Raissa Recommends

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My blog has moved permanenty!

Hi Friends:

My blog can now be found on my website: www.raissa.info or www.raissakatonabennett.com under the "news" tab, you can find my personal performing events, and under "Raissa Recommends" you find all the content that was on this blog and my continued recommendations. Hope you'll visit me there and bookmark the site, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

And btw, my friend Richard Magee created this new, user friendly site for me, so if you are interested in getting your own, contact me and I'll connect you.

Love and light,

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hi Friends:

new blog posting at my new site: www.raissarecommends.blogspot.com!

Love and light,

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sean Harkness at the Metropolitan Room

You’ve heard him accompanying your favorite vocalists.

You’ve heard him in New York City’s finest jazz, rock, and blues clubs.

You’ve heard his music on television and radio.

Now, this limited engagement brings you up close and personal with the Windham Hill recording artist.

Date: Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Time: 7:30pm - 9:00pm
Location: The Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street [bet 5 + 6 Aves]

$20 door / 2 drink minimum

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My new blog web address

Hello Friends:

Please visit my new blog site at:
same info, just easier to access and less to type!

Soon, my blog will be part of my website as well.

Many thanks,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Raissa Recommends Shows, Classes and Foundation Garments - February

Hi Friends:

The year started off with a bang! So many shows to see, perform in and recommend...
My director and friend, Eric Michael Gillett and I, are putting together a special duet show as a one night only benefit for The Singers Forum, 49 W. 24th Street, on Sunday, Feb. 21st at 7 pm. Jeff Cubeta musical directs - this is my first time working with Jeff, and he's a real joy plus super talented. Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door. There is a wine and cheese reception after. Seating is very limited, so if you are interested, call Singers Forum at 212-366-0541 asap and make your reservation.

The very next night, Monday, 2/22 at 6pm, I'll be at the Lincoln Center Barnes and Noble for Barbara Porteus's CD release signing and performance, (I already have it and it's wonderful!) and then at 7 pm, I'll be at the Metropolitan Room, watching my favorite folk/pop duo, BUSKIN AND BATTEAU. Seriously, you owe it to yourself to see these guys - I've been a fan for 20 years, and I'm thrilled that they are back together again, after a hiatus to their families. Incredible musicians, songwriters, sensitive and funny - they don't make 'em better than this. Between the two of them, they play guitar, piano, violin, and they have one of the most innovative percussionists I've ever seen, Marshal Rosenberg. They did a presentation at the Dutch Treat Club yesterday, and I just about melted when Robin Batteau played his violin TO ME!!! You can pick up their newest CD's at the show, too, and you should.

The next day, I head into the recording studio with PS Classics, to record my new CD! My musical director is David Caldwell, and my core band is comprised of Ritt Henn, Sean Harkness and Mayra Casales. We are scheduled to finish the CD on 3/8, and it'll drop sometime in the Spring - you know I'll keep you posted. I'm pretty excited about this and the amazing songs I've been given to sing by some of my favorite composers.

And speaking of favorite composers, Jay Alan Zimmerman, nicknamed "Broadway's Beethoven", has asked me to perform 3 of his songs during his month long, free exhibition for Chashama, entitled Art/Song - a visual music performance installation by Jay and his wife, artist, Lisa Ingram. I can't really describe all the cool things Jay, a deaf composer, and his wife Lisa, have created with their cutting edge frequency analysis software, but if you go to http://www.chashama.org/, you can read all about it, and get the show times. The neat thing is, you can watch Jay rehearse with me and other singers (like my pal, the fabulously talented Sierra Rein) that he can't hear, during the day, and then see the finished product at night. Chashama's Time Square Space is at 112 West 44th Street, between 6th and 7th and performance days are 2/23, 2/27, 3/3, 3/10 (that's my date) and 3/13 at 7 pm. The installation is open to the public for viewing from 2/23 to 3/16, Tuesday through Saturday from 2 to 7.

And although this blog's entry is primarily for February, I want to touch upon two early March events. First, I've been asked to sing the songs of Amanda McBroom and Michele Brourman in the March is Cabaret Month kickoff event, produced by Tom Stajmiger for Stu Hamstra's Cabaret Hotline, 7 pm on 3/2 at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. I'm particularly honored, as Amanda and Michele's songs have always figured prominently in my shows, they sent me a song that only Amanda has performed rarely, and I can't wait to learn it and perform it!

My good friend and colleague, Multi MAC, Bistro and Nightlife Award winner, Scott Coutler is finally giving into the request he's had for years, and is offering SONGBOOK - a group vocal coaching session based on storytelling. This class, accompanied by David Kreppel, begins in March and runs for 6 consecutive Tuesdays. For more information, please contact songbooknyc@gmail.com. If you want to learn how to bring a song to life for auditions and/or the world of cabaret, you could have no finer guide than Scott.
I just gotta share this - if you're a woman, you're always looking for a smooth line under clothes, no matter how thin you are. Well, at WALMART of all places, this week I happened upon Sweet Nothings (div. of Maidenform) Smooth Shaping Torsette! It looks like a corset, (being a period piece performer, I love me a good corset!) complete with light boning, which always gives a good line, and tiny corset hooks that lie flat and smooth under a front flap. You use your own bra, and the design of the thing hoists the "sisters" up where you want them! And it's comfortable.It cost me less than $20. They also have these shaping cami's in nice colors that have a wider strap, so you can, again, wear your own bra, and actually take off your sweater or jacket whiloe wearing it if you needed to. This could be the single most useful and exciting thing I could recommend to you...ladies.
Love and light,

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Raissa Recommends New Shows, A New Class and my Own Show - January 2010

Dear Friends:

Happy New Year! We are starting the year off with a bang. So much to recommend to you and I will be attending most of these shows - all of them, if I could!

First, my director and friend, Eric Michael Gillett brings another new show, "All My Best", to Feinstein's that is a wonderful mix of his greatest hits and some terrific new stuff, on January 15th and 16th. You won't want to miss this. Eric is revisiting some of my favorite songs from shows he did years ago, that I never had the chance to see as well.

Starting on January 28th, is a fantastic class that I took last season with Paul Bogaev, which focuses on vocal technique and audition material for the shows that are being produced in theatre, today. Paul is unique in that he works very effectively in all vocal styles, from pop and rock to opera, and gets great results from ALL levels of singer. He's adept at combining the acting with the vocal technique, showing how they really go hand in hand in helping you achieve the desired result, in a safe manner. As a "legit" singer, this has been amazingly helpful to me in navigating the current trends in pop/rock. Paul works individually with each student for approximately 20 minutes during the class and I find that I learn just as much from watching my colleagues work with him, as I do when it's my turn. Additionally, for this next session, Paul is offering students the opportunity to be videoed, so they can watch themselves later - an invaluable tool. There are several sections and times available for these classes, and space is very limited, so I recommend you contact Maureen Hammill at hammillmm@aol.com or at 917-656-1504 to set up an appointment/consultation.
Oh, and just to give you a mere sampling of Paul's pedigree: he's won Grammy's and Emmy's for his work on Broadway's AIDA and the TV version of ANNIE, been nominated for a Tony Award for his work on BOMBAY DREAMS, supervised, produced and conducted the music for the films: CHICAGO, and most recently, NINE. His many Broadway credits as Musical Director include: TARZAN, SUNSET BOULEVARD, LES MISERABLES, CATS CHESS...etc., etc. It seems that Paul has worked with just about everybody including: Phil Collins, Sting, Glenn Close, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, Celine Dion, Liam Neeson, Michael Bolton, Harry Connick Jr., Fergie, BARBRA STRIESAND!!!...you get my point.

Monday night, 1/4, I was at the Beechman to herald the arrival of Phil Geoffrey Bond's new book, "All The Sad Young Men", featuring performances of some of B'way's finest, along with Phil reading his own new work. All attending receive a copy of the book with their cover charge as well. Quite frankly, I could listen to Phil read the phone book, and when he reads his own stuff, it's magic. It was one of my favorite nights in theatre or cabaret. This new book also contains his first book, "My Friend, The Cat", so it's a double bonus if you go to http://www.amazon.com/ and order it!

Next, one of my favorite comedians that has often opened for Eric Michael, Richard Cramer, performs at Carolines Comedy Club on Broadway this Wed. 1/6 at 7 pm - I'll definitely be there! And speaking of favorite comedians, I'll be performing with another of my fav's, Danny Leary, when we both appear as guests on Q Talk on Friday, 1/29 at the new, earlier time of 9:45 pm at the Metropolitan Room.

Another dear friend and tremendously talented lady is Julie Reyburn, returning to Feinstein's with her CD release show on January 12th, and I hear that they've added a few new songs as well as the ones featured on the CD. I was at the show they recorded and I can promise you that this CD will be fantastic, as well as getting to see Miss Julie live! You can also catch her this week at Lincoln Center Triangle Barnes and Noble for her CD signing and free concert featuring some selections from it. I'll meet you there at 6 pm.

And thank God that Gretchen Reinhagen is returning to the Metropolitan Room with her hit show, "Special Kaye", her tribute to Kaye Ballard, because I missed this phenomenal show last month, and everyone raved about it. I get another chance to see it this month, Jan. 17th & 24th at 4 pm, and Feb. 4th at 7:30 pm.

Jackie Draper is at the Beechman on 1/17 at 4 pm with her show, "Something New In My Life", her 10th and newest show, and I can't wait to see this lady in action. Also at the Beechman that same week, on 1/22, is Roger Anthony Mapes, reprising his hit show from last year, "House of Joy" and boy was the house full of joy during this show. I can highly recommend it - what an uplifting experience it was to see Roger in all his glory - go!

Tuesday, 1/19, Shaynee Rainbolt innaugurates a new space for all of us to check out - Ashford and Simpson's Sugar Bar, 254 W. 72nd, NYC, 2 sets, 7:30 and 10 pm for, get this, only a $10 cover and NO MINIMUM! Dinner is available too, and I'm looking forward to seeing this talented lady at this new venue.

More must sees: Karen Oberlin in "A Wish", this Sat. 1/10 @ 8:30, Daryl Glenn in "Daryl Sings Steve" on 1/17 @ 8:30 pm, and Sue Matsuki in "Ella & Me" Sun. 1/31 @ 8:30 pm all making their Feinstein's debuts! It is so exciting to see so many talented and generous performers taking this exciting step!

And last, but I hope not least, if you didn't get a chance to see me at Feinstein's in October, I'm reprising the show I did there, as a special, one night only benefit for Cabaret Cares at the Beechman on January 31st, at 7 pm. I'll be joined by my musical team of Ritt Henn on bass, Mayra Casales on percussion, Sean Harkness on guitar and my musical director and arranger, Mark Janas on piano. My director, Eric Michael Gillett, joins me onstage for 2 numbers, and I'll be performing the song written for me especially for this show, by Tony Award nominated composer, Michael John LaChiusa.

See you at the shows! Blessings to you and yours as we head into 2010.

Love and Light,


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What a month!

Hello Friends:

Well, I missed almost ALL of the events on my last posting due to a mini flu - thank God not the dreaded swine, but enough to have to have me cancel performances for the first time in my life. I'm thrilled that Gretchen Reinhagen will be reprising her Special Kaye show, so I can see it, and I'm praying that Cynthia Crane does the same with her Madoff Show.

But now I'm back and I'm BUSY. There is not enough time to see all the wonderful shows this month, but this week, here's where I'll be:

Last night I saw Jim Van Slyke do his Sedaka show for his Feinstein's debut. Neil Sedaka himself was there and introduced Jim, and we all had a great time. And by "we" I mean me, Garrett, Terese Genecco (catch her on 12/29 at the Iridium if you wanna ring out the old year right!) and her Mom, Sue, and the other singing surgeon, Nicole Kafka - not a bad table, huh? Jim was great and I was so happy to finally see this show, full of my some of my favorite songs.

Today, I sing at the Dutch Treat Gala luncheon, and then head to Susan Winters Sings Van Heusen at the Metropolitan Room. Tomorrow, I get to catch Sue Matsuki and Edd Clark's Fabulous Christmas Show at the First Baptist Church on 31st and Madison at 7 pm, then Ricky Ritzel's Hysterical Blondness at 9:45 (OMG!) at the Metropolitan Room. Thursday, I perform again, at the Big Night Out Holiday Extravaganza featuring a bunch of talented songwriters and singers for this special edition (no open mic) at Don't Tell Mama, hosted by Bill Zeffiro and Jennifer Wren. Be sure to click on the BNO link to see who's performing. I'll be singing the original Christmas song that Mark Janas and Peter Napolitano wrote just for me, "All I Can Give" - a beautiful new standard.

Sunday, SUNDAY (hear Al Roker's voice here...) I sing a Christmas concert in Westport, CT with my pal and super singer, Maureen Hamill, and then rush back to NYC to co-host the fabulous Salon hosted by Mark Janas and produced by Tanya Moberly, at Etc.Etc., 352 W. 44th. Our classy open mic is perfect at this new venue - I LOVE IT. A modest cash cover of $10 and a minium of $10 from their reasonable and fantastic menu/bar served by their attentive and friendly wait staff, makes the evening very pleasant and more reasonable than our former location.

The week after that is Christmas, and Christmas Eve is also our 12th wedding anniversary, and to celebrate, I'll be singing at our church, and then enjoying a potluck with all our Unity For Practical Spirituality pals. Then, Garrett and I will head home for our own quiet celebration with our pups, Brandy and Otie.

And while I'm at it, since the holidays are so nuts and I may not have a chance to post again, SAVE THE DATE - January 31st at 7 pm, I'll be reprising the show I recently did at Feinsteins, as a benefit for CABARET CARES at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. Stay tuned.

Sending love and light and many blessings to you all, during this season of love,