Chatting up Melinda Schneider
The country music star and Australian favourite sat down with us to talk about her new show, which pays homage to none other than the iconic Doris Day.
Melinda Schneider is one of Australia's most dazzling performers, with a solid country music career under her belt and a reputation for stunning audiences both on stage and on screen. Schneider touches down in Sydney and Brisbane this month for a performance that pays homage to one of her musical heroes Doris Day. In preperation for her upcoming show Doris Day - So Much More Than The Girl Next Door, we talk singing, writing, and yes - yodeling.
Melinda, can you remember the first time you heard Doris Day sing?
Yes, the first time I ever saw Doris Day was on TV, on the Saturday afternoon movie on Channel Nine…it was Calamity Jane. I was in awe. I loved her as the rootin’, tootin’, whip crackin’ sharp shootin’ tomboy who fell in love and ended up as the blushing bride.
My Heart, Day's first new album in nearly two decades, was released in the United Kingdom in September of this year. What was your experience when you heard the album?
It’s nice to hear Doris’s voice in more recent times. Her voice has changed so much over the years, since the big band era of the '40s up until now. You can hear life experience in her voice, which I love. My favourite tracks are Heaven Tonight, You Are So Beautiful and the song her son Terry sings Happy Endings is so moving. I love his voice too.
You co-wrote this piece. What made you choose Doris Day as a subject, and what were the challenges you came across during the writing process?
I read all of the biographies on Doris, as well as the one Doris collaborated on, Her Own Story, which was a real eye opener. I really related to the choices she made throughout her life with men. She went through so much grief and sadness. I have had a few similar experiences to her, so I connected very strongly with that side of her life. Also her love of dogs. All in all, she is an amazing talent and a strong and courageous woman, a survivor.
The biggest challenge was to pay homage to her in this show and for it not be an impersonation. It had to be written in the most respectful way possible and in a way that I felt comfortable to deliver it as an artist, fan and narrator.
Why do you think Doris resonates with so many people?
I think we all want to be best friends with Doris. She has such a strong sense of fun and joy and people want to be around that kind of energy. She’s sincere.
What is your favourite song to sing from the show?
Wow, there are so many. I love It’s Magic from Romance on The High Seas and There Once Was A Man from the Pajama Game.
Is a yodeling question allowed? What’s a common misconception about yodeling?
Yes, of course. I have to expect one! It’s the gift my mum gave me! [Laughs] The most common misconception is that most people who claim to be able to yodel do it well. Sometimes people have a go at yodeling, and get a roaring response from the audience because it’s a gimmick, not because they have done it well. When you hear the really hardcore yodelers from around the world, people like Franzl Lang and of course my mum Mary Schneider, you know you’ve heard it done beautifully. It’s one of those things where if it’s not done perfectly it just sounds horrible.
I can yodel, but it’s not really my thing. It’s what my mum does. I made a choice in my early twenties that I wanted to be a singer/songwriter, and not focus on yodeling like mum chose to.
Anything else you’d like us to know?
In October I turned forty and I thought it would be better to celebrate and mark the occasion rather than freak out and head off to get some botox! So I’ve released a new album called Life Begins At 40 - The Ultimate Melinda Schneider Collection. It features 40 tracks from the past 32 years, including songs from my country music career, three great duets with Olivia Newton-John, David Campbell and Paul Kelly, some Doris stuff and yes, even a couple of yodeling songs back from when I was 8 and 22 years old. I’m the happiest and most at peace I’ve ever been in my life and I hope I can keep doing all of this for another 40 years.
Doris - So Much More Than The Girl Next Door plays at the Lyric Theare in Sydney and The Twelfth Night Theatre in Brisbane for a limited season until November 20. For more head to dorisday.com.au.