by Daniel Johnson

Among the allies who share Chicago Cabaret Professional’s (CCP’s) mission, the American Songbook Association (ASA), which is a New York based not-for-profit association, is unique as publishers of a magazine covering our art form in print. Cabaret Scenes is a national magazine founded in 1995 and through its listings, reviews and features, extensively covers what is happening in cabaret in New York City, regionally and abroad. Thanks in part to the efforts of correspondent Carla Gordon increased commerce between NYC and Chicago cabaret has been reflected in Cabaret Scenes coverage.

It was announced recently that our own Carla Gordon has been invited to serve on the Board of Directors of the ASA.  Gordon has also served on CCP’s board of directors, and is the vice president of Skokie Theatricals, the fundraising arm of the Skokie Theater and its surrounding community.  In addition to performing, she is a nationally recognized lyricist with scores of cabaret artists around the country performing her songs and custom parodies.

Ms. Gordon, who holds CCP’s coveted Gold Coast Award, will be the first Chicagoan to serve on the board of the ASA. Many of us in CCP (including this writer) are also members of ASA and support its activities and its appointment of Ms. Gordon.

ASA’s Executive Director, Carolyn Montgomery says of Carla Gordon, “It came to my attention that I had a spectacular resource in Carla.  She’s a smart businesswoman, songwriter, and an award-winning performer.  I grabbed her up before anyone else could.”

Gordon has long supported ASA’s mission as a volunteer reviewer and reporter for the Association’s Cabaret Scenes. She entertained on behalf of the Association singing her original lyric at the celebration of the magazine’s 25th anniversary and more recently at Chelsea Tables to celebrate the 20th anniversary with a parody saluting Frank Dain as editor-in chief of “Scenes.”

Says Gordon: ”ASA’s mission dovetails beautifully with my own artistic and personal mission.  The ASA seeks to create transformational experiences for people of all ages by engaging in the music of the Great American Songbook.  Its vision believes in the power of music. By creating accessibility to music through the Great American Songbook, the ASA can be a catalyst for positive change, developmental growth, and a better sense of self. Regardless of gender, socioeconomic status, geographical location, or any other cultural dimension, we believe that the language of music, in song and lyrics, can break down barriers and build relationships.”

Among the reasons why Gordon has been appointed to the ASA Board is the association’s growing interest in Chicago cabaret presence.  The Association will bring two important programs to greater Chicago.  New Board member Gordon, will be leading a program to bring entertainment from the Great American Songbook to senior centers who lack funds for live entertainment, venues that CCP has long served.  ASA will provide stipends to performers.

In another initiative, the ASA is particularly excited about bringing its education program (which has been covered in these pages) to the Windy City. This ASA program which will be spearheaded by CCP member Kevin Wood who hopes to become a catalyst for students in building confidence, expanding their vocabulary, and discovering their own unique voice.  The association is looking forward to its Chicago education pilot program in March.

CCP, through its Education and Venues committees, has similar goals and welcomes the energy and input from ASA with their extensive experience in serving NY youth and seniors. As noted, CCP has served senior and community centers and libraries as part of its mission and welcomes new resources serving that need in Chicagoland, especially with new sources of funding.

Starting in March, The American Songbook Association and its Executive Director, Carolyn Montgomery will be hosting a kick-off event, including a mini-cabaret concert at Davenport’s for our Board and partners to share thoughts on its upcoming Chicago initiatives.

−by Daniel Johnson

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