Thursday, April 22, 2010

My blog has moved permanenty!

Hi Friends:

My blog can now be found on my website: or under the "news" tab, you can find my personal performing events, and under "Raissa Recommends" you find all the content that was on this blog and my continued recommendations. Hope you'll visit me there and bookmark the site, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

And btw, my friend Richard Magee created this new, user friendly site for me, so if you are interested in getting your own, contact me and I'll connect you.

Love and light,

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Award Winning Concerts at Tudor City Greens!

Hello Friends:
What a great month - we were honored with the 2010 Bistro Award for our concert series and garned at 2010 MAC Award nomination as well! Click on the Bistro link to see what great company we're in with the others being honored (such as Mitzi Gaynor, Alan Cumming and Tovah Feldshu), and how to buy tickets to the event, which is Tuesday, April 13th at 6:30 pm.

As if that weren't enough, just LOOK at the line up we have for our series grand opening on May 5th (6th is rain date) at 6 pm. "Whose Garden Was This" - the Folksinger/songwriters take the park!"
Buskin and Batteau, Sean Harkness, (who ROCKED at the Metropolitan Room last night!)Ritt Henn, Mary Liz McNamara, Danny Quinn, and our cabaret newcomer, that singing surgeon songwriter, Dr. Garrett Bennett!
These folks kick off The Concerts at Tudor City Greens 2010 season, with our focus this year on different styles, faces and themes.

As usual, a huge THANK YOU to Hector Coris for the gorgeous graphics he created for our new season.
And if you'd like to make a note of the rest of our season dates, here they are:
(rain dates in parenthesis)
June 1st (2nd)
July 6th (7th) matinee at noon – “A Child’s Garden of Verses”
August 3rd (4th)
September 7th (8th)
October 5th (6th) - (possible matinee, depending on weather and light)

More soon - love and light,
"No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted." - Aesop

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lucie's CD signing and we won the Bistro Award!

Hello Friends:

Check your date books and calendars and mark this date if you are in New York or heading to New York!

Friday, March 26th 2010 at noon at J & R Music World 23 Park Row, NYC 10038. My pal and super songbird, Lucie Arnaz and her equally talented son and guitarist, Joe Luckinbill (who, not only wrote one of his mom's songs for her new CD but guests with her on it as well) will be there for a short performance and signing of her new CD Latin Roots. Joe's new CD simply titled Joe Luckinbill will be there and available for purchase as well!

Also at the show to make sure they keep it authentic will be the Legendary percussionist himself, Papo Pepin, and I'll be there with my husband Garrett, friends Tom Vaughn and Walter Willison as we sing back-up for Lucie, just like we did on her CD!

It's going to be lots of fun.

The 2010 Bistro Silver Anniversary Awards announced its list of recipients today, and The Concerts at Tudor City Greens was given a Special Award!

Read the rest of the wonderful recipients (including Mitzi Gaynor's Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award!) here
More soon - gotta run!
Love and Light,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Raissa Recommends Shows, Classes and Foundation Garments - February

Hi Friends:

The year started off with a bang! So many shows to see, perform in and recommend...
My director and friend, Eric Michael Gillett and I, are putting together a special duet show as a one night only benefit for The Singers Forum, 49 W. 24th Street, on Sunday, Feb. 21st at 7 pm. Jeff Cubeta musical directs - this is my first time working with Jeff, and he's a real joy plus super talented. Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door. There is a wine and cheese reception after. Seating is very limited, so if you are interested, call Singers Forum at 212-366-0541 asap and make your reservation.

The very next night, Monday, 2/22 at 6pm, I'll be at the Lincoln Center Barnes and Noble for Barbara Porteus's CD release signing and performance, (I already have it and it's wonderful!) and then at 7 pm, I'll be at the Metropolitan Room, watching my favorite folk/pop duo, BUSKIN AND BATTEAU. Seriously, you owe it to yourself to see these guys - I've been a fan for 20 years, and I'm thrilled that they are back together again, after a hiatus to their families. Incredible musicians, songwriters, sensitive and funny - they don't make 'em better than this. Between the two of them, they play guitar, piano, violin, and they have one of the most innovative percussionists I've ever seen, Marshal Rosenberg. They did a presentation at the Dutch Treat Club yesterday, and I just about melted when Robin Batteau played his violin TO ME!!! You can pick up their newest CD's at the show, too, and you should.

The next day, I head into the recording studio with PS Classics, to record my new CD! My musical director is David Caldwell, and my core band is comprised of Ritt Henn, Sean Harkness and Mayra Casales. We are scheduled to finish the CD on 3/8, and it'll drop sometime in the Spring - you know I'll keep you posted. I'm pretty excited about this and the amazing songs I've been given to sing by some of my favorite composers.

And speaking of favorite composers, Jay Alan Zimmerman, nicknamed "Broadway's Beethoven", has asked me to perform 3 of his songs during his month long, free exhibition for Chashama, entitled Art/Song - a visual music performance installation by Jay and his wife, artist, Lisa Ingram. I can't really describe all the cool things Jay, a deaf composer, and his wife Lisa, have created with their cutting edge frequency analysis software, but if you go to, you can read all about it, and get the show times. The neat thing is, you can watch Jay rehearse with me and other singers (like my pal, the fabulously talented Sierra Rein) that he can't hear, during the day, and then see the finished product at night. Chashama's Time Square Space is at 112 West 44th Street, between 6th and 7th and performance days are 2/23, 2/27, 3/3, 3/10 (that's my date) and 3/13 at 7 pm. The installation is open to the public for viewing from 2/23 to 3/16, Tuesday through Saturday from 2 to 7.

And although this blog's entry is primarily for February, I want to touch upon two early March events. First, I've been asked to sing the songs of Amanda McBroom and Michele Brourman in the March is Cabaret Month kickoff event, produced by Tom Stajmiger for Stu Hamstra's Cabaret Hotline, 7 pm on 3/2 at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. I'm particularly honored, as Amanda and Michele's songs have always figured prominently in my shows, they sent me a song that only Amanda has performed rarely, and I can't wait to learn it and perform it!

My good friend and colleague, Multi MAC, Bistro and Nightlife Award winner, Scott Coutler is finally giving into the request he's had for years, and is offering SONGBOOK - a group vocal coaching session based on storytelling. This class, accompanied by David Kreppel, begins in March and runs for 6 consecutive Tuesdays. For more information, please contact If you want to learn how to bring a song to life for auditions and/or the world of cabaret, you could have no finer guide than Scott.
I just gotta share this - if you're a woman, you're always looking for a smooth line under clothes, no matter how thin you are. Well, at WALMART of all places, this week I happened upon Sweet Nothings (div. of Maidenform) Smooth Shaping Torsette! It looks like a corset, (being a period piece performer, I love me a good corset!) complete with light boning, which always gives a good line, and tiny corset hooks that lie flat and smooth under a front flap. You use your own bra, and the design of the thing hoists the "sisters" up where you want them! And it's comfortable.It cost me less than $20. They also have these shaping cami's in nice colors that have a wider strap, so you can, again, wear your own bra, and actually take off your sweater or jacket whiloe wearing it if you needed to. This could be the single most useful and exciting thing I could recommend to you...ladies.
Love and light,

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Raissa Recommends New Shows, A New Class and my Own Show - January 2010

Dear Friends:

Happy New Year! We are starting the year off with a bang. So much to recommend to you and I will be attending most of these shows - all of them, if I could!

First, my director and friend, Eric Michael Gillett brings another new show, "All My Best", to Feinstein's that is a wonderful mix of his greatest hits and some terrific new stuff, on January 15th and 16th. You won't want to miss this.

Eric is revisiting some of my favorite songs from shows he did years ago, that I never had the chance to see as well.

Starting on January 28th, is a fantastic class that I took last season with Paul Bogaev, which focuses on vocal technique and audition material for the shows that are being produced in theatre, today. Paul is unique in that he works very effectively in all vocal styles, from pop and rock to opera, and gets great results from ALL levels of singer. He's adept at combining the acting with the vocal technique, showing how they really go hand in hand in helping you achieve the desired result, in a safe manner. As a "legit" singer, this has been amazingly helpful to me in navigating the current trends in pop/rock. Paul works individually with each student for approximately 20 minutes during the class and I find that I learn just as much from watching my colleagues work with him, as I do when it's my turn. Additionally, for this next session, Paul is offering students the opportunity to be videoed, so they can watch themselves later - an invaluable tool. There are several sections and times available for these classes, and space is very limited, so I recommend you contact Maureen Hammill at or at 917-656-1504 to set up an appointment/consultation.
Oh, and just to give you a mere sampling of Paul's pedigree: he's won Grammy's and Emmy's for his work on Broadway's AIDA and the TV version of ANNIE, been nominated for a Tony Award for his work on BOMBAY DREAMS, supervised, produced and conducted the music for the films: CHICAGO, and most recently, NINE. His many Broadway credits as Musical Director include: TARZAN, SUNSET BOULEVARD, LES MISERABLES, CATS CHESS...etc., etc. It seems that Paul has worked with just about everybody including: Phil Collins, Sting, Glenn Close, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, Celine Dion, Liam Neeson, Michael Bolton, Harry Connick Jr., Fergie, BARBRA STRIESAND!!! get my point.

Monday night, 1/4, I was at the Beechman to herald the arrival of Phil Geoffrey Bond's new book, "All The Sad Young Men", featuring performances of some of B'way's finest, along with Phil reading his own new work. All attending receive a copy of the book with their cover charge as well. Quite frankly, I could listen to Phil read the phone book, and when he reads his own stuff, it's magic. It was one of my favorite nights in theatre or cabaret. This new book also contains his first book, "My Friend, The Cat", so it's a double bonus if you go to and order it!

Next, one of my favorite comedians that has often opened for Eric Michael, Richard Cramer, performs at Carolines Comedy Club on Broadway this Wed. 1/6 at 7 pm - I'll definitely be there! And speaking of favorite comedians, I'll be performing with another of my fav's, Danny Leary, when we both appear as guests on Q Talk on Friday, 1/29 at the new, earlier time of 9:45 pm at the Metropolitan Room.

Another dear friend and tremendously talented lady is Julie Reyburn, returning to Feinstein's with her CD release show on January 12th, and I hear that they've added a few new songs as well as the ones featured on the CD. I was at the show they recorded and I can promise you that this CD will be fantastic, as well as getting to see Miss Julie live! You can also catch her this week at Lincoln Center Triangle Barnes and Noble for her CD signing and free concert featuring some selections from it. I'll meet you there at 6 pm.

And thank God that Gretchen Reinhagen is returning to the Metropolitan Room with her hit show, "Special Kaye", her tribute to Kaye Ballard, because I missed this phenomenal show last month, and everyone raved about it. I get another chance to see it this month, Jan. 17th & 24th at 4 pm, and Feb. 4th at 7:30 pm.

Jackie Draper is at the Beechman on 1/17 at 4 pm with her show, "Something New In My Life", her 10th and newest show, and I can't wait to see this lady in action. Also at the Beechman that same week, on 1/22, is Roger Anthony Mapes, reprising his hit show from last year, "House of Joy" and boy was the house full of joy during this show. I can highly recommend it - what an uplifting experience it was to see Roger in all his glory - go!

Tuesday, 1/19, Shaynee Rainbolt innaugurates a new space for all of us to check out - Ashford and Simpson's Sugar Bar, 254 W. 72nd, NYC, 2 sets, 7:30 and 10 pm for, get this, only a $10 cover and NO MINIMUM! Dinner is available too, and I'm looking forward to seeing this talented lady at this new venue.

More must sees: Karen Oberlin in "A Wish", this Sat. 1/10 @ 8:30, Daryl Glenn in "Daryl Sings Steve" on 1/17 @ 8:30 pm, and Sue Matsuki in "Ella & Me" Sun. 1/31 @ 8:30 pm all making their Feinstein's debuts! It is so exciting to see so many talented and generous performers taking this exciting step!

And last, but I hope not least, if you didn't get a chance to see me at Feinstein's in October, I'm reprising the show I did there, as a special, one night only benefit for Cabaret Cares at the Beechman on January 31st, at 7 pm. I'll be joined by my musical team of Ritt Henn on bass, Mayra Casales on percussion, Sean Harkness on guitar and my musical director and arranger, Mark Janas on piano. My director, Eric Michael Gillett, joins me onstage for 2 numbers, and I'll be performing the song written for me especially for this show, by Tony Award nominated composer, Michael John LaChiusa.

See you at the shows! Blessings to you and yours as we head into 2010.

Love and Light,


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What a month!

Hello Friends:

Well, I missed almost ALL of the events on my last posting due to a mini flu - thank God not the dreaded swine, but enough to have to have me cancel performances for the first time in my life. I'm thrilled that Gretchen Reinhagen will be reprising her Special Kaye show, so I can see it, and I'm praying that Cynthia Crane does the same with her Madoff Show.

But now I'm back and I'm BUSY. There is not enough time to see all the wonderful shows this month, but this week, here's where I'll be:

Last night I saw Jim Van Slyke do his Sedaka show for his Feinstein's debut. Neil Sedaka himself was there and introduced Jim, and we all had a great time. And by "we" I mean me, Garrett, Terese Genecco (catch her on 12/29 at the Iridium if you wanna ring out the old year right!) and her Mom, Sue, and the other singing surgeon, Nicole Kafka - not a bad table, huh? Jim was great and I was so happy to finally see this show, full of my some of my favorite songs.

Today, I sing at the Dutch Treat Gala luncheon, and then head to Susan Winters Sings Van Heusen at the Metropolitan Room. Tomorrow, I get to catch Sue Matsuki and Edd Clark's Fabulous Christmas Show at the First Baptist Church on 31st and Madison at 7 pm, then Ricky Ritzel's Hysterical Blondness at 9:45 (OMG!) at the Metropolitan Room. Thursday, I perform again, at the Big Night Out Holiday Extravaganza featuring a bunch of talented songwriters and singers for this special edition (no open mic) at Don't Tell Mama, hosted by Bill Zeffiro and Jennifer Wren. Be sure to click on the BNO link to see who's performing. I'll be singing the original Christmas song that Mark Janas and Peter Napolitano wrote just for me, "All I Can Give" - a beautiful new standard.

Sunday, SUNDAY (hear Al Roker's voice here...) I sing a Christmas concert in Westport, CT with my pal and super singer, Maureen Hamill, and then rush back to NYC to co-host the fabulous Salon hosted by Mark Janas and produced by Tanya Moberly, at Etc.Etc., 352 W. 44th. Our classy open mic is perfect at this new venue - I LOVE IT. A modest cash cover of $10 and a minium of $10 from their reasonable and fantastic menu/bar served by their attentive and friendly wait staff, makes the evening very pleasant and more reasonable than our former location.

The week after that is Christmas, and Christmas Eve is also our 12th wedding anniversary, and to celebrate, I'll be singing at our church, and then enjoying a potluck with all our Unity For Practical Spirituality pals. Then, Dr. Garrett Bennett (Rhinoplasty NYC) and I will head home for our own quiet celebration with our pups, Brandy and Otie.

And while I'm at it, since the holidays are so nuts and I may not have a chance to post again, SAVE THE DATE - January 31st at 7 pm, I'll be reprising the show I recently did at Feinsteins, as a benefit for CABARET CARES at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. Stay tuned.

Sending love and light and many blessings to you all, during this season of love,


Friday, November 27, 2009

Raissa Recommends - week of 11/28/09

Hello Friends:

I hope everyone had many things to be thankful for this week. Garrett and I were grateful to be surrounded by good friends and family and our pups, Brandy and Otie, and especially grateful that Brandy is healthy and spunky after a health scare earlier in the week. I'm also very grateful to Jenna Esposito, for helping me to get this blog functioning again - I've been unable to post, but Jenna's got me back on track. If you haven't had a chance yet, check out Jenna's column at and enter Cabaret Chronicles in their search. You can subscribe to her articles and I really recommend it.

It's a busy couple of weeks coming up, and I hope you'll join me for these great events. First off, we are celebrating the return of THE SALON hosted by Mark Janas (pictured) this Sunday night, 11/29 from 7 to 10:30 pm at our new location, Etcetera, Etcetera, 352 West 44th near 9th Ave. There is a $10 cash cover and a $10 food/beverage minium, and the food and drinks are great and very reasonably priced for big portions! The theme this week is "We Gather Together", but you are always invited to sing off theme. Sign up for the open mic begins at 6:30.

At 7 pm, Wednesday 12/2, I'll be appearing in Jenna Esposito's All-Star Birthday Bash show at the Metropolitan Room, along with Rob Langeder, Tony DeSare, Jeanne MacDonald , and Richard Skipper.

Then Richard and I dash off to the VIP Lounge at the Iguana (240 W. 54th St. between B'way & 8th) for the show he hosts with the lovely and funny Dana Lorge, beginning at 8 pm. I'll be one of their special guests doing a short set along with some of my best friends and most talented colleagues: Cynthia Crane, Hector Coris, The Marquee 5 (Mick Bleyer, Adam Hemming, Vanessa Parvin, Julie Reyburn, Sierra Rein), Jaron Vesely, with Barry Levitt on piano, and Saadi Zane on bass. My Musical Director for my recent Feinsteins show, and great pal, Mark Janas, will be playing for me, Cynthia and Marquee 5. There will be some other surprises, so I hope you will come join us, especially if you've never experienced Richard and Dana at the Iguana - it's a fun night, a modest $10 cash cover and no minimum, but having gone several times, I suggest you save your dinner to eat here. Great food, great prices, great service and a fun, comfortable atmosphere. RESERVE EARLY because this show often sells out. 212-765-5454 for reservations.

Thursday, 12/3, I'll be sitting in the audience of the eagerly awaited, SPECIAL KAYE, starring Gretchen Reinhagen at the Metropolitan Room at 7:30. I've been seeing "snippets" of this show for a few months now, and it promises to be great. If I could be in two places at once, I'd also be at WATT'S HAPPENING

hosted by the irrepressible Lennie Watts at Don't Tell Mama's at 8:30 pm. Maybe I can run really fast and still make it in time...or at least I catch it next month, since Lennie is hosting this new variety show every month! A must see....

Wednesday, 12/9, I'll be at the Metropolitan Room, once again, in a benefit performance hosted by Susan Winter at 7 pm, and then I get to relax and watch Marquee Five at 9:45 in the same place - perfect!
Ok, that's it for this week's posting - hope to see you at the shows!

Love and light,