Carly Ozard is a cabaret singer originally from the Bay Area who is returning her for a one-night only performance of her new show, MORE SHIFT HAPPENS, on August 18th at Feinstein’s at the Nikko. Learn more about Carly and the show from this advance interview!
How does it feel to be returning to SF for this show?
First of all, thank you so much for granting me this wonderful interview. It feels very welcoming!! I’m really excited to be coming home to the Bay because this collaboration is going to be one of the best we’ve ever had. We have Musical Director Rick Jensen and me from NYC, Drummer Brandon Walters and Guitarist Terrence Brewer and back-up vocalist Jennifer Haber all from San Francisco, and back-up singer Francesca Camus from Las Vegas all on one stage!!!
Is being back bringing up any fond memories?
My favorite memories about singing in San Francisco are usually with the Richmond Ermet AID Foundation. It’s always such a great evening for a fantastic cause and Ken Henderson and Joe Seilor (the show’s producers) are the best. I also loved working with Russell Blackwood and Scrumbly Koldewyn in the Thrillpeddler’s last season in the Untamed Stage (2016) and want to come back and do a role for them again, like, yesterday.
What are some of the things you’re making sure to see/do/enjoy while you’re here?
While home I’ll frequent Martuni’s and any solo shows or musical theatre productions that I can see as well as score a brunch at Café Klaus!
Awesome choices! There are a lot of local “cabaret” groups and singers … what does this term mean to you? How does it fit your identity as a musical performer?
Truly, I think it’s fantastic. We can always be inspired by people and check out what others are creating. I’m inspired lately by Kat Robichaud’s Misfit Cabaret, and anything that Joe Wicht is involved in is always going to be top notch talent. The Cabaret Showcase Showdown is a wonderful breeding ground for local talent. Oasis has unbelievable projects going on all the time! People are challenging themselves and I think it’s fabulous.
My identity onstage is always evolving (as it is offstage as well); I learn, I grow, and I make mistakes. I learn from them, and build in a different direction. There’s so many more bells and whistles that performers are encouraged to pursue. It’s no longer a singer on a stage with a piano. You need a band. You might need video projections or a costume change, a small set…. Or in NYC, sometimes a theremin.
Yes! Your work is a blend of many things! Mostly, it seems to be a blend of music, comedy and confessional. What can you tell us about the process of writing More Shift Happens?
My director Kristine Zbornik and I took a lot of self deprecation out and made the first half of the show more of what I call My Own Personal Chorus Line experience. I’m not a dancer – but I am a vocalist who has built a new instrument since moving to NY, and with it, I’ve been able to launch myself towards opportunities that my old singing voice wouldn’t have gotten me. I’ve been in the room where it happens, so to speak…. For Broadway and National Tour Casting, and it’s SCARY. I also think it’s important to enlighten your audience and share with them about the process of graduating from nightclub personality to actress, singer, taking on scripted roles for the first time. That’s the first half of the show. The second half takes us through some travels I experienced as a working performer for the first time. There are wonderful stories, some really tough ones, some that shake you up, and some that reveal some good juicy NY stories. I’m really looking forward to it!
Sounds so exciting! So it sounds like your work/ voice changed in the past decade since you launched?
I left San Francisco with a pulled larynx, and atrophied muscles around my chords. I was taken on by Bill Schuman who trains mostly opera singers, and we built a whole new voice. I can belt a high A now comfortably, which has gotten me callbacks for really big projects. I’m in the process of becoming a real honest to God dramatic soprano.
In terms of other changes, the terror I used to experience onstage hoping I would make it through the evening doesn’t happen anymore. The fear has subsided and now I actually can be present onstage and focus on my craft. Acting is hard. I had never been trained. I think a lot of people assumed I knew things when I never really did. When I lost my voice, I lost my identity. When I got my instrument back, it taught me to be grateful for something.
Also, Teachers. If you can’t find the teachers who have your back, KEEP GOING until the best ones find you, and then there it all will be for you….. the right time to learn and the best time to go forward in your next personal steps of growth.
Lastly, NEVER APOLOGIZE. I used to apologize for myself. I used to be insecure with what I brought to the table, and I used to pull an imaginary chair up onstage with me for all my baggage and self hatred. I’ve learned from some pretty blunt and honest influences while living in NY that it’s not helpful and really stunts your growth as well as shuts people out. NEVER APOLOGIZE for who you are onstage today. Accept who you are today, and do your JOB.
Well said. Hard to accomplish but so important. Wonderful! Changing subjects a bit, what is your preferred method of listening to music (other than live)?
I’m LITERALLY blasting my Spotify right now. I will soon be available for streaming, showcasing some great covers with the incredible San Francisco based Ben Prince as well as with EDM engineer Leo Frappier. Also… living in Washington Heights now, I’m blocks from Central Harlem where the best reggae is blasted on the streets and I walk blocks with my Shazam on automatic and get all my favorite beats and get lost in those selections. I love dance and reggae.
What a great experience! What else have you been listening to a lot lately?
Right now, I’m really into some Electric Dance Music like Kaskade- they’re fantastic to listen to, and I love Aloe Blacc, Avicii, Armin Van Buuren, and Local Drag Phenomenon Pollo Del Mar turned me onto Zoe Badwi. I also flood my playlists with a lot of Burning Spear, Bob Marley and the Wailers and underground reggae artists who I discover left and right now that I live near Harlem. OH AND PAROV STELAR. Have you heard his music???? It’s like…. Swing Techno. It’s my FAVORITE THING to blast when I’m getting ready for some Burning Man or Drag Event that needs a costume. I’m also becoming more familiar with Country Music. I’m really into Reba, Carrie Underwood, and of course following my favorite show Nashville. I’m also really getting into Aretha Franklin. I’ve been singing a lot of her hits with a huge band at the Friar’s Club here in NYC.
What a terrific collection of different influences. … More Shift Happens includes back up singers, directors and musicians … how do you approach collaboration with other creative people?
I’m so excited that Francesca Camus is joining us. She’s really a solo artist but I’m so grateful to work with her again. We went to college together and she is another one who has built her voice up to be a MACHINE. Jenn Haber besides being my bff is always the most professional backup singer and she gets it DONE. Both girls know how to SING. How I approach collaborations is with a lot of drop box and voice memo recordings, lol. We get parts plunked and sheet music pdf’d, and then I pay everyone everything. Rick Jensen is one of the most seasoned professionals in the business and he used to play at the Plush Room at the York Hotel with the infamous late Nancy LaMott so I am honored to have him in the music director seat. Terrence Brewer is a notorious guitarist in the Bay Area, so it’s really a gift to have him onstage with me. Brandon Walker and I haven’t met yet but I hear awesome things about his drumming skills.
Fabulous. It’s so great how the various technologies available to us today can be used to make so many things come to life. What is something you want us to know about More Shift Happens before we go see it?
This is one of the hardest shows I’ve ever done. I’m taking you to Broadway. I’m taking you to Nashville, Puerto Vallarta, San Francisco, back to NY all on one planet, while simultaneously acknowledging huge life-altering circumstances that come to shake us all up. It’s really a more universal project than it is about me me me. Come relate, enjoy and be entertained.