So what is Punk Standards?

For me, this is a complete departure. 

Before I decided to focus on raising a family more than a decade ago, I was a full-time professional actress and classically trained legit soprano with credits worldwide. I starred as Christine in "The Phantom of the Opera" on London's West End at Her Majesty's Theater and more recently at the Royal Albert Hall in its 25th Anniversary celebration. I was the original Cosette in "Les Misérables" in Germany and also in Belgium. I can be heard  on both the Flemish and German original cast albums. The closest I came to doing anything rock, let alone punk, was when I toured Europe as Priscilla Presley in "Elvis, The Musical" in the very beginning of my career.

Fast forward to 2013. I hadn’t performed regularly for years, so when I was offered a chance to do a couple of songs during a Sinatra tribute concert at a theater near my home on the Jersey Shore, I jumped at it. It was then that I realized how much I had missed the stage. My husband Donovan Mannato, along with many friends and colleagues, encouraged me to look for a way to get back to doing what I love.

But how?

The idea

Enter our friend Phil Kuntz, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and punk rock aficionado.  He was humming a Ramones song to himself on the beach we all frequent on summer weekends and had an epiphany. He immediately ran up to Donovan, who happens to be a Broadway producer and the producer of Prey For Rock and Roll, a punk rock movie. Phil gave him the elevator pitch:    

"Classic punk rock songs reimagined as jazz standards – Punk Standards."

Donovan loved the idea, but I was dubious. I didn't know a lot about punk music. And many of the song themes conflicted with my ideas of who I am. As far as I knew, these guys wanted me to suddenly start singing about drug addiction and anarchy. 

The epiphany

Phil and Donovan persisted. After much searching, Phil finally found a lyric that opened the doors of my mind to the idea. In retrospect, that's probably because the song, by the Buzzcocks, was inspired by a scene from a musical, Guys and Dolls.

You spurn my natural emotions   

You make me feel I'm dirt and I'm hurt   

And if I start a commotion   

I run the risk of losing you and that's worse   

Ever fallen in love with someone   

You shouldn't have fallen in love with?

That was all I needed.  I knew we had found something that we could translate into a standard.

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