Linda Eder:  Broadway, My Way

by Brian W. Fairbanks

When a female singer is blessed with a big voice, she is automatically cursed with comparisons to Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand.  Whether the performer is flattered or annoyed to be measured against these icons often depends on how close she comes to equaling them.  Linda Eder has confronted such comparisons head-on by daring to record songs that are closely linked to those legendary divas of song.  She's taken on Garland twice by recording both "Over the Rainbow" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," and on her latest album she challenges the beloved Babs with a rendition of "Don't Rain On My Parade."  In doing so, Eder shows that she walks in no one's shadow and is a talent second to none.

If the show queens who comprise a large percentage of Eder's audience were disappointed by her foray into pop on last year's excellent Gold, they'll likely embrace Broadway, My Way in which she returns her focus to the music of the Great White Way.

As well they should.  Broadway, My Way is sensational stuff.  Co-produced by Eder with husband Frank Wildhorn, the album's thirteen songs give Eder's thrilling voice ample opportunity to be bold and brassy, as well as soft and subtle. 

The opening song, "I Am What I Am" from La Cage aux Folles, has become an anthem of sorts for the gay community and Eder sings it with such power and passion that her version could become a Star Spangled Banner for Gay Pride parades worldwide.  "Don't Rain On My Parade" from Funny Girl finds her pulling out all the stops as if to boldly challenge those Streisand comparisons.  And her dynamic rendition of "Man of La Mancha" is simply thrilling.

But though Eder can stop traffic with her voice when she chooses, she can also turn down the volume with equal effect and purr with persuasion.  She beautifully conveys the intimacies of Wildhorn's "Gold," a song she reprises from her last album because, she admits, she understands it better this time around.  She also tackles "On the Street Where You Live" and "I'll Be Seeing You," and shows there's still plenty of life left in those venerable

By interspersing Broadway standards with more modern pop influenced show tunes, Eder demonstrates a versatility potent enough for any era.  Recently, when a reporter asked her to comment on her "diva" status, she modestly said she's considered a diva only because there's so little competition.  But the lack of competition also means it takes a tremendous talent to fill the considerable void.  Eder has that talent, and Broadway, My Way showcases it brilliantly.

Brian W. Fairbanks
Entertainment Editor