Jazz Singer Rondi Charleston Influenced by Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

Songstress Rondi Charleston sets off on a club tour next week that will take her to cities including Boston, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, Atlanta “and a few other places,” she says –with stops at a number of Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang camps for seriously ill children as well as hospitals all along the way.  She plays L.A.’s Catalina Jazz Club on June 30th, for instance, and the next day will perform at the Painted Turtle Camp.

Charleston has been neighbors with Joanne Woodward and the late Paul Newman in Westport, CT for years, and “They’ve had a big influence on me when it comes to how to live a good life.  They’re my role models,” she explains.  “What I try to bring to the kids is a moment of relief of their pain and suffering.  Music really can uplift the spirit and the body as well.  Recent neuroscience shows the connection between music and the brain is very powerful.  It can help restore speech to people with Parkinsons, lift people out of depression, calm and help organize thoughts for people who have Alzheimer’s.”

 The contemporary jazz singer, who has won rhapsodic praise fromThe New York Times, Downbeat and an array of other music publications, was formerly a network news producer for Diane Sawyer’s “Prime Time Live” and other shows.  Now, with her Motema “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”album, she’s being extolled as a songwriter with great storytelling gifts as well as for her plush voice.  One example:  “Land of Galilee,” which tells of a true incident of harmony in the Middle East.  Small wonder her work is en route to being used in a film, details of which will come later.

IN ANOTHER LIFE:  Speaking of fabulous female jazz singers, casting is underway now for Melinda, “a dazzling ’40s jazz singer with an incredible voice” in Harry Connick, Jr.’s Broadway revival of “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.”  Interesting.  If you’ve been following plans for this new version of the 1965 musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane (which, of course, begat the 1970 Barbra Streisand film), you know big changes have been made.  Instead of a woman who has esp and is a reincarnated spirit, now the central character is a man — a male Barbra? — who was a female jazz singer in a past life.  (Harry is playing his/her psychiatrist, Dr. Bruckner.)  The show is  being produced by Tom Hulce with a fall debut planned.   

HE’LL BE THE JUDGE:  Cedric the Entertainer is trying his hand at a new untitled courtrom comedy, with a pilot soon to be shot.  It has the King of Comedy as a judge in that unique land of the crazy, the weird and the artistic:  Hollywood.

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This entry was posted in Hollywood Inspirational, The Hollywood Exclusive by Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and tagged , , , , , on by .

About Stacy Jenel Smith

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley when it was a kids' Shangri La in the 60s and we had Fabulous Eddie's miniature golf and trampolines on Ventura Boulevard. My big brother frequented The Third Eye psychedelic shop back in the day, but he wound up turning out anyway. Dad was an NBC video man who worked on "Laugh-In," Dean Martin's show, and specials by everyone from Sinatra to Fred Astaire. Mom was a first class home maker and PTA and GCA volunteer. They're still doing great. Anxious to get going in life, I quit college and jumped into journalism when I was still a teenager, and was writing for the New York Times syndicate and People magazine before turning 20. But that was a long time, many adventures, lots of traveling around the world and thousands of interviews ago. I go back to the very last days of hot type and getting to talk to Henry Fonda and Bette Davis, and Sammy Davis at the old Brown Derby...What a ride. That's in no small part thanks to my amazing writing partner, Marilyn Beck, one of the grand old-school Hollywood columnist stars -- a true star -- who knows how to do it right. I'm lucky, for sure. Now is fun, too. I love going out to events with my 17-year-old daughter (Jonas Brothers!). Seeing everything fresh through her eyes renews my excitement about the game. In-between I went back and finished school -- University of Redlands -- married, divorced, and at long last found my true love. My favorite things outside of the show business realm are being with my family, my faith and spiritual growth, learning new things (from doing Qigong to uploading stuff on Facebook), and running. See you on the trail.

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