“She taught us how important it is to hit your mark, look someone in the eye and have something to say – to find your moment,” Pomranz said.
One of several memories Pomranz has about his past experience and background in the cabaret scene and jazz music was his high school trips to New York. His St. Louis high school, Ladue Horton Watkins, theatre department took trips to New York to see Broadway plays, musicals and meet theatre stars like Ethel Merman.
On these trips Pomranz would sneak out of his hotel room after curfew at The Edison Hotel in Times Square to wander into piano bars. He would find himself captivated by pianist and composers such as John Meyer and Murray Grand and watch them perform tunes.
Pomranz later realized that his late night excursions and bar hopping experiences exposed him to his love for jazz music.
As an adult, Pomranz moved to New York to pursue a career in acting, modeling and commercial, all the while during his down time, he was out performing at piano bars and nightclubs. After singing in a theatrical hangout called Ted Hook’s Backstage, he soon landed an act in a fancy nightclub and began singing at three different clubs simultaneously on different nights of the week.
“I can’t remember if it was Steve Ross or Buddy Barnes playing the piano but Ted Hook himself was listening. He came up to me and said that one of his singers canceled and did I have an act. Of course I said yes and then panicked because it had never occurred to me to do an act,” Pomranz said.
“I called Ron Cohen and asked him if he would help me put something together and by word of mouth we attracted a sold-out house and things really took off.”
Pomranz recollects how he became successful with his music by having the ability to learn by watching how things worked for the people who came before him and sought out their guidance. After meeting Peter Allen through executives at Arista record label, Allen became a fan of his and gave him a number of tunes to sing and master.
One song in particular that Allen gave Pomranz was “I Never Thought I’d Break.” It was a rarely heard record and eventually after he learned the technique of the song, Pomranz covered the song on his first CD, “My heart Don’t Skip a Beat.”
His voice and performances in piano bars would typically catch the attention of many musical artists such as Teddi King.
“On one of those memorable piano bar evenings after getting up to sing, this little lady came up to me and said, ‘Some people need to sing. You are one of those people. I could listen to you forever,’” Pomranz said.
“I couldn’t have ever imagined the thrill. She was a teacher and champion.”
However, one of Pomranz most significant mentors was Curt Davis, the cabaret critic for the New York Post and journalist for many other publications. Davis initiated the profound Manhattan Association of Cabarets by gathering Pomranz and ten other industry types. Davis would write about Pomranz’s performances, bring influential friends to the shows and give advice.
The various reviews Davis wrote about Pomranz eventually sparked up popularity between audience members and Brandy’s, a piano bar venue. It became expected that Pomranz would be present at Brandy’s every Sunday night, despite the fact that he didn’t work there.
“I would end up meeting friends there and sing ‘em all until the wee hours of the morning. It was really like I dreamed living in NY would be like,” Pomranz said.
As a St. Louis native, the city has always been a musical influence in Pomranz’s life. He believes that there has always been a strong musical connection in St. Louis from Fats Waller, Scott Joplin, Ike and Tina Turner and the rapper Nelly. Nevertheless, New York offers live performances of all kinds of music and the opportunity to hear and meet all of the greats.
Through Pomranz’s music, he feels he also represents New York because the key is getting out supporting live entertainment; engaging with other people and seeing something live because the unexpected can happen.
“My main interest is being in the studio with my musicians and singing live with them and not to tracks. I want to get that immediate feeling and presence on the CDs,” Pomranz said.
As an artist who incorporates the jazz idiom, theatrical musings and saloon or cabaret song styling, Pomranz hopes to introduce people to music that they either have not heard before or have heard it but not in a different way. His first CD was an intimate album of some fan favorites but his new and soon to be released album, “More Than A Seasonal Thing,” is a concept album where the listener is taken on a journey from the start of a year to the end.
“You have the rare opportunity to express your own self with lyrics that mean something and music shapes those lyrics indelibly,” Pomranz said.
“It’s an astonishing thing to be able to sing a note and silence a noisy room.”
Craig Pomranz performs at Grand Center’s Kranzberg Art Center (501 N. Grand Blvd.) on Friday & Saturday, February 18-19 @ 8:00 p.m. Tickets available at www.LicketyTix.com OR 314.725.4200, ext. 10
BY: ALISHIA ALEXANDER