Winter Awakenings Album Liner Notes
People everywhere sought out ways to pass their time during the pandemic. While in quarantine, during an imposed hiatus from work, at a point in the history of humanity when the world was left staring at walls, every person looked for something to do. Or, perhaps, nothing to do. It was personal to every individual.
Singer Renee Katz took to her work as a storyteller and emerged from the shutdown with a new piece of art.
Winter Awakenings is a project the much-lauded soprano has had on her drafting table for a while, but when Renee had the chance to take the combined artistic forces of herself and Musical Director John Cook and apply them to her album of music centered around the cold-weather months, she created a lovely collection of stories for music lovers to enjoy any time of the year. Though the anchor of the piece is a 1991 song cycle by Broadway composer Maury Yeston, Katz bookends the popular work with well-known compositions from The Great American Songbook and Musical Theater, making the listening experience one reminiscent of a twelve-course meal in a five-star restaurant (fifteen musical courses, to be exact, including a bonus track). To be certain, though: the album is about December Songs.
Many is the soprano who will step up to a microphone and sing songs with a focus on technique. Though Katz’s technique entered the room with her, Renee is all about the storytelling, the feelings, the acting. Observe the emotional content present in every aspect of the Yeston piece, one that outlines the romantic relationship-themed thoughts of one person during a snowy walk in Central Park. Renee runs the gamut, using every trick up her storytelling sleeve to convey all the aspects of that wintery stroll, and it works, particularly on numbers like “My Grandmother’s Love Letters” and “By The River,” although listeners would be well advised to not just skip to their favorite tracks (for this writer, “Winter Was Warm,” the number Ms. Katz chooses to close the book on the song cycle). Take the full journey, enjoy the amuse-bouche of the lyrical “Deep Purple” and revel in the dessert of the playful “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” because Renee and co. have gone to great lengths to make it a pleasure, a musically and emotionally rich one, aided greatly by Alon Bisk’s cello. The three artists work hard and work well together in their storytelling efforts, and all of the composers, not just Mr. Yeston, are honored by their efforts; and the listener is the lucky beneficiary of the pandemic project.
Clearly, a little quarantine can yield good things in the hands of the right person, the right artist.
Editor Broadway World Cabaret https://www.broadwayworld.com/cabaret
Renee Katz: Winter Awakenings CD Release Concert
Mar 29, 2022 | Music & Cabaret
By Marilyn Lester . . .
To celebrate the release of her magnificent undertaking, the new album, Winter Awakenings, Renee Katz, brought the music to Pangea with the kind of magic that can only be realized live. (See the review of the Winter Awakenings CD elsewhere in Theater Pizzazz.) Additionally, during the evening, Katz, a published poet, read her lovely work, A Path Calls, which appears on the CD’s liner notes.
Although she’d been long-contemplating this project—a presentation of Maury Yeston’s 10-song cycle, December Songs—it was the crisis of our ongoing pandemic that gave her the impetus to bring it to fruition. By definition, a song cycle is a group of individually complete songs performed in a sequence and which, as a unit, convey an overarching story. December Songs was conceived as the portrait of a brokenhearted woman taking a lonely walk through Central Park. From the pain of love lost, she ends at a place of hope, redemption and healing, a message Katz wanted to declare for all in these troubled times. And she does it with immense heart and sensitivity, plus an astounding level of authenticity, for she has deeply known tragedy and recoupment in her own life.
Yeston wrote December Songs as a commemoration of the centenary of Carnegie Hall. Thus, the genres of each of the ten songs in the cycle vary, reflecting the many styles of music heard in the Hall over the years. Katz’s first number “December Snow” is a hymn-like song with medieval overtones. It suited her well in its air of romanticism. The next, an anguished madrigal, “Where Are You Now?” allowed Katz to demonstrate perfect phrasing and emotional commitment. Many of the following songs in the cycle had a contemporary musical theater feel, leading up to the country-style ballad a la Joni Mitchell in “By the River.” Katz’ vocal range was on display with a pseudo Victorian parlor song, “I Had a Dream About You,” with her lower range transitioning smoothly to her natural clear, pure soprano, and vice versa.
Katz’ opener, however, was the American Songbook standard, “Deep Purple” (Peter De Rose, Mitchell Parrish). Capping the song cycle was “Winter Was Warm” (Jule Styne, Bob Merrill) from the 1962 television special “Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol.” Both speak to dreams as a way to access a lost love. Toward the end of the concert, Katz leapt into a happy present with the cheerful “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” (Irving Berlin), sung with controlled belting. There were bonus songs in the set, including a wonderfully esoteric choice, which ideally suited her: “Someday” (Alan Mencken, Stephen Schwartz) from Walt Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Winter Awakenings was flawlessly arranged by pianist-music director John M. Cook. Always skilled at his craft, he was on his A-game during the evening, playing each song and genre with lush perfection, especially on a few jazzy uptempo numbers. With the wise addition of the inherently haunting cello, Alon Bisk both bowed and played pizzicato with dextrous prowess. The CD celebration show of Winter Awakenings was ably co-directed by Peter Schlosser and Ira Siff.
CD Review: Renee Katz Winter Awakenings Mar 24, 2022 | CD Reviews
By Marilyn Lester . . .
In 1991, musical theater composer-lyricist, Maury Yeston was commissioned to write a piece for the centennial celebration of Carnegie Hall. The result was a song cycle, entitled December Songs, performed at its debut and recorded by Andrea Marcovicci. Now, as the centerpiece of Renee Katz’s new CD, Winter Awakenings, this song cycle breathes life again via the spirit of the intensely poetic Katz. Accompanied by a few Songbook standards, the CD in toto is a beautiful expression of hope—of the birth of Spring after the desolation of Winter—sung with heartfelt musical elegance.
December Songs had been on Katz’s radar for some time, but came to the fore during these pandemic times. Yeston’s approach was to retell Franz Schubert’s Winterreise (translated from German as Winter Journey), but through the lens of a woman on a lonely walk through Central Park in winter, reflecting on a lost love. Each of the ten parts represents a genre representative of the many styles of music heard on the Carnegie Hall stage. By the end of the cycle, a broken heart is transformed, with hope awakened and healing begun.
It’s no wonder that the deep thinker that is Katz would equate December Songs to the journey being made by those affected by a pandemic still in progress—especially in its message of strength, hope and moving beyond. In Winter Awakenings, Katz’s passion is unmistakeable—and as she herself has stated, the song cycle has many connections to her own life and journey. Thus, the storytelling is delivered on an authentic level, voiced through her clear soprano, as she handles the various genres of December Songs with ease.
Bookending the cycle are two American Songbook standards. Winter Awakenings open with “Deep Purple,” composed in 1934 for piano by Peter De Rose. In 1939 Mitchell Parrish added the lyric, which also speaks to lost love: “Though you’re gone, your love lives on when moonlight beams…” Following the song cycle is “Winter Was Warm” (Jule Styne, Bob Merrill) from the 1962 television special “Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol.” It too speaks to loss and the ability to return to an earlier, happier period though memory and dreams. Then there is a change of tone and mood, a jump into a happy present with “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” (Irving Berlin), whose title says it all: despite the harshness of a winter storm, love is warmth. As a bonus track, Noël Coward’s “Come the Wild, Wild Weather” offers a positive affirmation that through all seasons, “Wherever we chance to go we shall always be friends.”
Winter Awakenings is a beautifully thought out and realized work, sung exquisitely and sensitively by Katz. This gifted singer needs no more to carry the album than the piano artistry of John M. Cook, whose perfect arrangements form a secure platform from which she dispenses the wisdom of her choices. Alon Bisk provided additional support with his sensitive cello playing—and what better way to underscore the unfolding of Winter Awakenings than with this instrument of haunting depth.
Winter Awakenings is available for purchase on Amazon and on most streaming platforms.
Renee Katz: Winter Awakenings
March 11, 2022
Reviewed by John Hoglund
Renee Katz is a prolific musical storyteller. She brings her lyric soprano to this album of beautiful arrangements by John Cook that is highlighted by Maury Yeston’s “December Songs.” Like other recent albums, this is one artist’s response to the pandemic, the quarantine, and the emergence from it, all lovingly expressed in songs that have a winter theme. The result is a buoyant album of heartfelt songs.
The arc of Katz’s album suggests a musical and ethereal journey that expands from simple faith through a dark night of the soul. It is ultimately a persuasive affirmation of lost-and-found optimism. This is accomplished through truthful phrasing on well-chosen gems. The disc opens with a tender reading of the classic “Deep Purple,” which sets a tone of loneliness. Here, she delicately caresses the lyric and its classically tinged melody. The lyrics telling of a sorrowfully reflective love suits her vocal style perfectly. It is a refreshing treat on a melody composed by Pete De Rose in 1934 that took off when Mitchell Parrish added the trenchant lyrics in 1939. It became a hit for such artists of the day as Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, Artie Shaw, Jimmy Dorsey and, in 1975 for Donny and Marie Osmond. It has also been recorded by iconic jazz artists including Nat King Cole. The song is challenging with its desolate phrasing, but to Katz’s credit, she does a fine job interpreting its dense lyrics as one might expect to hear from a throaty Carmen McRae or the “baritone” of Sarah Vaughan.
The set list is dominated by suites of the pensive poems by Yeston called “December Songs.” Based on Franz Schubert’s “Winterreise” (a song cycle of art songs), the romantic poems are a sequence of the reflections of a jilted singer who is adrift and walking in the winter, looking back on lost loves, and ultimately falling apart. Yeston’s setting is snowy Central Park (rather than Schubert’s Vienna woods). Katz is most effective on such longing images recalling the late Barbara Cook who adjusted her classical training to suit contemporary, pop, and theater singing and told a story with veracity and heart. Renee Katz has the same qualities; that is her strength. For example, listen to her sing the plaintive “December Snow” and sing, “No one really knew me then, no one knows me now/things were so much different then.” Add to that the touching “Please Let’s Not Even Say Hello,” which says “I’m just not good at letting go,” and “By the River,” which whispers “Come to me and be my close companion/here in my arms you will cry no more.” We are hearing a singer evoking testaments of simplicity, self-reliance and, above all, truth.
It’s not all melancholy here. Katz shines on a bubbly, upbeat “Where Are You Now?” and Irving Berlin’s “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” which is given a beguiling treatment. It’s a delight to hear Noël Coward’s contemplative rarity, “Come the Wild, Wild Weather.” A bonus track of the elated “Someday” by Alan Menkin and Stephen Schwartz from Disney’s animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a perfect wrap-up to the disc, as it addresses optimism in a plea in the midst of the chaos we’ve all been through over the past two years. Katz’s inspired phrasing evokes the hope that is needed for facing an uncertain future.
Renee Katz is a singer on the rise and this album shows her to be an exceptional vocalist who delivers her songs with a genuine softness that is at times as powerful as it is driving. Not enough can be said for John Cook’s piano accompaniment, arrangements, and musical direction throughout this quality disc. A serious nod also goes to Alon Bisk for his ethereal cello.
BWW CD Review: Renee Katz NEVER BEEN GONE Is A Personal Journey of Musical Benevolence
By Stephan Mosher
Mere minutes into the Renee Katz album NEVER BEEN GONE, comes a strange realization that something is not quite right. There is a sound on the CD that is slightly foreign to the ear, and it takes a few more moments of listening to put your finger on it. When you realize it, it's almost a relief. The sound that you are hearing is pure, unfiltered, unaltered singing. In a world where singers are autotuned or more focused on vocal pyrotechnics than in communicating the notes, the melodic lines, the stories created by the composers, Renee Katz stands before a microphone and sings, clearly, plainly, using only the beauty of the natural human voice and the human spirit to tell these twelve stories. So refreshing is the experience that there is only one way this writer can think of to describe it. If you've ever been downhill skiing, there is a moment that comes after you've booted up, suited up, ridden the lift to the top, climbed to the peak, positioned your goggles and gloves, and are ready to go. In that last moment before you kick off and start the journey down, you pause to look at the sky, the sun, the white of crisp new snow, the green of the trees, and you take a deep breath of rarified air. That's Renee Katz singing: rarified air in your lungs.
Now, about the album. People not in the know may be unaware of Ms. Katz's story - and they won't learn it in this review, they should visit her website HERE for that - but the CD is a companion piece to the artist's book of poetry with the same name. Not having read that book, all this writer can do is discuss this album, which is a lovely, peaceful, tender, tender-hearted, exploration of emotion, expressed through music. Here is a collection of twelve songs lovingly arranged by Christopher Marlowe with a straightforward sweetness that one suspects is informed by Katz's own personality. A jazzy "Jeepers Creepers" and a torchy "I Never Know When To Say When" demonstrate that Renee has other colors (and a belt) but the remaining ten tracks on the album lead with an overwhelming air of optimism and kindness, making great use of Marlowe's quiet and attentive treatments, the meticulous work of all of the album musicians, and the mixing/mastering of the album by Jeremy Harris, Dave F. Cohen, and Dean Marmo. The focus, you see, needs to be on Katz - these twelve songs represent her story, and it's a beautiful one needing to be heard, in all its delicacy and humanity.
With a reedy voice that floats gently through the air, Renee Katz does a deep dive of emotion into the lyrics accompanying each melody, honoring the poetry and the trajectory of songs like the exquisite "I Could Marry The Rain" which, in her hands, feels like it was written just for her - and the title track by Carly Simon, a recording so personal that the four minutes it takes to listen to the song leave you feeling like you've known the singer all your life. Katz and Marlowe make choices over the presentation of "Meadowlark" that give Renee an opportunity to fuse the legendary ballad with the more filigree-like natures of her aesthetic, a wise decision because each woman who sings this song must step far out of the shadow of the originating artist, a task well achieved here. Especially moving on an album that is a symphony of tranquility are Renee's renditions of "Learn to Be Lonely" and "Stranger to the Rain" - the former, like a lullaby of motherly advise, the latter, a paean to survival; and the wistfully mournful temperament of "Ribbons Down My Back" might, well, give the illusion that you are hearing the song for the very first time - it is Christopher Marlowe at his haunting, hypnotic best. It is possible for one to think the entire album is Renee Katz at her best, too - unlikely because Renee, as many know, is on an evolutionary track to overturn every stone in her quest to reach new heights in her artistry. This album is just one level in the progression.
Renee Katz NEVER BEEN GONE is a 2013 release on the Renee Katz label. It is available on most digital platforms and at the Renee Katz website HERE.
"By Marilyn Lester"
Each May the Mabel Mercer Foundation (MMF) salutes the work of a great American songbook composer at a fête in NYC’s Weill Recital Hall. It’s always a happy, festive affair, as a bevy of cabaret artists take the stage to interpret the work of the honoree. This year’s tribute to Jerome Kern was no less a celebratory success. An excellent cast highlighted the work of the man most noted for the classic musical, Showboat, but who also wrote many of the great standards we know and prize. As always, MMF Artistic Director and cabaret doyenne, KT Sullivan, hosted with gracious aplomb, herself offering the comically infused “Just Let Me Look at You” and “Bungalow in Quogue” as well as a heartfelt “The Last Time I Saw Paris.”
A delightful irony of All the Things You Are was the thread of jazz that ran through the show. Kern, born in 1885 and classically trained, did not like jazz. His work evolved from roots in European musical traditions –– a far cry from ragtime and early blues. This aspect of his catalog was evident in Renee Katz’s delightful, softly operatic delivery of “Don’t Ever Leave Me” (with John M. Cook at the piano). Yet, Kern and the tradition he sprang from had a profound influence on the development of American musical theater. And, as with any good, solid body of work, Kern’s stands the test of time; modern and innovative arrangements bring his music well into the 21st century, plainly evident in All The Things You Are.
The 29th New York Cabaret Convention The Best of Jerry Herman
Hosted by Klea Blackhurst
Rose Theater, NYC, October 11, 2018
Reviewed by Todd Sussman for Cabaret Scenes
Photos: Maryann Lopinto
It was the best of times. Period.
Iconic Broadway songwriter Jerry Herman, who Liza Minnelli once referred to as a poet laureate, has been top of mind, once again, ever since Bette Midler starred in a sell-out, award-friendly revival of Hello, Dolly!, premiering in early 2017. But Herman doesn’t have to promise to never go away again. You see, he never really left.
Last Thursday night, the brightest stars of the cabaret world paid tribute to him in the elegant Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center. And, as cabaret artists so often and eloquently do, they collectively did a deep dive into Mr. Herman’s catalogue—not only the critical and commercial successes (Dolly, Mame, La Cage aux Folles)—but also the lesser received works (Dear World, The Grand Tour, Mack and Mabel) that, at first blush, may have not had the impact of his hit shows but have, over the years, gained momentum and status in the Herman canon.
If “It Only Takes a Moment” is about having found love, “Ribbons Down My Back”—another famous ballad from Dolly—is about the hope of finding it. Herman is an expert at expressing love in all its stages. Renee Katz, in her illustrious soprano, amplified the hope and longing as the song progressed. She brought Herman’s message to vivid life. Once again, all that was needed to go with her performance was John M. Cook’s masterful piano.
"By Sandi Durell"
What more appropriate title for a show than Only From the Heart Can You Touch the Sky from the beautiful soul of Renee Katz?
How can one explain the feeling of being wrapped in the tender, caring arms of this lovely soprano whose heart is like an open book? The audience is hers from the moment she utters her first sound. It feels unusual, yet familiar.
With musical director-arranger John M. Cook on piano, Renee Katz soars like an eagle with joy, having chosen songs that express her genuine nature . . . “I Wish It So” (music/lyrics Marc Blitzstein, from Juno); “Ferris Wheel” (music Alan Menken, lyrics Victor Joseph) and “I Can’t Take My Eyes From You (music/lyrics Alan Menken).
She poetically introduces many a song that communicates what lies beneath – – passion, sincerity, love, thoughtfulness, new beginnings.
An extremely focused rendition of Skylark (music Hoagy Carmichael/lyrics Johnny Mercer) took on new meaning bringing a warmth and tenderness, only to be equaled by the sad, yet stunning reality of “Meadowlark” (music/lyrics Stephen Schwartz from The Baker’s Wife).
Her positive persona is easily explained in “Everything Is Possible” (music, David Spangler/lyrics Christopher Gore, from Nefertiti) where “the world is born anew.”
Renee Katz sings of hope, with a grace and kindness that is limitless. She also reaches for new horizons with some swinging jazz stylings, i.e. “The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea” (music Harold Arlen/lyrics Ted Koehler) and “Blue Skies” (music/lyrics Irving Berlin) that add an attention-grabbing dimension.
You can experience Renee Katz at Don’t Tell Mama again on Saturday, August 4 and August 11 at 8 pm. I urge you to attend, to give yourself a time out from the extremes we deal with daily and find a gentler, kinder experience that can provide an underlying strength
"By Matt Smith"
“Of all the energies that drive us, there is only one that can never be transcended into negative actions toward others, and that is the energy of compassion.” — Dr. Howard A. Rusk
We’re just three songs into Renee Katz’s solo show, Never Been Gone. The lights blackout completely, and Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” plays through the sound system. The classically trained singer rocks slowly back and forth to the song, while images of the album cover flash on the wall behind her. It’s jarring, to be honest. It’s unsettling, and frankly, it seems egregiously out of place. That is, until the big reveal.
The song’s lyrics, as Katz explained, reference “a girl they pushed in front of the train, took her to the doctor [and] sewed her arm on again.” It’s in this moment that Katz reveals herself to be the subject of this musical phrase. For those unfamiliar with this woman and her work, it’s a pretty surprising twist, as the messages touted within the evening’s program continue to take on completely new meaning from this point forward, shaping the evening around this particular event. But have no fear; it’s a story that must be told, and it’s one that will shake you, inspire you, and ignite the fire within you like never before. You just have to trust in Katz and come along for the ride.
It was June of 1979, at 8:14 in the morning. Katz, then a fresh-faced 17-year-old, just days shy of graduation at LaGuardia High School of Music and Art, before packing up and heading out to the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music was waiting for the train to school. Mere minutes before boarding, the prodigy, classically trained in piano and flute, was unexpectedly thrown from a subway platform and onto the tracks. She thankfully skirted death by rolling out of the way of the metro, but was unable to save her right hand, instantly severed by the oncoming E train. Her future as a musician eradicated before her eyes, she was immediately thrust in the national spotlight, as she navigated rehab, receipt of letters from well-wishers and inspired individuals, and, of course, the multiple surgeries she went through to successfully re-attach her right hand to her body, and learn how to live independently once again.
This account is at the heart of her show, which brings her back at Don’t Tell Mama’s through Oct. 15 — the venue where she first revived her cabaret career back in July. Accompanied by pianist Tedd Firth, who displays effortless proficiency in gliding across the keys, she weaves her harrowing tale through a delightful evening of powerful song, with anecdotes of her time spent as one of “Bellevue’s shackled prisoners,” encounters with kind strangers, and the gratitude she feels she owes her personal heroes all serving as fitting introductions to the numbers that followed.
The autobiographical evening mixes somber selections that illuminate the issue, with more buoyant ones that celebrate life as it is — her accident having opened her eyes up to “appreciating what’s less visible to others, as time is so precious,” all interspersed with expertly utilized projections, courtesy of her high school pal Michael Kolomatsky, that outline the scenes she details, and excerpts of her own writing, from her book of the same name, which delve further into her emotions of the aftermath of that faithful day. It’s clear the set list was carefully chosen; some numbers are tributes — one to “her someone,” Barry Packer, who, despite her injury, “loved me for me,” and another to former mayor Edward Koch whom she wholeheartedly credits with revitalizing her career (“he gave me recognition as a singer, not just as a crime victim”) — while others, like “Keep Smiling at Trouble” and “I Got The Sun In The Morning,” serve to emphasize where her attitude lies on this whole devastating situation.
And while her rich, resonant soprano and commanding stage presence would make these songs enjoyable regardless, lyrics such as “When did I last throw my arms up in glee?” and “I don’t curse what I can’t change / I just play the hand I’m dealt” pack an extra powerful punch, considering the context from which she’s sharing them.
Simply put, the effervescent Katz is not, as she sings, a stranger to the rain, but she also doesn’t let it define her. If you push her, to quote the aforementioned Grandmaster Flash hit in which she was featured, she’ll push back. She won’t take “no” for an answer. She’s got that “can-do” attitude that brands her as a fighter for life. As she comments in a particular point in the evening, “I focus not on what I lost, but what I was lucky enough to keep….My voice [is] my salvation, and I feel really blessed to be able to sing.”
Her positive outlook is further brought to the forefront when, in a particularly heartwarming moment, she mentions her parents — her father, a Holocaust survivor, and her mother, an expert composer and pianist, despite suffering significant hearing loss at birth — both of whom she considers to be the epitome of the “fighter,” exemplifying the strength she needs to soldier on, before proceeding to perch herself at the piano and perform one of her mother’s original compositions.
Despite a slow start and visible difficulty in playing with a mangled hand, she’s showing the audience she’s got the strength, like her parents, to push on. Sure, it’s difficult, but she’s got something to prove, and she won’t allow obstacles to set her back nor slow her down.
And maybe, in a way, that’s the point. Whoever you are, whatever your struggle, however “different” you may feel, you can do anything you set your mind to do. It may not sound the same as what your neighbor is doing, but you come from different places… different backgrounds… different struggles… and different stories. If your heart’s in it, you can prevail. You, too, like Renee and her parents, can “proudly reclaim your wildflowers and daisywishes.” You will not be silenced.
To that end, it’s all the more poignant that Katz then finishes the show with the title number from The Sound of Music, defiantly declaring, “My heart will be blessed with the sound of music, and I’ll”—despite all odds—“sing once more.”
Indeed she will, and presumably more than just once. It’s apparent as she sings: she’s herself on that stage, in her element, basking in all her limelit glory. It seems, at long last, she’s finally home. But, truth be told, it’d be inaccurate to call her show a homecoming. ‘Cause, after all, as we know, she’s really never been gone.
Renee Katz is a bubbly, happy, friendly, loving, loving person. It’s impossible not to want to be sharing whatever venue she’s performing in with her."
By Myra Chanin
"I was so moved, so inspired and thought Renee's message is one of hope and appreciation for the gift of life-that everyone can use now more than ever!!!"
Manager, Don't Tell Mama
"Accompanied by the always-welcome piano Tedd Firth, she displayed a sweet and strong soprano on such songs as "I Could Marry The Rain" (Peter Allen) and "The Human Heart" (Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens)."
"She's lived through a miracle, she IS a miracle, and she'll always remain a miracle. Buy the book. Buy the CD. Buy them both. You'll be missing out if you don't, and it would be a downright shame."
"Katz still holds the audience with an outstanding voice, storytelling ability and the fact that she can still play the piano."
Bayside Times Ledger
"A multi-modal art performance, Katz's cabaret journey show features musical numbers, poetry readings and a slideshow with supporting photographs, quotes and thoughts."
“She has not spent the past 33 years being a victim. Far from it. Right at the start, a nurse at Bellevue told her, ‘You have five minutes out of every day to feel sorry for yourself. The rest of the time you’ve got to get up and do something."
Clyde Haberman, The New York Times
Matthew Martin Ward December 17, 2018 ·
I saw Renee Katz’s Show “Winter Awakenings” last night. What an exquisite feast! The main course was Maury Yeston’s December Songs. This is a true song cycle; the narrator examines one experience, the end of a romance, from many angles, framed in an exploration of NYC in December. Renee’s concentration and deep subtext made the whole cycle greater than the sum of each song.
She wisely framed the cycle with instrumental selections. Après un Rêve, by Fauré, was a solo for cellist Alon Bisk, and set the mood of romantic melancholy. After the cycle, musical director John M Cook performed a Rachmaninov Prelude in G, a palate cleansing promise of Spring.
The entire evening, starting with a smoky Deep Purple and ending with I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm for dessert and Noël Coward’s Come the Wild Wild Weather as cognac, was an artistic achievement of high order. Kudos to all!
“Sidney Myer, who is manager of the cabaret where Renee will perform, said that “there are two things I respect in this woman. One is her musical ability. The other is her spirit. She will go far because she is talented and a hard worker.”
Dennis Duggan, Newsday
“Her life changed in a split second,” observes occupational therapist Pat Casler, “but that wasn’t going to stop her.” Nor was it going to rob her of her considerable store of compassion. “There is always an area within yourself that you can develop and give to other people,” she says.
Arlene Gottfried, People Magazine
“She was eating yogurt with her left hand, a small tribute to the years of therapy that transferred such skills from her right side to her left. “It’s a question of concentrating not on what you’ve lost but on what you’ve been lucky enough to keep,” said Dr. William Shaw, an associate professor at New York University Medical Center and head of plastic surgery at Bellevue Hospital."
Lisa Wolfe, The New York Times
"My heart was deeply touched by your tragic, but courageous story- a story that best describes how you turned your "scars into stars," rather than choosing defeat."
Robert Schuller, Crystal Cathedral
“Katz’s lovely lyric soprano vocals are one of cabaret’s best-kept secrets, and the secret should get out soon – her handling of a variety of numbers are just beautiful to behold. She brings class and great style to anything she decides to sing.”
Andrew Martin, CAB Magazine
“Clearly some standouts demand individual mention. These include Renee Katz’s beautifully phrased “On My Way to You.”
John Hoglund, New York Native
“She brought Stephen Schwartz’s “Meadowlark” to new heights, while her coverage of Maury Yeston’s “December Snow,” Blitzstein’s “I Wish it So,” and LeRoy Anderson/Walter Kerr’s “I Never Know When to Say When”- proves her taste in music. She’s a find!”
MaryAnn Lopinto, CAB Magazine
“And then there’s the music. It never stopped. Maybe it no longer flows on the piano or the flute, but she has a voice, put to sweet use.”
Clyde Haberman, The New York Times
“Her name will be in bright lights one of these days, and the room will be so full they’ll have to put the rope up, standing room only, sorry. Ladies and Gentleman, Renee Katz.”
Dennis Duggan, Newsday
"But more than this, the imagery she spins with such poems as "Wildflowers and Daisywishes" (a recurring theme in her poetry), "Chained Intensity," "A Valentine's Hug of Passionless Regret," "Our Moment," "The Pirate and the Gypsy" and "My Baby Boy," don't merely show an other-worldly glimpse into her spectacular life but could well cement her as one of the greatest poetesses of our current-day experience. And those are merely the tip of the haunting iceberg. The CD, which is included with a copy of the book, is something else again. Katz emerges as always a truly stunning soprano, with absolutely brilliant skills of communication and exceptional understanding of lyric."
“She’s a warrior woman, this Renee Katz. I have written about Renee over the years since that terrible accident and I have yet to see her back down from a challenging life."
~Dennis Duggan, Newsday
“She’s not just a singer, but someone who caresses lyrics in a very delicate way.”
~MaryAnn LoPinto, CAB Magazin