Remember when

Fulton cabaret
By James Buescher
Sunday News
Oct 28, 2006.

LANCASTER COUNTY, PA - If Laurel Massé were put incharge of this country, cultivating a world view wouldbe her first order of business.

"If I were president, there's no question about it: Iwould make everyone travel overseas," the longtimechanteuse said in a telephone interview from her homein New York City.

"America is so vast, it's hard for Americans tounderstand what it looks like from the outside," Massésaid. "Living in another country would give Americansa different perspective of how our nation looks to theworld — both how beautiful our country is and howfrightening it can seem to others.

"Massé, who spent her teenage years in Great Britain,Belgium and Paris, said people around the world viewthe United States as "a toddler loose in a chinashop."

"I don't mean willfully destructive, not that at all.I mean that sometimes, America doesn't know its ownstrength," she said. "And I believe that the only wayAmericans can gain that kind of perspective is if theysee what America looks like on the outside.

"Though Massé's political voice might not win her anyfans, her golden throat has won her plenty of devoteesin the jazz scene. A founding member of the ManhattanTransfer, Massé has garnered accolades aplenty. The New York Times has called her "dazzling" and "atechnical tour de force.

"Massé and jazz pianist Tex Arnold will put on acabaret-style show in Fulton Opera House's StudioTheatre after the Friday night performance of"Dracula: Lord of the Undead." Massé first heard jazzon her 8th birthday.

"My family were not into jazz. What they loved wasclassical and choral music," she said. "Which makes itso strange that they decided to do what they did: WhenI turned 8 years old, they took me to go see CountBasie at a supper club.

"After the performance, Massé went up to get thelegendary jazzman's autograph and wound up joining himat the piano.

"I just fell in love with that sound, the whole senseof cookin' with the lid on," Massé said. "Though itwouldn't be until my early 20s that I was able toreally focus on jazz, that experience planted a seedthat's still with me, even today.

"I imprinted, I think. Just like a puppy.

"Today, Massé sees jazz as more of a journey than ajob.

"As an artist, there's no such thing as the perfect10," she said. "You're always searching for 'it';there's always more to do. And even if you thinkyou've found 'it,' then it's probably a good bet you haven't.

"It's a journey, and once you start down that path,you can't just start pulling the covers up over yourhead every morning. You have to strive toward excellence, even when you don't want to. Maybe especially when you don't want to.

"Massé credits her years with the Manhattan Transferfor teaching her discipline of craft. She was forced to leave the group after a 1978 car accident rendered her unable to perform for two years.

"My time in Manhattan Transfer taught me how to be aprofessional. I learned how to rehearse and how tolearn material quickly. But most of all, I learned musical consistency," she said. "I'll always treasuremy time with the group because it made me who I am today. That experience is a part of me, and something I'll always cherish.

"Massé said she's thrilled to be coming to Lancaster,where she'll sing jazz favorites including "Autumn inNew York," "Come Fly With Me" and "Anyplace I Hang MyHat is Home."

"I'm absolutely delighted to be able to perform insuch a historic theater," Massé said. "To be able tobe in the same space, to walk in the same foot steps asso many talented greats, is very humbling."