Thomas Lauderdale had graduated Harvard and by all appearances was on the fast track to a political career. There was even talk of a run for mayor. About a year after graduation and attendance at every political event Portland had to offer he decided these events needed help, musical help. “I was working on various campaigns and going to these political fundraisers and I was sort of amazed that the music was so terrible. I started the band (Pink Martini) to make them much more interesting musically.”
But while a supporter of generally more liberal causes such as the environment, affordable housing and civil rights for all, he constructed his music the same way he put together his friendships. The more completely encompassing the better. “I have a lot of friends who are very different from me politically, I have friends of different ages, because frankly I thing the more diverse one's friendships the better. It is better if I am surrounded by people who have different opinions. It actually makes one's own opinion more informed. There is nothing more boring than a dinner party where everyone agrees.”
To make this vision a reality he looked back to his college years and his friend China Forbes. “She and I would hang out late at night in one of the practice rooms. We would break in and she would sing Puccini and campy covers of “The Way We Were”, as the band started I realized that I needed a singer that I loved to work with and the person who leaped to mind was China Forbes.
The release of the groups first single and a series of political events in France would lead the group to overnight success that has continued to this day. This first song “Sympathique” with the chorus “Je ne veux pas travailler” (”I don’t want to work”) – became an overnight sensation in France. “When we wrote the song, we just wrote it. We weren't even playing outside of Portland. We were signed by a label in France after appearing at the Cannes Film Festival and the release of the single kind of coincided with a vigorous discussion in France about the length of the work week so it became kind of a Mantra for the striking workers.”
Pink Martini is a group of thirteen very diverse people and you can hear them celebrate that diversity in their music. “I think because everyone sort of has a different interest whether it's Jazz or Classical, Samba or African/Cuban it keeps the ideas fresh and it keeps the repertoire also fresh. I like the diversity of the repertoire because it's more interesting for the band members and I think audiences.”
And interesting for the audiences it has been. Some seven albums later Pink Martini tours the world performing to sell out crowds everywhere they go. So global is their popularity they were recently asked to join forces with “Japan's Barbra Streisand” Saori Yuki, to produce and perform on a new CD celebrating her thirtieth year in show business. Lauderdale went back to 1969, the year of her first release to create this fun and fabulous album that features the band performing with Yuki on such 1969 classics as “Is That All There Is?” and “Puff The Magic Dragon”.
Pink Martini has enjoyed enormous success since its' inception performing with over 30 Symphonies throughout the world, some of the greatest entertainers of our time like Carol Channing and even the cast of Sesame Street, but for Lauderdale it is performing at the Hollywood Bowl that is always a highlight. “It's Unbelievable for me. It seats 18,000 people yet it feels intimate and it's outdoors so it feels incredible.”
Such a career has Pink Martini had that they recently released a retrospect of their many hits, and this weekend they come to Texas to perform those hits and more in Dallas' intimate and incredible outdoor venue Strauss Square in the new AT&T Performing Arts Center Downtown. Don't miss out, this Pink Martini is delicious! Sunday, March 25th, 8pm. Tickets are $45.00 and are available at http://attpac.org/
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