LC's Take: Izzy Jorgensen

Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2011 in Culture

LC's Take: Izzy Jorgensen

Izzy Jorgensen

by LC Van Savage

Remember Ethel Merman? Singer/actress from the 30s through the 70s?  The big joke with Merman was that she never needed a mike to sing, and it was true. Her voice was clear, pure, dead-on key and everyone could hear her sing everywhere.

There is a singer in our midst. Another Ethel Merman?  No.  Well, maybe, were Merman to still be alive and her music brought into the 21st century.  The au courant Ethel Merman is named Isabella  Jorgensen (she goes by Izzy) and she can really, really rock it out.  Her voice is a voice to be reckoned with. When Izzy sings, guess what?  One can understand the clear words, hear an actual story in her songs, and she never, ever repeats one phrase 80 times and calls it a song.  Izzy Jorgensen is what was once called, a songstress. A songstress par excellence; she is fifteen.

I will reluctantly confess to a certain narrow-mindedness here; I admit to sort of believing that all young girls want to be famous singers and they all think record contracts will fall out of the sky into their laps and all know they’re already great singers and need no lessons.  They’re just good and they know it and soon their names will be written in the stars. Not Izzy Jorgensen.  This young lady is willing and able to pay her dues, do the grunt work, take the knocks and put herself out there. She looks straight ahead, is willing to do whatever it takes and she will spill her sweat to make it happen. 

“I knew that music was definitely going to be my life for certain  when, in 6th grade, I began working with a voice teacher named Gordon Tweedie, in Portland. I’m still with him.  And I once even met Madonna! She lived in an apartment in the building where my mom’s office was, in New York City.  One day, Mom brought me to work with her and, when we were going in, Madonna was coming out.  She talked to me in my stroller (you know, the way one talks to a cute baby at the grocery store)  and then talked to my mom for a minute.  So who knows? Maybe Madonna  put the seed in my head!

“But I soon knew this was where my life was going,” says Jorgensen, “because when I was in the fourth grade, I was asked to sing the Star Spangled Banner at a Sea Dogs game.  Also in that year, I had the really cool opportunity to perform in Beauty and the Beast at Maine State Music Theater in Brunswick.  I guess the fourth grade was kind of my break-through year!!”, Izzy laughs.  She fell in love with the costumes, make-up, music, applause. 

“I was seriously considering a Broadway stage career back then,” she says. “But I wasn’t a trained dancer then and am not a trained dancer now and I’ll never say ‘yes’ to any offers unless I know I can do the job. Acting? Yes, I love to act and know I’ll have to keep acting every chance I get before I can do it as well as I want.  So perhaps one day I’ll get more serious about acting.   I think I will never just say yes to anything for the paycheck.  Well, that’s how it is now!  Maybe down the road….             

“I’m not scared to perform in front of lots of people. Well, I always have about 2 seconds of butterflies, but then I’m fine. So I sing and even now when I perform, I know that singing is going to be my life.   Do I hear the applause?  I don’t know. I kind of get into a place where I zone out, I get into my own space, and while the applause eventually gets into my head, and I do love it, I am peaceful with my singing.”  

Even at that very tender age back in the fourth grade, Jorgensen’s focus was clear and she knew.  Star struck? No.  She understood there were going to be steps  shed have to take, and she knew she wanted very much to take them.

She took voice lessons. Faithfully.  Her teacher Gordon Tweedie is an opera-trained singer and he and Jorgensen have a good rapport.  “He never lies to me,” she says.  “If I do something wrong, he doesn’t gloss over it.  He makes me learn. He makes me work.  He is exactly what I need at this point in my life.  Gordon Tweedie believes in me. He thinks I’ll make it. Sometimes he’ll say ‘When you’re in Hollywood, will you remember me?’ ” One suspects Izzy Jorgensen will be there and she will remember how she got there

“My guitar? Yeah, I know.  So many singers today use a guitar, but it is an easy instrument to sing along with, so I take lessons from the man who manages my band that has the odd name of ‘Where’s Robert?’  His name is Earl Bigelow, he’s in Bath and has a recording studio there which I use.   I want to learn to play the guitar really well. I also want to take piano lessons at some point, but let’s face it--- it’s a lot easier to haul a guitar around to gigs than it is a piano. And I don’t know why, but it is easier to compose my own songs on my guitar."

And, on that subject, Jorgensen composes many of her own songs, and they are a joy to hear because they tell those stories, her music is toe-tapping, melodic and good to the ear, old ears, young ears, in between ears.  She has composed a rock love song she hopes to one day play and sing to a couple she knows and loves as they walk down the aisle together.  It is beautiful.  It brings tears.

 It’s just too easy a cliché to say that we should all be surprised when a teenager today focuses down on a good plan for his or her life and has no interest in doing drugs and wasting time, because there are many, many centered, good kids out there.  Izzy Jorgensen is in that club.  She has never gotten anything below an A in any of her school years.

“In fact, my mother says she’ll take me out to celebrate if I ever get a B,” she says and laughs.   

Jorgensen notes that she loves school, not just for the academics, but for the friends.  “I have a lot of friends, I’m interested in lots of things.  None of my friends seem to be too interested in my singing career path, but they are all very supportive.  My best friend, Aleena, is especially supportive. 

She goes on to add that she is, by nature, competitive.  “Especially in music, I come up against competitive people.  But I often win and I always try my hardest to win.”

"I do not think music day and night.  There’s no need to,” she says, and she settles back in her chair.  She lives in a house filled with loving livestock—a couple of cats, a beautiful Sun Conure parrot, a big dog, and a really tiny dog. Her parents have done an excellent job at raising both Izzy and her brother, Dash, clearly teaching them strong, good values, ethics, honesty, the importance of working hard for one’s goals.

“I hope Dash can be my film crew someday,” says Izzy of her brother, 14.  “He loves to make films and he’s good at it!”

Both parents are very supportive of their kids and their dreams, and Dash and Izzy know their parents will always be behind them, to prop them up if needed, to cut them loose when not. 

“Hmmm, what would I do if I didn’t want to make a career in music?” Izzy asks.   “I think about going to Med School to become a psychiatrist.  My Grandfather is a well-known psychiatrist in New York City, and his ways of understanding the world are fascinating and inspiring to me.  College?  Of course, and I’ll go if the musical career isn’t quite within my grasp.  It’s important.  I have many dreams, plans, but the music is way, way out ahead of them all and it’s the path I have to walk first.  Music is just simply second nature to me,” she says and looks away for a minute. “For example, in English class tomorrow I have to recite the Friends, Romans, Countrymen  speech from Julius Caesar, and I’ve decided to put it to music. My English teacher has OK’d my doing that.”  This writer would love to have heard that.  Perhaps one day it’ll be out there for the world to hear.  I mean talk about Big Hits! 

Young Izzy Jorgensen has great respect for some of the famous songsters of today, Pink for example.  And Rihanna.  “I respect their music because it has more meaning for me and obviously for a lot of people,” she says. “I like Pop music, but not fluffy, sugary stuff.”   Singer/songwriter Izzy Jorgensen will never wear ridiculous, stupid looking impossibly wild outfits that cause a huge stir amongst fans but simply make no sense and only attract crazy attention,  nor will she wear shoes raising her so high off the ground she could easily topple over and break something. Izzy will wear make-up but it won’t be weird and garish. She is a natural blond with large beautiful pale eyes, and intends to keep that clean fresh beauty going for as long as she can and she will always have it.

Acting? Learning other musical genres?  Maybe.   “I’d be foolish to not give everything consideration,” she laughs, “I don’t know, but I do know music is my life.  I’m willing to do the work, as much as it takes and as long as it takes.”   Does Izzy Jorgensen love music enough to want to stay in it even if she never becomes known, or famous?  Yes.      

There are occasional miracles in Show Business. Big record deals are handed to performers who perhaps should never have received them.  But, young, beautiful, talented Izzy Jorgensen is expecting no miracles. She knows what is right and what is wrong for her. Izzy is her own miracle and she’ll make it because she is already putting in the work, she sings up a storm, she’s got the chops and you really ought to treat yourself and go hear her whenever you can. I’ll see you there.  You will never be disappointed.   Ethel Merman reincarnated?  She wishes!  Young Izzy could today sing rings around any of those old timers.  The torch has been passed.

Izzy can be seen and heard with her band, "Where's Robert?" on July 1 during Bath Heritage Days.  Be watching for her appearances at Thomas Point Beach and Harpswell Days and other locations in Maine this summer.

 

 

    lcvansavage@newmainetimes.org

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