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.