Saturday, November 16, 2013

Interview With Ronnie Fabre

Chuck Stewart: When did you start singing?

Ronnie Fabre: I started singing when I was 13, when my parents gave me a guitar. I started taking lessons,
and by the time I was 15 had my first paying gigs. My dad drove me to the Troubador in Hollywood every Monday night for Hoot Night, and I was hooked. no one ever asked me how old i was..!!! 

Chuck Stewart: I first heard you in Las Vegas in a production show we were both in.  Your singing sounded amazing EVERY night, yet quite effortless.  Do you or have you ever done breathing exercises and do they help?

Ronnie Fabre: Breathing for singing is a very relaxed process for me. I was a scuba diver for many years as a teen, and I think that, and trying to sing without a mic. helped a lot.  I think breathing for singing should be a personal choice, and i never had to practice breathing technique, as it came naturally for my needs as a singer.

Chuck Stewart: Who were some of your influences, as you were growing up?  Also, have you studied voice?

Ronnie Fabre: My first influences were mainly folk artists, like: Joan Beaz, Joni Mitchell, Linda Rondstadt, grahm nash, JD Souther, Glen Frey, Niel young, James Taylor. Most of them I saw all the time at the Troubador.  Richie Havens even talked to me when I asked his advice whether I should go on tour as a singer to Vietnam with the USO. He was a big influence on me and such a powerhouse talent. I met some greats when I was just a kid. Then it was Aretha, Patti Labelle,Chaka Kahn, et al. Then I went in Legends In Concert as Ethel Merman, then morphed into Judy Garland.  My first voice lesson was with Seth Riggs when I was 43. Wow! It changed my muscled up way of singing!  I felt I had found true vocal freedom. I was with Seth for 12 years.  It was difficult at first, but i was very glad I did it.  My mom made her debut singing at Carnagie Hall when she was 18 years old. Mom never gave me singing tips, I had to do it all on my own, but I am very happy to have done what I did, and would change nothing.

Chuck Stewart: Do you practice singing every day?  How much time do you put in?

Ronnie Fabre: I do practice every day, vocalise with students, learning new songs, etc. I teach beginning guitar, and ukelele, and learning new songs is a must. I am having so much fun on uke.  I just love it, and so do my students. a really fun, happy, beautiful instrument!!!  So yes, I practice every day, and it's very important to sing every day. Bob hopes' wife Delores, recorded a cd when she was 86, and it was wounderful.  You snooze, you lose...really true!!

Chuck Stewart: Do you play piano and if so, would you say that has contributed to your awesome musicianship?  

Ronnie Fabre: i  can play the vocalises, on piano, but the guitar and uke are my instruments.  And yes, it's great to accompany yourself. It makes your time better, and you can have it just the way you like it!!

Chuck Stewart: Where have you worked and with whom?

Ronnie Fabre: I started working in Orange County (California) at various clubs, and then married my first husband Ed "too tall" Grell . He  became Bill Medley's drummer, and I sang backup, among other gigs, from 1971, till about 1976. We worked in Vegas starting in around 71', and had many gigs here. I worked in many bands, including many big bands: Nelson Riddle, Guy Lombardo and the Royal Ranadians, many R&B  bands, including The Checkmates, the Lon Bronson all star band, the first 14 pc funk  horn band here in Vegas, and lots of others.  I started in "Legends in Concert", in 1989, as Ethel Merman, and also do Judy Garland.  I still work as a "legend",  occasionally, and have a jazz band, and a second line dixieland band, and in it, I play a tricked out washboard, and sing.  I've never had so much fun!  I just love music, no matter what the venue.  My husband, Steve Golden, is a very accomplished sax player, plays 10 instruments, and has 2 degrees in music from Berklee College of Music in Boston.  We have a great time making music together.

Chuck Stewart: Where are you performing now? 

Ronnie Fabre: I do casuals, still do "legends", occasionally, and have got to work with some of the great Vegas legends, like Joe Darro, a beyond belief piano player and singer, my husband Steve Golden, and if I went on this would never end...

Chuck Stewart: Aren't you also a painter?

Ronnie Fabre: I am a stone carver and bronze caster.  You never want to see me paint, besides my house...I  won first prize  and second, in the Las Vegas Native American Competition for the Las Vegas Art Museum.  My life size bronze, "Moon Shaman" is my favorite piece of artwork, as I had to travel to Saskatoon Canada to do it,then my teacher Bill Epp, the Prof. at the University of Saskatoon, drove it all the way down here for me! What an honor it was!

Chuck Stewart: Do you have an album out currently?   Where can people buy your music?

Ronnie Fabre: I have always given out my cd, to my students, and the people who have liked my music.  I will be on a new compilation cd, with a video, coming out in late December.  It's about many musicians who have been in Vegas for a long while. It should be interesting. I will be singing Billy Strayhorn's "Lush LIfe", my favorite song of all.

Chuck Stewart:  I have had several of my students learn that song.  It is truly a learning experience, mastering it.
Thank you so much for doing this interview. Is there anything you would like to add, regarding being a singer?

Ronnie Fabre: It has been a wonderful life, one I would not have traded for anything, although Marine Biology was at the top of my list in the beginning. Seeing the look on the faces of the GI's in Vietnam changed my life forever.  Today is Veterans Day, and a day near and dear to my heart.  When as a 17 year old kid, still in high school, I took a chance to go to a war zone, and that forever changed my life as a person.
Wow!!  I sang with the Safaris' of "Wipeout", and Surfer Joe fame, from my hometown in Glendora Calif.!  I have been so blessed to be so very lucky, in my chosen field, to be a real singer, to have known so many greats, to have been a part of "old Vegas", and a part of "new Vegas", as the song goes,"Everything Must Change". Goodnight for now, and thanks for asking....!!!!  Love, Ronnie.

 It is an honor and a privilege to have you share these things.   Thank you!