Press and Reviews


London - October 17, 2014

The Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zédel, Piccadilly Circus

The Summerville Journal Scene

Give it all you've got

By Barbara Lynch Hill

How do you plan to mark your eighth decade? Chances are you won’t have a gig at a London pub. But that’s just what 86-year-old American cabaret singer Marilyn Maye is doing right now at The Crazy Cogs Cabaret & Jazz Club in Piccadilly Square.

And she’s had sellout crowds of what she calls “incredible, beautiful, receptive audiences,” singing standards from The American Songbook.

I heard about this from John Hockenberry on his NPR show, The Takeaway. Her octogenarian feat fascinated this septuagenarian mind and I listened carefully to see how she’s done it. First of all, her name sounded familiar, so I looked her up.

She received a Grammy Award nomination as the best new artist of 1965 at age 37 – a late bloomer then, too – and her list of accomplishments has remained steady ever since. She appeared 76 times on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, the record for a singer. He called her the “super singer.” Ella Fitzgerald dubbed her “The greatest white female singer in the world.”

For her recording of “Too Late Now” (which is one of my all-time favorite songs), she has been included in the Smithsonian’s Best Performers of the Best Compositions of the 20th Century permanent collection. She shares this distinction with the likes of Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland. No wonder her name rang a bell!
“These,” Maye told Hockenberry, are the best years of her life – “right now – today” and added that her secrets are great energy, a great sense of humor, trying not to take herself too seriously, and a great desire to attack every day as an adventure. “If I get really tired, I just push and get up and pack that next bag and get on that next plane.”

Showing her caring side of her nature, she told the radio host that as soon as he finished interviewing her, she wanted to interview him and find out all about his life as he put it to her “a youngster in his late 50s.” This “youngster” has his own great start on awards as a journalist and author, including being a four time Emmy Award and three time Peabody Award winner.

With a smile in her voice, she said her great life has included three husbands and a meaningful love affair—but today her love affairs are with her audiences as she sings to them, not for them. She’s also grateful for great friends, six of whom joined her in London to cheer her on.

Maye cites her strong work ethic for the fact that she’s performing more than ever, as her voice is really hanging in there and as she puts it “I’m singing as fast as I can.”

Fittingly her best inspirations are from song lyrics. She says her mantra in life stems from a Jerry Herman song, and the words begin: “Light the candles get the ice and roll the rug up – it’s today.”

Probably her favorite lyric comes from a show called “Here’s to Life,” and to my mind these 17 words can inspire anybody of any age:

“I’ve learned that all you give is all you get
So you give it all you’ve got.”

I just hope that when I get to be her age I’ll be able to give and get my own Piccadilly pub celebration.