Going your own way is something a lot of artists in the music business pay lip service to, but few can really claim to have done. Vonda Shepard came up through an unusual set of circumstances and got a break-her featured role on the television hit Ally McBeal-that doesn’t fit with any formula. Today, Shepard is off television and on the mommy track with her 17-month-old son, whom she had with her husband, music producer and keyboardist Mitchell Froom. Yet even the presence of a baby in her life hasn’t kept Shepard from working, and tonight she will be at SOhO in what is sure to be one of the more memorable evenings of song there this year. I spoke with Shepard recently from her home in Los Angeles.
Hi, Vonda. How’s the baby? What’s his name? He’s sleeping; thanks for asking. His name is Jack, and he loves buttons right now.
Nice; congratulations. Will you be bringing out any other new material in the near future? I have a new album that’s three songs away from completion. I expect to have it ready to release in early 2008. I write songs in batches of three, and so far I have seven completed tracks, so I figure there is one more round to go.
You are married to Mitchell Froom, one of the greatest producers in contemporary music. How did you two meet? I was recording with another great producer, Don Was, and he said to me, “Why don’t you get Mitch Froom in to play Hammond B-3 organ on this track?” I took Don’s advice, and, well, the rest is history. I had admired Mitch’s playing from afar before I met him, but it was that session that actually brought us together.
What are you aiming for with this record and this tour? I was really conscious this time of wanting to work up a set of songs that would showcase the soulful side of my voice. I’m not just a chick singer who sings high all the time. I can really wail, and that’s what I wanted to foreground with this set. You know when I perform live I usually do “Sweet Inspiration” [a Dan Penn/Spooner Oldham soul classic] and that’s the high point of the night. So, I decided to see if I could get together a series of originals that are in the same old soul style. I love the way a lot of the young singers like Joss Stone and Amy Winehouse are bringing back that sound, and I wanted to make something with a similar feeling that’s an expression of me and my writing.
Sounds great; I can’t wait to hear it. What are you going to call the album? The working title at the moment is Another January. It’s taken me kind of a long time to make the record, but we’ve got a studio in the house, and my attitude is, I’m going to be singing these songs for a while, so they might as well be good.
Vonda Shepard will be at SOhO on Thursday, September 27, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and $20 with dinner. Call 962-7776 or visit sohosb.com for details.