Sunday, June 14, 2015
Exclusive Q&A: Don't Mess with Denise Spann-Morgan of The "Marvelous" Marvelettes
Buddy Beaverhausen: First of all, I want to congratulate you and the Marvelettes on your new residency at the Metropolitan Room!
Denise Spann-Morgan: Thank you, Charles! It would never had happened if it weren't for you.
BB: I just knew Bernie and you were a good fit and I had to get you both together.
DSM: It was absolute magic meeting Bernie Furshpan and JoAnne. We hit it off right there.
BB: I haven't even known Bernie that long. Only since the Julie Budd show in May.
DSM: He's great. So warm. I immediately felt I knew him; like we went to school together or something.
BB: So, what can your fans and my readers expect from your Metropolitan Room shows?
DSM: Absolute magic! It's like, "Welcome to our living room!" No matter where we are are, you're in our living room. We're going to serve up a lot of great songs, a lot of memories and a side dish of comedy.
BB: You really brought the house down at the Lesley Gore tribute at 54 Below when you introduced (Isn't that the) Look of Love as "a white girl's song" and proceeded to say how a black girl would treat the situation in that song very differently.
DSM: A black girl would not be having it!
BB: Nowadays, neither would a white girl.
DSM: Right. I think they caught up!
DSM: Our new act will be full of humor like that because I often say things people think I won't say. By the way, Tracy Stark will be joining us but not at our first show
BB: On her new tribute to girl groups album, Bette Midler covers "Too Many Fish in the Sea." Have you heard it; if so, what did you think?
DSM: No, I haven't heard that, but I love Bette Midler and will certainly listen to it now. She is just the best all-around entertainer! I love that she's doing our song.
BB: While we're talking about Marvelettes "covers," any impressions of Karen Carpenter's cover of "Please, Mr. Postman"?
DSM: That I love it! It's been covered by so many artists. My grandson went into my record collection and brought out a Carpenters album. I still have turntables, thankfully. "Mr Postman" is on it so it was such a joy sharing that with him.
BB: Are you still waiting for that letter? Talk about snail mail!
DSM: [laughs] The only letter I really waited for was my brother's when he was in the service.
BB: I think my favorite Marvelettes song is "Danger! Heartbreak Dead Ahead!"
DSM: We are deciding whether to put that in our upcoming show or not, but now, it's absolutely in. For you, Charles.
BB: Thanks so much!
BB: How long have you been lead singer for the "Marvelous" Marvelettes, Denice?
DSM: Forty years. I knew, and was tutored by, the original lead singer, the late Gladys Horton.
BB: Have you had a relationship with Motown?
DSM: I've sung back-ups for many of their artists. Friends with Mary Wells. Sang with The Temptations. They were all poorly handled and disrespected. Motown was very fixated on promoting Diana Ross and the Supremes. I was influenced by Fontella Bass, Dionne Warwick and a number of other artists from that label.
BB: We both live in Brooklyn. What is your favorite thing about this borough?
DSM: That you can never see it all. It's so vast, like a world unto itself. I'll take a bus and wonder where I am sometimes. It's like its own country.
BB: You should come out to Bay Ridge and see things like the Gingerbread House.
DSM: Would love to. I mean, I've been out there and saw the Verrazano Bridge and it was, like, "Whoa!"
BB: How does it feel to sing songs that have become legendary pop classics?
DSM: Wonderful! You never know if a song will be a one-hit wonder. When Kenye West sang "Please Mr. Postman," I thought I died and went to heaven!
BB: Any last shout-outs? And, as it's Gay Pride Day and you have a large gay fan base, anything to say to your gay fans?
DSM: Absolutely! I'll be at the parade! We have a huge, faithful following of gay fans. I've had more gay boyfriends than any woman! I always say "I'm gay on Wednesdays and Saturdays." And I love being included in that community. They're open, not judgmental, just wonderful!
BB: Love you, Denice! See you at the Metropolitan Room on July 16th!