Monday Inspiration: Don McLean

When I was a kid, my most favourite song was “American Pie” by Don McLean. You know, a completely normal song for a kid in the mid-90’s to know every word to… Imagine my elation when I got a cassette tape of Don McLean’s greatest hits and the sheet music for “American Pie” for my birthday one year! Anyways, his song “Vincent” was also on that cassette and it’s special to me because it was maybe the first song I ever heard that nearly moved me to tears.

He’s just a guy, with a guitar and a beautiful voice, singing poetry.

Monday Inspiration: Edith Piaf

I really like the Jacques Brel song “Ne me quitte pas” which has been covered by many, many singers including Edith Piaf. I fell down the Youtube rabbit hole and began watching a bunch of Piaf’s performances and thought I’d share this one with you: her performance of “Milord” from her appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Monday Inspiration: Brian Stokes Mitchell

I’m kind of a weepy mess whenever I listen to Ragtime. Brian Stokes Mitchell and Audra McDonald are stunning singers and they were in the original broadway cast of Ragtime, so here they are performing “Wheels of a Dream” at the 1997 Kennedy Center Honors. (<- This Canadian had to think hard about the correct spelling of that…)

Monday Inspiration: Nina Simone

I was unfamiliar with Nina Simone until one Christmas, when Jeremy gave me a CD of her greatest hits. The classical nerd in me immediately fell in love with “Love me or leave me” but what I think is most striking about Simone’s singing is how invested she is in the text. There were so many songs I could have chosen today: “Ne me quitte pas”, “I put a spell on you”, “I loves my Porgy” but I finally settled on “The other woman”.


Monday Inspiration: Joan Baez

Joan Baez was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame a couple days ago, so it seemed appropriate that today’s inspiration is Baez performing “Diamonds and Rust”. I like the sound a lot of those 1970s female folk singers had: Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Carly Simon…. The sound is clear and focused, the words are enunciated pretty cleanly, and the melodies are interesting.

Monday Inspiration: Nadine Sierra

This week’s inspiration is Nadine Sierra. She’s an amazing soprano and has achieved so much already (and she’s not even 30!) Here she is singing an aria from Verdi’s Rigoletto: “Caro nome”.

And…ahem…if you want something slightly different, here’s Renee Fleming singing a variation of “Caro nome” on the Muppet Show!

Monday Inspiration: Peter Mattei

I’ve been listening to a lot of Brahms lately, since Jeremy is singing Brahms’s German Requiem this weekend. And so: here’s a performance of it, beginning at the 6th movement with Peter Mattei as the baritone soloist. Mattei has such great control and this work is so exciting to listen to (and perform!)

Monday Inspiration: Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears

Today’s Monday Inspiration comes from the preparation I’m doing for my upcoming recital (Fairest Isle). I’ve chosen a recording of Peter Pears singing Britten’s arrangement of the folk song “O Waly, waly” accompanied by Britten himself. Pears and Britten were partners in life and in music; Britten wrote for the voice so well and it was in large part due to his relationship with Pears (a tenor). What they managed to achieve through their partnership is so inspiring. Enjoy!