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.
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.
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.