Posted: Friday, May 5, 2017 – 3:04 PM
After decades in the entertainment business, Maggy Simon says now, she’s finally living her dream. Although she has always had a passion for singing, she deferred that hope because “life has other plans,” she says.
After graduating USC, with a background in humanities and literature, Simon got a job at Universal Studios, working as a story analyst for producer Jennings Lang (“the master of disaster.”) Simon was with Lang for 17 films.“I wrote synopses of what stories would translate well into film,” Simon says. She worked her way up to director of the rental division.
After earning an MBA from UCLA, she opened her own business management company, Martino and Associates, Inc.
She began singing in “little gigs” five years ago, and with the support of her biggest fan and supporter, husband Jack, decided to concentrate on her passion.
“It takes a lot of time to build a media library and a website and run a business,“ says Simon, who completely gave up her own business two years ago to begin following her music dream.
Now a popular semi-regular performer at the Catalina Jazz Club, the songstresss has just released her new album of standards, Yesterday, Once More.
The album, Simon says, was made to meet requests from fans — she has 61,000 Facebook followers—who wanted more than 30-second clips on YouTube. The selections on the recording were actually chosen by fans, who ranked their 14 favorite songs from Simon’s catalog, drawing heavily from her love of Broadway hits, from acts like The Carpenters, Dianne Warren and the Great American Songbook.
“The Great American Songbook is the canon of the most important and influential American popular songs and jazz standards from the early 20th century,” says Simon. “It’s a great honor to contribute to the resurgence of these famous tunes.”
Programmed like one of her cabaret shows, the album opens with Nice ‘N Easy and closes with My Shining Hour. In between the album features Simon’s smoky vocals on such classics as Day In, Day Out, Two For The Road and I Concentrate on You in arrangements by Simon’s longtime music director and pianist Tom Griep. “These are songs anybody who doesn’t have a tin ear would love,” says 10-year resident Simon.
Entrepreneur Jack Simon, who also produced the album and monitored all the sound checks, arranged for his wife to record in Capitol Records famed Studio A, where Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole created iconic albums.
“One-take Maggy” as Jack Simon termed her, recorded in two marathon eight-hour sessions. Her tribute to him on the album, Jack’s Medley, includes The Look of Love/Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You/Goin’ Outta My Head.
“There wasn’t time for overdubbing or sweetening; so it’s practically live,” says the chanteuse. “It sounds like one of my shows, but not nearly as animated. I move around a lot when I’m on stage.”
The Simons are both on the Center Theatre Group’s board of directors (and on the committee for its 50th anniversary dinner in Grand Park). Their involvement led to a meeting and then friendship with actress Tracie Bennett when she performed her award-winning show about Judy Garland, End Of The Rainbow at the Ahmanson. (The Simons recently returned from seeing her in the stage version of Mrs. Henderson Presents in Toronto.)
An accomplished conductor, Bennett gave advice on band mixes and encouragement for the album along with friend and famed film composer Lalo Schifrin, who played at the Simons’ wedding.
“The lively renditions of legendary songs” – in Maggy’s words – with a special rendition of Le Jazz Hot and a heartfelt Here’s That Rainy Day/Come In From The Rain, also feature members of Simon’s six-piece band, bassist Bart Samolis, drummer M.B. Gordy, Bob McChesnie on trombone, Bob Odonnell on trumpet and Geoff Nudell on woodwinds.
Yesterday Once More can be purchased on Amazon (where out for only two months, it’s already earned five-star ratings), iTunes, CD Baby, Target.com, Google Play, and YouTube Music.
Her website is www.maggysimonsings.com. —Steve Simmons