Showbiz Is My Life -
and Ayr Robinson's Re: Showbiz Is My Life, a
succinct--a mere 53 minutes--but beguiling and illuminating introduction to
three cabaret singers of different generations. They are the legendary Julie
Wilson, with her trademark gardenia in her hair and her Balenciaga
gowns, the last link to cabaret's glamorous past; Natalie Gamsu,
a young South African of German Jewish descent who sings with passion of
injustice and oppression, not just in her native country but the world over;
and Baby Jane Dexter, a Greenwich Village institution who sings with a bluesy
growl and who believes in performing in retirement homes as well as clubs.
Comments from just a few notes regarding the many motivational performances Baby Jane Dexter generously performs for schools, community centers, women's shelters, those suffering from AIDS or drug addictions.
"So many of the teachers told me that your performance was the best event ever to take place at the (Thomas Jefferson School). So many children said the same. That you could affect both age groups in this way is truly amazing....Derek (N.) received your letter and just before Christmas break told (his fifth grade teacher) about it. She told me that he was so excited by the fact that you wrote him...He was touched that you would take the time to write a note to him. It made him feel special...Another fifth grade, Karen (B.) had your CD on her Christmas list, and sure enough, she got it...Too often the types of things that are available to this age group are very immature and insulting. You were comfortable with them, and they were comfortable with you...With Best Regards," Jeanne Barrett, President, New Jersey Shakespeare Theatre Board of Trustees, Mar. 2000.
"Steinway Community Services would like to thank you for coming to our clinic. We are truly thankful for the way you have expressed your love to us through music, video and sharing your stories of encouragement. We would like you to come again for an encore performance. Once again we would like to thank you, Baby Jane Dexter, for taking the time out to share your motivational, empowering talents with us." Steinway Community Services, Creedmore Psychiatric Center, Queens Village, N.Y. May 1999
"I am writing to send a wholehearted thank you for the wonderful and inspiring performance and discussion that you shared with several of our residents two weeks ago. The women left inspired and energized, many said it was hard to settle down for sleep afterward. We all had a terrific time and were so thrilled you were able to share your gifts and insight with us!..." portion of letter from Amy Montaldo, Route One Corridor Housing, Inc., Alexandria, VA. June 1998
Your experiences and comments about favorite Baby Jane Dexter performances
"… Another great show, and even better, a chance to experience a singer who was new to me and to become a new fan." - JMF
You sound ABSOLUTELY MARVELOUS on the Jamie DeRoy and Friends cd, The Real Thing.
Brava!!!!! I can't stop listening to you! Love, Myra C.
Hi Baby Jane,
Your performance at the Tribute to Cobi Narita - along with other jazz luminaries like Clark Terry, Jimmy Heath, Yvette Glover, Sir James Randolph and the many more who sang, danced and celebrated the contributions of this great lady (wife of Paul Ash of Sam Ash Music) - contributed to a night to be remembered. In addition to being a fantastic singer, you are great fun - as I found out when we broke corn bread at the soul food buffet afterward. Hope to see you again at the Duplex if not before. Let me know if you're in Manhattan before April.
Dear Baby Jane,
It's good to see that your still going strong. I hope that you remember me. It was back in the 70's. You were performing at The Ballroom Cabaret. I was a busboy there, and a fan.my name then was Dwayne Stevens. It seems so long ago, but I have never forgotten about you. I see that you still do my favorite song "Forever Young". In my mind I can still hear you singing that song. I also remember your last night at "The Ballroom" when you climbed up on the bar and finished with "Forever Young". My name is now Skyler Lyn. I'm now 40+ years old now.I have returned to school as an art major and plan to study acting. That was what I had started in N.Y.C. back then ,but did'nt see it through. When I get to visit there again ,I plan to find out where you will be singing and come to see you. Until then. All my best, Skyler
“I just wanted to express my thanks to Baby Jane for helping the participants in the Summer in the City Workshop
this past weekend. She was insightful and inspirational! When she sang for us - it was just amazing. She sat on
the banquette at the Encore and we surrounded her like children at story time. She totally blew us all away.
She's an amazing performer!
Thank you Baby Jane!” Jackie Fornatale
Last night was a truly memorable evening of songs devoted to the late and wonderfully gifted Ms. Nancy Lamott. Baby Jane did a splendid
version of Don't Get Around Much Anymore and I'm Glad There is You. As a pro trumpet player, it's that kind of phrasing that all jazz
musicians need to hear again. We forget how important the concept of melody and lyric define emotion and context. Baby Jane
delivered what I think is the essence of jazz/cabaret; mood, humor, musicality all wrapped in a love blanket. She gets my vote!
Hey Ms. Dexter, if you ever need a trumpet player, I'm your man! Love ya, Philip Tauber.
Boy did I enjoy meeting you and hearing you sing at TedMed!
Here is a shot of you with Quincy Jones at TedMed.
Great meeting you!”
Michael W., Biophan Technologies, Inc.
“I attended Baby Jane Dexter’s opening night at the Royal Room in the Colony Hotel Saturday night. She’s a phenomenal entertainer. Her casual,
humorous way with the audience which were not friends but strangers who probably didn’t know her work, storytelling talent, dynamics (ranging from full-out rhythmic blockbusters to quiet and introspective ballads) – all these facets of Baby Jane added up to a blockbuster act.
She crooned – almost whispered – “Something to Live For.” I’ve never heard the tune more movingly emoted. And who would think the sixties warhorse, “Spinning Wheel,” could be turned into something, but it is here – an eerie spellbinder with the underpinnings of a terrific piano arrangement. This, in my book, was the centerpiece of her act.
I can’t say enough for Dexter’s pianist and musical director, Ross Patterson. They are a perfect team.
Charlie Cochran, reknown jazz pianist/singer, Florida. July 20, 2004. Songbirds.
“Dear Baby Jane: We're so disappointed that you are no longer at the Duplex. Are you performing in the NYC area any place
else? If so please email where you will be. By the way, the last time we saw you at the Duplex 12/19, you mentioned the
Front St. Bakery in Rockville Centre. If you tell us where you'll be, we'll bring something to you. Also please include the song
"Everybody Hurts" in your next performance. Thanks, Sheri and Steve D.
“Dear Ms. Dexter, I wanted to drop you a line to tell you how much I enjoyed your show on Saturday night (Dec. 27) at the Duplex. I
was with a friend from out of town (California) who had never been to a Cabaret performance before.
One of the reasons that we chose to come to your performance was that I had been told that not only was your show great but your ease with the audience was something to aspire to. Since I am a singer and actress and I am VERY interested in pursuing a cabaret act of my own in the near future I am trying to learn from the best. Any you my dear ARE THE BEST.
Thank you so much for a wonderful evening. After leaving the Duplex, Marie (my friend - who is now a Cabaret Convert) and I went up to Brandy's and sang our hearts out until 3:00 a.m. So you were a great inspiration.
I wish for you a wonderful and prosperous 2004 and I will look forward to seeing you again.
If you have a moment I invite you to come and visit my web page at www.madalynmckay.com. I know that you are extremely busy but I would love to meet with you some day over coffee and discuss all things Cabaret.
Thank you again. All the best, Madalyn”
“Dear Baby Jane, Hello, I just had to
write and tell you that we met back in 1988 at Marsha M.'s apt. on W.79th
street. I was just 25 then and very idealistic. I'm 40 now and so much has
changed since then, good and bad but I am a survivor as you so much are, and it
is so great to see your website and that you're still at it better than ever!
I have never forgotten meeting you and still have a picture or two of us taken at Marsha's (I hope she is well in California, and I have never stopped loving her music). I felt it then and it is really confirmed now (after viewing website) how wonderful a person you are and just reading your words gave me inspiration to push forward in a more positive way and not be defeated in life.
I bought your "I Got Thunder" CD back in 1994, I believe and enjoy it very much to this day-you have an exceptional voice and a way with a ballad like none other! I wish you much continued success and every deserved happiness in this world and most of all, thank you for being YOU. Best always,” Ross W.
“I’ve had so many people tell me how powerful and moving the profile of you, Rebecca and Rhiannon was in the Jazz Education Magazine (article) Jim Gavin wrote. I told Jim about a young singer in the Performing Arts High School down here studying jazz vocal performance who was so inspired by reading the article. You three ladies are such a power of example, and it’s so important for people to be able to read about you. Yay and Hurray to you too, Jane. Love, Patti.”
“I saw Baby Jane at the Botton Line do "Everybody Hurts" and I was blown away. She was great.” Dorian D.
“Saw Ms. Dexter in Boston at the MFA last Thursday - she was FABULOUS! A real treat to see and hear her and her story in the documentary. Love the CD, love the lady.” A. Frawley, Boston
“Dear Baby Jane, Just a note to let you know again that I
really enjoyed your show on Valentine's Day, February 14, at Arci's (the late show). You were just outstanding!
I particularly liked your versions of More, Spinning Wheel
and Hello Young Lovers as well as your closing number which I understand
is one of your signature numbers. Your acting is impeccable.
And then I was at Vicki Smith's show at Don't Tell Mama on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 17th. And there you were: supporting a young artist the day after your own week of shows ended. That was incredibly sweet of you.
I wish you continued success in your career and look forward to your future shows.” Sincerely, Rock A. , NY
"I attended a concert at the Bottom line that was for the victims of the World Trade Center. This was the first time I had ever seen and heard Baby Jane and she just blew me away. I have never heard a voice like that. I am now a fan!" PlayBilStu@aol.com
I also grew up in Garden City and remember you in my class at Waldorf School. Even then, you were a Diva I think. I remember a large and attractive girl with very fierce eyes. Three years ago, I think that I caught a notice of you performing at Firebird...Can this be right??? I had to go out of town so that opportunity was missed.
Your class has stayed together for one reason or the other for many years. I'd love to meet up with you someday and hear you." Bob H., New York
To Robert from Waldorf School,
Are you the one who hit me on the head with the baseball bat? I don't think I was toooooo big at 4, 5, 6 or 7. I guess it's all a matter of perspective! Anyway, good hearing from you and here's hoping to see you in December when I perform at Arci's from 12/11 thru 12/29. Leave your bat at home and give me a big hug. Baby Jane"
"Baby Jane Dexter is my aunt. I was fortunate to see her perform at Carnegie Hall and I thought her performance was amazing! I was so proud to see my aunt and impressed by her work. She is an amazing performer and I hope to see her perform again soon." Ashley
became a Baby Jane Dexter Fan a few years ago while attending a Cabaret
Convention. I went in the lobby after her set and immediately, I bought I
Got Thunder! Oh, My God! What an album. I was hooked..." Anonymous.
"I am so glad I found this website so I can tell you how much I enjoyed your show. As you probably can tell, I am new at this computer. Thomas also sends his regards . He is so proud to know you. I wish you the best of everything you deserve nothing but the best for all the good things you do As ever," Viola N.
"This is to let my cuz know that I have not forgotten her after all these years. It was a long time ago that we met and discovered we were cousins (both of us are Nesbits). I have the fondest memories of her and have thought of her often. Not realizing she was so famous. you see, I am just a somewhat normal person with 4 children and 2 grandchildren. And you are out there doing great and wonderful things. I am so proud of you and thanks for being my big cuz. Love ya, always" Cyndi A.F.
"I think we were victims of a cyber mystery... I'm sure I wrote and sent you 2 emails after I got home from that night at 88's.. I've searched my files n couldn't find a copy... go figure..
"In essence, I just wanted to tell you how much you moved me with your voice, your presence .. your light. I remember saying on the email it was a soul healing experience and still feel that way. Wish you the very best." Marcelo Maia
"I'm so happy that Baby Jane's show was phenomenal. Please say hello to her when you talk with her and offer congratulations for me." LaRue Brown-Watson, Los Angeles, CA.
"A phenomenon. And one of the nicest people you'll ever meet!" Linda, Baltimore, MD.
"I read about Baby Jane Dexter in City Cabaret and decided to see her in concert at the Weill. Wow! What a knockout performance! She really put a spell on me. Great songs. Terrific emotion. What energy. What a night. Thank you City Cabaret. Thank you Baby Jane Dexter." Joe A, Wilmington, DE.
"Glad to have found your web page for Baby Jane. When she did "Music Man" back in the mid-70s, I was the bass singer in the River City Quartet, and played guitar/banjo in the pit when she did "Anything Goes" in '76. Sorry I missed her pass thru suburban Washington earlier this summer. Any ideas when she'll cycle down this way again?" Al Peterson
"I love Baby Jane Dexter! I saw her for the first time at at a benefit for the Hope House AIDS Center in New Jersey; I have since seen her seven times in concert! I want her to do another album; BIG BAD & BLUE (the CD) is literally falling apart! God bless Baby Jane!"--Steven P., Cherry Hill, NJ
"I love the web site you did for Baby Jane--beautiful and very very nice!!!!! Best," Michael Parker, publisher InTheater Magazine, New York City.
"Hi Baby Jane...I am an old time acquaintance .. I met you at the Javits Center years ago.. I manufactured the "Closet Caddy" . I am coming to New York and I will be there for six weeks. I am planning to see you perform at 88's. I can't wait. My husband Rick said to say hello and hopefully when he is visiting this summer he'll be able to check out your gig." Mary Grosch, Grosch3@aol.com
"After seeing Baby Jane at Frangelica's in Philadelphia, I've been waiting for her to make another appearance somewhere in our area. There are so many jazz clubs that should feature her. Philadelphia is a big enough city to feature this great talent." Tom Jensen, Philadelphia, PA
"Baby Jane Dexter seems like such an incredible person, reading your website. I really look forward to seeing her perform when I get to visit New York. I bought her record, "Big, Bad, and Blue," and play it for everyone who comes over. Not only is she a good singer but reading about her, she's a wonderful person." Sharon H., Cincinnati, Ohio.
"Baby Jane is extraordinary--she was amazing at the grand opening of Way Off Broadway here in Philadelphia---what a presence" Melissa in Philly.
"Congratulations to Baby Jane! How many awards does the latest 1998 Mac Award for Best Major Pop/Rhythm and Blues make?" Ron L, Brooklyn, New York.
"It's always fun to see Baby Jane Dexter. And she's as much fun offstage as she is onstage. I'll be back." Maria from Manhasset.
"I'm a old friend (and ex-manager) of Baby Jane Dexter's...I was talking to her last night and read her some of the responses from fans." MickMil
"I still think she's a great singer, even though she tried to push me into the Grand Canyon," Michael M., Los Angeles
"Baby Jane Dexter is the best cure for what ails you since penicillin. Won't someone please call David Geffen or Ahmet Ertegun and get that woman a record contract?!!!" Howard G.
"Baby Jane Dexter is unbeatable! She should make a record of her current show and she will definitely win a Grammy. It may be more fun to see her in person, but everyone will enjoy her record of, 'The Real Thing'. We read all the good reviews from all the major newspapers about this show, so we had to come in to see her. We'll be back!" George and Kate from New Jersey.
"Baby Jane-- Trevor, the Baileys, my mom, the happy camper, and myself all loved the show we saw at Eighty-Eights Saturday night. Hope there's lots more to come." TimTen 2.
"I was weaned on the music of Baby Jane Dexter. Saw her perform a few years ago at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel in LA." Shani Blond, Cleveland, OH.
"Baby Jane Dexter's new show, The Real Thing, is the best thing on a New York stage. I hope she keeps it going for months." Mike James, Elmhurst, N.Y.
"I'm so glad Baby Jane followed up her last great show, Big Bad, and Blue, with such a spectacular show as, The Real Thing. She must bring it to California. She's unstoppable!" M. Weiner, Los Angeles, CA.
"I love Baby Jane! I try to see every one of her shows. She's inspiring, exciting, and fun!" Maria DeAngelis, Manhasset, N.Y.
"We are fans!" The Los Angeles 1996 Thanksgiving visitors to 88's.
"Early this year I was able to spend more time in New York, and I was able to see some cabaret shows. Two very different shows, but both with extremely talented performers, were Steve Ross, and Baby Jane Dexter (Not together. In separate shows.)...Baby Jane Dexter is dynamite. She is so funny and human she had me laughing and crying. And what a voice!..I wish both performers would come to Philadelphia." Molly, Philadelphia, PA.
"Dear Baby Jane, I am sorry that I couldn't be at the benefit for the WTC at the Bottom Line. It was a school night and Nana also said that I was too young to attend. She told me how great your song was and how much it touched everyone's heart. I hope I can come see you soon. as ever Love, Your young Fan, Thomas.
P S - Nana is not here right now but I know that she sends her love too.
"Just a line to let you know how much we enjoyed your show. You Were Great. What a trooper singing with out lites and sound. We will never forget it. So glad you liked the Candle Holder . Nana said that it was like we planned to have the lites go out. Both Nana and I hope that you are okay after tthat terrible day in New York City. Hope to see you soon. Love" Thomas Moore and my Nana Viola
To my young fan Thomas Moore,
I'm ok, although unsettled like so many others. When I was performing in
Chicago recently, I was a little apprehensive but the audiences were very
warm and made it clear that they wanted to hear what I was singing. After
every show, people wanted to talk about NY and how I felt and how they felt.
The experience reinforced my purpose in singing and connecting with
audiences. You are a very sensitive young man and I am proud to have you as
my fan. with love and care to you," Baby Jane
"Dear Baby Jane, I hope you know who I am, I met you last year at the Mac Show I was with my nana. You were so nice to me I shook hands with you. I want you to know that I listen to your cds when I come over to nanas house. I love your voice. I am 9 years old but that does not make it wrong. I can be one of your young fans. Hope Nana can take me to see you soon. She said she would get me my own cds. Well I guess that is all for now. Your young fan," Thomas M. "P.S my cousin helped me with this letter"
TO THOMAS FROM BABY JANE:
A letter I posted to you in April on my website unfortunately did not appear. Apparently it went beyond cyberspace to uncharted territory. Today I looked to see if you had written back and discovered the mystery.
Let me start again. Thank you so much for coming to my show at the Firebird Cafe in March. Your nana was so terrific to bring you. You looked so grown up in your suit and tie. It meant a lot seeing you there and having you come up and join me on stage. You were a big hit with the audience too.
Thank you also for my wonderful cuddly bunny. He or she -- I'm not sure if it's a boy or girl -- occupies a prominent place of honor in my home. The flowers were amazing.
It was a big night of gifts for me but the very best present was having you at the show. Thanks so much.
am at my nana's house with my Cousin and I just saw your letter. I loved being
at your show last month and I hope Nana will bring me again. I just love
hearing you sing your songs. When are you going to have another CD ?
Thank you so much for being so nice to me. I am glad that you liked the Bunny I picked it out for you and Nana got the flowers. I will never forget those 2 nights that I saw your show. My nana is at the dentist right now but as soon as she comes home I will tell her about your letter to me.
I guess that is all for now. Hope to see you soon. Love from your young fan. Thomas M. "P S. my cousin says hello and wants to come to see you soon. She is 15 years old."
What a welcome surprise to see you and your Nana at my gig at The Stockbridge Cabaret over Labor Day weekend. You were very grown up looking in your white jacket, with your tie and blue shirt. I can say with authority that you were the most well dressed young man in the audience. The best thing, though, was when you came up on stage and presented me with something that you said would make me really laugh a lot. Thomas, I'm still laughing! Do you believe the lights went out, I did my show in candlelight, and you gave me a special decorative piece that needed to have a candle in it!!! Since we had between 60 and 100 candles all over the piano and stage, I think you knew something nobody else knew. You did, didn't you?
All I can say is thank you and I have a physic for a fan. And the name of the physic is Thomas Moore. Take care of yourself and your Nana," Baby Jane
photo courtesy of Marcelo Maia