Ahead of Liza Pulman’s show Liza sings Streisand on Thursday 09 Novmber we caught up with Liza about life, singing and cats!
Tell us about your path to becoming a singer?
I always sang as a kid. My mum and my sister and I would sing close-harmony on long car journeys and my sister and I sang together for years as “The Pulman Sisters”, singing music from the 20s, 30s and 40s. We started out just singing at our parents ‘parties but ended up singing in the foyers of the National Theatre and the Royal Festival Hall. We were good. We made a great sound, like only siblings can. Then I went to music college (Guildhall School of Music and Drama) where I studied singing for six long years, before joining the Glyndebourne Chorus as a junior principle. It was a pretty amazing start.
You grew up in a very sociable and creative home, did you know then that your life would be on stage?
With my mother an actress (Barbara Young, Coronation Street and Last of the Summer Wine) and my father the screen-writer Jack Pulman (I Claudius) I was surrounded by writers, actors, directors from a very early age, in fact, I don’t really remember anything else. There was a brief period where I fancied being a vet (not long after my goldfish, Felicity Fruit-Cake, died from unnatural causes) but the performing gene was always going to get me in the end.
What has been the highlight moment so far?
Oh Lordy! The Highlight? Probably going to New York with Fascinating Aida. We’ve been a few times now, and are always received with amazing reviews and warmth, but the glister never wears off. I mean it’s the Golden Apple after all.
Do you enjoy putting together the programme for your concerts?
I absolutely love putting the show programmes together. I love creating new arrangements of songs that people know really well and also introducing the audience to songs they might not already know. Then taking all of these songs and shaping them into a great night. Light and shade. Fast and slow. Big and small. There’s a natural flow to these things and it’s a fabulous challenge to find it.
Tell us about the Brexit song and working with Adele and Dillie as part of Fascinating Aida. What is the most outrageous thing you’ve done?!
The Brexit song was a case of right time, right place, right subject. Fascinating Aida have been on a bit of a sabbatical because of ill-health (though we’re hoping to be back on the road again in 2018) and we were due to do a week at the `Edinburgh Festival last year. It was supposed to a “Greatest Hits” show, but we’re not very good at looking backwards. As a satirical comedy group our instinct is always to see what’s happening today. Anyway, last year was the year of Trump and of Brexit and it was too good an opportunity to miss. We all met at Dillie’s (Keane) and had a very funny few days writing the song. Our first show was in front of a packed audience at the Spiegel tent and we had no idea how the song would go down. You wait ages for the first laugh so it was quite a test of nerve, but when it came it was absolutely engulfing! Amazing feeling. That’s why you do it really. I’m not
quite sure what the most outrageous thing is I’ve ever done but when we were recording the recent FA DVD at the Edinburgh Festival, we all completely collapsed during our massive You Tube hit Cheap Flights. This song we’ve sung a thousand times, we all ground to a complete halt at least 3 times. The audience were hysterical. I ended up taking my shoes off and sitting on the end of the stage!
If it could be anyone in the world, who would you most like to duet with?
Living?? That’s tricky for me. I only really like the dead ones!! Actually not true. There are some amazing singers out there at the moment. In terms of the kind of music I love to sing I think you still can’t beat a bit of Harry Connick Jr. He’s an amazing musician, produces great band arrangements, wonderful piano playing and a voice that kind of makes you swoon. He’s old school!
I’m also completely in love with a German singer called Max Raabe and if he asked me to sing with him and his Palaast Orchestre I would jump at the chance!!
Who has been the most important influence on your musical life?
I’m not sure there’s been only one musical influence on me. There’s a bag of them. Sinatra, Garland, Mabel Mercer, Al Jolson, Barbra Cook, Barbra Streisand. I love the old blues singers too -Ethel Waters, Billie Holliday, Sophie Tucker. I’d like to have been a blues singer in the 20s and 30s I think. All that suffering and song!
Where do you go to get away from it all?
I am incredibly lucky as I live in Cornwall and I look at the water every day of my life. I don’t need to go anywhere other than my own front room to get away from stuff. I do love to walk though, and will often put my walking shoes on and just go, either chatting with friends and family on the phone as I walk, working on my own shows, or just listening to the birds in the trees and the waves hitting the shore.
What are your desert island discs and your one luxury item?
I find the desert island question tough as there is so much wonderful music out there. My listening tastes are incredibly eclectic and I would probably have to include something by Sinatra, Elvis, Jolson, Billie Holliday, Streisand, Chet Baker, Leonard Cohen, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Pass, Oscar Peterson, Fats Waller, The Beatles…..the list is endless. As for a luxury item, I’m afraid that would have to be my cat, Mr Chips.
Book tickets for Liza Pulman’s Liza sings Streisand show on Thursday 09 November here.