Lynnie Godfrey celebrates the standards and the holidays
Lynnie Godfrey wants to get something straight right away.
She's not a jazz singer per se. She sings standards.
To this, it should be added, the way that Lynnie Godfrey sings standards is anything but standard.
Just give a listen to either of her CDs released this year: "Lynnie Godfrey: Doing It Her Way" and "Spending The Holidays With Lynnie Godfrey."
Or attend her concert, "Celebrating The Holidays With Lynnie Godfrey," 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19, Rodale Community Room, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.
"I do the classic standards, with a rhythm section, really true to their form," Godfrey says.
"I bring the interpretive power of the theater. When I do it, I tell stories. Most of my songs are stories. What you're seeing is an actress who is a singer who tells her stories through songs."
This shouldn't be surprising. Godfrey received a Drama Desk nomination for her Broadway debut in "Eubie!" and had a recurring role on TV's "Brewster Place."
Godfrey, born and raised in Harlem, began her voice training in middle school with Dr. Chauncey Northern Sr. After graduation from George Washington High School where she was elected the first female student government president, she studied acting and directing with Lloyd Richards at Hunter College.
Her stage credits include New York and London West End productions in the title role of "Snow Queen," the lead role of Lola in "Damn Yankees" at Hartford Stage, "No Place To Be Somebody" in Los Angeles, touring in theater companies in Europe and one-woman shows across the United States.
She's had roles on TV's "LA Law," "Civil Wars," "thirtysomething" and "Frank's Place. She appeared opposite Kathleen Turner in the movie "V.I Warshawski" (1991).
Her CD," Doing It Her Way," is thoughtfully programmed. One title flows into the next, from "Fever" to "Heat Wave" and Moon River" to "Midnight Sun."
The CD was recorded at Red Rock Recording Studio, Saylorsburg, Monroe County, with Godfrey co-producing with Kent Heckman. Musicians are: Roger Latzgo, piano, guitar; Tom Hamilton, saxophone; Anthony Marino, bass, and Gary Rissmiller, drums.
The CD, "Spending The Holidays With Lynnie Godfrey," was also recorded at Red Rock with Latzgo, piano, guitar; Wetzel and Tony Gairo, saxophone; Marino and Greg Eicher, bass, and Rissmiller, drums.
Godrey looks forward to performing in the Rodale Community Room: "You do it for those wonderful spaces that you can craft and create in."
Accompanying her for two sets of approximately 50 minutes each are: Lou Czechowski, piano; Latzgo, piano, guitar; Neil Wetzel, saxophone; Gene Perla, bass, and Rissmiller, drums.
Of her one-woman show, Godfrey says, "I had worked for so many years in wonderful theater, but I realized I was doing the same thing over and over again. It had nothing to do with age or color."
She said she took a cue from Lloyd Richardson, who said, "If you don't see it on stage, create it."
Godfrey is collaborating with Celeste Bedford Walker on a new play, "Black Wall Street," set in 1921 in Greenwood, a neighborhood of Tulsa, Okla.
Greenwood was said to be one of the most successful and wealthiest African-American communities in the U.S., and was known as "Black Wall Street" until the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.
"The wonderful thing about presenting something new is that you can convince the audience that anything is possible. You immediately are walking into a world of make-believe," Godfrey says.
Godfrey plans a staged reading in spring in Allentown and Bethlehem of the eight to 10-character play that she's directing and may appear in. Plans are to present the play in New York City.
"I do believe the Lehigh Valley is the new New Haven, where people try out."
Godfrey's participating in the "Artists Among Us," a series featuring artists living and working in the Lehigh Valley region presented at ArtsQuest Center, SteelStacks, Bethlehem, where Godfrey is on the ArtsQuest Performing Arts Board .
Godfrey moved from to Bethlehem in 2010 with her husband, Carl E. Lee, a financial analyst for Exxon-Mobil, before retiring after 35 years. She and her husband live in the North Whitehall Township area.
They relocated after visiting Valley friends, author G. Bruce Boyer ("Gary Cooper: Enduring Style") and his wife Pamela.
"We enjoy the lifestyle that we live here," says Godfrey.
Tickets: Miller Symphony Hall Box Office, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown; allentownsymphony.org; 610-432-6715