ON STAGE

Singer Ann Hampton Callaway values intimacy

 

srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Tony-nominated singer-composer Ann Hampton Callaway has traveled the world, performing in halls great and small.

``No matter how big a venue I'm singing at, the most important thing to create is intimacy -- emotional intimacy,'' Callaway says. ``If I'm singing from my heart on the stage, I don't care if you're in Row Z, I want you to think I'm singing to you.''

Callaway will have little problem projecting to the back row Thursday night -- she's accompanying herself on the piano at a sold-out concert in the 450-seat sanctuary at Coral Gables Congregational Church.

Callaway says she feels more pressured performing alone in a small venue than with a large orchestra in a big theater.

``There's the joy of the intimacy about me at the piano,'' she says. ``But I feel naked when I'm behind the piano. So vulnerable.''

Callaway, 52, of New York, is known for composing and singing (with sister Liz Callaway, a Broadway star) the theme song to TV's The Nanny, co-starring on Broadway in Swing! and writing music for Barbra Streisand.

Thursday, Callaway says she will ``sing the song I wrote for Barbra Streisand's wedding [to James Brolin], I've Dreamed of You. There's something special about singing it in a church.''

Particularly in a church like Coral Gables Congregational, which boasts on its website: ``Our doors are wide open to you, no matter your age, abilities, sexual orientation, or faith tradition.''

Callaway recently decided to speak publicly about her fiancée, Kari Strand.

``My choice to be more open with my personal life has been a liberating thing for me personally,'' Callaway says. ``I'm more comfortable in my skin. I'm not holding back. I love men, and I love women. I just happened to fall in love with a woman.''

Callaway's newest album, At Last, is ``a celebration of finding the love of my life,'' she says.

``It was a very interesting album to make. I wanted to explore the twists and turns of finding your way to love, to try to embrace all the adventures of love, all the interesting colors and sides we experience trying to find that special person out there.

``When I sing At Last, I mean it,'' she says. ``I really let go.''

Ann Hampton Callaway performs 8 p.m. Thursday at Coral Gables Congregational Church, 3010 De Soto Blvd., part of the Community Arts Program summer concert series, href='http://www.communityartsprogram.org '>www.communityartsprogram.org

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