SALEM, NY — Capitalizing on the success of Albany vocalist Kelly Bird’s sold out Farm-to-Table Dinner Theater Cabaret concert last weekend at Gardenworks Farm, Fort Salem Theater opens its cabaret doors this Sunday, August 19, at 2 P.M., for a matinee performance of Kelly Bird: In Her Own Way. For this performance, Ms. Bird will be bringing a troupe of her fellow Capital Region musician friends.
Truly the area’s go-to vocalist for commercial jingles, CD back-ups, or concert work, Kelly is comfortable with just about every musical style known to man. Or woman. A performer even during her high school and college years, she began a professional career in earnest, before the ink had dried on her Bachelors’ of Music from The College of Saint Rose, as a paid solist with the Lake George Opera. At the same time, she was a vocalist with Happy Rhoads and her heavy-duty rock-and-roll band. Musical theater leads followed at Park Playhouse and CapRep.
“People’s memories fascinate me,” she said recently. “Folks still come up to me and talk about my performance as Meg in Brigadoon. I’m always working on the next new project, and people still remember me in roles from thirty years ago. I invite them to the Salem cabaret.”
And she invites more than just audience members. At the matinee cabaret this Sunday, she’ll be joined by piano accompanist Marta Waterman, guitarist/singer/songwriter Mitch Elrod, and Monica Wilson Roach and Brian Melick playing percussion.
“My Gardenworks show was in an intimate space, filled to capacity. So it was just me and my accompanist (keyboard player Elizabeth Woodbury Kasius). At the theater, we have more space for more instruments. Like a musical party!”
Kelly Bird, who currently teaches in the Recording Industry program at The College of Saint Rose, has fought promoters’ efforts to pigeon-hole her into concentrating on just one style of singing. In area churches, she is called upon to sing at both weddings and funerals, where just doesn’t necessarily limit her pieces to the traditional.
“I heard her singing a Duke Ellington song at a funeral,” Fort Salem’s artistic director Jay Kerr notes. “The jazz selection was perfect for the gathering, and I booked her for a cabaret as a result of that performance. She can do everything, including singing either alto or soprano. She has range and versatility, but it’s never just about the sound. She uses her considerable skills to communicate feeling. It’s never about her; it’s always about the music.”
Although she most often sees music as a way to heal the soul, her musical excursions sometimes border on the outrageous. A songwriter in addition to being an arranger and singer, one of her favorite tunes is titled, “If You Can’t Live Without Me, Then Why Ain’t Ya Dead Yet?”
Kelly Bird: In Her Own Way, with guest musicians and some moving duets sung with Mitch Elrod, plays one time only at 2 P.M., Sunday, August 19, in the Cabaret at Fort Salem Theater. More information can be found at fortsalemtheater.com, and reservations can be made by calling the theater’s box office at (518) 854-9200.