Winter may have arrived this week, but we have something to heat it right back up. Broadway star, Carmen Ruby Floyd is making her Birdland Debut. You may have seen her in countless Broadway shows, including Porgy and Bess, Avenue Q, After Midnight, or most recently Hello Dolly! Grab a seat, prop your feet, and welcome to the table Carmen Ruby Floyd!
D: Carmen! It’s your Birdland Debut! Tell us what made this moment the right moment to do another solo show and what has the process been like?
C: This is my second but it’s been eight years, a few Broadway shows a marriage and child so I’d say it’s new! The process has been crazy. I have the greatest responsibility to raise my son and he’s unpredictable as is our business. I’m managing doing what’s needed as well as trying to do what I want on any given day. Being the Dolly understudy aka Black Dolly and having closed the show was a hint. Soon people were asking “you got dates yet? When are we going to hear you?” Then at the Avenue Q anniversary I got a push. “You need to do a show. I need an evening with just you. Great hearing you sing this again.”
D: What did you learn from your previous show and how will that impact the choices you are making for this show?
C: Last time it was just a piano this time a quartet. I’ll be revisiting a songs are a part of what I do or what I’m known for and everything will sound different with more instruments and wisdom. D. You have been in multiple broadway shows now, Porgy and Bess, After Midnight, Avenue Q, Hello Dolly, how did you first fall in love with theater and how will this influence what we will be seeing at Birdland?
C: Growing up I’d watch AMC with my parents. With Dad westerns, plays, and black cinema. With Mom we’d watch the musicals. She’s a gospel singer and like many of us I started in church. Telling stories and acting out the programs during vacation bible school. I then did musicals in high school, hung up my basketball sneakers and that was it. It’s been a while since my solo performance so Well Hello is a reintroduction of sorts. Songs from past shows stories that have shaped me and music I love to sing. I’ll be singing some of my early discoveries from first auditions to high school solos but with better arrangements and executions.
"All shapes and sizes need to be represented without having it be about size. Just about life. "
D: You are in the “black women who sing legit” club. How has this enhanced or hindered your career in any way?
C: I always tell students in my classes or at talk backs educate yourself on all kinds of music. If you can do a variety of things just like special skills your more likely to be hired. I’ve been able to do one classic musical as written and in a totally revamped version as I’ll show in my performance Friday night.
I have many colors, styles Nuances as we melanin blessed beauties do but what’s usually available is very one sided. So we try to enlighten, educate them, or we end up creating on our own. It’s changing slowly with diverse or color blind casting but there is also a size issue as well. All shapes and sizes need to be represented without having it be about size. Just about life.
"I listen to almost everything and enjoy everyone’s skill set. I’m a fan and then a student. Master YOUR voice I will always sound like me. What makes my influencers great is that they own their sound."
D: What show are you dreaming of doing?
C: My dream show has yet to be written but I’d like to do an all black cast of a classic like they used to do back in the day. I mean eventually I need to do Dolly of course.
D: Who would you say are the women who have influenced your sound?
C: All of them. Barbara, Lena, Natalie, Aretha, Billie, Tina, Jill, India, Ella, Julie, Judy, Donna, Janis, Anita, Pearl, Leontyne, Jesse, Ethel, Etta, Mary J, Mariah, Pointer Sisters, Vanessa, Toni, Yolanda, my Mom, and Aunties !
They all offer something to my style. I listen to almost everything and enjoy everyone’s skill set. I’m a fan and then a student. Master YOUR voice I will always sound like me. What makes my influencers great is that they own their sound.
D: You are producing this on your own and building your own team? What advice would you give someone looking to create their own show?
C: Know what you want and How you want to represent. Then commit. Do what you need to do to feel confident to do your best. Surround yourself with professionals who support your gift. My husband is my co-producer and sound board. I let him hear my ideas and we talk it out. Maybe you have a best friend or colleague you trust with your vision and you can work with. Also, know that some people will love what you do and others will not but no one can dispute your truth.
D: When do you feel the most BOLD?
C: Every Single day.
I’m a Black Working Mother in America. I’m fearlessly ferocious. We have to be for each other. This world, my life I refuse to give up on. I only have this one life so each day i choose to be Bold.
Thank you Carmen for your time, wisdom, and fierceness. We are inspired by you and all that you bring to the BOLD community! Grab your tickets to Carmen Ruby Floyds show, Well Hello, Carmen, NOW!