| THIS SITUATION was straightened out quickly, however, and Eydie signed for 13 weeks, which stretched into 3 1/2 years.
But between the "lucky break" and the first extension of that 13-week agreement, here's what happened:
Eydie went on a strict diet to slim down for the camera.
She virtually had to learn how to sing all over again, dropping the style she had acquired singing into the microphones in front of the bands of Tex Beneke, Tommy Tucker and Ken Greengrass.
"I was really too heavy for TV," she said. "You gain about 10 pounds in front of the camera, you know. But I was determined to make a success of it, not matter what."
She had to fight self-consciousness. She had to drop mannerisms which were acceptable in delivering a song onstage or in front of a band because they came over awkwardly and over-dramatized on television. She had to project her voice more and forget what she had learned about singing into a mike while a band roared behind her.
SHE FOUND Steve Lawrence a great help in getting her to relax. "The duets we did together helped so much," she said. "They were no chore. Little by little I gained confidence. That was very important. People tend to feel uncomfortable if you don't feel confident.
"Before long, I was having fun."
Eydie says she considers her records an important facet of her career. Once again, she says this was another "lucky break." But it was work, and hard work, for her to overcome her fear of recording.
She had been with Beneke's band for a year but never recorded a side.
"The simple truth," she said, "is I was scared to death. I got mike fight whenever we went into a recording studio. I had this mental block that even carried over when we taped a radio show."
Now Miss Gorme is at the Palace, one of the main supports for comedian Jerry Lewis' show. Her performance on the bill at the New York landmark drew universal critical acclaim.
Another "lucky break?"
SHE OPENED at the Palace with a new act. She received her arrangements for the show the afternoon of the opening performance. Eydie literally broke her act in on opening night. Whatever landscaping she wanted to do on the scores had to be done at the brief rehearsal session before the opening curtain.
The Eydie Gorme of a few years ago might have gone to pieces on opening night with a set of songs and arrangements practically unknown to her. But not today's Miss Gorme.
When she comes on and starts to sing, a hush falls over the audience. When she does Guess Who I Saw Today, barely etched in pinpoint spotlight, there's rarely even a cough from the audience.
Nowadays, when Eydie goes into a record sessions, she's well rehearsed, knows her material beforehand, and finds her only problem the balance, which the engineers handle for her.
Part of the process of gaining confidence and poise comes from singing with bands. "It's the best practical way to learn," she declared.
I never studied music. Singing with a band was the best training I ever had. You get so you learn a song in about 12 minutes. I griped then, but I realize that now.
"What's good for me may not be the best for someone else. But it (band singing experience) can never hurt or hold back anyone, believe me."
OTHER ARTISTS may delve into obscure scores and old musicals for material, but Eydie has her own ideas. "The real problem," she said, "is finding a song suitable for you. I don't believe that there are songs that have been done to death. People like to hear songs they know. They don't want to concentrate on things they've never heard before.
"When they are familiar with song, they can compare other versions with yours. It's important that you feel you're doing the song better than anyone else has done it. Whether they think so is another thing.
"On new songs," she continued, "it definitely has to be something I feel. I can do a song adequately, but that's not enough.
"Now I'm singing the way I honestly feel. It takes a long time to get that way, and I realize that I still haven't found what I'm looking for yet. I get a sound I like sometimes, but I can't get it every time.
"I really believe you have to be a good actor to be a good singer. For instance, there are some jazz singers who concentrate so much on sound and melodic invention they forget about the lyrics.
"I'm not like that. To me the lyrics are important. If a song is dramatic, I feel it. I try to project it that way. If you're the type who has a quiet heartbreak, that's okay. But I'm not that type.
"The most important thing is to communicate that feeling. Maybe that's why I like the way Felicia Sanders sings. She feels her material, and she understand what she's singing about.
"AND TAKE Tony Bennett. I enjoy hearing as much as I do Frank Sinatra. That's a big statement, because to me Sinatra is the very top. But Tony is so sincere in his songs. He's direct and sincere, even when he talks. He got a standing ovation at his opening at the Copa, and it was a spontaneous thing. There was just nothing left to do but stand up and cheer.
"He worked so hard on the arrangements, and he kept building his performance. I try to gear my shows that way, too. But when he did Lost in the Stars, it was weird. You could feel yourself floating out in space with stars all around. It was that kind of performance."
A native of the Bronx, Eydie first sang at the age of 3 on a kiddy show broadcast from a department store. As a teenager, she spend nearly all her money on records and surprised her friends by singing not the vocal line of a song but the instrumental riffs in the background.
With some fine records on hand, a successful stand with Lewis at the Palace, nationwide acceptance through the Allen shows, and her personal appearances, Eydie may not realize it, but she is a hot personality and getting hotter.
|Down Beat - April 4, 1957|
|by Dom Cerulli|
| TO HEAR Eydie Gorme tell it, her success has resulted from a series of lucky breaks.
But on closer examination, it develops that her success has come largely from hard work on her part, even when the breaks were with her.
For instance, she was a fixture for more than three years on Steve Allen's Tonight television show. "It was the luckiest break of my life," she said.
Here's how it happened.
She was recording for Coral and had just cut Frenesi. Allen was looking for a girl to sing on his show. He caught her on a local New York TV show, and a short while later she was approached to work steadily on his show.
"I thought it was a gag," Eydie recalled with a laugh. "And I turned him down."