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Exclusive: Backstage with Pink Martini’s Storm Large

Storm

Live broadcast, 6:30 pm


“Rock, metal, and jazz” vocalist – that’s Storm Large, according to Wikipedia. Never mind the fact that her band Pink Martini is described as a “jazz, Latin, lounge music, classical” group.

By design, Storm Large defies classification (she’s also been a playwright, an actor, and had a cult-like following as a punk rocker).

The aptly named Storm Large (that is her given name) has been described as audacious and brazen; the prologue to her memoir reads: “People think I’m nuts. They think that I am a killer…a dangerous woman. They think that I am a boot-stomping, man-chomping rock ‘n’ roll sex thug with heavy leather straps on my well-notched bedposts…That’s what I like people to think, anyway.”

Large seems willing to speak frankly about any topic, but especially her twenty years as a singer, beating the pavement, slipping from one musical genre to the next, touring, networking with club owners, college radio stations, and taking as many jobs as possible – all to fulfill one ambition: to sing. Though her natural talent has a lot to do with her being in Chicago this week, she’s quick to say it’s taken an enormous effort.

Singer Storm Large is the soloist for Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins with Carlos Kalmar and the Grant Park Orchestra. Backstage at the Pritzker Pavilion, Ms. Large brightened when she saw Rachmaninoff’s name on the orchestra schedule. She called out to a staffer, asking if that was part of her concert (it isn’t). Nevertheless, she nodded contentedly upon learning she was sharing the evening with Schubert.

On Tuesday after rehearsal, the Grant Park Music Festival hosted a live Q & A via twitter with the 10,000 followers of Storm Large. Fans from as far as Germany and Buenos Aires tweeted their questions. She tweeted back on everything from Pink Martini to her next book topic (see video).

Storm Large performs Weill’s sultry one-act opera with the Grant Park Orchestra and conductor Carlos Kalmar. The program includes the Dance of the Seven Veils from Strauss’s Salome, and Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. WFMT’s live broadcast of the concert begins at 6:30 pm.

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