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I Sang That by Sally Stevens - Book Tour

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A personal story of growing up in a "his, hers and theirs" family in the forties and fifties, and how a shy little girl became a second-generation singer in the ever-evolving music business of Hollywood…

By Sally Stevens



Book Blurb

This book is a personal journey behind the scenes into the world of music-makers who created the film scores, television music, sound recordings, commercials and concert evenings over the last sixty years.

 It’s about a long singing career that began in 1960 with concert tours – Ray Conniff, Nat King Cole, and later, solo work in concert with Burt Bacharach – to thirty years of vocals and main titles for The Simpsons, vocals for Family Guy…vocals on hundreds of film & television scores & sound recordings, plus twenty-two years as Choral Director for the Oscars. It’s also the personal story of growing up in a “his, hers and theirs” family in the forties and fifties, and how a shy little girl became a second-generation singer in the ever-evolving music business of Hollywood.

Release Date: October 25, 2022

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Soft Cover: 978-1639885510; 390 pages

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3GmcBJD

Book Excerpt  


INTRODUCTION 


One day, during the period of the coronavirus pandemic that
hit the world early in 2020 and brought activities to a
screeching halt, I came across a box of sheet music I’d
stored away—scribbled lead sheets of songs I had written
back in the late sixties and seventies. Some of them were
completed and I had actually recorded demos of them. Some
were almost complete, but had a few missing bars of lyrics,
or the pencil scribblings were so faded that I couldn’t
quite make them out. 


I’ve spent hours during this last year sitting at the piano
playing through those songs, trying to remember what person
or what heartbreak inspired each one. I’ve gotten mad at
myself for not working harder at them, for not believing
more in myself and my ability to do that. 

There’s a little framed art piece hanging on the entryway
hall of my house next to my front door. In black letters,
painted artistically on a background that looks like it’s
made of sackcloth, are the words of its thought-provoking
message: “I am lost. I have gone to look for myself. If I
should return before I get back, please ask me to wait.
Thanks.” 


I see that little sign every time I leave my house, and I
ponder upon its meaning. Why did I feel that message was so
clearly for me? Was it a moment of clarity? Did I somehow
lose myself along the way? Did I end up on the path I had
not intended to travel? I spotted that little sign maybe ten
years ago, when I was shopping in a neighborhood gift shop.
It struck home immediately but I wasn’t sure exactly why. I
just knew I had to buy it. Maybe writing these pages will
help me figure it all out. 


The songwriting began for me decades ago when I was still
in junior high school. It was partly self-expression and
partly a conscious creative endeavor. That was when I began
to think seriously about wanting to make a living in the
music business. Though I’d sung with a little band of guys
from my high school who performed for dances at the Elks
Lodge, my first real professional audition happened one day
in 1957 during my last year in high school. It was through
the kindness of a lighting man who had been on the road with
my father when he was road manager for Holiday on Ice that I
got a chance to audition for one of the afternoon TV talk
shows produced in Los Angeles. The lighting man had
remembered my father talking about his daughter who wanted
to be a singer, and he was now working at CBS TV on the
afternoon show. The band was looking for a singer, and my
dad had successfully convinced the lighting man that I was
pretty good, so he somehow managed to get me involved in the
auditions. 


I couldn’t believe this really was happening. At that point
I was still pretty shy, so I lived somewhere between
adequate self-confidence and total fear and paranoia. Part
of me must have thought that I might somehow, at seventeen
years of age, be good enough to get hired on a network TV
show. The other part of me was scared to death I wouldn’t be
able to pull it off. 


I wish I could tell you the name of the show, but it has
long escaped my memory, along with the name of the song I
sang. I was terribly nervous, and on top of just being
nervous about the singing, I had never driven into “the
city” from the little town of Tujunga where we
lived. 


CBS Studio was, and still is, at the corner of Fairfax
Boulevard and Beverly Boulevard, sort of on the west edge of
Hollywood. Tujunga is in the low hills at the far north end
of the San Fernando Valley. There was no Siri in those days
to tell you where to turn, nor any Google Maps on the
dashboard. So my mother wrote out careful instructions for
me, and I tried to follow them. I don’t think she was
terribly happy about this audition that my father had helped
arrange. Cautionary lights were blinking on and off in my
mother’s mind. 


I pulled up to the guard gate at the CBS lot and told the
guard I was there for an audition. He had my name on his
list, and eventually I found my way through the hallways to
the right studio. The musical director of the show was
standing down at the front of the auditorium. I made my way
through the empty aisles and he waved me over to the
bandstand. “What are you singing for us?” he asked. I handed
him my music. He handed the music to the piano player as I
walked up onto the little stage into position in front of
the standing mic. The piano player started the intro, and I
sang my song, nervous but still persevering. 


When I finished, the musical director walked over to me,
handed me back my sheet music, and said, “Honey, why don’t
you find a nice boy and get married?” 


The drive home was painful in a different way than the
drive into town had been. I was no longer nervous, just
disappointed, depressed, and pretty discouraged. 


But here’s the thing. I did eventually find three “nice boys,” and I married them all, sequentially of
course. And somehow along the way I stumbled into working
successfully in the music business as a singer, vocal
contractor, and lyricist for film and TV scoring, sound
recordings, concerts, and commercials—with and for some of
the best people in the business—for the next sixty years.
I’ve been blessed to sing on so many projects over these
years, as either soloist or as part of a choir or small
vocal group. You’ve heard many of them, I suspect, but they
were for the most part uncredited, which is the custom for
us “session singers” here in Hollywood. I’ll share some of
those specifics with you as we travel together through these
pages. 


The journey through all those years, between the tragic
events of that day at CBS and today, has been a fascinating
and blessed one. Perhaps I should dedicate this book to
those three sequential husbands I mentioned earlier, and to that unknown music
director at CBS who unwittingly provided the initial
challenge to do it all.

More...
 




About the Author

Sally Stevens is a singer/lyricist/choral director who has worked in film, television, concert, commercials and sound recording in Hollywood since 1960. She sings the main titles for The Simpsons and Family Guy and her voice can be heard on hundreds of film and television scores.  She has put together choirs for John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, and many others for film scores, and was choral director for The Oscars for 22 years. In the earlier years she toured with Ray Conniff, Nat King Cole and Burt Bachrach, and she has also written lyrics for Burt Bacharach, Don Ellis, Dominic Frontiere, Dave Grusin, and others.

Her short fiction, poetry and essays have been included in Mockingheart Review, The OffBeat, Raven’s Perch, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Los Angeles Press, The Voices Project, and Between the Lines Anthology: Fairy Tales & Folklore Re-imagined.

Along with singing and writing, her other passion is photography, and her black & white photographs of film composers have been included in exhibitions at the Association of Motion Picture & Television Producers headquarters in Los Angeles, and at Cite de la Musique in Paris, France.

Website:  https://www.sallystevenswriter.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sallytwitshere

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/sally.stevens.14


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