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Interview:
Storm Large with the DSO; 5 Things To Know
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Storm Large is her real name, for starters.

And it's entirely appropriate.

As her name suggests the singer and actress -- born Susan Storm Large in Massachusetts -- has a big, commanding voice that works whether she's fronting a punk rock band or singing in front of an orchestra, or performing the jazzy sophistication of the Oregon group Pink Martini's repertoire. There's an uncompromising, force-of-nature aspect to both her talent and to Large's personality that comes through in her work, and in her work choices.

These days Large, 47, who also was a finalist on CBS' "Rock Star: Supernova" in 2006, has a variety of endeavors going, including symphony and cabaret dates and performances of the Brecht-Weill-Balanchine ballet chante "The Seven Deadly Sins." Talking to her by phone while visiting friends, it's clear that her intent moving forward is to keep it Large. And loud...

Though people were initially impressed by Large's "very mature voice" when she was young, she was not initially encouraged to pursue it as a career. "Growing up in a very rural, conservative area of Massachusetts, being a young girl who got attention was not got -- and having a method of getting attention was a double negative," Large recalls. "You're told to 'shut up' a lot. I had people saying, 'You have a natural ability' and older family members would say, well-meaning, 'Oh, she just wants attention.' I was always infused with this idea that it isn't worth anything to be a good singer -- until I took ownership of it and started doing it."

Large reveals that during her late teens and 20s she battled drug addictions, including heroin. But it was a combination of art and her own creative ambition that helped pull her through it. "It's something I can do that's actually positive," she notes. "I want to matter. I don't want to die being someone else's sad story -- 'Oh, my daughter of deed. Yeah, she died,' or 'Oh, you really remind me of my friend Storm. She got into drugs...' I don't want to be someone's sad memory. I want to make people happy right now. I don't want to be that guy people are worried about all the time."

Though she has plenty of experience performing it now, it took Large awhile to warm to "The Seven Deadly Sins," which was written on commission during 1993 in pre-Nazi Germany. "The first time I saw the text and listened to the music, I hated it," she recalls. "There's such a Teutonic separateness to the seething, emotional, heinousness that Anna (the multi-personality main character) goes through. There's such a cold, Germanic narration to it; The person who's telling you what's happening feels absolutely nothing, which makes it that much more palpable and horrible. And I'm a histrionic, very dramatic singer. I' a very emotion person, super sentimental and mushy and sensitive. So at first blush I was like, 'This is awful.' I just felt this kind of resistance to it -- until I got inside of it, and then I realized what makes it so special."

Large also feels that "The Seven Deadly Sins" resonates with fears some Americans are voicing in the wake of this year's presidential election. "It makes so much sense, 1933 and right now and the rise of nationalism and the rise of this pretend savior who's like, 'I'm going to save you from the terrible, terrible social ills of the free-thinking artist types," Large explains. "I just did it in London with the BBC, and it's a tough piece, especially with them going through Brexit. Everybody and everything can see the perfect metaphor in it for right now."

Amidst everything else, Large hopes to create some original music for herself in the near future. "I'm taking a little bit of time off next year because I need to write something," she says. "I miss doing, like, raw musical theater where I do my own music but also tell stories and stand up and deliver and give off a message -- usually it's a message of hope in the face of adversity. I need to do that really badly. So I'm thinking I'm going to start writing another performance piece, and to do that I need a little more space 'cause it's impossible for me to write while I'm on tour."



* Storm Large and Le Bonheur perform "Stormy Love: Songs of Seduction and Obsession" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30, in The Cube inside the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave. Detroit. Tickets are $20 general admission, $49 VIP.

* Large performs "The Seven Deadly Sins" with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2-3, at Orchestra Hall, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Saturday's show will be webcast live at dso.rg/live, and the program also includes pieces by British composer William Walton. Tickets are $15-$100. Call

* Call 313-576-5111 or visit dso.org for both shows.


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