Q & A WITH JOHNNY CONTARDO!

I recently had the pleasure of asking Johnny a few questions about the new CD re-release of his "Ballads For Lovers" solo LP. Here's what the man himself had to say about this exciting project:

Q: Johnny, as a longtime fan, I have to tell you how exciting it is to see you back in the recording studio! I know people have been wondering for a long time what you've been up to and if you were still singing. Why did you choose this particular time in your life to make a comeback?

A: After I left Sha Na Na I got an agent in LA and went out on a considerable amount of auditions. Landed a small part in the movie "Scarface" and did a few commercials. Some people assume because they do not see your face on television anymore that you're out of the business. Quite the contrary. Along with what I just mentioned, I performed live in the Midwest. There was a time when I took a break from the business. Got into the world of advertising and became a vocal coach. To this day I still teach. Teaching is extremely rewarding and you learn so much from trying to get as much as you can out of your students. Recently the desire has come back to roll up my sleeves and get back in the business. Went back to my roots and everything is slowly starting to come alive. The fingers are crossed and I'm ready to rock and roll!!!!!!!!

Q: That's great. It sounds as if you've kept one foot in the music business all along, even when you were out of the spotlight. Your latest project, a CD re-release of your rare "Ballads For Lovers" solo album, really has the fans buzzing! Can you tell us a little bit about this CD - what it means to you, what everyone can expect from it? Copies of the original vinyl LP have certainly been stirring up some high bids on eBay lately!

A: The CD means a lot to me because I get to share memories from my youth for years to come. It shows the power, emotion and experience in my voice at that time. The voice goes through different stages like everything else in life as you get older, and it will be interesting for people to hear the difference between "Ballads" and other projects I get involved with in the future.

Q: Well, if any of your fans have any question as to whether you've still "got it" vocally, they won't be wondering any more once they hear your new recording of "Spooky" on the "Ballads" CD. You sound fantastic! Have you performed that song in concert before, or is it just an old favorite of yours? What led you to choose this tune as the bonus track?

A: I wanted to do something special for the fans that were faithful after all these years. In the future, "Spooky" will not appear on the "Ballads" CD. "I Only Have Eyes For You" will replace it. "Eyes" was one of the original tracks from "Ballads." I will perform "Spooky" in concert in the near future.

Q: What sort of venues are you hoping to play when you hit the stage again? And how does performing for an audience compare, for you, to working in the recording studio - do you enjoy one more than the other, or are they equally satisfying to you creatively?

A: I will start performing in small clubs. It will allow me to work the kinks out, and being close and personal with an audience is a very valuable tool for future performances in larger venues. Performing in front of a live audience is totally a different experience than the studio. Both are extremely rewarding, but in the end nothing compares to the power an audience brings. You feed off their energy. I saw Sinatra on a TV show on PBS about his life. This would be the ultimate in answering your question. Frank was in the studio, singing and recording "It Was A Very Good Year" with an audience in the studio!!!!!!! Talk about energy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Q: I see your point about Sinatra. You have that same timeless quality that he had - no gimmicks, no theatrics, just a true, pure voice singng a classic love song. And that's something that can carry a performer for years, decades, because that kind of talent isn't tied to current trends or fads, and never truly goes out of fashion. I understand that you're working on a couple more new CD projects - can you tell us about them?

A: That's kind of you to mention my name in the same sentence as Sinatra! I recorded two solo albums in my youth. As you know, the first one, "Ballads For Lovers," was converted to CD recently. My second solo album "Changeover" will be available on CD as well in the near future. I'm also hoping to release a Christmas CD.. Also have started to write some original tunes that may be released at a later date.

Q: I'm sure everyone is anxiously awaiting those two CDs as well, and we'll be sure to let everyone know at the Yahoo group and the Johnny Zone when there's any news abuut CDs or live performance dates - so keep your eyes peeled, everyone! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions for all of us, Johnny. In conclusion, do you have anything that you'd like to say to all your loyal fans out there?

A: I want to thank them for their loyalty. As I get older, I realize what an incredible impact they have had on me. If friends were like fans, there would be a lot of them, which unfortunately is not the case. To all of you that read this, stay healthy and happy, Johnny.

Thanks, Johnny! Cheryl

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