LM: Who all of a sudden, just hanging out with him, he would start playing a whole new world of music that I was never exposed to, and immediately I not only fell in love with him, but I fell in love with the whole new world of Latin music, and that was when I was first exposed to Brazilian music as well. That planted a seed for me, knowing at some point down the line I wanted to do a Brazilian based album of some kind because I just loved Brazilian music. I loved the rhythms, I loved the melodies, and that was my first big turn on, actually.
Jazz Monthly: Sweet.
LM: So yes, that Paul Simon show was quite pivotal for me in many ways.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, and that’s the beauty of the arts. There are so many wonderful directions and so many things that happen that are so cool.
LM: It can be wonderful and beautiful, but at the same time it’s tough in a world where they want to pigeon hole you.
Jazz Monthly: So true.
LM: As a performer, as a singer, even your agents.
Jazz Monthly: Oh yes.
LM: Everyone just wants to kind of put a label on you that you’re this, you sing like this, you act like this, you look like this, and I’ve always been working against that as much as I can because I know I can do so many different things and want to continue.
Jazz Monthly: Isn’t that kind of a unique thing in that in the arts we go into it because of the freedom of it.
Jazz Monthly: And we get there and there’s all of these boxes and pigeon holes
LM: Absolutely, and I have to say that was kind of one of the problems I came up against with my first album called Collage because it was a collage of all different styles of music, and it got wonderful reviews and wonderful response, but when it came to marketing it and placing it in record stores or giving it some kind of radio play, I had a lot of problems because it wasn’t just a jazz album, it wasn’t just a pop album, there were some songs that had more Latin influences. I came across a lot of problems with that, marketing it.
Jazz Monthly: And the unique thing of it, I’ve always said, is that the audience want it and love it all, and we want to give them that.
Jazz Monthly: But there’s always those blockades in the middle that try to prevent that from happening, and I think the world would be so much better if we give people what they want, and I think there’s where the freedom is because there’s a freedom of expression, the freedom of acceptance, and the freedom of getting what we want and love and desire, and if we could only find a way to get past that wall of putting people or putting music in categories, it’s amazing.
LM: Yeah, I agree, and I have to point out that it would be great to give your audience what they want, but I still feel true to the philosophy of being true to myself as a creative artist, that I need to create what I want.
Jazz Monthly: Right.
LM: And I hope that the audience will love that too.
Jazz Monthly: But that’s the point. Luba, what you do is what we love and if the powers that be would allow you to express yourself, that’s what the audience wants.
LM: Yes, yes, exactly.
Jazz Monthly: And if that could happen it would be so cool, but for some reason there are some people that say no, they don’t want that, without knowing, they feel like they know what the audience wants when they don’t really identify with the audience. It’s an amazing thing.
LM: Yeah, I agree with you a hundred percent. I agree with you.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, but I didn’t mean to go too far into that.
LM: That’s fine.
Jazz Monthly: But I can’t wait to ask you about your role as Velma Kelly.
LM: Oh, yeah.
Jazz Monthly: In the beautiful musical Chicago you were playing opposite Brooke Shields.
Jazz Monthly: Oh, you gotta tell me about that. That is just gorgeous.
LM: Well, first of all, you had a couple of amazons on stage, that’s for sure. Chicago, how wonderful because of the film, it became quite the hit sensation in the world, so having had the opportunity to be on stage and do it on Broadway was a wonderful opportunity and to be a part of that history. I have to say, it was not only great to be a part of the history of Chicago on Broadway, but to also perform with Brooke Shields of all people. When I heard who my Roxy Hart was going to be, I just flipped. I went “Ain’t that something?” And then the third aspect of that show, which was a real knee buster literally, was I went back to dancing. I hadn’t danced in 15 years and here I was about to embark in a dance show.
Whenever you’re replacing on Broadway, you have two weeks to learn a role, so it’s not like I had months and months to rehearse and acclimate my body back to dancing again. It was like “You’ve got two weeks, jump in and do it.” And it was quite a challenge and I did it with flying colors. I was just proud of that experience alone, that I could get up there and dance a full show six days a week, eight shows a week, and actually we had the killer weekend of performances where you had a show Friday night and then two on Saturday and two on Sunday, and then you had a show on Monday and Tuesday, and we had Wednesdays off.
Jazz Monthly: Wow, that’s like the NFL training camp.
LM: That’s pretty much what it was and they did that because the show could sell better tickets on the weekends, of course.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah.
LM: Generally, Broadway shows have matinees on Wednesdays, but this show in particular, I think because it was more of an adult show, they seemed to do better ticketwise. So anyway, the schedule was killer, but I was really proud of kind of tackling that whole challenge and of course the icing on the cake was it was with Brooke Shields and it was this history-making musical, so it was terrific.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, well, all of that training in those earlier years really paid off, huh?
LM: You bet, you bet. And I do have to say this about Broadway training: there ain’t nothin’ like it out there. I’m telling you, if you could do Broadway, you can do anything.
Jazz Monthly: How ‘bout that?
LM: From doing a music tour, whether it’s worldwide or nationwide to television, I mean, if you can get through a Broadway show, you can do anything. That training is priceless.
Jazz Monthly: Oh, wow, that is so cool. Well, I tell ya, you have had such a stellar life and just a seriously cool career in so many ways and on so many levels, and people have seen you in so many different roles and different places, I think of your TV roles with Law & Order, NYPD Blue, New York Undercover. I mean, you’re just everywhere!