hill country observerThe independent newspaper of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the Berkshires


Arts & Culture


From Broadway to North Broadway

Linder Eder plans show, live recording at Skidmore College

Contributing writer


When it comes to being a Broadway performer and an in-demand chanteuse, height is an advantage, and Linda Eder, at nearly 6 feet, definitely has it. Linda Eder
But there was a time when her statuesque frame lost her a coveted part: that of Maria in her high school’s production of “The Sound of Music.” Eder instead got the part of Mother Abbess and ended up bringing the house down with her performance of “Climb Every Mountain,” a song she often sings to this day in her musical shows.

On June 21, the Eder will perform her first upstate concert at Skidmore College’s Arthur Zankel Music Center. But Eder says the date is momentous for a second reason: The evening’s performance will be recorded for her first live concert CD, to be titled “Linda Live.”

“I’ve had 14 studio albums but never a live one, though I’ve talked about it quite a bit,” she said. “Joe Moss is an engineer I’ve worked with who lives in the Saratoga area. He suggested the Zankel; it’s a state-of-the-art venue that’s the perfect recording studio.”

Eder said the concert will be a patchwork of some of her favorite musical memories, including “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” from “Evita,” Abba’s “Fernando,” and, of course, “Climb Every Mountain.”

“Linda Live” is due for release this fall.

Eder has long been heralded for her interpretations of pop standards and theatrical songs in a long list of recordings, including her most recent CD, “Christmas Where You Are.”

Her career took off after she appeared on “Star Search” (a 1980s version of “American Idol”) in 1988. She won the show’s competition for an unprecedented 12 consecutive weeks. The notoriety led to a leading role on Broadway as Lucy Harris in the original production of “Jekyll & Hyde,” for which she received a Drama Desk Award nomination.

Eder grew up in Minnesota and credits her unpretentious upbringing for keeping her grounded throughout a musical career that has included concert performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center.

Before shooting to fame on “Star Search,” Eder was singing at her family’s restaurant in Brainerd, Minn.

“My dad was the chef, and I was the dishwasher,” she recalled with a smile. “When it was slow, I’d go out and sing to customers. I just always loved to sing. And even as a kid, I knew my voice could do things that others’ could not.”


Conquering stage fright
Singing may have come easily for Eder, but as a teenager, performing did not.
“The hard part was singing in front of people, because I’m shy,” she said.
But perseverance paid off, and Eder pushed herself to fight against stage fright by performing at clubs throughout Minnesota and, later, at casinos in Atlantic City.

“It’s funny, it’s easier for me to sing to 5,000 people than five, and I don’t know what that’s about,” Eder said. “But I do know that singing is always training.”

She also credits two stars of morning television for helping her rise to national acclaim.
“I owe Rosie O’Donnell and Kathie Lee Gifford a big debt,” she recalled. “Both were in the audience at one of my Carnegie Hall shows and then raved about me on their shows the next morning. … That was invaluable to me.”

Eder is often compared with Barbra Streisand and admits the singer was an early influence. But so were Judy Garland and opera singer Eileen Farrell.

“I would practice singing opera to the steer and sheep on my family’s farm,” she recalled. “Most singers study opera later, not first, but I did it in reverse.”

For much of her career, Eder divided her time between New York and Los Angeles – until she became a mother at age 38 and settled on a horse farm in northern Westchester County, about an hour north of Manhattan. At her beloved country home, she teaches voice lessons via Skype and rides her horses to unwind.

“Living here allows me to balance concert life with motherhood,” she said. “Broadway’s too exhausting with a kid.”

With her son now 14 and Eder poised to record her first live album, she said she’s more excited about the music than ever.

“I’ve signed with different labels over the years, but this is the second album on my own label,” she said. “It gives me total control, and that’s so much more fun.”


Linda Eder will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 21, at the Arthur Zankel Music Center at Skidmore College. Tickets are $65 and are available at www.skidmore.edu/zankel or at the box office on the Skidmore campus. Visit www.lindaeder.com for more information about Eder.