Thekate.tv to Release Full Episodes Online Every Saturday, March 19-April 23;
Premiering on Public Television Stations Nationally (Check Local Listings)
The Ann Wilson Thing and Rita Wilson
Katharine Hepburn once famously quipped, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” A lively and original new national music series, THE KATE, pays homage to the series’ muse and namesake, evoking the high-spirited charisma and iconoclastic essence of the cultural icon by featuring a dynamic lineup of vibrant artists who have something to say—and share it during their performances. Season one of THE KATE features six one-hour episodes with captivating performances and revealing interviews with (in order of appearance): Ana Gasteyer, Rickie Lee Jones, Jarrod Spector, The Ann Wilson Thing, Barb Jungr, and Rita Wilson. Thekate.tv launches the series weekly beginning Saturday, March 19 at 9:00 am ET. THE KATE is premiering nationally on public television, check local listings.
Produced by CPTV (Connecticut Public Television), THE KATE is filmed in front of a live audience at the exquisite Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, a historic, 250-seat theater in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. The series steps out of the traditional live music television format to bring viewers an intimate journey with artists who are exploring new creative directions, expanding vocal boundaries, and reimagining their art in surprising and innovative ways. They span an array of musical genres, from rock, pop, blues, jazz, and Broadway. THE KATE immerses viewers in the full experience--on stage, back stage, in the theater--capturing the palpable connection of performers with the audience in the intimate performance space.
Programs and performers for season one of THE KATE on public television stations and TheKate.TV are as follows:
• ANA GASTEYER
Ana Gasteyer has a flair for irony and an offbeat humor that made her a standout on Saturday Night Live, and exuberant full-tilt vocals that brought down the house on Broadway in “Wicked” and “Rocky Horror.” But the versatile, classically-trained singer is most at home with sass and brass, crooning in sequined dresses amid laughter and clinking ice in glasses. On stage in THE KATE, Gasteyer takes viewers along for a high-octane ride, mixing moxie and playful patter in a powerhouse performance that evokes the swagger of an era when a lady ruled a nightclub. From songs like “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate” – added to the set exclusively for this series-- to “One Mint Julep” to an unexpectedly smooth rendition of Carrie Underwood's “Before He Cheats”, Gasteyer's rollicking set of saucy selections tell stories with humor and heartbreak.
• RICKIE LEE JONES
Two-time Grammy-winner Rickie Lee Jones has been defying convention and fearlessly experimenting with her sound and persona in a career spanning several decades. On THE KATE, the critically acclaimed artist blends feisty bravado and vulnerability in her uniquely rendered rock, jazz, and pop—captivating the audience with gut-wrenching lyrics and fierce yet hauntingly fragile vocals in enduring favorites like “Chuck E.’s in Love”, “Young Blood”, “It Must Be Love” and “Satellites”. She also shares searingly honest, confessional songs from “The Other Side of Desire”, her first new album in more than 10 years, which spins the audience through the last decade of the artist’s truth and experience and new life in New Orleans. In a deeply revealing interview, Rickie Lee reflects on overcoming life’s recent obstacles, turning 60, and the freedom that came with letting go of protecting her prestige as she turns to celebrating her art.
• JARROD SPECTOR
Tony Award nominee and Broadway veteran Jarrod Spector cut his teeth portraying Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys, and most recently starred as Barry Mann in the acclaimed BEAUTIFUL: The Carole King Musical. The scope of Spector’s work on THE KATE is breathtaking, including dramatic renditions of contemporary classics from Paul McCartney (“Maybe I’m Amazed”), U2 (“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”), and stirring medleys by Little Richard (“Good Golly Miss Molly/Tutti Frutti”) and Four Seasons (“C’mon Marianne/Beggin’”), and a showstopper that morphs Enrico Caruso (“Una Furtiva Lagrima”) into Queen (“Somebody To Love”). Spector relates his own vocal influences in singers like Valli and Billy Joel, and how he sees the tenor as “the rock god of each generation’s music.” He shares his deep interest in tracing the lineage of the tenor sound back through a century of music to see how the generations directly influence the way he sings today.
• THE ANN WILSON THING
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Ann Wilson breaks away temporarily from the music of Heart -- the truly impressive body of work created with sister, Nancy Wilson, which has inspired legions of fans and great singers -- and stretches her vocal boundaries with "a very sweet passion project," The Ann Wilson Thing. Wilson makes a rare television appearance on THE KATE, playing unusual blues and rock cover songs with a voice that continues to mesmerize and resonate with its vast range, astonishing power and sheer, supple musicality. She performs passionate renditions of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth”, Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way”, John Lennon’s “Isolation” and Bob Dylan’s “Every Grain of Sand”. Wilson also speaks frankly about getting married and how that reflects on her art; spending the first 40 percent of her career trying to be taken seriously as a female rock artist; and the notion of Heart as role models for women.
• BARB JUNGR
Lauded as a fearless iconoclast, British modern cabaret artist Barb Jungr has received international raves and accolades for her unique vocal style, song interpretation and radical approach to arrangements. Considered one of the best interpreters of Dylan and one of the world’s best nightclub singers, she works feverishly to bring classic songs to new heights. On THE KATE, Jungr applies her considerable energy and unconventional style to the music of Stephen Sondheim (“Something’s Coming”), David Bowie (“Life On Mars?”/“Space Oddity”), Bob Dylan (“All Along the Watchtower”), Leonard Cohen (“Sisters of Mercy”), and a stirring rendition of “Woodstock” by Joni Mitchell. Jungr also performs highlights from her new album, Shelter from the Storm, where she presents songs of healing. This episode includes a look at the creation of that album as THE KATE goes behind the scenes to the recording sessions.
• RITA WILSON
Rita Wilson may be well-known for her acting roles and producing, but her performance on THE KATE proves that this Hollywood hills native has a deep affection for songwriting and the joy that music brings. Rita Wilson charms the audience with her stories of growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s; from teasing jingles from products like Charlie Perfume and Jordache Jeans, to her renditions of era classics like “Please Come to Boston” and “Wichita Lineman” from her CD of cover songs AM/FM. Wilson’s repertoire is varied mixing the influence of California pop on songs like “Girls Night In” and “I’m Guilty,” co-written with famed songwriters for her self-titled album, to a heartwarming homage of the sounds of Laurel Canyon and her admiration for Joni Mitchell. Rita Wilson demonstrates her vocal abilities, love of a good song and sense of humor, including her impressions of series muse Katharine Hepburn. She encourages the audience to have a good time and come “Along for the Ride.”
“THE KATE celebrates groundbreaking music artists who infuse their performances with zest, wit and conviction to create a singular experience for the audience,” said Jennifer Boyd, Executive Producer. “The series provides a riveting showcase for artists to share their personal musical journeys, which come alive through fascinating, between-song stories, performances of new selections in their repertoire, and inventive, rearranged covers of favorite songs that have long influenced them.”