Julie and Music
 
" I try to tell the story of the song in a way that no one has heard before."

 
 
 

Through his love for popular music, Julius La Rosa has become well-versed in musical history, and he is outspoken about his opinions. He has definite likes and dislikes, and he enjoys sharing his ideas.

Like most singers, he is first attracted to the lyrics and as a story-teller, he prefers ballads:
 
 
 

"It's more comfortable to tell the story slowly than fast. There isn't much story-telling in a rhythm section...  I try to tell the story of the song in a way that no one has heard before. I try to sing as if I were just talking casually with someone."

On Sondheim:

"Stephen Sondheim is a genius, but very intolerant of other people. I'm an interpretive person, and don't deprive me of taking those lovely words he wrote and giving them my experience in terms of the phrasing of it. This is popular music and for (Sondheim) to assume what I think is the pomposity, of rejecting people's interpretations of his words...
"I recorded ('Send In the Clowns'), and I heard he was very scornful of it. And he's entitled to be scornful of it, but he's not entitled to diminish the attempt.
"I love speaking my piece about it."
He adds, "(Sondheim) wrote one of the loveliest songs, 'Maria,' -- 'Say it loud and there's music playing, 'Say it soft and it's almost like praying.' My God! That's heavenly...
"Then he gets very artsy-fartsy. It's like he's challenging the listener to find his meaning."

 
 
 

On Lorenz Hart:
La Rosa relates what he admits is probably an apocryphal story about Lorenz Hart, the master rhymester. Hart was sitting in a restaurant when a stranger came up and challenged him to rhyme "Coolidge." Hart thought a minute and began tapping to a beat:

"Coolidge he
deserves
a eulogy."

On Sammy Cahn:
One of La Rosa's early favorite songs was "Bei Mir Bist du Schon," and years later, one of the treasured aspects of being in show business was getting to know the song's lyricist, Sammy Cahn, and becoming his friend and occasional lunch companion. He wrote a tribute for Sheet Music Magazine on the occasion of one of Cahn's birthdays.  The title told all -- "Picking My Favorite Sammy Cahn Song -or- Sam, You Made The List Too Long!"

On Johnny Mercer:

"He was the best of them all. He could write in any style -- write happy, write sad, .everything... That's the fellow who wrote 'palace, 'chalice,' 'aurora borealis'."

In the past few years, La Rosa joined other performers contributing to "Johnny Mercer tributes".found in THE JOHNNY MERCER EDUCATIONAL ARCHIVES. To read full text of Julius La Rosa's tribute, click here.

On Harry Warren:

"He had a reason to be bitter, because he never achieved the notoriety as the other people did, and he was as good as the other people. It wasn't all Tin Pan Alley. Anyone with any sense of melody has to be a Puccini fan, and he was a big Puccini fan."
La Rosa enjoys reciting, and even more singing, the lyrics of songs he loves. "You know the song, 'More'? Lovely melody. I only sang it once because when I got to the end, I felt like I was lying. It's a fake rhyme!"

 
 
 

(The song ends: "I know I've never loved before,
but my heart is very sure,
no one else can love you more.")

About a year ago, La Rosa received a request from someone who was putting together a collection of celebrities' favorite certain quotes, and the reason a particular selection was submitted by La Rosa:
 
 
 

 'You make me smile with my heart.'  (from My Funny Valentine)
 
"For me, it's a very basic thing, nothing psychological about it. It's simply if a person makes you smile with your heart, that's your life. It's one of the loveliest thoughts of any song I ever sung."
Aside from singing:

Radio -- For almost a decade, Julius La Rosa was a disc jockey on WNEW, 1130AM.
In April 1999, La Rosa was back, this time on WNJR, 1430, hosting, "The Make-Believe Ballroom" daily from 9am to 1pm.  That show has been cancelled.

Theater -- La Rosa has performed in an eclectic mix of plays including:
Come Blow Your Horn
6 Rms Riv Vu
Kiss Me Kate
Guys and Dolls
West Side Story
Stalag 17

In 1980, Julius La Rosa was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Daytime Emmy for his work as Reynaldo on Another World.

Singing Johnny Mercer --
June 1995 - the New York JVC Jazz Festival, with Margaret Whiting, Ben Tucker, Emma Kelly, The Lady Chablis and others in the concert version of prize-winning book, Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil. The concert is based on the songs of Johnny Mercer. La Rosa later traveled with the show.

He was also featured in "Hooray for Johnny" with Margaret Whiting.

La Rosa is a frequent  guest on -"Jim Lowe and Friends" Fridays at 3pm on WRTN - 93.5FM, and 7pm on WVOX -1460AM.

Writing -- La Rosa enjoys writing, and some samples of his thoughts on Johnny Mercer and Frank Sinatra can be found by clicking on the names.



 
 
 
"Julius La Rosa is one of the finest singers in that generation influenced by Frank Sinatra," Gene Lees, Jazzletter

Read more about Julie
 

E-mail suggestions and comments to ahlfors@citycabaret
lfors. A