Lynda Carter, center stage
Wonder Woman Returns
by Joshua Klipp
When my editor asked if I'd like to interview Lynda Carter for her upcoming show at Yoshi's, I hesitated for a minute and thought, 'Wait; Wonder Woman sings?'
The answer: yes, she does. As a matter of historical fact, Lynda Carter's broadcast debut had nothing to do with small screened DC Comics or fictional Amazonian mythology; she was five years old and sang her heart out on local public television's Lew King's Talent Show in Phoenix, Arizona. In high school she joined a musical group called Just Us – a band made up of a marimba, conga drum, acoustic guitar and upright bass – which performed at a local pizzeria four nights a week. At seventeen, she and two of her cousins joined forces to form The Relatives, which opened at the Sahara Hotel and Casino Lounge in Las Vegas.
This was only the beginning. The former Miss World USA has gone on to play Jazz at Lincoln Center ("Next time will by my 6th time!" Carter exclaimed) and Washington's Kennedy Center. She's headlined the London Palladium, Ceasar's Palace, Harrah's Casino and the Sporting Club in Monte Carlo. She has performed with Leo Sayer, Kenny Rogers, Ray Charles, Eddie Rabbit, and George Benson. She put out her own album, Portrait in 1978 (and performed two songs from the album on the Wonder Woman series). In 2005 she starred as Mama Morton in the West End London production of Chicago.
Music was always her first love. "My mother taught dance at one of those Arthur Murray-type dance studios," Carter said in our phone interview. "She loved the old juke joint 'you-done-me-wrong' torch singers. So I grew up listening to those bluesy 78s...and country...and pop music...so when you add these influences to my band's incredible musicianship, it is outstanding. People literally dance in the aisles at our shows."
It wasn't always this way. Carter laughs when reminiscing on her first gig in San Francisco.
"It was at the top of this Holiday Inn right by Chinatown, in a little lounge up there. You had Haight Ashbury going on, Janis Joplin was down the street, and Herbie Hancock was around the corner, and there I was, in the middle of a Holiday Inn!"
We riffed on this for a few minutes, and I asked her about the strangest gig she's ever played.
"Probably Imelda Marcos' party,"Carter replied. "Our band was in the Philippines and she invited us to come over. About halfway through the party, she said she'd love us to sing something, which we were informed was not a request."
Speaking of the political, Carter makes no secret that she lands firmly to the left. A staunch advocate for LGBT rights, she has been outspoken on the community's behalf long before such speeches were given on red carpets to TMZ reporters.
"I am so proud of the strides [in LGBT rights] that have been made," Carter says. A former Grand Marshall for the Phoenix, New York, and Washington D.C. Pride Parades, Carter draws a parallel between the fictional heroine she once portrayed, and the real life heroes of the LGBT civil rights movement. "It's not about super heroes and super powers, it's about people's goodness, and doing good in the world." She speaks as though bound by a lasso of truth.
Her upcoming shows at Yoshi's promise some of Nashville's finest musicians, and genres spanning blues to jazz and perhaps a smattering of country. No matter the genre though, she promised to give you the show of her life. She also promised to tell a few behind-the-scenes stories about Wonder Woman. This alone is worth the price of admission.
Lynda Carter and her All-Star Band at Yoshi's featuring Paul Liem & Blue Lou Marini; Wed-Thu, Apr 9-10. Wed 8pm $26. Thu 8pm $30. 1330 Fillmore St. 655-5600. www.yoshis.com
Joshua Klipp is a writer and singer with his band, The Klipptones. www.joshuaklipp.com