By Kevin M. Thomas, @ReelKev
After being blown away by the amazing voice of Kathryn Allison last fall at the Rockwood Music Hall, I knew I had to connect with the talented performer. Thank goodness it was cold and rainy or she would have seen the goose pimples on my arms that her voice caused.
Months have passed since this great experience of seeing this awesome talent performing live on her day off from the Tony winning “Aladdin” musical. The more her performance stuck with me the more I kept thinking that this woman is fearless and ballsy. And that’s a good thing. She’s able to be confident and yet not cocky as she performed covers of some of the biggest voices that ever lived.
Here we have a young woman who plays a multitude of roles in the Broadway musical “Aladdin” and never getting to truly be able to take her share of the spotlight. But in the small Chelsea New York venue – she is able to become the star of the show and, at the same time, able to perform her own unique arrangements of the songs of Whitney Houston, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, Anita Baker and Ariana Grande.
It takes a lot of courage to take on these divas, but Allison does it without trying to be a sound-alike or contestant on a singing game show. She sings their songs, but in her own way. She brings us into her world and shares her emotions. So instead of thinking if does she do Whitney justice – you just feel you’ve experienced an Allison original.
In between her performing in “Aladdin” eight times a week and preparing for her April 7 show at Joe’s Pub in New York, I was able to catch up with the enchanting Allison and talk about her career, future and her covering songs from such known singers.
First I had to find out where does she find the strength to take on such known female performers. “I usually have an idea of how I want to re-create a well-established song and then I share that with an arranger. Currently, I am working with the amazing Dominic Fallacaro who was nominated for his second Grammy this year. He is a great collaborator and comes up with the most brilliant and beautiful arrangements. He always listens to how I want the vibe and sound of the song to be, so we convey the clearest story possible.”
When I saw Allison on a Monday in New York, she was doing a concert of her own in honor of the release of her single “Real Love.” We discussed how she, like many Broadway performers, are able to go on stage on their day off. “Because I LOVE it!” she smiles. “Seriously, I love singing and if someone wants me to sing at a venue, I’ll most likely do it unless I am completely exhausted,” she adds. “But it’s all about conserving energy, time management and knowing when you have overextended yourself.”
The digital version of Allison’s debut album, “Something Real,” is currently available on Apple and Amazon and contains many of the covers she’s done live including songs by Houston, Beyonce and Blige. She also puts her own spin on one of the most famous duet songs of all time: “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.” And what better partner to sing with than her former “Aladdin” co-star, Tony award winning James Monroe Iglehart.
“We became friends while working together,” she says. “I think of him as my big brother and really wanted him to be on the album and I am so glad he said yes!”
For Allison’s future, she is still in “Aladdin” but hopes that the digital album and upcoming CD will also help people see other sides to her and perhaps that can help open more doors.
“I am ready for anything,” she says. “I love recording and being in the booth, but I love being on stage too! So I am down for whatever comes my way, hopefully, more of both!”
Perhaps, this album could lead to another original role on stage with original songs for her to sing. “That would be wonderful,” she says. “I would be honored if a writer would want to work with me let alone someone on Broadway!”
If you’re in New York, to get tickets at her Joe’s Pub show, go to:https://tinyurl.com/KathrynAllisonShow
Keep up with her star on the rise, go to www.kathryn-allison.com