I first met Marta Sanders in 2001 when I was working for a destination management company in their theatre department where I booked group theatre tickets and NYC day tours. Marta was one of the tour guides I would book. With her bright smile, warmth, and booming personality, I always enjoyed getting to talk to Marta and hear about her adventures. So now, to combine my passion and her passion and have the opportunity to interview Marta for "Adaumbelle's Quest" is a true joy and honor!
MAC and Bistro Award winner for "Outstanding Female Vocalist," Marta Sanders is an actress, singer, and NYC Tour Guide who has spent a lifetime performing around the world! Born in Austin, Texas, Marta's family were all part of the show business world in one way or the other. With constant moving about as young child, Marta's family finally made roots in South America, where Marta's musical journey began in high school. After high school, Marta moved by herself to Argentina and worked in a school in Buenos Aires, that was founded by Methodist missionaries, her grandparents. After working there, Marta was very stimulated by the Latin culture and attended college in NYC at AMDA while taking voice lessons.
Marta's true showbiz life started right after college graduation with jobs in theatre, cabaret rooms, Caribbean night clubs, and Broadway musicals including the original production of "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." After about a year or so in NYC, Marta left the Big Apple and honed her craft as entertainer on cruise ships and the hotel show rooms of the Caribbean and Central America. Eventually family and love brought Marta back to New York where she continued to entertain audiences.
Upon her return to NY, Marta sang in some of the top cabaret rooms: Rainbow & Stars, Upstairs at Greene Street, Maxim’s and Eighty Eights, Freddy's, Sweetwater’s, Danny's Skylight Room, and Arci’s Place. Sadly, one by one these places started to shutter, but that didn't deter Marta. The always resourceful singer found new places to perform including The Metropolitan Room, Dillon’s, Sardi’s, and The Triad.
For New Year's Eve 1990, Marta sang in Moscow's Hotel Rossia at a gala dinner for the Soviet-U.S. Joint Conference on Alcohol & Drug Abuse. The performance, hosted by Russia's leading singing star Alla Pugachova, was televised throughout the Soviet Union. A terrific hit at this event, Marta was soon invited back to Moscow in August of 1990 to sing for the 3rd Anniversary of Moscow's A.A. "Beginners Group." Later in the '90s Marta had her own weekly radio show “The Marta Sanders Show” on local AM station WLIR, featuring Sanders’ interviews of singers and performers. Marta gained critical acclaim for her one woman shows "It's A Mother," which comprised of songs from the great Mama's of Broadway and "But Alive!," an evening of powerful ballads and hilarious comedy songs with a kaleidoscope of characters created by Marta. Additionally, Marta released her debut CD "Corazon del Alma" (Heart of the Soul).
But as times changed, many of the cabaret rooms where Marta would perform started to close down and Marta took her talents and ventured in to the craft of professional tour guiding. For ten years she was the President/Vice President of Local/ National/ International Guides Associations. With her dynamic personality, talents, and knowledge, Marta is one of the most sought after NYC tour guides.
These days, Marta combines tour guiding and performing in cabaret rooms around NY and the world. Marta is finishing up her second CD "Panche" which should be available this December when Marta debuts her new cabaret show "Ho! Ho! Ho! Kick Off The Season With Marta!" at The Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC on December 3 at 7:30pm and Decmeber 4 at 1pm. Come hear Marta sing holiday favorites as well as selections from her new CD "Panche." The Laurie Beechman Theatre is located at 407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue). $25 cover + $15 food minimum. Call 212-695-6909 for reservations!
For more on Marta be sure to visit http://www.martasanders.com!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a singer? I sang at the talent show in my new high school, and the person who became my first voice teacher, said she wanted to work with me. When she asked what I wanted to do for college and my future, I said I wanted to be a nurse and sing on the side. After she stopped laughing, she asked why I didn't focus on my voice??? So I did and it worked for me and has given me great joy.
2. Who is the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? Julie Andrews and Tyne Daly. I have been mistaken for them both at different times in my life and I admire them both and would love to see if the similarities held true face to face.
3. What was it like to grow up in a show biz family? How did your family influence you in your performing? My father was a Square Dance Caller and Folk Dance Leader on the side, so I grew up watching him work in front of groups and having many opportunities to sing in front of people, as the groups were singing and dancing together so getting up in front of them to sing was a natural. Also, I was one of 5 children and we would sing in different languages and multiple parts when we sang grace before dinner. My mother was a choral director and played the piano, so I grew up around the piano, singing with family and alone. My father played the violin and he and my mother played together as well. Music filled our house.
4. What excites you about your upcoming show "Ho! Ho! Ho! Kick Off The Season with Marta!" and what do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? I have done many Holiday Shows off and on over the years, and it always gives a great "send off" to the Season. The show is a PARTY and coming together and sharing the laughter is the whole point. Also, I get to sing some of the songs from my new CD "Panache."
4a. What made you want to do a holiday themed show as opposed to a non-holiday themed show? Originally I was just doing a CD release show and when I told some of my friends what I was doing a show in Dec., they got all excited that I was doing a Holiday Show! When I explained that it was actually a CD release show, they were very disappointed because they really loved the Holiday Shows. So...I rethought the whole purpose and decided do the Holiday Show with some CD thrown in.
5. What can your fans expect on your upcoming CD "Panche"? How did you come up with the title and concept for the album? I have recorded many of the songs that have become favorites over the years. Signature numbers, many of which have been written for me, like " Hunk On The Bus" and " Been Around The Block."
6. What is your favorite part of the creative process in putting a show and album together? Where is your favorite place to rehearse/practice on your own? Once I've decided what songs I will be singing, the actual fitting them together to make a flow is exciting and then rehearsing of that flow is lots of fun. I live by Riverside Park and work out down by the Hudson. This is where I get most of my inspired thoughts and where my characters emerge. I'm sure there are those who think I'm " out there" as I go over lyrics and write patter and characters...out loud! Most rehearsals with John are in my living room. Most rehearsals with Debra, my director, are in a rehearsal studio.
7. What made you want to be a NYC Tour Guide and what do you love most about introducing NY to tourists? How do your performing skills intertwine with being a tour guide? After my daughters were old enough to spend time on their own, I wanted to bring some money into the household. But, I had to stay in the City. I did some commercials, but the audition process, or waiting for the agent to call, just wasn't comfortable since I had to put everything on hold in case I had to go to a call. My neighbor is a Tour Guide, and worked for a company that got people to and from the cruise ships. I didn't need a license for this particular job, so I went to work and learned about this "Tour Guide Thing" from the woman I worked with that day, and decided I'd go for it. The logistics of moving groups around, and the history that you learn, are as important as the presentation. My years of performing, especially doing a "One Woman Show," gave me the tools of presentation that have made my tours special in the group of many talented Tour Guides in NYC. I love NYC and love sharing it with the hundreds of people I get to show around through the year. I am an independent contractor, so I work for many different companies, and it means that I can take off time when I need to for my personal life. It also means that I only work for people I enjoy and respect. This is a huge part of why I love my work so much. I am trusted with the group and so it's always a private show...just like my cabaret audience.
8. What have you learned about yourself from being a singer and a tour guide? How has performing all around the world shaped your performing style and you as a person? I've learned that the technique I learned for singing, from Paul Gavert those many years ago, is what I use as the basis of my exercise routine physically and vocally. It's what has given me the strength to sustain my speaking voice when I'm guiding in Times Square, and also to still be singing well after many years. I am actually teaching my workshop on "Supporting The Voice" for the National Federation of Tourist Guide Associations conference in San Francisco in January. I have given this workshop several times for Tour Guides. It is what I teach when I teach voice as well. Same principals apply.
As for what I've learned from my travels...people are all concerned with the same things...roof over their heads, food in their bellies and validity as human beings. Everyone has something special inside of them. One on one, we learn that we are all OK. If we can get outside of the group and see what separates us, we can find the basics that unify us. This can be a challenge, but worth the effort because it teaches us about ourselves and respect is what we all need first and foremost for oneself.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Everything you need is inside yourself. Also, people do what they want, the rest is just excuses. Also, you are exactly where you are meant to be, Also, without your health, you are nothing!
10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? I have to think about this one...I dream all the time and usually it's with people I've loved over the years, who I've laughed with...so many friends so much laughter and love!
11. Looking back, what was the best part about having your own weekly radio show "The Marta Sanders Show"? Who were some of your favorite interviews? I Loved giving my ego a break and being able to listen to other singers' CDs without feeling competitive. It gave me a chance to actually listen to people who I was interested in without having to share my doings as well. It changed the perspective for me and I LOVED that. Probably interviewing Rebecca Luker and Margaret Whiting were my favorites. That said, I loved all of the people I interviewed.
12. Favorite way to stay in shape? Working out outside by the Hudson River. Favorite way to spend your day off? My favorite day off is often spent with my friend Debra since we go to interesting galleries and museums, or just hang in CP or go for a walk by the Hudson. I also like just vegging at the apartment not having to make any decisions or talk to anyone.
13. Favorite skin care product? Vitamineral Aromatherapy. Favorite kind of shoes? Because of my work, it's all about good shoes. Munro are my favorite.
14. Favorite website? Anything that pertains to NYC.
15. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman.