This weekend, the Houston Symphony presents Tapestry: The Carole King Songbook, a tribute to one of America’s most popular and enduring singer/songwriters. Performing many of these songs will be the talented Liz Callaway, one of Broadway’s brightest stars. Liz Callaway has appeared many times on Broadway, including in Sunday in the Park with George, Evita and Cats, and has provided the voice for many animated characters, including Anastasia in the 1997 Fox Animation Studios film.
Houston Symphony: When do you first remember hearing Carole King’s music? What impact did it have on you?
Liz Callaway: When I was a little kid, my family and I would go record shopping every Sunday. One time, my sister and I bought the Tapestry album—and it was life changing. I was intrigued by the album’s cover which features Carole King sitting barefoot with a cat in the foreground.
I immediately fell in love with all the songs on the album. Being asked to sing them for this concert is a dream come true. I can’t single out one particular song; I love them all and I know every lyric of every song.
HS: What attracts you to this music?
LC: Carole King’s music is genuine and heartfelt. It expresses purity and is moving to me. And there’s a lot of fun on the album, too.
HS: How is performing Carole King’s music different from performing other music you sing? What makes it unique?
LC: I come from a musical theatre background, but love great pop music. I’m most attracted to the storytelling element. [The orchestra and I] just rehearsed “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” which was made famous by The Monkees in the 60s. It has a carefree, bubble gum feel, but there’s substantive meaning: about social status and life in suburbia. Allison [Blackwell], Bryce [Ryness] and I are singing back up for each other. The three of us have a great comradery. And we absolutely love teaming with Mike [Krajewski] and this fabulous orchestra.
HS: Do you have any favorite songs you would like to highlight for the audience?
LC: I think audiences will really enjoy our interpretation of “A Very Pleasant Sunday.” We’re also doing this amazing trio of three songs which was arranged by my friend: “Home Again,” “So Far Away,” “Been to Canaan.” Allison will be singing “Natural Woman.” She’s incredible.
Also, this program will reveal Carole King’s prolific career as a songwriter. Though she recorded many songs that she wrote, audiences will get the opportunity to hear music that was intended for or recorded by other artists.
HS: In your view, how does Carole King fit into the history of American popular music? Why do we still remember and sing her songs today?
Tapestry is a perfect album. Her music is timeless. Her songs are so well crafted and they touch people. I know that Rolling Stone ranked it in their “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” I would argue that it should be in the top three.
LC: What do you like to do when you aren’t serenading people with your wonderful voice?
HS: I love to spend time at home cooking. I’m also an avid tennis player and huge sports fan.
Don’t miss Liz Callaway in Tapestry: The Carole King Songbook at the Houston Symphony this weekend!