREN MASON has starred on Broadway, Off-Broadway, television, and in the recording studio. She’s been praised for her “fierce emotion” by The New York Times, her “innate comic ability” by Playbill and her “delightful instrument” by the Daily News. Karen has been called “immensely appealing” by The Chicago Tribune, “a towering talent” by TheaterMania and “a dynamic performer” by Time Out New York. According to the Indianapolis Star, “Mason has a powerful voice and rich resonance you associate with Judy Garland or Barbra Streisand. She can sing slow and smoky or fast and punchy with an innate sense of humor. Mason is a poet of the vocal chords.”
Karen is a twelve-time MAC Award winner – most recently “Show of the Year” and “Celebrity Artist” in 2016 – and has won the MAC Award for Major Female Vocalist of the Year for six consecutive years. She has also won the 2006 Nightlife Award for Major Female Vocalist and has three Bistro Awards.
Ms. Mason most recently garnered rave reviews starring as The Queen of Hearts in Wonderland on Broadway. She originated the role of Tanya on Broadway in ABBA’s Mamma Mia, and was awarded a 2002 Drama Desk nomination as Best Actress. Her other leading roles include Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, which she performed to critical acclaim and standing ovations on Broadway and in Los Angeles for three years; Velma von Tussel in the final Broadway company of Hairspray; “Monotony” singer, Mazeppa in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway; Rosalie in Carnival (another Drama Desk nomination); plus featured roles in Broadway’s Torch Song Trilogy; and Play Me A Country Song.
She won the Outer Critics Circle Award for her performance in And the World Goes ‘Round, and starred Off-Broadway in her own show Karen Mason Sings Broadway, Beatles and Brian. Her television appearances include the hit dramas “Ed” and “Law & Order: SVU” while film credits include Sleeping Dogs Lie and A Chorus Line.
In regional theatre, she starred in the 1st National Tour of A Christmas Story as Miss Shields, in the world premiere of the stage production of White Christmas(playing the Rosemary Clooney role at St. Louis Muni Opera), Side by Side by Sondheim (Coconut Grove Playhouse in Florida), Gypsy (Sundance Theatre in California), the world premiere of One Tough Cookie (Apple Tree Theatre in Chicago), Heartbeats (Goodspeed Opera House) and Company (Huntington Theatre in Boston). Karen starred in the one-woman musical about Dorothy Parker You Might As Well Live.
Karen has headlined Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Feinstein’s at the Regency, Rainbow & Stars, the Algonquin, Arci’ Place, The Supper Club and The Ballroom in NYC; The Cinegrill and the UCLA/ASCAP Concert Series in Los Angeles; The Plush Room in San Francisco; and Davenport’s in Chicago.
She has shared concert stages with Michael Feinstein, Jerry Herman, Chita Rivera, Luciano Pavarotti, Rosemary Clooney, Liza Minnelli, and John Kander & Fred Ebb, among others. Karen has given concerts in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Brazil, Scotland, Tokyo and Osaka. Her starring symphonic performances include The Long Beach Symphony Orchestra with Maestro Michael Berkowitz, the Philly Pops with Peter Nero, The New York Pops with Skitch Henderson, the Oklahoma Philharmonic with Joel Levine, the premier performance of The Chicagoland Pops, the Indianapolis Philharmonic, and the St. Louis Symphony with John McDaniel.
Her highly acclaimed recordings include her 2009 MAC Award-winning Right Here/Right Now, 2005’s The Sweetest of Nights, the MAC Award-winning When The Sun Comes Out, as well as three other CDs: Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!, recorded live at the West Bank Café; Better Days, featuring songs by her longtime composer/arranger Brian Lasser (including the 1998 Emmy Award-winning song “Hold Me”); and Not So Simply Broadway. Karen has been featured on the original cast CD of Wonderland; Jeffrey (Varese Sarabande), the studio cast recording of Wonderful Town (JAY Records), the original cast album of And The World Goes Round (RCA Victor), The Child In Me, Vol. 1 (Harbinger Records), and Lost in Boston II (Varese Sarabande).