Linda Eder is one of the most revered talents to to ever grace a Broadway stage. She is considered by many, including Rosie O'Donnell and Kathy Lee Gifford to be one of the greatest voices the New York stage has ever known. Gifford is such a fan that it was Eder she wanted to hear as she closed her final episode of Live with Regis and Kathy Lee.
Her road to the bright neon lights of Broadway began in Minnesota, and she always knew the stage was her destiny. “Since I was a kid, I always wanted to be onstage. I loved anything to do with singing and theater.” As a member of her High School choir she was cast as Mother Abbess in “The Sound Of Music” and its' impact was lasting. “It's like you are playing, you are an adult, but you are playing. You get to dress up in costumes, it's sort of a funny way for an adult to make a living.
After completing school she partnered with classmate Paul Todd, an award winning Pianist and together they began touring “The Paul & Linda Show.” The show was successful enough to keep the pair constantly touring, playing venues all over the U.S. Her involvement with the duo eventually ended and Linda found herself a lounge singer at Harrah's Casino in Atlantic City. It was her new found solo status that lead to her taking the chance that would change her life forever.
Before there was American Idol there was Star Search which each week pitted talent in one on one competition in several categories. As a solo artist Eder could audition. “I had heard of the show for years, but I was part of a duo at that time and they didn't have a category for duo, so I never tried out. But when they came to town this particular year I could audition.” She sang one song and was so impressive she was flown immediately to Hollywood. They wanted her on the fifth season opener. They knew they had something, and the judges agreed. Star Search used the combined scoring of four judges to determine each weeks winner, the champion from the week before or the challenger.
Linda Eder won for thirteen weeks, a record only beaten by two other performers in the show's twelve year run. It was because of her appearance on this show she met the man that would change her life both personally and professionally. Composer Frank Wildhorn had just seen enormous success from the Number One single “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” he wrote for Whitney Houston when Eder auditioned for him. The audition that would lead him to write the Musical “Jekyll & Hyde” specifically for Linda.
It would be nearly ten years before she would play Broadway in the role that would make her a star. “That's the way Broadway shows are, they take a long time. There are readings and workshops, years can go by before it ever gets to Broadway. It's a long process.” But it was an amazing experience for her. “It was just fun, it was a wonderful experience from the very beginning, the Houston production, which was amazing. But it got frustrating as the years' went on. You start to give up hope. By the time we opened on Broadway there was this huge relief.”
With the move to Broadway came the installation of a new creative team for the show. They cut a number that Linda feels was the downfall of the show. “It was a mistake. There was a song called “Bring On The Men” and the new director wanted a different song. They wrote a new one called “Good and Evil” but it was never as good.”
In 1994 she would marry Wildhorn and together they would have a son that led Linda to take yet another turn in her career. “When I left Jekyll I had a son and to me it didn't seem to coincide to be doing eight shows a week and try and raise a kid. I just didn't want to do that.” Eder turned her attentions to the studio and recording. Since 1999 she has released ten albums that cover the musical spectrum. From Broadway to Judy Garland, from country to Christmas, Eders' talents know no limits. In 1994 her marriage to Wildhorn ended as did their collaboration.
With the release of her new CD “Now” Eder has gone back to her roots. She is again working with Wildhorn and again turning her talents to the sounds of Broadway. “I always knew we would work together again. The timing felt right, the label was interested in the concept so we pulled songs that I had done demo's of over the years. These were good songs that were supposed to be a part of a show, but weren't in the show for whatever reason, or the idea didn't happen. There were all these great songs sitting around, I had this whole catalog I could go through.”
Though seven years had past since she had last worked with Wildhorn, the comfort of the relationship came right back. “It was just easy. We had done this for seventeen years, even though about seven years had gone by, it really didn't seem that much different.” It is the tour to promote this new collaboration that brings Eder back to Texas, and the city that gave her her Broadway beginnings.
“They call it an Evening With Linda Eder, but I like to call it “All of Me” because I tend to do everything now, from Country to Pop to Broadway. I have a band that can pretty much play everything which gives a complete sense of freedom to me, I don't feel so hemmed in with my choices. I can really just be one hundred percent me and enjoy all of it.”
Linda Eder plays the Winspear Opera House in Dallas on Sunday, December 11th tickets are $25.-65.00 and are available at http://attpac.org/ upcoming shows at the Winspear include A Mary Mary Christmas, Saturday, December 10th and Second City's Dysfunctional Christmas on the 16th & 17th. A must see is the unbelievable update of Les Miserables. Running December 20-January 1st even if you have seen it before, don't miss this stunning production.
Linda Eder performs with the Houston Symphony on Tuesday, December 13th, tickets are $39-$129 and are available at http://houstonsymphony.com/
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