Vocalist Dianne Fraser recently released her debut album, “You and I,” a tribute to the music and lyrics of Leslie Bricusse. (Submitted)
Vocalist Dianne Fraser recently released her debut album, “You and I,” a tribute to the music and lyrics of Leslie Bricusse.
Fraser had wanted to be a Broadway star since she was 5 years old. Although life would eventually take her down a different path, she never lost her love of music and her desire to perform. Now, in the middle of a successful career as a literary manager for film and television writers, she is finally releasing her debut album, “You and I.”
A Los Angeles native, Fraser joined forces on “You and I” with pianist and arranger Todd Schroeder, who has collaborated with many distinguished performers, including Leslie Odom Jr., Tom Jones and Postmodern Jukebox. Bassist Adam Cohen has worked with luminaries including Ray Charles, David Benoit and Ernie Watts. Also joining Fraser is her sister, drummer Denise Fraser, who plays regularly with the Restless Blues Band and has performed in Broadway and Off-Broadway shows.
Fraser has always loved the songs of Leslie Bricusse. A film and theater composer who wrote many iconic tunes like “What Kind of Fool Am I?” and “Pure Imagination,” he also received two Academy Awards, a Grammy Award and four Tony Award nominations. Fraser decided to record an album while working with Schroeder on developing a live show featuring Bricusse’s songs.
Fraser’s life took many twists and turns before she finally returned to music, her first true love. She took singing lessons when she was a little girl because she loved musical theater. In college, she entered UCLA as a music major, but eventually switched her major to French after spending a year in Bordeaux.
After graduating, Fraser moved to New York City with hopes of breaking into the theater scene. She performed in summer stock and Off Broadway shows, but found it difficult to land a big role, so she decided to create her own opportunities. She and a couple of friends revived “The Baker’s Wife,” a show by Stephen Schwartz, which never made it to Broadway. Working directly with Schwartz, Fraser and friends produced the show at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara. She later reunited with Schwartz as a producer on the revised version of the musical “Working,” which ran at Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse.
Fraser soon moved back to Los Angeles and began performing in musical theater. She has appeared in regional theater productions of “The Boys From Syracuse,” which received a Bay Area Theatre Award nomination, as well as “The Music Man,” “Tintypes,” “Oklahoma!” and others. She created a long-running variety show, “An Evening of Classic Broadway,” which was nominated for a Los Angeles Regional Broadway World Award for Special Theatre Event. She also created and performed the critically acclaimed show, “Part Time Diva,” on stages in Los Angeles, Palm Springs and San Francisco.
To help pay the bills, Fraser became an assistant at a television production company. A gregarious person at ease connecting with people, her husband suggested that she would make a great agent. She soon began assisting a friend at a talent agency, and a new career path opened for her. Representing televisions writers, her work caught the attention of ICM, one of the biggest talent agencies in the world. ICM invited her to join the company as vice president of Series Packaging and TV Literary.
After several years of working for ICM, she accepted a position as a partner in the management/production company Industry Entertainment Partners. Her new position allowed her to spend time on her own creative endeavors, one of which was creating her “Part Time Diva” show and a new show, which became the inspiration for “You and I.”
Fraser sets the tone for this new album with a medley of two songs from the movie “Dr. Dolittle,” a heartfelt rendition of “At the Crossroads” and a jaunty take on “After Today.” She covers “Pure Imagination” from “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory” and “Feeling Good” from the musical “The Roar of The Greasepaint — The Smell of The Crowd.” She sings a mashup of “Crazy World” and “If I Ruled the World.” The music for “Crazy World” was written by Henry Mancini for the film “Victor/Victoria.” Bricusse wrote “If I Ruled the World” with Cyril Ornadel for a lesser-known musical called “Pickwick.” The song was a hit for Tony Bennett, and was also recorded by The Supremes, Tom Jones and Stevie Wonder.
As a Francophile, Fraser could not resist putting a French spin on “Le Jazz Hot,” another song from “Victor/Victoria.” “Happiness” is from the movie musical “Scrooge.” She sings another mashup of two tunes, the iconic “Look at that Face,” with music and lyrics by Bricusse and Anthony Newley, and “Something in Your Smile,” words and music by Bricusse for “Dr. Dolittle,” featuring a duet with singer Damon Kirsche, a stage and screen actor known as a leading interpreter of traditional popular songs.
The song “Once in a Lifetime,” which has become a jazz/pop standard, is from the musical “Stop the World — I Want to Get Off,” the first major success for Bricusse and Newley. Fraser pairs it with “This Is the Moment” from the musical “Jekyll & Hyde,” with music by Frank Wildhorn and lyrics by Bricusse. She has loved the song “You and I” since the first time she heard Petula Clark sing it in the movie “Goodbye, Mr. Chips.” The song was the initial inspiration for the album. Fraser closes with “Two for the Road” by Mancini and Bricusse, an intimate song she dedicates to her husband.
“You and I” — released via Blujazz — is available on all platforms.