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May 6, 2012

I'm sure we'll see you again Lucy-Lastic

Mike Walton talks to Lucy Woodward, the latest stunning and very talented inclusion to Rod’s band.

posted by Thomas Stadelmann

Lucy was born in England and moved with her family to Amsterdam when she was three. At the age of five, she relocated to the New York City with her mother and younger brother. Her mother was an accredited musicologist, so Lucy grew up surrounded by music.

She spent summers in Holland visiting her composer/conductor father (who used to conduct the BBC singers). With her mother, also a music teacher who sang opera and belly danced professionally, Lucy was also raised on plenty of opera music, as well as jazz, classic soul, pop, and rock.

As a child, she learned a great deal about captivating an audience while watching her mother perform as a belly dancer, often accompanying her to gigs when babysitters were unavailable. Her mother attempted to instruct her young daughter in the art form, but Lucy preferred ballet. She learned to play the piano and flute at an early age, and started taking voice lessons at 14. She began her professional singing career at 17, and worked at a local Ben & Jerry's to help make ends meet.

Lucy found work as a session vocalist, lending her voice to various studio demos and commercial jingles. She also honed her craft by performing at coffeehouse jams, open mic nights, and singing with cover bands around New York City. She became a regular participant at weekly jam sessions at the legendary Bitter End nightclub, and at biweekly meetings of the New York songwriters' circle, where she received constructive feedback from other aspiring singer-songwriters.

Her first album While You Can was released on April 1, 2003 through Atlantic Records. The follow-up, Lucy Woodward Is... Hot and Bothered was released exclusively on iTunes in 2007, and received a physical retail release on July 29, 2008 through an exclusive deal with Barnes & Noble. Her third album Hooked was released on June 15, 2010 through Verve Records.

Lucy joined Rods band for the start of the latest gigs in Jakarta While covering for Kimmi Johnson Breaux who has left to have a baby. SMILER caught up with Lucy as she came to the end of the latest batch of Vegas shows.

Hi Lucy thanks for taking time out to speak to us, how have you been enjoying you first few months with Rod?
I had the time of my life. Rod, the band and crew were all amazing. I really was warmly welcomed and I could tell everyone was a close-nit family. Nothing better than singing and seeing the world with good and extremely talented people.

You got off to a brilliant start with gigs in New Zealand and Australia, did you settle in straight away and were you nervous on your first night?
My first night with Rod was actually the corporate gig in Paris. I was so nervous that I barely remember the gig! I remember I had to come in a day later than everyone else so I got off the plane, ran to get a sandwich, take a shower and go right to sound check. There were so many dance moves and background vocal parts to remember that my head was spinning. But Di and Bridget, the other backup singers, really took care of me. They took me under their wing and said, "Girl, we've all been there" so I was in good hands.

How did you get the job in the band?
Conrad, Rod's bass player, is one of my oldest friends. We dated a long time ago and continued to be great friends. He was recording with Rod in LA and texted me one day and said, "need a singer asap, can you be at the studio in one hour?" I was on my way to the dentist to get a cavity taken care of. I turned that car right around, took three Tylenol and went straight to the studio. It kind of all unfolded from there. I think around that time they knew Kimmie was going to have her baby and didn't think she'd be able to do that tour. One thing lead to another…

Did you listen to Rod’s music before you joined?
Yes, big fan. To me Rod has always been one of the greatest singers alive. Working and being on stage with him every night confirmed that for me.

Who were your early musical influences?
My parents were both classical musicians so there was a lot of Chopin and Puccini in my house as a child. My mother slowly let me listen to Michael Jackson though because "he doesn't hurt his vocal cords when he sings". She liked his falsetto. Prince, as well. Of course in high school when I really got rebellious with life I went full on into the blues, soul and jazz. I found a whole new way to express myself vocally. But I do connect to all music, I know that. Listening to Radiohead can make me feel the same things that Pavarotti makes me feel. When I was 19, I got into Etta James and Aretha who changed it all for me. The list of musical inspirations is endless…

When I was growing up Tony Visconti was THE producer everyone wanted to work with after hearing his work with Marc Bolan and David Bowie etc., what was it like working with him on your album ‘Hooked’?
Tony is amazing! We did a lot of work in a very short amount of time so I wish we had more leisurely time to create. My favourite part about Tony was watching him get excited to work with string players. He did a beautiful string arrangement of a song of mine called Purple Heart. One of my favourite moments of making that album was watching him conduct the string quartet. His stories of at lunchtime were the best though. It was like story hour and I was 8 years old again.

Is it true you have sang for Bishop Desmond Tutu?
It is true! I was flown down to Texas to sing at a party of 80 people. It was for the Desmond Tutu Foundation and I was to sing for the guests after the dinner in this very cozy parlour area. He plopped down right in front of me on a couch. I had only worked out piano duo songs from my Hot & Bothered record and hadn't had a chance to work out any cover tunes so I ended up singing only originals that night. One of them was the title track "Hot and Bothered". Halfway through, I thought to myself "what the hell am I doing singing this song to Desmond Tutu?! I should be singing songs about world peace!" I don't think he minded. Afterwards, he hugged me and whispered in my ear, "You have a very beautiful voice." I mumbled all the dirty bits and the line that goes, "you're the only thing that gets my boring life hot and bothered…" He was just smiling and very chilled out. Oh boy, what was I thinking…

And Carole King?
Wow, she is unbelievable. I've worked with her on 3 separate occasions, all by accident, which makes me think it was no accident! Another Conrad connection actually. Conrad was playing on a demo of hers when we dated a long time ago. I went to pick him up after the session was done around midnight and right when she met me she said, "I hear you sing. Come sing backgrounds on this song with me!" It was magical. She held my hand and looked into my eyes the entire time while we sang these gospel "ah's". I worked with her two more times in totally different environments years later. She remembered me every time. The last time I saw her she asked me to sing "I Feel The Earth Move" with her on stage at a small fundraiser in someone's house. She is so generous when she sings with you, always smiling and encouraging. Her smile kind of says everything.

And talking of Carole King, have you heard Rod’s brilliant version of Tapestry’s ‘So Far Away’?
I haven't! I bet it's incredible. I will download it tonight.

You have your own band The Goods as well as your solo work, what style of music do you play with them?
You have done your research! The Goods are a band that I started with my two girlfriends Holly Palmer and Michelle Lewis. Both incredible singers-musicians-songwriters. We write as if we are the Andrews Sisters and Bridget Jones getting drunk together and freaking out. The harmonies are really tight, the lyrics are sassy, modern and dirty and we really get the audience into hysterics. Right now, we still writing and doing crazy burlesque shows and theatres, which is so perfect this group. This project is a really unexpected surprise and a happy accident.

I have also seen the video ‘Be My Husband’ the Nina Simone cover with the band Snarky Puppy is the song a one off or are you working on a new album?
Snarky Puppy and I recorded it and arranged it on the road. I will be releasing it on itunes as a single shortly. It's not on any record yet but I am sure it will be.

Have you got a favourite song you like performing from Rod’s set and do you have a favourite song of Rod’s you wish he would include in the set?
Such a tough question. I love the entire acoustic set. The last few shows in Vegas we did at the end of the run "Reason To Believe" suddenly became my favourite song. I'd get all choked up listening to his vocal. "Young Turks" I love because it's just bad ass. In Australia and New Zealand "Sailing" was my favourite just because it was so peaceful and powerful at the same time. People really listen to Rod sing and that's always inspiring to me singing backup for him. I love closing with "Do You Think I'm Sexy?". It's usually at the end of the show and we really just get to dance, relax and have fun.

Has Rod heard any of your music?
I'm not sure!

Has he got you into football yet?
Nope! In Vegas he started calling me Lucy-Lastic on stage which always cracked me up. On "Hot Legs" in Vegas a soccer ball came my way and he just screamed "kick it, Lucy-Lastic!" and I did - very high and far! In high heels that didn't feel so great but I kicked that thing like my life depended on it.

How have you been getting on with the rest of the band, have you made some good friendships?
Soooo many friendships. Di, Bridget and I talk all the time and last week we all sang on Rod's Christmas record. Kimmie was also there she’s just had her baby so it was a sweet little reunion for them. I am going to Conrad's birthday in NYC tomorrow and I just spoke to Dave Palmer. Katja and I are neighbours and well, yes, there were definitely some great friendships built on that tour.

I saw a photograph taken by Conrad of you and Rod in the studio can you tell us anything about this? Or is it a secret?
Rod was recording some original songs last October and that was the first time Rod and I worked together. He is recording his Christmas record now but I think some new recordings are in the works for the next record. That's all I can say!

Will you be coming to the UK and Europe next time Rod plays any gigs?
The US tour is this summer. Not sure about Europe yet.

Have you any plans to play any solo gigs in the UK?
The Goods and I might do some recording there which means we'd definitely do a Goods show. Recording a lot though now.

How would you suggest the best way SMILER members can check out your music?, (my fan page) and have the most updates. Of course there is youtube, itunes and Amazon.

And finally thank you for answering all our questions it’s great to learn a little about the people Rod chooses to work with, have you got a message we can pass on to all the SMILER members?
People like YOU make people like us do our job better, frankly. If there weren't passionate fans like SMILER out there, then we'd all still be singing into our hairbrushes in our bedrooms! Really, thank you. It's really cool to see SMILER caring about the musicians that Rod works with. Everyone has their own individual story which makes for a stronger sounding band.

We are sure we will be seeing a lot more of Lucy in the future not only on Rod’s next two albums but as Rod said on the last Vegas night "I'm sure we'll see you again, Lucy-Lastic."

Main photograph by Jim Pietryga
Studio photograph by Conrad Korsch

© 2019 SMILER Magazine

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