Debby Boone


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On Oprah 10/10

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Liner Notes





Debby Boone on Oprah October 19, 2010

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BLUE SKIES: My son Jordan was the first of Rosemary's grandchildren and the relationship they shared for twenty-two years was one of pure joy. When Jordan was two years old, Rosemary began singing "Blue Skies" to him. He loved it! She would sing it to him when he was sad, when he took a fall and was crying, anytime he needed his spirits lifted. She'd call him on the phone from the road and he'd listen to her sing it, and it never failed to put a big bright smile on his face. Eventually, Rosemary made her own cassette recording of the song to give to Jordan so he could have "Grammy" sing "Blue Skies" whenever he wanted her to. Jordan played it frequently on his little Play School tape recorder (once he must have pressed the record button accidentally because there was a brief 'skip' in the middle of the song.) A few months after Rosemary died I remembered that I had saved that cassette. It was labeled in her own handwriting "Jordan's Blue Skies." I immediately put it into a player and listened to her sing the song a cappella, keeping time by tapping on her leg. It was as if she were right there in the room singing those words to me, to Jordan, and to everyone she loved. Like Jordan, I will always find comfort in this beautiful Irving Berlin song.

I'LL BE HOME: When selecting songs that I felt could create a musical portrait of Rosemary, I was searching for a song that personified her. I was also hoping to find a song that could convey the feeling family and friends had when spending time at Rosemary's home lovingly referred to as "The Roxbury House." A feeling of warmth and acceptance was palpable in that house. Rosemary became a surrogate mom to so many people who I'm certain, like me, always felt as if they had come home when they walked into the den to see her sitting in her favorite chair. Recently, when my daughter Dustin was home for a week from college, I asked her if she had any suggestions for a song that could convey the feeling we all had about the Roxbury house, or a song that reminded her of Rosemary. Without hesitation she answered, "What about 'I'll Be Home,' by Randy Newman?" She pulled it up on iTunes, and before the song ended we both had tears running down our cheeks, and I knew that Dustin had found the perfect song. Being with Rosemary was like being home. I am sure anyone who ever experienced the intensity of her love and loyalty can imagine her singing these words to them.

THE BEST IS YET TO COME: Beginning in 1989 ­ for about 7 seasons, Rosemary included me and my four children in her annual tour of "Rosemary Clooney's White Christmas Party." Sharing the stage with her, year after year was like a Master Class. I was always inspired by her impeccable performance, and the ease with which she communicated with the audience.

Before every show I would spend about 30 minutes vocalizing with a tape of warm-up exercises. My husband Gabri used to say that Rosemary would laugh at the sound of these exercises through the dressing room wall. Rosemary never once took a formal voice lesson but like the inscription on a 1995 ASCAP award said, she was "one of the best friends a song ever had." The extent of her vocal warm-up was a quick pass at the opening melody from "The Best Is Yet To Come" (bah-DAH, bah-DAH, bah-DAHŠ) and then one good cough and she'd head for the stage.

I'M SO LONESOME I COULD CRY: Rosemary said that she spent a lot of her childhood listening to country music with her maternal grandmother, Grandma Guilfoyle. She and her sister Betty sang together while growing up in Maysville, Kentucky and eventually auditioned for Cincinnati, Ohio's WLW radio station. The Clooney Sisters were featured on the live radio shows for two years. They would arrive when the station was playing all country music as the farmers were beginning their day. Though Rosemary is not perceived this way, a huge portion of her body of work reflects her strong connection to her Kentucky roots. Her first real hit was a country song "Beautiful Brown Eyes" in 1951. Later, she had an even bigger hit with Hank Williams' tune "Half As Much." Red was a contemporary of Hank Williams, Sr. and in fact sang "Peace in The Valley" at Hank's funeral as he had once promised him. Red grew up in Berea, Kentucky, not far from Maysville where Rosemary was born. I chose to sing the Hank Williams song: "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" for Rosemary and for Daddy Red.

MOOD INDIGO: Red Foley's wife Eva, my grandmother, sang on live radio with a girls group called The Three Little Maids and taught my mother to sing with her sisters growing up. My mother in turn taught me and my three sisters to sing in four-part harmony when we were very small, and for years we performed and recorded together just as Rosemary performed and sang with her sister Betty when they were teenagers. Rosemary and I often talked about the "family blend" when brothers or sisters harmonize together.

One of Rosemary's favorite albums that she ever recorded was Blue Rose with Duke Ellington and his orchestra ­ arranged by the legendary Billy Strayhorn. This version of "Mood Indigo" (which includes my three sisters) is an homage to this great Clooney/Ellington collaboration. I asked the incomparable Earl Brown (who has worked with every singer from Crosby to Elvis, and so often with Rosemary) to do the vocal arrangement for us.

IT MIGHT AS WELL BE SPRING: This song comes from the Broadway musical State Fair. In 1962, my father Pat starred in a film version directed by Jose Ferrer. Little did they know as they enjoyed working together all those years ago that they'd be sharing four grandchildren 24 years later after I fell in love, and married Jose and Rosemary's son Gabriel.

VAN HEUSEN MEDLEY: Rosemary often told a story about her long-time friend, Bing Crosby, and how he never liked to say the actual words "I love you" when singing. These three Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke songs (written for Crosby) were put together by Rosemary to illustrate how brilliantly songwriters could state the substance in a lyric without actually saying "I love you." Rosemary left me all of her musical arrangements. The magnitude of such a gift is immeasurable.

THE MUSIC THAT MAKES ME DANCE: My husband Gabri is a combination of the very best qualities of both his parents, and anyone who knew Rosemary and Jose will agree that makes him pretty formidable. In the 30 years that I have known him, he never ceases to surprise me. I could go on and on, but this song says it best.

TIME AFTER TIME: In 1996, I fell in love with an album called Chet Baker Sings. I spent the summer tirelessly delighting in his trumpet playing and melting at the sound of his voice, not to mention his picture. I developed a real school girl's crush on Chet. I sent a copy of the record in the mail to Rosemary knowing that she would absolutely love the way this guy sang. My phone rang in my hotel room one evening and when I picked up it was Rosemary's voice, "Do you know I carry around a picture of Chet Baker in my wallet to this day?" We had a crush on the same guy! That was the beginning of a shared obsession between us.

This is one of my favorite songs that Chet recorded. The music was written by Jule Styne and the lyrics written by Rosemary's great friend Sammy Cahn. She sang "Time After Time" at a tribute to Jule and Sammy in 1986.

I'VE GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO HIS FACE: Early in his career Jim Henson was a huge Rosemary Clooney fan. When he decided to give a voice (lip synched) to a little green frog puppet who eventually became Kermit, he chose Rosemary's recording of this song. Rosemary absolutely loved Jim Henson and his Muppets and was thrilled to be the first voice of Kermit the Frog.

YOU'RE GONNA HEAR FROM ME: This song was the first arrangement that John Oddo ever wrote for Rosemary. This version was adapted for a small group from his big band arrangement for her Woody Herman album entitled "My Buddy" (1983). John was playing with Woody's band when he met Rosemary. She heard his terrific arrangements and hired John immediately. Rosemary was very proud of the story that when she was working with Count Basie's Orchestra, Basie was listening to John play at the rehearsal and leaned over to her and said, "You got yourself a great piano player there Rosie". John became Rosemary's musical director and arranger for twenty years! With John Oddo as conductor/pianist, I looked forward to every second of rehearsal and performance each year on the Christmas tours. John's sensitive accompaniment made me a better singer. To find myself in the enviable position of working with John on this record was a dream come true.

IT NEVER ENTERED MY MIND/IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS OF THE MORNING: I had the honor of working with Frank Sinatra on several occasions, including an engagement at The Resorts International Hotel in Atlantic City where I opened for him. He sang the Rodgers and Hart classic "It Never Entered My Mind" in that show and it took my breath away. Live or recorded on his In The Wee Small Hours album, Rosemary and I both loved the way he sang it. Of course Rosemary adored Frank from the time she was a teenager, and throughout their years of working together. When he died, she said she "couldn't imagine a world without Frank Sinatra in it". As a tribute to Frank after his passing, Rosemary would sing "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning" at every concert. I wanted to combine both songs on this CD ­ for Rosemary, and for Frank.

YOU ARE THERE: When my son Jordan was around twelve or thirteen years old, Rosemary began recording Dave Frishberg songs like "Sweet Kentucky Ham" and "Let's Eat Home." Jordan took a real interest in Dave and bought every Frishberg CD in existence. He discovered this song off of Dave's 1991 "Classics" album and had always wished that Rosemary would record it ­ she never got the chance. I will never forget sitting in Jordan's car one afternoon, a few years before Rosemary died, as he played me this song. I too wished I could hear her sing it. I still do.

Debby Boone "Reflections Of Rosemary", released on April 26, 2005 (on Concord Records).

Debby Boone's first Concord Records release, "Reflections of Rosemary," is an intimate musical portrait of her mother-in-law, the legendary singer Rosemary Clooney. The CD is a collection of 16 songs distinguished by Debby Boone's strong, striking vocal talents and a very personal, emotionally rich story line.

"I wanted to select songs that would give an insight into Rosemary from a family perspective, and from the more than 30-years that I spent with her," says Debby Boone. Although some songs were either recorded or often performed onstage by the "Girl Singer," including Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies," Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo," and Sammy Cahn and Jule Stynes' "Time After Time," Boone included other tunes for more personal family reasons all of which are lovingly and beautifully described in the liner notes for "Reflections of Rosemary".

Debby Boone movingly details why she included each song on the CD, from Rosemary Clooney's respect for Frank Sinatra ("In The Wee Small House of the Morning"), to a song the family agreed expressed their feelings for Rosemary Clooney and her home, fondly referred to as "The Roxbury House" (Randy Newman's haunting and deceptively simple "I'll Be Home").

"Blue Skies," for example, has special meaning for Debby's son, Jordan. "He was the first of Rosemary Clooney's grandchildren and the relationship they shared for twenty-two years was one of pure joy," explains Debby Boone.

"When Jordan was two years old, Rosemary began singing the song to him. He loved it! She would sing it to him when he was sad, when he took a fall and was crying, anytime he needed his spirits lifted. She'd call him from the road,and he'd listen to her sing it, and it never failed to put a big bright smile on his face."

Debby Boone tips her hat to fate when she performs "It Might As Well Be Spring," a song from the movie "State Fair." The screen version of the musical starred her father, Pat Boone, and was directed by her future father-in-law, Jose Ferrer. Debby Boone says, "When Pat and Jose were working together all those years ago and fast becoming friends, little did they know that 24-years later they would share four grandchildren." And for her husband, Gabriel, Debby selected a joyous expression of love in the Jule Styne / Bob Merrill song, "The Music That Makes Me Dance."

Debby Boone amusingly relates how Clooney used to laugh at her lengthy vocalizing before each show. The extent of Rosemary Clooney's vocal warm-up was a quick pass at the opening melody from "The Best Is Yet to Come." "One good cough and she'd head for the stage," laughs Debby. Rosemary's presence can be felt as Boone sings Dave Frischberg and Johnny Mandel's treasure, "You Are There," while Clooney's good friend, Bing Crosby, is remembered on the CD with the medley from Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke, "But Beautiful / Moonlight Becomes You / Like Someone In Love." And, "You're Gonna Hear From Me," has special meaning for John Oddo, Rosemary Clooney's longtime arranger and musical director, as well as the conductor and pianist on "Reflections of Rosemary", it was the first tune he ever arranged for Rosemary.

"Reflections of Rosemary" was produced by Rosemary Clooney's long-time producer / manager Allen Sviridoff, who helped to fill the CD with musicians who had meant a great deal to Rosemary Clooney throughout her career.

In addition to John Oddo, there are special guest appearances by tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton and guitarist John Pizzarelli, both of whom toured and recorded with Clooney. Throughout the CD, Debby Boone's beautiful vocals are accompanied by Gary Foster (alto and tenor saxophone), Warren Luening (trumpet, flugelhorn), Chuck Berghofer (bass), Gregg Field (drums), Jim Fox (guitar) and Daniel Greco (percussionist). Cellist Armen Ksajikian appears on "I'll Be Home;" Dan Higgins appears on "I'm So Lonesome I could Cry" (tenor sax) and on "It Might Be As Well Be Spring" (alto flute).

Debby Boone earned instant fame in 1977 when "You Light Up My Life" became an overnight hit. The tune, which outranked even The Beatles by claiming the #1 spot on the Billboard charts for ten straight weeks, sold in excess of four million copies; the album went platinum with sales in excess of two million. The song went on to win an Academy Award for Best Song in a Motion Picture, and Debby Boone received the Grammy Award for Best New Artist of the Year. Since her remarkable entree into the music industry, she has won two additional Grammy Awards and has received seven Grammy nominations.

Debby Boone has starred as the lead in numerous stage productions, such as "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" on Broadway and as Maria in Lincoln Center's 30th Anniversary production of The Sound of Music, which garnered a Drama Desk nomination. She also starred as Rizzo in the Broadway production of Grease, and toured nationally in Meet Me In St. Louis. Most recently, Debby performed the role of Anna in the 50th Anniversary staging of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I and launched her symphony program "Debby Boone Sings Stage and Screen." Debby Boone has also written six charming children's books in collaboration with her husband, Gabriel Ferrer, who created the illustrations for the best-selling series.

This latest project, "Reflections of Rosemary," is clearly more than just a performance for Debby Boone, however. It is a deeply heart-felt tribute to a woman for whom she had great love and respect.



Review: Clued in on Clooney
Debby Boone lights up somebody else's life

By Porter Anderson, CNN

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- It's not that you expect her to turn up in white buck shoes. Still, Debby Boone is the daughter of Pat Boone. And she spent a lot of time doing Christian music.

She was good at it, too. She pulled down Grammys in 1977 (best new artist), 1980 (best inspirational performance) and 1984 with Phil Driscoll (best gospel performance for a duo or group).

In fact, you may still be holding "You Light Up My Life" against her. With 10 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's charts in 1977, it even won best song at the Oscars that year.

Now, all is forgiven.

Did you know that Boone is the wife of Gabriel Ferrer, son of Jose Ferrer and Rosemary Clooney? Did you know that when Clooney died close to three years ago, she'd given all her arrangements to daughter-in-law Boone?

Concord Records, Clooney's recording-label home from the 1970s, has done us the favor of setting us very straight: Boone isn't just the lucky owner of John Oddo's arrangements; she's also a remarkably gifted heir to the Clooney canon.

Don't be put off by the Stepford CD cover photo. In "Reflections of Rosemary," Boone does much more than simply cover a few Clooney hits. She makes this CD her own, choosing each cut -- some of them Clooney's, some of them might have been -- for specific relevance to a memory of her former mother-in-law.

Stylistic evolution

At the end of the CD, you hear a family tape of Clooney doing "Blue Skies" for her grandson, Boone's son Jordan. That trademark Clooney hustle is there in force, right down to the "big finish!" she announces just before singing the final phrase. Clooney was a creature of that peculiar tomboy-shout sound so common to several singers of the last century. For Ethel Merman, it was a bark. For Clooney, a hoot.

For Boone, it's a sigh, and a sweet one. Boone is her own woman. And her rendition of "Blue Skies" is threatened by the subtle clouds of melancholy always just over Irving Berlin's horizon.

Things get even more serious in Randy Newman's "I'll Be Home," which Boone has chosen to conjure a feeling of attachment she recalls to Clooney's welcoming home. It's a meditative, pointed rendition, determinedly quiet.

Never read liner notes? Make an exception just this once. Boone explains her choice of each selection, noting, for example, that Clooney had no use for pre-show preparations. "The extent of her vocal warm-up," Boone writes, "was a quick pass at the opening melody from 'The Best Is Yet To Come' (bah-DAH, bah-DAH, bah-DAH ...) and then one good cough and she'd head for the stage."

When Boone starts singing her own bossa-brilliant "The Best Is Yet To Come," hit your Repeat button. You'll want to listen several times to the razor-sharp modulation Oddo's arrangement pulls off in this one, getting Boone into briefly eerie territory.

That's its own warm-up for the gentle, brooding combo she makes of Sinatra's "It Never Entered My Mind" and "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning."


How does Debby Boone sound doing jazz? Like Doris Day at night.

Boone is perfectly adept at the sort of opening-phrase glissandi that Day favored, but it doesn't come off as a grown woman trying to sound girlish when Boone goes for it. There were times you might want to have yelled, "Oh, grow up," even to Ella Fitzgerald for this sort of thing. Not Boone. She sings her 40-something age and the effort rings classy.

No less a light than John Pizzarelli contributes warm guitar to Boone's "I've Grown Accustomed to His Face."

Oddo's original arrangement for "You're Gonna Hear From Me," in Boone's care, has all the everything's-coming-up-roses optimism you'd expect from his first song for Clooney.

Throughout this CD, Oddo has contributed each track's notably clean piano work while conducting the larger ensemble. He and Boone reassure us, one cut after the next, that we're in the hands accomplished pros who know what Clooney meant to them and to a couple of generations whose lives seemed at times to be scored by her music.

And finally, it's in a song that Clooney didn't record that Boone and Oddo find their best moment, the restless Dave Frishberg "You Are There."

"Pretend the dream was true," Boone sings, ever so slightly wobbling in the last two bars: "And tell myself that you are there."

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A Musical Legacy

With a new album dedicated to her mother-in-law, Rosemary Clooney, a wiser yet still youthful Debby Boone reflects on her musical roots and fortunate life.

WEB EXCLUSIVE: By Jac Chebatoris - Newsweek - Updated: 8:19 a.m. ET April 29, 2005

April 28 - The woman who sang “You Light Up My Life”—the biggest hit of 1977, which sold in excess of 4 million copies—says she never made a dime off the record. But Debby Boone is not bitter. “Because of that song, a career opened up and I was able to make money in performance,” she says.

Boone’s latest album, “Reflections of Rosemary,” is a loving tribute to her legendary mother-in-law, Rosemary. (Only two years after her Grammy win in 1977, Boone married Gabriel Ferrer, the son of Clooney and actor Jose Ferrer.) When Clooney died in 2002, Boone inherited all of her musical arrangements, a “treasure chest,” as Boone calls it. If such a thing exists as a 48-year-old debutante, then Boone is it, using her love and connection to a musical lineage—on both sides of her family; her father is Pat Boone—as a coming-out party. “I’m not the 21-year-old girl with the flower stuck to the side of her head,” Boone says. “I’m a woman with a lot of life experience under my belt now, and so much to sing about.” The ever-youthful Boone spoke with NEWSWEEK’s Jac Chebatoris about fame, fortune and family. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: What is the one thing you want to tell people to dispel the Debby Boone-squeakier-clean-than-thou-persona of the '70s?

Debby Boone: It’s hard to cull it down to one thing because I do think that the general public has such a misconception of who I am. The thing that has always disturbed me the most is if people think that from that squeaky-clean, religious persona that somehow I’m judgmental of everyone else—that sickens me. Nothing could be further from the truth. And, with this new project coming out, this has been the strongest statement that I’ve ever made musically.

When is the last time you either listened to or sang “You Light Up My Life?”

Oh, wow. Fairly recently, you know, because it’s required.

At family gatherings, you mean? Or if someone sees you in the grocery store?

No way! But I hear it on Muzak. I’ve actually had the shocking experience of sitting at a softball game and hearing an ice-cream truck go by playing it. Isn’t that scary? It’s come to this—it’s now ice-cream-truck material!

It must have been overwhelming to be thrust into the spotlight back in ’77, when you were only 21.

Oh, absolutely. It was pretty mind-spinning. It was exciting, it was scary. I didn’t feel ready even though I had been traveling and doing concerts with my family. I was part of a group, and it was just completely different when you’re called upon to do a whole show and be a performer, and I had no solo experience so it was pretty scary.

It seemed like a backlash came with it—people were trying to find something to knock you down a bit.

It was either/or. You either loved me or hated me in those days. And I think the hate part came from people who were like, “Oh, please, nobody can be that sweet and that good, and where’s the catch?”

You did some Christian records and won Grammys for those, as well. Is your faith still a big part of who you are?

I have not done any recording of contemporary Christian music for 10 years, easily, but I never intended for that kind of music to define a career. I was singing about something I really believe in, I’m passionate about, and I wanted that to be just something I could do, not something that would define what I do now for a career. The spirituality part is still really the center of my life, but I’m an entertainer and I want to go out and do music and entertain, and I don’t include that everywhere I go. It’s who I am, it’s not what I do.

Your grandfather, musician Red Foley, had known Rosemary, and your father worked with her husband, Jose Ferrer—who later, obviously became your father-in-law. It is like you were destined to end up in that family.

It was bizarre, wasn’t it? Initially the way the families came together is that I started dating my husband’s older brother. I dated the older one first! Miguel [Ferrer], the actor. We really only dated for a couple of weeks as we both rebounded out of our high-school first loves. Then a year later I started dating Gabri [Gabriel Ferrer] who is the third of their five kids.

Rosemary seemed so larger than life. Was that daunting at first?

Not at first because my focus was very much on one brother, and then the other, and I knew she was obviously famous, but I had not been someone who had bought her records or listened to her music particularly. But once Gabri and I were really an item, I began to go to some of her shows and just fell head over heels for her as a fan. She moved me in such a powerful way that I was just at her feet learning from then on. Later, after [Gabriel and I] were married she asked to put the family in her Christmas shows, and we traveled around for several years where I got to work with her and, I often say, it was really like a master class, it really was.

What did it mean to you that she left you all of her arrangements after she died?

It was humbling. It was almost like a frightening responsibility, and I knew there was this treasure chest that I still haven’t really gotten in there to see ... It was a phenomenal legacy for me. I’ll be using some of them in the shows I’ll be doing now, and on this record we used a couple of arrangements that John Oddo had done for her for stage. He was her musical director for 20 years, who is working with me now. I think the most stunning thing to me is that she trusted me to use them.

You clearly had such a great relationship with her.

We did. We really did. I really feel like I have lived, in so many ways, a charmed life. Not just Rosemary—it’s the whole family. I had a wonderful relationship with Jose and all of my husband’s brothers and sisters. His sister is one of my absolutely closest friends.

Out of your four children, somebody has to be carrying on the torch seeing as the musical legacy reaches down both sides of the family.

It’s really looking like my youngest, Tessa, who is in New York studying to be an actress. My other three are pretty shy about being right up in the public forum like that. We nicknamed her Eve Harrington when we were working on the stage together [from the Bette Davis movie “All About Eve”].

So you’ll be doing a run of dates in May at the cabaret club Feinstein’s in New York, but aside from that do you plan on touring behind this record?

Oh yeah. I love performing and this is kind of a new genre for me to be in—cabaret and jazz clubs—they’re small and more intimate. I think once I get past the initial, “Ooh, I’ve never done this before,” I’m going to love it more than anything.

Whose idea was it for your father to show up at the American Music Awards in 1997 dressed in chains and a leather vest with fake tattoos to promote his new album? An album of heavy-metal covers, I might add.

That was his own insanity! He shocked us all. We couldn’t believe it—none of us—including my son Jordan who was in junior high at the time, and he’s watching the American Music Awards and saw my dad and buried his head in his hands and said, “Is there no way to stop him?” [Laughs.] I thought it was insane. All the metalheads loved it. They thought it was so great. And then all of his normal fan base was so threatened by it; they couldn’t take a joke. It was ridiculous. Keep your eyes peeled because there’s some other wacky thing he’s going to do, I’m sure. We’re due for another Pat Boone shocker.

FaceTime with Debby Boone

Miriam Di Nunzio - April 28, 2005,

So perhaps you've been wondering: whatever happened to that perky little popster Debby Boone?

And now, That Song has crept into your mind, hasn't it?

But in the years since "You Light Up My Life," Boone, now 48, (daughter of singer Pat Boone and daughter-in-law of the late Rosemary Clooney and actor Jose Ferrer) has been quite busy bringing up four children and making music. That includes her latest disc, a tribute to her famous musicmaking in-law, titled "Reflections of Rosemary" (Concord), released Tuesday.

Q. What was it like having Rosemary Clooney for a mother-in-law?

A. She was incredibly loving and fun, and she really loved me, so it wasn't one of those adversarial relationships. But she was also my idol professionally. So having easy access to her was like having a master class in music any time I wanted one.

Q. The album features an a cappella rendition of "Blue Skies" by Rosemary. Where did that come from?

A. She took a little handheld cassette recorder and just sang the song to her first grandson, my son Jordan. They were very close. She'd take him everywhere with her, on vacations, on the road. They would sing the song all the time. To have this cassette is just extraordinary.

Q. What do you want the album to say about Rosemary Clooney?

A. I didn't want to cover her hits. Bette Midler did that and she was the best artist to do that. I wanted this collection of songs to convey this big-hearted, fun, one-of-a-kind person. It's a tribute to her life, not a cover album.

Q. "You Light Up My Life" became one of those songs that people love to hate. Did you get to the point where it made you sick, too?

A. [Laughing.] Of course. Anytime you sing something over and over and over, it's bound to get to you. But I can also proudly say that I have a No. 1 hit. And that I'm in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the "One-Hit Wonder Wall." I'm still very troubled by the fact that I'm in the hall and my dad isn't. I just don't understand that.

Q. What about your dad going heavy metal a few years back?

A. [Laughing.] What was he thinking? I was shocked, but of course he wasn't serious about it. My son Jordan, who was only in junior high and had to face his friends at school the next day, had the best line when we saw it on television. He said, "Is there no way to stop him?"

Rosie release
Debby Boone pays tribute to her late mother-in-law, Rosemary Clooney.

The Orange County Register

The phrase "labor of love" is often overused, but in the case of Debby Boone's new Concord album, "Reflections of Rosemary," it couldn't be more apt.

The disc, due in stores today, is Boone's unabashedly affectionate tribute to her late mother-in-law, Rosemary Clooney, but it isn't the call-the-roll lineup of familiar tunes that you might expect.

"What we didn't want to do was rerecord her very familiar hit records," Boone said in a recent phone chat from her Sherman Oaks home. "The best tribute to her is to listen to her sing them." Thus (and some, perhaps Clooney herself, would say fortunately), there's no "Come On-A My House."

Instead, Boone, a bunch of fine musicians and some notable cohorts - including Clooney's longtime arranger, John Oddo, and manager Allen Sviridoff, commingled some of Clooney's big numbers (Boone inherited the original arrangements) with a few ringers - but nothing without some relationship to Clooney.

Each of the 13 tracks - and why it was selected - is detailed in Boone's delightful and highly personal liner notes. Take "Blue Skies," for instance: An Irving Berlin classic, of course, and long part of Clooney's repertoire, but also a tune that Clooney began singing privately to Boone's son Jordan when he was but a tot of 2 and which became "their song."

For every Great American Songbook staple that Clooney gave her special treatment - like "Mood Indigo" or "You're Gonna Hear From Me" - there's an "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," a lovely illustration (and celebration) of Clooney's early country-music roots in Kentucky.

A medley of "It Never Entered My Mind/In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" salutes Frank Sinatra and his long association with Clooney. "You Are There" is a Dave Frishberg tune (Clooney was a big fan) that Boone always wished her mother-in-law had recorded. Randy Newman's "I'll Be Home" is a plaintive paean to Clooney's beloved (and famous) Beverly Hills abode.

"I think it's a perfect blend of the two of us," said Boone, daughter of singer Pat and wife of Clooney and José Ferrer's son Gabriel. "I've never felt more at home with any project I've ever been involved in," she said. "Something she and I did have in common is knowing that you have to find your way into a song that's emotionally honest - your way of telling a story.

"One thing I watched and learned as I worked with Rosemary over the years and as each new recording came out - she was a stickler for quality. Only the best musicians and arrangers, especially in the Concord years." (Besides the Concord sides from Clooney's long and bountiful period with that label, Boone also listened to much earlier material.) Having Oddo around, she said, "put in me a position of feeling what it's like to sing a song when everything around you is the best quality. All you have to do is tell your story."

But it wasn't always easy, she remembered.

"I worked for months (on some of the songs) getting a comfort level," she said. "Some of them are so personal and emotional, that it took me forever." At times, she said, she broke down, recalling a woman whose counsel she sought "regularly."

Clooney's presence during the recordings, "was verypalpable," Boone said.

Boone doesn't exactly sing rings around Rosie, but she never intended to. Boone has a Broadway/cabaret kind of voice and approach - she did "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" on Broadway. Clooney could be plenty earthy and dusky when the material demanded it. But Boone's work, in its own way, is no less affecting.

"I know she didn't consider herself a jazz singer," Boone said. "And I certainly don't. I don't even have the luxury of having experienced singing with all those bands."

Boone will be appearing at various East Coast venues to herald the new disc, including a stint at Feinstein's at the Regency in New York City in May and an appearance at a Clooney tribute at Carnegie Hall in June. There'll also be a summertime CD "release party" in L.A.

Finally, it's impossible to interview Boone without mentioning her signature tune, "You Light Up My Life," the 1977 blockbuster that sold 4 million copies and was No. 1 on the charts for 10 weeks. "It's a funny thing about that song," she said. "And it's true of a lot of hits. With so much sentimental value, the longer you sing it, the deeper the reaction it gets. Over the years, it's built up meaning to people. On the first phrase, you see people look at each other, and they start holding hands."


Actress, singer, recording artist, author, wife and mother are just a few of the words that describe Debby Boone.

Debby became a household name when her hit single, "You Light Up My Life" became an overnight success, topping the Billboard Charts for ten weeks and selling in excess of four million copies worldwide (the album was certified multi-platinum). The song went on to win an Academy Award for Best Song in a Motion Picture, and Debby received the GRAMMY Award for Best New Artist of the Year. Since her remarkable entrance to the music industry, she has won two additional GRAMMY Awards and has received seven GRAMMY nominations.

MAY is the month for Mother's Day, and also Rosemary Clooney's birthday. For two weeks in May, Debby will celebrate both occasions by bringing her show: DEBBY BOONE Reflections of Rosemary to Feinstein's at the Regency in New York City. (Clooney's performance opened the club for the Regency in 1999)

In addition to her recording career, Debby has starred as the lead in numerous stage productions, such as Seven Brides For Seven Brothers on Broadway and as Maria in Lincoln Center's 30th Anniversary production of The Sound of Music, which garnered a Drama Desk nomination. She also starred as Rizzo in the Broadway production of Grease, and toured nationally in Meet Me In St. Louis. In 2004, Debby performed the role of Anna in a 50th Anniversary staging of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I.

Debby, who lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Gabriel Ferrer, and their four children, has written six children's books, which were illustrated by Ferrer.