She’s been hearing people compare her voice to Linda Ronstadt’s for years, but it’s only been in the last few years that singer-songwriter Brittany Kingery has become familiar with the singer’s great body of work. Since then, the iconic singer has become Kingery’s idol, and Brittany is about to debut a retrospective of Linda’s music called Hasten Down The Wind, at the Red Room Cabaret in Puerto Vallarta on Monday, April 4.
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“A couple of years ago, I was on my first tour, and we stopped for coffee and there was this Linda Ronstadt Starbucks Collection CD for sale,” she recalls. Her co-writer Rob Hill picked up the CD and it became the soundtrack of the tour for a while. “I think it was only then that I really started appreciating just how huge a compliment it was to be compared to her.”
Her admiration for Ronstadt only grew when she started discovering the breadth of Linda’s career and repertoire. Brittany also learned that she had more of a Ronstadt connection than she knew. She learned that her mother had been a fan of Linda’s growing up. And in familiarizing herself with Ronstadt’s musical history, she realized that the first song she ever sang publicly – “Somewhere Out There” – was a Ronstadt hit from the animated musical An American Tail.
Even as her own music began to earn critical acclaim and attention with the release of her second album Dream in Blue in 2014, Brittany and co-writer Hill, who also serves as her manager, began to entertain the idea of doing a Ronstadt retrospective show.
“At a time when ‘tribute bands’ are so common and popular, I noticed that there was no one seriously doing Linda’s music,” observes Hill, who confesses a consuming boyhood crush on the singer. “I realized that the likely reason for that is that there aren’t a lot of singers with not only the vocal power and range, but also the range to be able to do country and pop and rock and musical theater and jazz standards and traditional Mexican music in Spanish that Linda did.”
Brittany Kingery, he insists, is that rare voice. And Act II Entertainment co-owner Danny Mininni, concurs. Brittany has been performing a weekly show at the Act II’s Red Room Cabaret, delivering her own locally inspired original music with a mix of popular cover songs, every Monday night in the 2105-16 season.
“Linda Ronstadt is a name I would hear quite a bit as a tribute show that people would like to see,” he notes. “And until Brittany, I don’t think we’ve had a performer capable of doing it.”
Ronstadt’s recording career was marked by often sharp turns away from the pop music that had consistently sold millions of records, in varied and risky musical directions like starring in a Broadway musical, recording albums of jazz standards with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, and Canciones de mi Padre – “Songs of my Father” – a collection of traditional Mexican songs of importance to the singer, who is of Mexican heritage. Those unconventional risks won her fans all over the map, musically and geographically.
“Brittany is the only singer I know of who not only has a voice and vocal range in Linda’s league,” says Hill, who will accompany the singer at the preview show, “but also who has chops in all those genres.” Kingery studied and earned a degree in musical theater at the American Dramatic and Musical Academy in New York. Her own music, like the music recorded by Ronstadt, includes elements of country, pop, rock, and reggae. And although like Ronstadt she does not speak the language fluently, she is growing increasingly skilled at singing in Spanish.
For her part, Brittany says that preparing the special one-night-only preview of Hasten Down the Wind has made her both more a student and more a fan of her idol, whose voice has been silenced by Parkinson’s disease in recent years.
“Most people know she was an incredible talent,” says Kingery. “But I’ve come to love her for much more than that. I think she was a true artist who appreciated and admired and supported other artists, laser-focused on the music rather than the fame and celebrity that came with it. And she is also a great person, and it’s a going to be a real honor to perform a show of her music.”
Brittany Kingery performs Hasten Down the Wind: The Timeless Music of Linda Ronstadt in a special one-night-only preview at the Red Room Cabaret April 4 at 730 p.m, and also performs her own show Dream in Blue every Monday night. Tickets are available at www.actiientertainment.com.