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Everybody’s Port: June 21, 2013

Meet A Believer

It’s been said that everyone has two businesses: his or her own and show business. That saying has grown old and withered, but the bell still clangs with the same message. It’s true. We’re a nation of show business critics.

Unending digital technology continues to unleash a revolution that prompts the conclusion that it ain’t your grandpappy’s show biz any more. Nowadays, more and more, it’s becoming a do-it-yourself business.

Port Washington’s Elana Hayden is a case in point. Over the past 20 years, this talented dynamo has been doing well as a kind of music-biz Renaissance woman. From performing to managing and everything in between, when it comes to today’s music business, Elana can — and does — do it all.

She has established herself as a go-to session singer, songwriter and jingle/voiceover artist. In addition, Elana has written, recorded, produced and licensed songs, jingles and voice-overs for television, film, radio and video including Showtime and HBO.

As a singer, Elana describes her voice as “alto-belt* with a soprano top.” She has a four-octave range, which gives her an edge when faced with the most esoteric songs. You want reggae or down-home jazz?  She can wail with soul like she was born to it. She can do rhythm and blues with the best. Then she can turn around and sing the Great American Songbook in a way that makes your toes tap or, on a quieter note, leaves you teary-eyed.

Mine was a memorable experience watching and hearing Elana sing the Rodgers and Hart evergreen, “My Funny Valentine” during one of her club dates. What phrasing; what voice control! She grew the lyric, “Stay little Valentine, stay” to an all-out emotional high; then, deftly brought it down quietly to close with “Each day is Valentine Day” — and held the last note ever-so-softly until it melted away. Wow.

 Elana Hayden is not just another excellent singer. With the recording industry’s switch to digital technology, Elana is no longer at the mercy of the big label recording companies. Online, she’s inviting those interested to be a part of making her début album project (PledgeMusic.com). It starts with a pledge of $10-$10,000 that will get you immediate and exclusive access to everything that goes on behind the scenes when making the CD.

Currently, Elana – with the participation of local folks like Don Winston and Alice Tamkin and as far away as England and Germany – is closing in on 100% of her initial goal. Once it has been reached, Elana will use the funds for top musicians and engineers to record, mix, and master and distribute the album. If the goal is not met, the pledge money is returned. On the other hand, once the goal is been hit, 10% of post-goal funds go directly to the North Shore Animal League. (More at www.elanahayden.com.)

With all this activity, Elana manages to find time to share her expertise as a volunteer for PortFest and Harbor Fest, and a variety of musical activities in our schools, which includes working behind-the-scenes at Schreiber on this summer’s musical, “Shrek”. (Her daughter, Julia – soon to be a sophomore at Schreiber — is in the cast.)

When all’s said and done, it’s clear that Elana is a believer. Want proof? Consider her decision to both perform and produce her own debut album. That is a tough mountain to climb. Elana knows that. But she believes she can do it. I wouldn’t bet against it. Excelsior!

See ya’ next week.

* Without getting too technical, in Broadway parlance the late great Ethel Merman was a belter; Kelli O’Hara is not.