Chicago Steering Committee
The Chicago Paris Cabaret Connexion was founded by Claudia Hommel, Elizabeth Doyle and Lynne Jordan. Kat Victoria helped Claudia and Elizabeth lead the delegation of a dozen singers to Paris. Natalja Aicardi, Barb Smith, Roxane Assaf-Lynn and Cappy Kidd offered essential assistance in coordination, recruitment and fundraising.
For 2018, we begin with four coordinatorsGreta Pope, Rebecca Toon, Claudia Hommel, Elizabeth Doylewith the assistance of Lydia Stux, Barb Smith and Cappy Kidd. Profiles of our French cohorts are here.
U.S. participants in Paris exchange 2017
|Barb Smithhas appeared in shows at Davenport's, Underground Wonder Bar, and Rosa's Lounge. She is preparing for an upcoming show at Chief O'Neill's on September 24th and another show at the Cliff Dwellers on October 13th. Her powerful alto voice is well suited to jazz, blues, and folk music as well as cabaret.|
|Carol Westonsang and learned to play the piano and violin at a very young age. For many years, she's been a troubadour with guitar in hand, playing in schools and libraries. She's also been heard at Davenport's, Cyrano's, The Jazz Showcase, or playing the piano bar at the Drake Hotel or the Carlton Club at the Ritz. A founding member of the Chicago Cabaret Professionals, she has been able to live her dream of becoming a cabaret singer. She performs Life Is...Snapshots in Song and Thank You for the Music with Arlene Armstrong and Ruth Fuerst.<|
|Carrie Hedgesjoined Claudia Hommel's SongShop in September 2010 after retiring from her position as a Staff Attorney with the U.S. District Court. Since then, she has appeared in shows at Cyrano's Bistrot, the Jazz Showcase, the Daystar Center, DePaul School of Music, and Piano Forte. She also performs in Claudia's Sunday Salon Series. Carrie made her debut at Davenport's Piano Bar and Cabaret in the Chicago Cabaret Professional's 2011 Holiday Cabaret and appeared in CCP's Strut Your Stuff in 2014. She performed in the Rotary Near South's benefits Broadway on the Cusp! in 2013 and in Broadway for the Hoi Polloi in 2014. In November 2013, Carrie performed her one-woman show Songs in the Key of Oz at the Daystar Center. She sings in the University of Chicago Chorus and serves on the Board of the Chicago Children's Choir. She was President of the International Wizard of Oz Club for the past seven years.|
|Deborah Goodgrew up in a musical family of five sisters and remembers fighting over whose turn it was to play the piano. All five "Good" girls blossomed into musicians and performers. Deborah enjoys singing and accompanying herself in a variety of styles, and names Edith Piaf and Carole King as her inspirations. A linguist who enjoys speaking and singing in both French and Spanish, Deborah has performed in several countries including Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Chile. Although she has been to Paris eight times, this is her first time there as a "chanteuse." She is thrilled to experience the world of cabaret in the place of its birth.|
|Lydia StuxLydia's background is primarily in musical theater, although she also enjoys singing folk music, novelty Tin Pan Alley songs and American standards. Her favorite roles include Grandma Tzeitl in Fiddler on the Roof, Mr. Twimble/Wally Womper in How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, Dot, a Goose, in Honk!, and Yertle the Turtle in Seussical. Her adopted twin sons provide fodder for her blog, Raising Romulus and Remus. Although new to cabaret singing, Lydia has experience onstage telling a story in song.|
|Marilena Serbanescuwas born in Romania. From an early age, she had a special inclination toward the arts, but her true love was singing. As a child, she sang in her village church and school. At 17, she took voice classes in Bucharest and sang in school events, including an appearance on the national television music channel. At 19, her life went in a different direction (marriage, child) and at 36 years old, she emigrated to the United States to pursue her second passion: fashion, creating her own label and boutique Marlena Marée. However, wherever life has taken Marilena, her love for singing was always there and now years later she has decided to sing again, joining various piano bars in Chicago. She is taking classes at Old Town School of Folk Music, coaches with Elizabeth Doyle, and studies song interpretation with Claudia Hommel's SongShop.|
|Mary Noel Joycehas been singing since she was a child in choirs and whenever the opportunity presented itself. Her first starring role was singing "People" on the high school stage. After graduating from the University of Illinois, she worked for the U.S Congress. Aside from singing at weddings and piano bars, her career on Capitol Hill led to performing with the political satire group "The Capitol Steps." During her "15 minutes of fame" with the group she performed on radio and TV and for many dignitaries and politicians including President George H.W. Bush. Since moving back to Chicago and then retiring from her government job in international trade, she has returned to singing and taking classes at the Old Town School. She looks forward to singing the songs she loves in Paris.|
|Rebecca Toonhas been teaching adults and kids at the Old Town School of Folk Music since 2004. She has a bachelor's and a master's in music from the University of Illinois, and is currently completing a Masters in communication sciences and disorders (speech language pathology) at Northwestern University with a primary interest in voice therapy. Her background as a vocalist is extremely varied, including musical theater, opera and classical solo work, choral work, and popular music. She has also worked as a vocal coach and director for musical and theatrical productions around Chicago. As a voice teacher, Rebecca believes in creating a solid foundation of technique and a firm understanding of how the voice works which can be applied to a variety of musical styles. As a guitarist, her interests and experience runs to old time, folk, country, and rock.|
|Sue BerkeAs Sue Berke tells it, "I have been a singer most of my lifebut mostly without an audience. I am always singing (mostly Broadway and Standards); if I hear someone speak a phrase that I know in a song, I can't help but start to sing. I have appeared in several community theatre productions, and in the past couple of years, I have expanded my experience to include singing for an audience. I have been working with Claudia Hommel in her SongShop for a few years, and this has had wonderful benefit and impact on my progress. I have had a handful of performances at senior and rehabilitation centers, and I perform at karaoke venues from time to time. While in Paris in April 2017, I performed the French lyrics I wrote to the song "It Had to be You" at Café Universel."|
Back in Chicago:
Correspondant en FRANCE
Yves Bertrand : 06 30 25 22 49
Correspondent in CHICAGO
Claudia Hommel : 1-773-509-9360
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