July 12th, 2024

Alberta artist bringing Linda Ronstadt’s music to city stage

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on March 5, 2024.

Submitted photo Andrea House will be paying homage to the music and life of Linda Ronstadt later this month at the Yates.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Andrea House wants to keep great music alive.

And the Alberta performer is doing just that with a show paying homage to the music and life of Linda Ronstadt which will be staged at the Yates March 16 starting at 7:30 p.m.

The 77-year-old Ronstadt, who retired from performing in 2011 after losing her singing voice to a progressive disease, is a genre-busting, ground-breaking artist who House believes paved the way for all other female artists who followed.

Born in 1946 into a well-known pioneering family in Tucson, Arizona, Ronstadt started her first group at the age of 14 with two siblings and after a semester at the University of Arizona in 1964, the 18-year-old headed to Los Angeles where her career began with a trio called the Stone Poneys, best known for their Michael Nesmith-penned hit “Different Drum.”

In 1969, she recorded her first solo album. One of her backing bands as a solo artist featured Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner and Don Henley, names who became part of pop music culture when they formed the seminal country rock band The Eagles.

Ronstadt is long considered to be first female to be a country/rock crossover artist. But her catalog goes far beyond rock and country. She also starred on Broadway in “The Pirates of Penzance,” reprising her role for film, and she worked with conductor Nelson Riddle on three albums of traditional pop music.

And her 1987 album of Mexican folk songs called “Canciones de Mi Padre” is still the best-selling non-English album in U.S. music history.

House, who learned to sing at church in the small Alberta village of Arrowwood north of Vulcan where she spent summers with her grandmother, is a fan of Ronstadt’s and in the show is not trying to impersonate the music legend but rather impart a knowledge of the woman, her music and her life to the audience.

House got involved in the project when a friend, who is a show producer, asked her if she liked Ronstadt.

“I said, ‘yes, I love her’ and he said ‘do you think you could sing Blue Bayou’ and I said I could try and so I sang a little bit for him and he said ‘we should do a Linda Ronstadt show’ and I said would love to. It sounds like a great idea,” said House in an interview Monday about her conversation with Graham Neil.

“I feel so lucky he asked me about Linda.”

The show is group effort, said House.

“I’m a huge Linda Ronstadt fan and I’m really endeavouring to communicate some of the things about her life that people don’t know and I have had such a wonderful time getting to know not just her music, her catalog but her life,” said House.

Stars, she said, are humans and it’s been a joy to get to know about her life “and the incredible integrity she has, not just as a performer but as a person. What a great treat to be able to share more than just her music. I think people will think about her life that they definitely don’t know, added House.

House calls herself a fan of Ronstadt’s entire catalog. She says in Ronstadt’s era, people were pressured to stay focused on one genre with Linda being one of the first artists, especially female, to sell in different genres.

“I think I really feel that’s close to my heart because when it comes to singing people will often say ‘what’s your genre?’ And I say ‘good music is my genre.’ I feel the same way as her, I just feel don’t make me choose. I love music and I love communication…so I very much relate to what she’s saying with her catalog. How can you choose just one genre and say ‘I’m only a pop singer, I’m only a country singer?’ She paved the way I think for all of us to let some of that genre stuff soften, which nowadays more and more people are doing that,” House added.

House says her grandmother, who learned to play violin at 80, not only taught her how to sing but also that music “is about celebrating life, it’s about praise, it’s not just about the Lord. It’s about connecting to life.” And music is for everybody.

House’s dad also sang and played guitar by ear. She recalls at the age of 12 coming across a cassette tape he’d recorded. She thought they were his songs and learned all of them, later on she learning they were all Willie Nelson songs, she laughed.

House will be backed by a full band at the show which will have an immersive multimedia presentation covering the different aspects of Ronstadt’s career.

House is interested in why songs are being sung, calling Ronstadt’s life fascinating.

“I am not trying to be her, I am not trying to impersonate her, I could never be Linda Ronstadt. Only Linda Ronstadt is Linda Ronstadt but I am honoured to lift this catalog from the page and back out into the air and to be one of the people has an opportunity to do that. And remind people that we’re so much more than we what we do. She’s a singer but she’s a beautiful person first and foremost. And I hope that comes across.”

House, who lives in Edmonton, has released three albums of her own and performs a wide range of styles. Among previous projects is a show with Duane Steele focusing on the music of Tammy Wynette and George Jones.

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