Luft sings mother’s songs from the heart
Friday, March 17, 2000
By Rebecca Redshaw
Most of us include “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “I’m a Little Teapot” among the songs our mothers taught us.
Performing with the Pittsburgh Pops orchestra at Heinz Hall last night under the capable direction of her husband, Colin Freeman, Lorna Luft delivered “Songs My Mother Taught Me” with vocal conviction and more than a hint of affection.
There could be a lot of baggage for a daughter of Judy Garland to carry around in life. But if you’re like Luft, you choose to fill that “baggage” with an incredible array of songs and then share them.
In Garland’s heyday when popular songwriters flourished, her hits — sung by Luft in snippets or their entirety throughout the evening — would fill this column and more just listing the titles.
Early in the evening, Luft quotes her mother as saying, “Lorna likes the loud ones,” and she proved she has the voice to belt with the best of them. “When You’re Smiling,” “Chicago” and “Birth of the Blues” were only a few of the big, brassy numbers that resonated throughout the hall.
But Luft can deliver without rattling the chandelier. Irving Berlin’s “What’ll I Do?” with piano accompaniment, was lovely.
Clips of Garland talking to her young daughter and singing “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby” with her — through the magic of creative editing — were impressive. Actually, anytime Judy Garland’s image appeared on screen served as a reminder of what an extraordinary talent the woman was.
But it was her daughter Lorna’s evening. In one of the most entertaining, informative and touching chronologies arranged in popular music, she paid tribute to her kids’ grandmother. With high energy, Luft stepped her performance up a notch, singing dozens of Judy’s hits and ending with an original duet that couldn’t help but touch every daughter’s heart.
Rebecca Redshaw is a free-lance writer who reviews music for the Post-Gazette.