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I was born in White Plains, New York, in 1956, and I am a particle of the wave of thousands of people who’ve come to Los Angeles to become famous. Before I go any further I need to say this: I’ve been married just once, but every musical collaboration has all the intensity and richness of a marriage, and in that regard I’ve had many husbands.
My journey began in 1979 when I moved to Los Angeles with my first significant musical partner, Richard Hochberg. When we arrived in L.A. New Wave music and punk rock were filling the air with new possibilities. I banged around the cabaret circuit with Richard performing as the duo BRUCE AND LOIS while secretly longing to be in a band, and I finally got my chance when I met musician Steve Stewart through an ad in The Recycler. Steve was looking for a new singer for his band, The Boards, and after I’d passed the audition we re-named the band THE PEARLS, in honor of the jewels I’d sold in order to keep a roof over my head.
The Pearls was the most unhip band in Los Angeles; check out our single, “Running in Circles,” for proof. Our guitar player, Brad Rabuchin, had long hair he wore in pigtails, and he played incredibly fast, long guitar solos, which was not considered very Punk Rock in 1980. Brad went on to tour with RAY CHARLES. The Pearls wrote and performed music for a play called Sport of My Mad Mother, and the play led to my next important collaborators, composer Jerry Frankel, actor Philip Littell, and director David Schweizer. Together the four of us created THE WEBA SHOW: A LOUNGE ACT FOR THE 80s, an avant garde vaudeville show rooted in the “so bad it’s good” aesthetic.
Our repertoire included Pop gems such as “Knock Three Times on the Ceiling,” “Love Child,” and “Goldfinger,” and we were very popular. The show ran for two years at the Lhasa Club in L.A., traveled to the Kool Jazz Festival in 1983, the Olympic Arts Festival of 1984, and appeared on national television (Thicke of the Night http:www.youtube.com/)
After The Weba Show closed I was adrift. In 1984 I had the good fortune to meet my future husband, musician and recording engineer Mark Wheaton, and he encouraged me to reunite with Steve Stewart. That seemed like a good idea, so Steve and I reconnected and wrote two nightclub musicals, Come to My Heaven and Adventure Amour, which I performed with a newly formed group called WEBA & THE WAILING TURBANS. The music we performed was a peculiar hybrid of Dorothy Lamour and Dr. Demento, and in singing it I found my sultry voice.
The unflappable cool of exotic lounge music left me unsatisfied, however. In 1990 I appeared in A Conversation From the Grave, an experimental video written by James Krusoe and directed by Patti Podesta, and that same year I started hanging out with feminist groups, the Women’s Action Coalition, and the Bohemian Women’s Political Alliance. I discovered a lot of rage inside me that needed an outlet, and it was right around then that I met Ralph Gorodetsky, a musician who understands how to transform rage into beautiful music. At that point my music evolved into a hybrid of spoken word, funk, jazz, and punk, and it was then that I found my furious voice. Ralph and I teamed up with musician Joe Baiza, and together we created the music that led to my first two albums, WELCOME TO WEBAWORLD and PUTTANESCA.
In 1998, I was invited me to perform the songs of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht for the Brecht Centennial and put together the EASTSIDE SINFONIETTA, a quintet that included Jason Payne, Tracy Wannanomae, Ralph Gorodetsky and Joe Berardi. They created stunning arrangements of classic songs from the Weimar Republic. Together we developed a production of the Brecht/Weill musical, Happy End, and the Sinfonietta swallowed me whole. We released an album of music from Happy End called Don’t be Afraid, I gigged constantly, and I sang nothing but German for three years!
Then, I lost my voice. Happy End led to a collaboration with internationally acclaimed video artist, Bill Viola, and since 2000 I’ve appeared in more than a dozen works by Viola that have been shown in museums around the world. Meeting Bill was one of the good things that happened during that period, but I mostly spent the first half of 2003 wondering if I’d ever write perform again. I’d fallen in love with Bossa Nova by then, but in working with the Sinfonietta I’d realized I had some learning to do, so I put the Bossa Nova project on hold and went to school. After earning a Masters Degree in commercial music at Cal-State L.A., I took the skills I’d acquired from my wonderful teachers, Deborah Holland, Steve Wight and Ross Levinson, and returned to the world of Bossa Nova.