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CRAIG JESSUP
 Returns To San Francisco with a New Musical Review

An Exclusive Interview By: Iride Aparicio

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Photos Courtesy of Craig Jessup

SAN FRANCISCO, CA --  With SONDHEIN TONIGHT, a musical review, actor, singer/composer CRAIG JESSUP will return to San Francisco, the city that launched his international career,

In  l977, JESSUP was in S.F. playing in the Musical Review named  “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris,” at Chez Jacques.  For those readers unfamiliar with BREL, he was a Belgian singer, songwriter, actor and poet who had composed a catalogue of literate, thoughtful and theatrical songs that were loved by the people in France. And maybe because he was idolized in France, BREL left Belgium and moved to Paris, where he died in l978.  
 

Shortly after BREL’s death, JESSUP received an invitation to perform  “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris” in Brussels, Belgium,  at the Belgian National Opera Company. JESSUP's two-week performance, a posthumous homage to BREL (now renamed America Sings Brel) was a packed-theatre event, attended by hundreds of Belgian and French theatergoers, among them BREL’s widow and his daughters.

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Craig Jessup in concert

After its success in Belgium, the review began a successful tour of the U.S. and Canada and played in such Bay Area locations as the Concord Pavilion and the Venetian Room at the Fairmont Hotel in S.F. Singer/composer CRAIG continued his successful career  playing in  theatres, cabarets and concert halls throughout Europe, Canada and the United States.

Perhaps what keeps  JESSUP’s  success as a singer is a combination of things: One of them is his tone. It fluctuates between Tenor and Baritone ranges, with mellow-sounding tones in its low notes, and soft, melodic tones in his high pitches, that  never sound breathy or out of  pitch. His concert-goers  can also count on CRAIG’s diction, which is perfect,  and in his “interpretation” of  the lyrics. When CRAIG sings, the audience feels what he is singing about.  

During his musical career,  CRAIG JESSUP has played many roles  in  stage Musicals and  sang the songs of  many different composers.  On SONDHEIM TONIGHT, he will sing the songs of STEPHEN SONDHEIM accompanied by his pianist/Arranger  and Musical Director  KEN MUIR who will also direct Bass player PAUL  EASTBURN and a drummer TOMMY KESECKER.

In an exclusive interview with CULTURAL WORLD BILINGIAL we ask CRAIG JESSUP:  Why SONDHEIM?   

C.J : “When I was twenty one I lived in New York City for one year, and on that year STEPHEN SONDHEIM showed  Company  and Follies,  so I was able to see Company  multiple times and I fell in love with STEPHEN SONDHEIM’s music. The same thing happened to me with Follies. I love Follies. I saw it many times also,  and  gave me a chance to see ELAINE STRITCH (An American Actress and singer) singing “Ladies who Lunch” which is one of my favorite songs.”

After a short pause, he adds:

C.J: “I love his lyrics. He is a poet, and his music is complex. For my show I have chosen songs from  his shows that I feel maybe a little more accessible to the audience. As you may know, SONDHEIM also wrote the lyrics to  “West Side Story.” Just the lyrics because  BERSTEIN wrote the music,  and the lyrics to  “Gypsy. ” where JULE STYNE wrote the music. For my show I am singing “Live alone and Like it” for which he wrote both the music and lyrics for the movie DICK TRACY.”

CWB:  According to your BIO you studied Drama. You  have a BA in Theatre  from Oregon State, and studied acting at Carnegie  Mellon University and  at  A.C.T. in San Francisco,  Shouldn't’t you have chosen to study music in college, when you play the piano, sing. dance  and, if I am correct, compose music?   

C.J: “ Yes, I am a composer. I have even written an album of my own songs. But let me tell you how it all started. My father was a Minister in a Protestant Church so, I grew up in the church singing in the choir and even sang solos. But when I got into High School, I studied piano and I became more interested in drama, so I was just doing plays. I ended up at A.C.T. (in S.F.)  to study acting. I also studied in New York where I was in many plays and musicals. And because I was interested in musicals,  I started developing my voice. And that is what happened.  I went from singing in church, to being in plays, and then to singing in plays with music (musicals).  So now, when I sing, my music is grabbed in theatre, and that is my style, A more dramatic, cabaret style where I act my songs."

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Craig Jessup during one of his singing/ acting performances

CWB  What do you consider unique about your performance?
GJ: ”I have been in many plays and musicals. so (by acting the different roles)  I learned that when  you are in a musical, the song comes from the character of the play. When I do my “solo” performing, and specially with STEPHEN SONDHEIM’s material, I create  that  character in that particular situation and then the song, springs from that. My idea is that each song is like a play. It has a beginning, middle, and end, so I approach it like a theatre piece and  chose my songs carefully.”

thumbnail (THIS ONE.jpgAnd  that is the reason why each one of  CRAIG JESSUP’s concerts is unique. Each come from a Singer/composer  with a unique tone of voice, who meticulously selects his songs, delivers their lyrics with perfect vocalization and interprets his lyrics. But from the audience’s point of view  what makes  CRAIG JESSUP unique as a singer, is that  his style  makes each concertgoer feel as if  he is singing to each one of  them, and in the process, touches their hearts.

CWB And to close our interview, Craig, could you tell our readers something about VANTAGE POINT the album of your compositions?

CJ:” The songs in VANTAGE POINT are songs that I wrote over many years. Songs that I wrote back in the seventies, and songs that I wrote recently. There is a song I wrote about my father’s experience in World War II, and how the war changed his life and actually made him a “peace  activist” and there is a song about mothers, too, and  the title song VANTAGE POINT that I made a video of.” which has just been released is available on itunes and could be watched at:

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/craigjessup8 orhttps://youtu.be/F-Jke_ah7D4

CRAIG JESSUP concert will play on Thursday September 20, 2018 at FEINSTEIN’s AT THE NIKKO, 222 Mason Street in San Francisco. Doors open at 6:30 PM/SHOW at 8PM  For tickets go to https://www.feinstainsatthenikko.com/event/l7l7262-craig-jessup-san-francisco/