I, Broadway Lyricist

I'm thrilled to announce I have a new title to add to my bio: Broadway lyricist! A song for which I first wrote the lyrics in the BMI Workshop (and have rewritten many times since!) is in Broadway's new musical comedy IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU, playing at the Brooks Atkinson Theater.

Under the direction of David Hyde Pierce, the hilarious and heartwarming musical stars Tyne DalyHarriet HarrisSierra Boggess and Lisa Howard. The cast also features David BurtkaMontego GloverChip ZienJosh GrisettiAdam HellerMichael X. MartinAnne L. NathanNick Spangler and Edward Hibbert.

The show was written by composer Barbara Anselmi and lyricist/librettist Brian Hargrove. Four additional lyricists, including myself with the song "Perfect," have one song in the show: Jill Abramovitz ("What They Never Tell You"), Michael Cooper ("I Never Wanted This) and Will Randall ("It Shoulda Been You"). A fifth additional lyricist, Ernie Lijoi, has two songs in the show ("Beautiful" and "Love You Till the Day").

The song Anselmi and I wrote ("Perfect") is sung by the powerhouse voices of Howard and Boggess, who play sisters in the show. Watch them perform it on YouTube.

IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU was first conceived by Anselmi while enrolled in New York City's premier musical theatre training ground, the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, She asked a dozen or so of us BMI lyricists to contribute a song to her second-year project about a wedding. The five songs she wrote with the show's additional lyricists lasted through years of development, and, I have to say, there is nothing quite like seeing a long-term project through to its beautiful completion.

And now that our work has been nominated for both Outer Critics Circle and Drama League awards, we're all award nominees!

The show is loads of fun. You know the acronym LMAO? I have never in my life seen an audience roar with laughter the way IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU audiences do. And the next thing you know, they're choking back tears, because the show is also beautifully moving.

Go see it. You'll have a wonderful time!

For tickets, info, pics and buzz, visit itshouldabeenyou.com.

New Production of IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU Opens in Seattle

It's Opening Night!

The musical IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU, which started out in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop eight years ago, is now opening its second full production, at the Village Theatre in Issaquah, Washington. The show is directed by Jon Kretzu.

The show is written by composer/creator Barbara Anselmi and lyricist/librettist Brian Hargrove, with a handful of additional lyricists on the show. Barbara and I wrote a song called “Perfect,” which has been rewritten almost in its entirety  for this production. After many meetings between Barbara, Brian, myself and the director of the show's world premiere, David Hyde Pierce, I think we've made the song serve the scene even better!

While I won't be able to attend the Seattle production, I'm told the cast is fabulous and that the preview last night went wonderfully! I also had a chance to see a musical at the Village Theatre over the holidays and I was super impressed with the production values and the level of talent. For more information or for tickets, visit the Village Theatre website.

The world premiere of IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU took place last fall at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J., a sold-out production starring Tyne Daly and helmed by Pierce.

Head over to YouTube to hear “Perfect” in its original form (as a solo sung by Mamie Parris). If you're a performer interested in singing the piece, please contact me to purchase the sheet music.

Break a leg, Village Theatre cast and crew!

Love and music,

Carla

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Art Is Relevant: Never Forgetting 9/11 and All We Need to Say

There’s a ring I wear on my pointer finger with the phrase “Art is relevant” engraved on the outside. I got it years ago at Campbell Pottery in Cambridge Springs, Pa., near my hometown. This was before I moved to New York, when I was interviewing the shop’s owner for a business magazine’s cover story. While touring the facilities, I spotted the ring and was so taken by its simple and powerful statement that I bought it on the spot; it has been on my finger ever since. It wasn’t until after 9/11 that I questioned my art’s relevance.

Just two months before that horrific day, I moved to New York City after winning a songwriting competition. Finally, I had validation that songwriting was what I was meant to be doing, and that New York was where I needed to be. My family had visited in August 2001, and we viewed the city from atop the towers. Little did we know just two weeks later, everything would change.

Newly rattled, life in NYC at the time was enough to make you question everything, from an unattended bag to the first time a plane flew overhead since that day to the reason you were spared over so many others and you wondered whether you would ever feel safe again, let alone experience joy. Suddenly, pursuing my songwriting seemed frivolous. And the record label with which I had deals pending, like so many others in the industry, was no longer willing to take risks. I thought, “How can I spend time writing songs and poems while others around me suffer immeasurable grief?”

Then I realized that proof of art’s relevance was all around me. A former Windows on the World server I met named Leda Young told me how she volunteered playing piano at the McDonald’s on Broadway near Ground Zero to provide solace to others through music; in doing so, she also helped herself cope with the loss of her co-workers in the attack.

My good friend and writing partner Barbara Anselmi had chosen to use her art and her empathy to compose the song "All Join Together," the title song for a CD that raised over $40,000 for the New York Times 9/11 Fund.

I remember poring over the liner notes to Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising, his album of songs in response to the tragedy, and finding comfort in its universal messages of hope and unity.

From art installations to plays to I-Love-NY-More-Than-Ever T-shirts, artists were funneling their deep sorrow, their camaraderie and their highest regard for their fellow New Yorkers in ways that would begin the road to healing. I began writing poems and songs, some scraps and some fully realized.

Now, 10 years later, James Taylor sings at the memorial to soothe our collective soul. The TV show “Rescue Me,” whose series finale aired earlier this week, has for the last seven years portrayed 9/11-related themes with such honesty, sensitivity and humanity, through both scenes and monologues that make me cover my mouth from feeling so much. In so many spaces and so many places, artists are creating powerful messages daily. Messages relevant to our shared understanding. Messages we need to say.

Today (as I’ve done so every year), I watch the names being read, scored by a lone cello. My eyes well up with every cadence, when those at the podium get to make their personal tributes, beginning with the words “And my …” then filling in the relation to their loved ones lost. Heartbreaking beyond belief.

But whether it’s a brief mention of the life they lead to a full profile in print or onscreen, we share in their stories, and those who tell them do their best to carry on. As we all do.