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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Linda Ronstadt returns to hometown for public interview

    MAX BECHERER / Arizona Daily Sta
    Linda Ronstadt (Linda Ronstadt), right, and Sam Bush (Sam Bush), left, sing together at the Berger Performing Arts Center in Tucson Ariz. on June 12, 2002. #96421 6/12/2002 Photo by Max Becherer / Arizona Daily Star

    Music legend Linda Ronstadt returns to her hometown of Tucson for a public interview with friends and fans Sunday night at the Fox Tucson Theatre.

    In a career spanning four decades, Ronstadt has released over two dozen albums and countless singles, won a number of awards, collaborated with a handful of other famous artists and influenced the music world for generations.

    Throughout her illustrious music career, Ronstadt has won 10 Grammy Awards and was nominated for an additional 17, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year and was awarded a 2013 National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.

    Though her voice has conquered the globe, her beginnings start on her family’s 10-acre ranch in Tucson. When she was 18 years old, she and two friends started the band The Stone Poneys and were signed in 1966 to Capitol Records. After releasing three successful albums, the band broke up and Ronstadt began her solo singing career.

    The release of Ronstadt’s first solo album Hand Sown … Home Grown in 1969 had an immediate impact on the world of music. Known as the first alternative country album by a female artist, this album was followed up by Silk Purse in 1970, which garnered her first Grammy nomination.

    Ronstadt soon went on her first, but definitely not last, North American tour. In 1973 she released Don’t Cry Now, her fourth solo album and her first with Asylum Records, which earned gold status. Her next album, Heart Like a Wheel was released the next year and went platinum, starting a six-album streak of platinum or multi-platinum records by Ronstadt. The streak was interrupted by Get Closer, her 1982 album, but resumed with What’s New the year after and continued for another four albums.

    Ronstadt recorded her own music and occasionally wrote her own songs, but she was especially known for being an interpretive singer. Her very large voice range spanned multiple octaves, and she often recorded versions of popular songs from the mid-1900s.

    Her interpretations introduced a new generation of music lovers to what is referred to as Great American Songbook music including musical greats such as Buddy Holly and Elvis Costello.

    Ronstadt also enjoyed exploring various genres of music, including rock, country, Mexican-American, jazz, holiday and more, and collaborated with artists like Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris throughout her career.

    Ronstadt even explored theater and starred in a Broadway production of “The Pirates of Penzance” from January 1981 to November 1982 and in the film version of the musical. She was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical and a Golden Globe for her role in the film.

    After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012, Ronstadt officially retired from the music industry. Ronstadt will be returning to Tucson to be interviewed by her close friend, Jeff Haskell. A former professor of music at the UA and the musical director of the Tucson Jazz Orchestra, Haskell and Ronstadt met during “The Pirates of Penzance.”

    “She asked if I’d ever come over to help her with some vocal warm-ups,” Haskell said. “I said yes, and then it just moved from there.”

    Haskell later became Ronstadt’s conductor for her U.S. tour, “Linda Ronstadt sings the Great American Songbook” in 2001.

    Haskell said he’s always enjoyed working with Ronstadt because of her demeanor and attitude when being the center of attention in such large productions that require dozens of people to execute.

    “Linda Ronstadt has never exhibited anything like that,” Haskell said, when talking about the diva attitude of many performers. “She’s just so happy and proud to be in the middle of the music of great composers and great players.”

    At the free event on Sunday, organized by the Sunday Evening Forum, Haskell will be facilitating a Q&A session between the audience and Ronstadt.With a duo as talented and Ronstadt and Haskell, it’s going to be, as Haskell put it, “a real happening.”


    Follow Victoria Pereira @vguardie917

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