Wren Ross    617-924-SING

Wren is a warm and versatile singer who makes each song an event.

Media Articles Written About Wren Ross

Boston Globe Calendar
Mopsy Strange Kennedy
The Tab Arts Journal
The Taos News
The Jewish Advocate
New England Entertainment Digest
Beverly King on "Musical Feast"
Stories and Music Aid in Understanding of Shoah

Boston Globe Calendar

Spotlight on Cabaret

Wren Ross is known for the way she turns songs inside out to infuse with irony. She may, for example, perform a traditionally romantic ballad like Ray Nobel's classic "The Very Thought of You" in a humorous tone, changing it into a song about loathing instead of loving.

Ross, an actress whose voice may be familiar from New England Telephone recordings and from ads for Marshalls and Jeep and Eagles dealers, also likes to use her shows to introduce songs from new composers, or unfamiliar songs from established composers.

"With cabaret there's opportunity to have a dialogue," she said. "There's something really satisfying about just working with a piano. We're so overloaded with stimulus that we need these quiet, personal songs that can help us explore what life is about."

Wren Ross performs her show, "Unexpected Song" in the Club Cabaret room, at Club Café, 209 Columbus Ave., Boston, March 20 and 27 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15; call 617-628-9736.

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The Improper Bostonian Magazine

Mopsy Strange Kennedy

Song Bird

Catch the torch songs of Wren Ross on April 11 at the Club Cafe in the South End, on May 17 at the Levanthal Sidman Jewish Center in Newton and in June at the Acton Jazz Cafe.

Versatile Wren, for 11 years a cast member in Shear Madness, is in your mind's ear, whether you know it or not, as the voice of New England Telephone and many other commercials and voiceovers. Her pretty voice is full of conversational ease, tripping alongside the bubbling brook of the piano accompaniment. As demonstrated in her periodic appearances in the cozy cabaret of Club Cafe on Columbus Avenue, Wren can also hit a wistful tone, as in the song, "My Brother Lived in San Francisco," which only requires that past tense to convey the message. There's a bluesiness-with-mischief in some of her repertoire, a singing against the usual grain. "I like to take a standard song and change the subtext," she says. And because of the intimacy of the cabaret style, Wren manages to tell stories in her songs, such as the one that begins with worldly bravado about a lost love and then moves, affectingly, to a hungrier longing for comfort and resolution of the affair. Something almost girlish, recalling the romantic heroine of The Fantasticks pulls against a more womanly, sadder-but-wiser trend in her singing, tugging you into her performance. And besides, she's a dish.

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Panorama: the Official Guide to Boston

She's Not a Lark

She's a Wren. A Cabaret Renaissance is taking flight, and leading the resurgence is Wren Ross, who with her feathery vocals and acting finesse is leaving audiences all aflutter.

With a musical repertoire including classical, jazz, folk, pop, blues, and musical theatre, Ross executes a wide range of notes and styles which manifest themselves through the prodigious characters cloaked in the wings of lyrics and music.

Having performed in New York and Boston for 20 years, playing in Boston's long-running Shear Madness for 11, and touring internationally in such venues as Malta and Sicily, Ross delivers wit and sentiment, authenticity and originality to a lost art form.

Her pristine voice has been heard in hundreds of radio spots, working with such notable talent as revered anchorman Walter Cronkite, actor Jason Robards and song-and-dance man Ben Vereen.

Certain to cause an audience migration, on March 27 Ross brings "Unexpected Song" to Club Café, her lilting voice soaring and subsequently swooping effortlessly with each aria, ballad and showtune.

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The Tab - "Arts & More: Arts Journal"

This Wren Can Sing
by Christie Taylor

She can sing "Happy Trails" as a gospel song and turn an Italian aria into a country-western ditty. She's a singer, actress and voice-overs queen, and has worked on commercials for New England Telephone and Marshall's. And she's a featured performer at the Club Café this month as Boston celebrates Cabaret Month.

Her name is Wren Ross.

"Ideas for my songs come to me on a whiff and a breeze," explains the rich-voiced Ross. "I take music and create twists and turns."

For those unfamiliar with cabaret and its origins, it began in Europe when people came together during troubled times to share laughter and song. Cabaret Month, organized by the Boston Association of Cabaret Artists in conjunction with the Cambridge Center for Adult Education is a sign that there's still a need for this kind of social interaction. As Ross explains, "Having a piano and a human sing about human being things is very powerful and very satisfying."

Cabaret performances are also very individual, and not every performer is as innovative as Ross is with her lyrics. While she can be serious and sentimental, her work is also good for a laugh or two, partially due to her collaboration with comedienne Daena Giardella.

"Unexpected Song" is the title of the show she'll perform at Club Café, and in it Ross professes to sing, among others, "a song you can take to your therapist."

For more information about Wren Ross in her show, "Unexpected Song" in the Club Cabaret room, at Club Club Café, 209 Columbus Ave., Boston, March 20 and 27 at 8 p.m. call 617-628-9736.

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The Taos News

Laughing on the precipice
Y2K Cabaret pokes delicious fun at millennium anxiety
By Phaedra Greenwood

What's so funny about Y2K?

Just about everything, if you're rolling in the aisle at the Y2K Cabaret with Daena Giardella and Wren Ross.

Y2K Cabaret made its debut performance at LB's Coffeehouse Saturday (Aug. 14) to a small but appreciative audience. Giardella gave a stunning, versatile and high-energy performance as Louise Travail who has "a lot of nervous energy and a long history of making lists." Travail is struggling to deal with "all the anxiety that accompanies a paradigm shift in the choreography of an enormously mysterious alignment with the Grand Cross. What the hell does that mean?"

Ross sings, "Whatever way you see it/it's all about the unknown/You can't control tomorrow/and you might not be able to use the phone."

"Y2K Cabaret" is a delicious alchemy of darkness and light as Giardella mocks the double message in the Y2K preparedness list from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that is supposed to cover the breakdown of civilization and the interruption of essential services  — which they say is going to be "just a bump in the road." This triggers an anxiety attack as Louise Travail wonders, "Will my toaster start to conspire with my toilet so my car won't recognize me?" She retreats to the 60's where she can "be in her moment."

Giardella is adept at changing costumes and personas from her inner child, who keeps popping out to do cartwheels and ask for lollipops, to her whining and demanding mother in red rhinestone glasses and other intriguing characters like the sympathetic neighbor Eleanor.

Sal, a sinister hit man in a black trench coat and jockey briefs, guides Louise through a transformative dream which she can't quite remember. "Dreams are more important that oxygen, food or water," Travail declares. "We'll never see a shortage of dreams."

The bumpy journey through the anxieties of Y2K, the millennium change that threatens to send computer clocks back to 1900, is buffered by the lovely voice of songwriter-guitarist Ross. She plays millennium minstrel, Marcia, who occasionally breaks out in an Italian aria. Jim Hobbs, dressed in white with shaved head, adds testosterone to the dance peformance in Giardella's portrayal of the tortured teenager, Tracy. Some members of the audience were brought to tears by Tracy's stormy performance as she declares, "You adults screwed it up for my generation and everybody after me. My grandkids are going to glow in the dark like lightbulbs."

The audience is incorporated into a Y2K community meeting to strategize, "process" their feelings and align their chakras. Ché Pirozak Lillick, age 9, wearing a red beret, brings some child-like sanity to the scene as Travail fields from the audience a Taoseños list of things to stock up on, which begins with green chile and runs the gamut from clean water, bicycles and firewood, to comic books and guitar strings.

It's hard to realize that the performance is largely an improv, with "islands" of destination. Giardella and Ross interact in a playful, seamless way with the audience as they enjoy the comical efforts of a character called "Kit Carson" working on his compliance program to reconnect local circuits before the New Year's Day deadline — "It's not a problem!"

In a sequence about Travail's love-hate relationship with her dying computer, Pal (played by T.C. Lillick) the computer, makes her promise that if anything happens to it, she'll take care of its mouse.

The tension of the play is resolved with positive images of a simpler life in a place where you got to know your neighbors and learn to live in a cooperative community. Ross sings, "May you walk a path that fills your life with grace and truth/May your spirit soar high with your art/May you see your strength reflected in your best friend's eyes/May great love fill the rooms of your heart."

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November 24 - 30, 2000
by Matthew S. Robinson

BOSTON - On Dec. 3, singer Wren Ross will present a program with Dr. Solon Beinfeld on "The Cultural Life and Music of the Vilna Ghetto" at the Workmen's Circle in Brookline.

An 11-year veteran of the popular Boston production of "Shear Madness," Ross has performed one-woman shows throughout the region and has worked with the likes of Walter Cronkite, Jason Robards and Ben Vereen.

A featured soloist at the "Anne Frank in the World" exhibit in Albuquerque, Ross has recently dedicated herself to researching and performing music of the Holocaust.

Though her devotion to the topic is strong, it was borne of somewhat unusual circumstances. A year-and-a-half ago, Ross read about a performance of a song from a musical called "Ghetto."

"I leapt up off the chair and called all around to find this song," Ross recalls, "though I didn't know why."

The song was called Freiling ("Springtime") and ever since learning it, Ross has been inspired to delve ever-deeper into the music and history of its era.

"I became totally fascinated with this music," Ross says, "I went about a lot of research."

Through exhaustive reading and interviews, Ross developed a strong sense of the Holocaust, especially the Vilna Ghetto.

"I never intended to do research on the Holocaust," Ross admits, "but now it gives me a great deal of meaning."

Ross learned over 200 songs performed during the Nazi occupation of Poland. She also discovered that the mother of her friend and fellow performer Naava Piatka was the lead singer of the Vilna Ghetto.

"Naava also told me about Dr. Solon Beinfeld," Ross explains, recalling how she met the noted Holocaust scholar and Workmen's Circle board member.

Realizing their common interests, Ross and Beinfeld began collaborating on a team project.

The result is an all-Yiddish presentation which debut at the Workmen's Circle.

"The Workmen's Circle is a huge advocate for Yiddish culture and they are so important in keeping that breath alive," Ross says.

"Music has great healing power and the Holocaust is a huge rip in the fabric of the history of our lives," Ross says. "Perhaps the only way to mend the rip is through ways that go beyond the mind to the emotional and spiritual elements of life. Each one of these songs is so special and so beautiful, they work both as art and as a means of consciousness-raising and they give me more meaning and put things in perspective as well."

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Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center Monthly Newsletter

Wren Ross in Then & Now — A Cabaret

directed by Daena Giardella
Sunday, May 17, 2pm



Music is the song of the soul, the universal language that unites the generations. "Then and Now" is a musical feast created especially for the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center by performer Wren Ross. Inspired by the Starr Gallery exhibit "Women Whose Lives Span the Century," Ross adds her melodic voice and acting gifts in this celebration.

Drawing on universal themes to give voice to the struggles and joys of the men and women of the era, Ross uses song, poetry, and narration in English, Yiddish and Hebrew. In true cabaret style, she creates an intimate personal dialogue with all of the generations together in one space, one time. Her performance is authentic, honest, funny and touching.

This is a wonderful opportunity to bring mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, older children and grandchildren together for an afternoon of reminiscence and celebration. A reception and opportunity to view the Starr Gallery Exhibit will follow the performance. This event is sponsored by the "Coalition for Aging is a Family Affair."

An Interview with Wren Ross

by Machadash Editor Melissa Wenig

Wren Ross has been performing in the New York and Boston areas for more than twenty years. Her recent singing engagements have included Cafe Mozart in New York City, and clubs such as the Kendall Cafe, 1290 Beacon Street, Blacksmith House and the Lenox Hotel in Boston. In March she performed at Club Cafe in "Unexpected Song." She was a cast member of "Shear Madness" for eleven years and has many singing and dancing credits.

MW: What was the impetus for creating this performance piece?
WR: I am always looking for interesting new venues for my work. As a Jewish woman and an artist, it seemed like the JCC had great potential. I talked with Theatre Director David Miadinov and he suggested I speak to Group Services Director Debra Offenhartz. She and I began to brainstorm an idea for a cross-generational show and Then and Now was born.

MW: How did you develop your material?
WR: I listened to the tapes of the women who were interviewed for the "Women Whose Lives Span the Century" project. I did a lot of research into songs from the tenements, Yiddish songs, and songs of the twenties and thirties. Also, I did a lot of reading and thinking about what it means to be a human being, moving through the many rites of passages of a lifetime.

MW: Did you find your own life being affected by the material you covered?
WR: I did. This particular piece has turned into a very personal and powerful journey for me. Through the music and the stories, I reclaimed a piece of my own life — my Jewish roots, which intensified my desire to connect with Judaism on a deeper level. Also, I loved my grandmother very much and this work, which focuses so much on the span of her lifetime, has just activated the love I feel for her.

MW: What are your hopes for the JCC performance?
WR: That people will connect with the stories and the song. That we are all reminded that what is universal to the generations is that each of our stories is worthwhile and meaningful today...and tomorrow.

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New England Entertainment Digest

Ross Returns with Unexpected Song

BOSTON, MA: For years you've heard her as the voice of New England Telephone, and in hundreds of other radio and television commercials including the Channel 4 "Free Friday Flicks" spot that aired all last summer. Yet on the first day on spring, when Wren Ross takes wing in "Unexpected Song" — her first of two shows at Club Café — you are likely to feel that you are hearing her voice for the very first time. Indeed, a common audience response to Wren's clear, sumptuous voice is "This woman is incredible!"

But it is not her singing alone that makes her shows unforgettable. Wren combines her glorious voice and acting gifts to embody the unexpected characters hidden in the lyrics and the music. Added to this is a range of music she draws from that few performers can match — classical, jazz, folk, pop, blues, and musical theatre. Whether she is offering us a knock-your-socks-off rendition of "Nel Cor Piu Non Mi Sento," an Italian aria; or inviting us to open up and trust again in "Wall Around Your Heart," Wren Ross creates a seamless experience for her audience that is as fresh as it is intimate, and as authentic and honest as it is often funny, and touching, as people have often described...

"...wonderful...strong voice and sure stage presence."
The Boston Globe

"...Ross, always an interesting player."
..."stunning Tour de Force."
The Boston Phoenix

"...true and stirring."
The Boston Herald

Wren Ross has been performing in the New York and Boston areas for twenty years. Her recent singing engagements have included the Café Mozart in New York City, and clubs such as the Kendall Café, 1280 Beacon Street, Blacksmith House, and the Lenox Hotel in Boston. This past summer, Wren played to enthusiastic European audiences in Malta and Sicily — where she toured the ancient Greek theatres of Morgantina, Syracuse and Segesta.

Ross was a cast member of Shear Madness (Boston's longest running play) for eleven years, and appeared in major roles at The Charles Playhouse, The Next Move Theatre, and The Boston Repertory Theatre. Her one-woman show, A Strong Woman Is... received much acclaim throughout New England. In addition to her various singing and dramatic credits, Wren can be seen and heard in hundreds of broadcast spots. She has worked with such notable personalities as Walter Cronkite, Jason Robards, Mason Adams and Ben Vereen. Her voice can be heard in major museums across the United States, and she has also appeared in several award-winning CD-ROM productions. Among her television voice-over credits are the PBS programs NOVA, The People's Century, and Celebration of the American Family. Wren narrated She Lives to Ride, a feature film about female motorcyclists.

Daena Giardella is an actress, dancer, comedienne, and theatre director. She has created and performed numerous one-woman theatre pieces to wide critical acclaim both locally and abroad. For the last few years, the duo have stimulated each other's work, exchanging artistic insights; for example, with Giardella's most recent show, PLAY, and with Ross' newest show, Unexpected Song, which Giardella co-directed.

Get your first spring rush — you know, that thrill you feel when the single call of a bird can make you stop and wonder at the sheer beauty of sound. Join Wren Ross at Club Café March 20 and 27 for Unexpected Song. It will ring in your ears long after you've gone home. Call (617) 628-9736 for tickets and information.

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Wren Ross' Musical Feast Serves Up Food for the Soul

by Bev King

Wren Ross' "Musical Feast" is a joyful spirited banquet. "Musical Feast" played Thursday, April 3 and Saturday, April 5 at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education's Blacksmith House.

Ross' two-hour Feast is a high-energy, fast-paced musical delight highlighting Wren Ross' significant vocal, dramatic and comedic talents. Ross is an entertainer who understands that her audience is her raison d'etre on stage. Wren's joy at making beautiful, soulful sounds is infectious. Her audience knows she's having fun, and they are too.

During the evening, Ross traverses a wide range of emotions. She touches our hearts, makes us laugh, and helps us see the best in life. Her heartfelt rendition of Amanda McBroom's "Here and Now" casts a soulful spell on her audience that remains through the bittersweet "With One Look" from Andrew Lloyd Weber's Sunset Boulevard. She moves through the raucous "20 Mile Zone," Dory Previn's uproariously funny story of a woman stopped by a cop in a 20 mile zone with verve and wit. Ross' ability to create and inhabit a character plays strong in "20 Mile Zone." Ross cavorts through Christine Lavin's "Mysterious Woman," a rendition filled with fun and surprise.

Wren's treatment of Nancy Ford and Gretchen Cryer's ballad, "Old Friends," from Getting My Act Together And Taking It On The Road speaks touchingly of the universal themes of love and friendship.

Versatility is one of Ross' strong suits and she brings this into play when she performs "Nel Cor Piu Non Mi Sento," an aria from Giovanni Paisiello's 1789 L'Amor Contrasto. Ms. Ross sings the aria first in Italian and then in English, country-western style. The country-western version is both stunning and original.

Doug Hammer accompanies Wren on the piano. Hammer's accompaniment is just right. His piano enhanced the human voice. His playing was expressive and inspiring.

Ross invites the audience to add to her musical Feast by joining her in a simple Hasidic chant. Daena Giardella, the show's director, added drum accompaniment to Hammer's piano.

Wren Ross is gifted with a beautiful naturally resonant, strong voice. Her vocal power and control is notable. Ross' demonstrated artistry and versatility in meeting the style demands of her "Musical Feast" is impressive. Wren Ross, chanteuse for the 90's, is an artist we should see more of.

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The New Mexico Jewish Link

Stories and Music Aid in Understanding of Shoah
by Susan Abonyi

For many of us, the Holocaust, the Shoah, is something we have learned about through books and movies. Some may have had family members recount personal stories and experiences. But, there are those among us, who learned about the Shoah the hard way — by living it.
Seventy years later, there are still those around who were in concentration camps, were refugees, or hidden children during the time of the Shoah. They are an invaluable source of, not only knowledge and truth, but of inspiration and hope as well.

This year, the Yom Hashoah service took place on Sunday, April 18, at Congregation Albert. The focus was on “The Music of the Shoah” and on “members of our own Albuquerque community who survived as refugees, who without having experienced the worst, were nonetheless profoundly affected by the harrowing experiences as they faced uncertainty,” commented Holocaust Committee Chairman Robert Lewis in his opening remarks.

After the candle lighting, which was done by six refugees from our community, Lewis and Holocaust Committee member Edie Blaugrund read the personal histories of six Albuquerque refugees. Although the stories were all different, they all shared common themes — loss, pain, fear, humiliation, courage, and hope.

These themes were also magnificently portrayed in the musical portion of the service. The performers Wren Ross, a musician and actress and Daena Giardella, an actress and motivational speaker both currently reside in Taos. They took the audience through an emotional journey of some of the poetry and music that came out of the Shoah. Over 300 songs were collected from all the camps after the war.

For most of us, it is hard to imagine that music can come from something as atrocious and evil as the Holocaust. Ross commented that, “there is a kind of spiritual resistance about the idea that people sing even in those circumstances.”

But, as one survivor wrote, “The Jewish people came to such a deep state of despair that only singing could help. When one sings, even if he sings a sad song, his loneliness disappears. He listens to his own voice; he and his voice become two people. Singing is a manifestation of hope. The Nazis could take everything from us, but they could not take singing from us. This remained our only human expression.”

Giardella went on to explain that, “one of the things that came out of the Shoah is this amazing resistance that comes in the form of the poetry of the soul. Some of these poems were then set to music; some to melodies of songs that were already known. These words that were wrought out of the hell and torment and unspeakable conditions, some of these unspeakable words were inserted into melodies as if to say, ‘The shell of the life we had before is no more what my life is now and must be imbued with other syllables that are not utterable.’”

Through the music, poetry and stories that Ross and Giardella shared with great passion and skill, the audience was able to gain a better understanding of how music and poetry from the Holocaust were not only possible, but were natural and necessary outcomes.

They allowed the victims to express unbearable emotions, to retain some humanity and dignity, to fill others with strength and hope, and ultimately to allow future generations to understand with a little more clarity and compassion.

For those of us who did not live through the devastating and horrific time of the Holocaust, it is hard to imagine how those who survived must feel with those unspeakable memories haunting them daily. How they must feel in a world where many of the same anti-Semitic sentiments are evident around us and are growing day by day.

Yom Hashoah is a day to remember the Holocaust — those who perished and those who survived. It is a time to mourn senseless death, as well as honor bravery and strength. Rabbi Joe Black, of Congregation Albert said that in remembering, “all our emotions come forth — pain, anger, bewilderment — with song and prayer and pride and pain.” He also reminded the audience that it is necessary to learn from our past.

Werner Gellert, who was a refugee in the Shanghai Ghetto and is a member of the Holocaust Committee, talked about the fact that to remember the Shoah is no longer enough. “We live in a world that is as terrible as it was 70 years ago,” he said. “We must institute a strong and aggressive public relations campaign that will inform the world of the truth.”



Contact Wren Ross by phone at 617-924-SING (7464) or email: wren@wrenross.com
Copyright © 2002 Wren Ross. All rights reserved.