Drew’s Friendship Folio Volume #3: Martha Lorin

Posted: May 16, 2011 in Cabaret, Culture, Entertainment, New York City, Nightlife, Performance, Uncategorized

From the very beginning of my career as an entertainment reviewer, one phrase I have always heard repeatedly is, “Oh, you simply must check out so-and so; their act will blow you away.” And I almost always check out their act just because I love discovering new artists, and whether or not they blow me away is another matter, because sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. So it went in the summer of 1990, when someone (I don’t remember who, which is odd for me because I’m usually great with those sorts of details) said to me, “There’s this new singer who just came into town from Albuquerque, and you simply must check her out. She’s much more jazz than cabaret, but her communication is absolutely flawless, and the voice is beyond superb. Her name is Martha Lorin, and she’ll be playing at Rose’s Turn next week. PLEASE try to make it.” So I wrote it down and filed it away and didn’t really give it any other thought.

By sheer coincidence, the next night I was reviewing someone’s act at Eighty Eight’s, and after the show, as I was saying hello and goodnight to people, someone else came forward with another person in tow and said, “Andrew, this is my friend, Martha Lorin. She’s brand-new in town, she just arrived from Albuquerque, she’s a jazz singer, she’s at Rose’s next week, and you don’t want to do yourself the disservice of not catching her act.” I smiled warmly at the woman, a tall, very thin creature with a flame-red pageboy haircut and flawless bone structure, who was looking at me with an unending stare that seemed almost mistrustful of me, and said, “Hello, Martha. I’m Andrew Martin. I’ve already heard marvelous things about you, and I’ll definitely be catching you next week at Rose’s,” and stuck out my hand for a shake. She looked down at my hand, then looked me in the eye again, shook my hand weakly as though she couldn’t wait to get away from me, then nodded and softly said, “I’ll see you there, then.” And her reaction left me absolutely baffled; I wasn’t sure if I’d done something to get on her bad side or if this was just the way she was, but she was definitely intriguing. In any case, I made my reservation for her show at Rose’s and caught her the following week.

I learned a very important lesson on the night I saw her show, one that would serve me up until today and beyond, which is that sometimes what flies out of town doesn’t always fly in New York. Martha took the stage dressed in a black unitard without any glamor, with a team of fantastic musicians beautifully backing up her gorgeous voice on selections from the Great American Songbook, and while it was jazz performance of the highest degree, it simply wasn’t a “finished” presentation. If I knew nothing else, it was that she looked all wrong; had she simply chosen a glittery outfit and some tasteful jewelry and done the same show all over again, she’d be a winner. And I was somewhat fretful about this, because I just had no idea what to say, especially given the attitude she’d already shown. After the show, I went downstairs to the bar for another drink, and all of a sudden she walked past once she was out of costume. I said, “Hello, Martha.” She stared at me again, with the same look of mistrust, and coldly said, “I’m glad to see that someone in New York keeps their word. So many don’t, you know. Thanks for coming to my show.” I said, “Oh, no, thank YOU for a lovely evening. There were some things I might have done differently, but your voice is absolutely spectacular, and there’s no doubt in my mind that you have a stupendous future.”  That, for some reason, was the moment she softened.

For the rest of our lives, Martha and I have never been anything less than utterly delighted to run into one another. She’s since changed her appearance on stage, released five CDs, and one of the greatest pleasures of my life is discovering that while she takes her work on stage extremely seriously, she’s one of the most fun and fun-loving people I have ever known. More than this is that she really knows her stuff when it comes to music; I’ve often thought that she should have been a reviewer. Many is the time that we’ve been at shows together and afterwards she’ll ask me what I thought of the singer; invariably I’ll say, “Well, I think she’s very young and not quite ready for this, but she did a nice job on ‘I’ll Remember You,'” and Martha will reply, “Why are you being so kind? She’s ridiculous.” Or, conversely and much more often, even without asking me, she’ll walk up to me afterwards and say, “You had BEST be giving that woman a rave review. I haven’t been that moved by anyone in years.”

At this writing, Martha just completed a run at the Milford Theatre in Pennsylvania with her tribute show to Ruth Etting, entitled Love Me or Leave Me and produced by Eric Bufano and the illustrious Ralph Lampkin, and she’s preparing to bring the show into West Hollywood this weekend at the world-famous Gardenia on Santa Monica Boulevard. THESE are the moments, the momentous moments as it were, when I become so proud of a friend. And I daresay that she will ALWAYS be my friend.

  1. Martha Lorin says:

    Getting a new website, can’t wait. I love you Andrew. Ruth Etting and I will be in Manhattan soon.

  2. Andrew darling. Thanks so much! What a wonderful gracious piece. Wish you could be there. Talk soon. xoxox

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