1. NiteLifeExchange – When was the first time you knew you wanted to sing?
Carol Shedlin – I always wanted to sing, but I was an only child and terribly shy. I just read books, but there was a piano in the house and the sheet music proudly displayed on it was a song called “Deep Purple,” and I fell in love with Mitchell Parish’s lyrics, which are poetry. My mother, I am told, played the piano beautifully, but never in front of me. Like me, she must have been a romantic, but shy. So, I sang to the car radio when nobody could hear me and to records when I was alone in suburbia as a housewife— until I met Linda Amiel Burns 25 years ago and she created such a nourishing environment that I’ve been singing ever since.
2. NLE – When did you start doing actual theme shows?
CS – I did my first shows at Judy’s on 46th Street where I met Jan Wallman, and she was such a great friend and supporter. Jan told me to just keep singing. I was encouraged by Judy Kreston and David Lahm to do a show and Richard Hendricken booked me, and Linda directed me, and I have been doing a show every year since then. Aaron Morishita has also been so supportive in the past as my director. What a wonderful family I fell into!
– You have been a great supporter of other cabaret artists over the years. What has that experience been like for you?
CS – When I was a kid in school and had a really hot date, I always dreamed of going to the Maisonette at the St. Regis to hear Julie Wilson. When I became immersed in the cabaret world, I saw Julie perform many times and she became a good friend with whom I scarfed hamburgers with and talked about laundry. I’ve seen hundreds of shows as an audience member and have made many wonderful friends through that experience. I’ve had the most wonderful support from them, as well, when I did my shows. At one time, I used to go out every night to Judy’s Chelsea, Don’t Tell Mama and Danny’s — where I also performed, thanks to a booking by Don Schaffer. Of course, my experiences at Don’t Tell Mama were made exquisite by the fact that I got to know Sidney Myer, who has been an inspiration for me. He is very dear.
4. NLE – Tell us about the theme of your show which is starting its run at Don’t Tell Mama.
– This is my 19th solo act and I’ve performed each of those shows four to six times. That’s a lot of shows! My new show, Serenade in Blue
, is composed of all different blues numbers from all different genres and throughout many decades. Many are from the ’20s and are very risqué. I thrive on doing the research and it takes me about a year to put together each show. I love finding the lyrics first —that’s were the fun starts: digging up the music. I’ll be accompanied for these shows by Jon Delfin on piano and Boots Maleson on bass.
5. NLE – You’re a regular at Jim Caruso’s Cast Party. What has that meant to you?
CS – I love Birdland, and especially Cast Party. I’ve never been treated so kindly and generously anywhere! I’d love to move in, but I don’t think Gianni would rent me the dressing room! It’s a kick and a half and Jim and Billy [Stritch] show such kindness and grace.
6. NLE – When you’re alone, what do you listen to?
CS – I listen to my Sony reel-to-reel. I listen to my big band and Frank Sinatra and Sidney Bechet and Art Tatum. I had an older cousin who had a thousand 78-rpm records which I got from her and, when I was going to move, I took record by record and taped them; my phonograph works, too! I love its warm sound that you don’t get from a CD. Celebrating that music and the the joy of performing it is my passion. And to look out and see young people appreciating it makes me so pleased. It’s the most important cultural thing America has to offer the world — and it is thrilling.