‘Body & Soul Tour’
Lynda Carter has been singing her whole life, but her audiences haven’t always been so receptive.
Carter, who returns to the Kennedy Center next week with her “Body & Soul” show (her most recent album “Crazy Little Things” dropped last spring), says she “of course,” sang to her two children when they were babies. It didn’t last long, though.
“My daughter, as soon as she was old enough to sing herself, she’d put her hand over my mouth,” she says. “She didn’t want to hear me.”
Carter is most famous, of course, for “Wonder Woman,” the ‘70s TV show that despite a relatively short run (three seasons), linked her indelibly with the character — “as lovely as Aphrodite, as wise as Athena!” Last time we talked to Carter when she did the AIDS Walk Washington event for Whitman-Walker Health, we hammered her with “Wonder Woman” questions (it’s here if you missed it), so this time we focused solely on the music. “Crazy Little Things,” a mostly covers album, is her third release. “Portrait” came out in 1978; she returned from a long hiatus with “At Last,” another standards-heavy release that made the Billboard jazz chart in 2009.
“It sounds kind of silly but I remember our little record players and the one new single was all you could afford,” Carter, 60, says between coughs (she’s battling a cold the day we talk). “Now we’ve kinda gone back to that in some ways with all the digital downloads. But we listened to whatever was on the radio. My mom had a lot of blues, old juke joint things. We listened to music all the time.”
Carter was a little too young for the Motown heyday but remembers loving the Beatles and the Stones like everyone else in the later ‘60s.
“When I started singing professionally, I wanted to sound like Linda Ronstadt, Grace Slick, people like that,” she says. “Then on the other side of Linda Ronstadt, you had the Stone Poneys. So you had, well, it kind of shifted away from that ‘50s sound, with Paul Anka and that kind of thing. So even though we listened to that, I kinda missed it a little bit. It wasn’t as much in my mind anyway. It wasn’t as full an experience for me as, you know, the Doors and the Animals. That was my teenybopper era. … And then I was still a young adult when the ‘80s came around, so you end up falling in love with all that too. It’s all that.”
Carter, who cut her last album in Nashville for her own imprint Potomac Productions, says she enjoys recording and performing live. It’s still work — she likens making an album to climbing a hill or facing a blank sheet of paper — but says the payoff is rich. She especially enjoys playing the Kennedy Center and says, “it’s really the nation’s stage.”
The longtime Potomac, Md., resident says she and her family “have been going there for years.”
“I sometimes am envious of the people who live in town. It’s such an easy cab ride over to there and they have all kinds of stuff going on all the time … it’s a really special place and there are only a couple rooms like that, like the Jazz at Lincoln Center, that have that kind of prestige in the whole country.”
Carter will perform with six musicians and three singers. She has a horn section, a percussionist and some players who shift instrumentation depending on the song at hand. Most of them also played on the album and are veteran Nashville session players. The album was recorded over the course of about a year off and on. Carter, who co-produced, credits Kyle Lehning with helping her find fresh interpretations on classics like Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” Martha and the Vandella’s “Heat Wave,” the Carole King/Gerry Goffin classic “Locomotion” and others.
Carter says she works hard to make her stage presence connect with audience members. For years, she’s acknowledged and embraced her strong LGBT fan base.
“We seem to be pulling standing ovations every time we play, knock on wood,” she says, pausing for another cough. “I really try to work for the audience. I think a lot of performers kind of put a veil between themselves and it’s like they’re just jamming along with the band and it makes you feel almost like a voyeur and other shows you see it’s like the veil is lifted and the people are really with you. I like to see when people perform and really reach out and it’s really cool. The champion of that, of course, is Mick Jagger. He’s got the all-time stage presence.”