November 28 2018

Annie O Presents: Amy Keys

New York-Standard Sounds
You've heard Amy’s voice on everything from the Emmy Award Winning NBC NASCAR Super bowl Commercial and the Stanley Cup Playoffs to Tarzan & Tarzan 2. She has toured with Herbie Hancock, Dave Stewart, KD Lang, Joe Cocker, Tears For Fears and many more. In May '06, she began touring with Johnny Hallyday...singing completely in French! Amy has sung backgrounds for numerous artists including: Phil Collins, Sting, Elton John, Barbara Streisand, Ringo Starr, Sam Smith, Josh Groban (for whom she both sang and created vocal arrangements), Stevie Wonder, Seal, Neil Young, Randy Newman, Chaka Khan, Al Green, Queen Latifah, Sarah Mclachlan, Tina Turner, Patti LaBelle, Mary J. Blige. Amy is an accomplished writer with numerous credits including the promotional themes for “The Amazing Race” (CBS TV) and “Martial Law” (CBS TV) and most recently a song for “Law and Order, CI” (which she performed for the show).

You are what is called a “versatile artist": would you agree with that?

Yes. In order to make headway and remain relevant in this everchanging business, you have to be able to adjust and adapt. The more arrows in your quiver, the more targets can be hit. I adore all types of music...from opera to metal, r&b to EDM, opera to hip hop. I try to stay current across the board. Being versatile allows me to work in multiple genres of music have a varied repertoire, which keeps things incredibly interesting, extremely fun and challenging. The only drawback that I’ve found in being a “chameleon” comes when I need to determine “my sound”. 

Did you release more solo records after “Lover ’s Intuition”?

No. However, I’ve worked on multiple projects as a guest artist...Including Dave Stewart (The Eurhythmics) “SongBook”.

Is there one in the works?

Yes. I’m excited to say that I’m currently working with my writing partners and hope to have something out soon.

Do you have a great memory you can share from your first tour with Leonard Cohen?

I ADORED...and still adore...Leonard! I have many wonderful memories. My first is the first Time I saw him in person. He stood, looking quite regal, at the top of a grand staircase. As he turned toward me he was the image of Spock! And yes, I’m a Trekkie!😄 I was almost anticipated a “Live long and prosper” greeting! I told him about it and we had a great laugh. One other is how when he discovered that it was Thanksgiving for us, he decided to pull together an impromptu Thanksgiving feast. Well, in Scandinavia, Thanksgiving can be very interesting. Our “meal” consisted of caviar and aquavit! Though unconventional, it was a wonderful Thanksgiving.

You have been on the road recently with Phil Collins-Can you talk more about your long collaboration?

I’ve been extremely blessed to have been working with Phil Collins for many years. I was fortunate enough to work on a completely different gig with one of Phil’s band members...Harry Kim. I had no idea. During that tour, I was called upon to do an impromptu performance of Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Reasons”. After seeing my prep for the tour and performance, he decided to recommend me for the Phil Collins Tour. I would shortly thereafter work with Phillip Bailey, who kindly wrote me a letter of recommendation. I also discovered that Brad Cole, Phil’s keyboard player, had played on my first album! He also wrote me a letter. I submitted everything and the rest is history. During my tenure with Phil, I’ve had the pleasure of singing numerous duets, written vocal arrangements...one a cappella version of “True Colors” is included on his “Love Songs” CD. I even choreographed one tour. We return to the road in January. 

The Standard

The list of amazing artists you have sung background for is impressive (Sting, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Barbara Streisand etc.)
And my favorite, Johnny Hallyday- tell us a bit about that experience?

I joined Johnny in 2006. I got a call for an audition and was preparing to go, when I received a call saying they were moved to London. I hung up, then called back with an idea...I would fly myself to London and audition. If I didn’t book it, I’d pay the lot. If I booked it, they would pick up the tab. Well, I got a great trip to London on them! Singing with Johnny was beyond an honor! He simply was the best of the best. He was also so strong as a performer that you had no choice but to get stronger through performing with him. Also, I’ve always loved France, its people, culture and the French language. Working with Johnny afforded me the opportunity to immerse myself in it all. 

And did you sing in French too?

Absolutely! There usually were only 1 or 2 songs in English. Everything else was in French. I loved it! 

Can you explain what “Crown and M.O.B is” and your relation to it?

Crown and the Message of the Blues. It’s a group that I joined that combines multiple genres...hip hop, rap, r&b, pop, rock. We are a band. Crown is the rapper within our group. I am the main vocalist. Our bass player actually played on Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic”. One of our regular gigs is being the house band for the ESPY Awards. We’ve also performed many pieces for film and TV, including “The House” with Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler.

Where are you from and where are you based these days?

I’m originally from Washington, DC. I currently live in Los Angeles...though France will always be my second home!

And welcome back to the Standard Hotel, in NY this time-as you were part of our Johnny Hallyday tribute at The Standard Hollywood.
What can we expect from your more intimate performance on Friday, Nov 30th?

Thank You! It’s beyond a pleasure to be back at the Standard. Performing at the Standard in LA was a Blast. I’m so happy that I can experience performing at the Standard in one of my favorite cities! You can expect nothing less than 100% from me! I adore performing and try to share that joy with my audience. My repertoire is very...hence the versatility...so I’ll take you on a bit of a musical journey! Can’t wait!

INTERVIEW BY
Annie O