I was blessed to have my grandmother's music influence as I grew up. When I was 6 years old I watched The Jolson Story for the first time - a film about an entertainers life story, the ups and downs, the changing of popular music.
This movie made me want to entertain people and my grandmother did everything to encourage that.
Her favourites were Paul Robeson, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf and all the musicals weren't far behind. Being called Dolly by everyone who knew her it would be hard to avoid Hello Dolly.
My grandad was a fan of Al Jolson and a few of his tapes were passed in my direction too.
My mother is a huge fan of Nina Simone so that unleashes a whole other genre of amazingly powerful music. Songs like Don't Smoke in Bed, Love Me or Leave Me, Feeling Good meant it was hard to resist this storytelling music.
That is what makes Jolson, Robeson, Simone, Sinatra stand out to me - the storytelling.
Every song has a journey. Simple examples of this are Don't Smoke in Bed
"l Ieft a note on his dresser...'"
The whole song is like a monologue.
With Jolson you had tunes like Sonny Boy which everyone knows and Jolson couldn't help but get emotional while he sang the lyrics
"Climb upon my knee, sonny boy. Though you're only three, sonny boy... "
Paul Robeson with tunes like Ole Man River - I don't think songs get much more emotive than that. Sung from a slaves perspective.
And finally Sinatra - a gifted musical theatre singer in my opinion, he managed to tell stories quite regularly even though he claimed to not be a fan of songs like My Way. What a journey he takes you on when you hear that song.
In his back catalogue you find songs like I Could Have Danced All Night, Maybe This Time, Get Me to the Church on Time, Send in the Clowns and so many more - this not only displays his love of musical theatre but also reaffirms that he knew he could sing the hell out of those tunes.
When it comes to devising shows the hardest thing is picking a limited number of songs, especially where the Fringe is concerned and every minute comes at a premium when you are dealing with a bottomless library of beautiful songs you truly adore.
I hope you can come along to the show and rejoice in this music with me.