One of the most exceptionally versatile singers of any age was Eileen Farrell. Starting in radio in the 1940s, she had her very own show in a matter of months and for Eileen Farrell that was just the beginning.
While she always kept her roots tethered in jazz and the great American songbook, Farrell’s prodigious vocal talents would soon carry her to the heights of the operatic world where she would score enormous success on stages across the world with her enormous, beautiful voice. Easily produced and supported with spot-on diction, Farrell could sing virtually anything: Arlen to Bernstein to Ponchielli to Wagner. In the mid-50s she dubbed the singing voice for actress Eleanor Parker for the film biography INTERRUPTED MELODY, detailing the heroic battle Australian soprano Marjorie Lawrence waged after she was struck down by polio. Farrell essentially came out of retirement in the early 1970s to record MARIA STUARDA with Beverly Sills–then at the height of her powers–and virtually stole the recording out from underneath the feet of the starry cast.
Conductors loved her not only for her wonderful voice but her kind, generous nature. Happy to be the devoted wife of a New York City police officer, Farrell gave up her operatic career sooner than she had to but kept singing the tunes of her first love, the American Songbook.
Here she rocks a version of “Come Rain or Come Shine” with no less than Leonard Bernstein accompanying on the piano. It was a stint for Public Television and, white hair and all, Farrell proved that she still had it. Notice especially the grinning placement of her brassy sound and the easy, relaxed jaw. She just opened her mouth and let it all come out.
Sean O’Meara is a Los Angeles-based singer/performer/entertainer available for bookings from corporate events to private parties.