Vocal Duo Channels Great American Songbook
When they sing together, their pitch-perfect harmony instantly tells you that Julia Goodwin and Nick Ziobro go way back. Both natives of central New York, the vocal duo met through community theater in their early teens.
More of an old soul, Ziobro says in his teenage years a piano teacher gave him a tome of jazz standards and golden tunes, many of them part of the "Great American Songbook." At 15, he embraced this musical world from a different generation.
Ziobro followed his fascination to the Songbook Academy, a summer intensive founded by Michael Feinstein, the nation's preeminent preservationist of the Great American Songbook. Ziobro won the Academy's Great American Songbook Vocal Competition that summer. Goodwin attended the following year, also at 15 years old, and won the competition, too.
As Feinstein protégés and Great American Songbook Youth Ambassadors, Goodwin and Ziobro performed on great stages such as Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, with luminaries such as Liza Minnelli, Barry Manilow, Kristin Chenoweth, and Rita Moreno. Now they've created a duo show that has toured the world.
"We've been friends for so long, and we both share a passion for this music," Goodwin says. "It came to a point where we asked ourselves, 'Why don't we start doing this together?' We love each other. We love the music. Let's share it in an amazing way."
On April 8-9, their globetrotting brings Goodwin and Ziobro to Sarasota to perform with Sarasota Orchestra on the Pops concert Unforgettable: The American Songbook. Curated for the duo by guest conductor Sean O'Loughlin, the program celebrates history's greatest crooners and chanteuses such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Etta James. It's also about the story of love, all of it – from its happiest heights (like the ecstatic joy of "Come Fly with Me") to when it hurts so good ("Ain't That a Kick In the Head," indeed).
"Julia and I have talked a lot about the importance of the storytelling behind the lyrics in these songs," Ziobro says. "And, you know, I also think we both have come a long way from where we were 10 years ago."
Goodwin agrees: "Now we can connect even more to some of these stories that we're telling. When we were 15 and singing about love, did we really know what we were talking about? Today we can pull from more of our own experiences to tell the songs' stories."
Ziobro has performed the standard "I've Got You Under My Skin" about "a bazillion times," he says. Still, as he's grown personally and professionally, Ziobro has found that a true classic never gets old; there are always new depths to discover, bringing out more interesting nuances and emotions. And as Goodwin develops her own songwriting craft, she says that a song like Etta James' "At Last" has transformed for her. Where it once was something she might slow-dance to at a wedding reception, today it's the bedrock of Goodwin's artistry.
"This music was totally life-changing," Goodwin says. “I'll think I have a favorite song, but my favorite changes every day. And then, I’m sure that as soon as I rehearse with Sarasota Orchestra, they're all going to become my favorite."
To learn more and purchase tickets to Pops: Unforgettable: The American Songbook, visit Sarasota Orchestra’s website, or call the Box Office at 941-953-3434. All programs and featured artists are subject to change.