Scott Evan Davis Cautiously Optimistic Interview
Cautiously Optimistic: The Music of Scott Evan Davis is the debut recording from Scott Evan Davis, a New York based composer and music educator. An enviable group of theater and cabaret performers gathered to interpret his songs: Broadway powerhouses Faith Prince and Liz Callaway, international concert artist/actor/singer Jason Graae, and seven-time MAC Award winning nightclub performer, Natalie Douglas, among others, make appearances on the recording. "Cautiously Optimistic: The Music of Scott Evan Davis" was produced, arranged and orchestrated by the multi-talented pianist/arranger/conductor, David Snyder.
Scott Evan Davis is a self-taught pianist and a graduate of Emerson College and AMDA New York. In 2008, after a period of working outside the music and performing business, he had a transformative personal experience which turned his focus decisively back to music and particularly, songwriting.
"If someone had told me a few years ago that this is where my passion would lie, I would have laughed" says Davis. "I left the business after appearing in my first off-Broadway play, JOY. Then in 2008, as odd as it may sound, I was visited in a dream by my late musical mentor with whom I'd had a horrible fight before he died. To my great regret, we never saw each other again or reconciled. In the dream he hugged me, which I took as a sign of forgiveness, and he left me with a lingering melody he had been humming. That melody came back to me the next day, and it became the basis for the song 'Cautiously Optimistic.' That experience influenced the themes I wrote: acceptance, forgiveness and moving forward. It was his ultimate gift to me."
In 2010, Davis performed his fledgling collection of songs in several successful shows at Don't Tell Mama in New York, and word spread of a new "theater music composer" no one had heard of previously. He implemented a fund-raising campaign through Kickstarter, and recorded and pressed his album by late 2011. Davis is happy having others sing his work; his Fall 2011 concert at Birdland in NYC saw Davis accompanying an array of talented New Yorkers performing his songs, and the reviews and composer were ecstatic.
In a short period of time, Davis's music has become a topic of discussion in theatrical circles nationally. In 2012, no fewer than three musical education programs around the country will showcase Davis's music or use it in their curriculum: Lee High School, the Performing Arts Magnet School for the Huntsville, Alabama School District will feature "Ready to Fly" as the choral performance piece for graduation, with an orchestration by Mr. Davis and choral arrangement by David Snyder. A (scheduled) 2012 graduate of Luther College will be performing a song cycle written by Davis for her required graduation thesis. Emerson College in Boston has plans to include Davis's material in their Spring 2012 curriculum. Davis conducts master classes and concerts and teaches a music program he developed for children through Brooklyn Children's Theater, TADA! Manhattan and Arts Connection NYC.Cautiously Optimistic: The Music of Scott Evan Davis Tracklisting
1. Cautiously Optimistic
2. Walk a Little Slower
3. Just a Word
4. If We Say Goodbye
5. I Never Thought
6. He's Perfect
7. Dear Santa
8. There's Nothing I Can Say
9. You Make Me Crazy
10. More Than Just Sundays
11. Ready to Fly
12. I Am
Interview with Scott Evan DavisQuestion:
How would you describe Cautiously Optimistic: The Music of Scott Evan Davis? Scott Evan Davis
: Cautiously Optimistic is my debut album. It is 12 songs about love, loss, acceptance, learning from your mistakes and moving forward. The songs are sung by some of the best names in the Broadway and cabaret industry. Question:
Did you have any pre-conceived ideas about the music industry? Scott Evan Davis
: I think while I was doing the album, I thought that once it came out, I would be famous overnight. Ha. We all probably think that at one time or another. But one thing I have learned is that it takes time. This business is as much about persistence as it is about passion. Question:
Do you write your own songs? What's your inspiration? Scott Evan Davis
: Yes I do. This album is made up of songs that I write the music and the lyrics too. I have collaborated on other songs, where I only wrote the music, but they are not on this album. I really wanted my first album to be my voice, both lyrically and musically.
Inspiration happens at the strangest times. A song can come out of a situation in my life, I fight I have, journeys that someone I know might be experiencing…you name it. But as a whole my album was inspired by acceptance and learning who I am, by looking closely at who I was. Question:
What music/artists do you listen to when you are not playing your own? Scott Evan Davis
: This is an interesting question, because I honestly don't listen to much music lately, even my own. But when I want to put on music just to unwind and relax, I definitely reach for the Barbra Streisand. She is the one artist that instantly brings me home. I have always felt that way. Question:
Was there a moment you contemplated throwing in the towel? Scott Evan Davis
: Well, I am 34 years old. I only started composing two and half years ago. I was an actor for a long time before. As a composer, I can't say that I have ever wanted to throw in the towel. In the short time that I have been writing, I have done eight concerts, an album, and now I am writing a musical with 13 autistic children, to be performed by them… I have to honestly say, I have not wanted to give up yet. Question:
Do you prefer performing live or recording? Scott Evan Davis
: I prefer speaking in front of a crowd and telling stories live. I prefer having my songs sung live, so that the audience can give energetic feedback. If it is a matter of me singing… well then I would rather record because you have more control over how perfect you can make it. But the integrity of a live performance will always be where my heart is. Question:
What/who was your inspiration to go into the music industry? Scott Evan Davis
: My mentor. It's a crazy story... but the same person who trained with me in college to be a performer… is the reason I am writer. Question:
What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success? Scott Evan Davis
: The biggest challenge has been financial. In this industry of cabaret and theatre, it is expected that a great deal of the funding to pursue your dream comes independently. I have been so greatly to family and friends for their support. When I was doing my album I fundraised for a great portion of the money, and that was invaluable. Question:
What's a typical day like? Scott Evan Davis
: A typical day? I wake up, walk the dog, feed the cat and dog, and usually head out to teach. I teach kids musical theatre all over NYC. If I have a meeting, I make sure I get to it. If I have a deadline for a song to be finished or if there is someone who needs to rehearse my song for a concert or whatnot, I make sure that happens. To unwind at night, I usually turn on a series of some sort on the TV. A little unknown fact about me… I really enjoy being home. I guess you could call me a homebody. Question:
What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist? Scott Evan Davis
: My favorite part of being a creator of music is to see and hear other incredible talents interpret my work. When people want to sing my songs I get a thrill that can't be described. I hope I always feel that way. I never would want that to fade away. Question:
If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be? Scott Evan Davis
: I would love Kristen Chenoweth to sing a song I wrote called You Make Me Crazy. I also would probably faint if Barbra Streisand ever wanted to record anything of mine. Now, a different collaboration I would do anything to make happen would be to work with James lapine, on the musical I am starting to write. Question:
Do you have a website fans can visit? Scott Evan Davis
: www.Scottevandavis.com Question:
What is the story behind the albums name? Scott Evan Davis
: It's a crazy story. When I was in college I had a mentor, who took me in. He was told he had one year to live due to cancer, and because I needed to save money on rent, he offered me a place to stay in my own room, and in return, I would cook and clean and help him when he was sick. When he was not sick, we listening to every musical ever written, discussed great actors, and sang through every score we could think of. His one and only goal was to build me a career. After nine months, I couldn't take the responsibility anymore, and had a big fight with him and moved out. I moved to Boston to pursue a relationship. We never spoke again. A year later, once I was single, and lonely, I decided to write him a letter. I mailed it and never heard back. A few weeks later I received a phone call that he had passed away.
Because I had given up theatre once I got to Boston, and was working in finance, I decided that was my wake up call. I quit my job and got my equity card in Boston and started doing show after show.
Eventually that brought me back to New York. I was in the middle of doing an off Broadway show called Joy, when I had a dream. I dreamt that Brian, my mentor was on a part bench on a beautiful day. He looked young and healthy. His arms were outstretched and he was asking for a hug. When I hugged him, I felt like he forgave me for everything. The whole time he was hugging me, he was humming a melody. Since I always played the piano, but never had any desire to write music… when I woke up I ran to the piano. I played the melody out. It became my song Cautiously Optimistic. The first melody I ever wrote, it didn't become a full song until two years later, but there was no other choice for me, but to call my album Cautiously Optimistic. I wish Brian could see me now…