W E N D Y L A N D S
Wendy Lands has a new CD to talk about and she couldn't be more delighted with it despite a tongue twisting title. Entitled Wendy Lands sings The Musicof The Pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman , the Montreal born singer/songwriter contends that it ranks as "one of the longest titles in CD history. " Quickly noting, however, "It's the kind of album I've always dreamed of recording." Having dreams come true has become a habit for Lands who is well known inher native Canada where she's been a national television presence since the age of six and, more recently, both a Juno and Canadian Radio Music Award nominee. Her hauntingly beautiful and uniquely modern vocal style brings Szpilman's music, written half a century ago, smack dab into the newmillennium. Wladyslaw Szpilman, the celebrated composer and pianist, whose "masterpiece," survival in Nazi occupied Warsaw during WW II, is the subject of RomanPolanski's film, The Pianist, winner of the Palm d'Or for Best Picture at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. The CD on which Wendy Lands gives voice to Szpilman's songs is the realization of a dream for his son Andrzej Szpilman, Moved by Polanski's film which eloquently tells his father's powerful story,Andrzej sought to bring his father's music to the world. He hired American producer, John Leftwich, (Rickie Lee Jones, Lyle Lovett) to assemble a team of brilliant lyricists and musicians. Together, John and Andrzej chose Wendy Lands as the voice ofSzpilman's songs. Now the result of that effort, the CD release on Universal's Hip-O label, exquisitely captures Szpilman's timeless music, sung English, for the very first time. "I went through the whole audition process, knowing that there were at least twenty-five other women vying for the incredible opportunity. When I wasfinally chosen and subsequently saw Polanski's film about Szpilman, I felt so honored to have this kind of connection to such a special human being," say Lands. "His songs sent shivers down my spine the minute I heard them and having the opportunity to interpret them, accompanied by some of the bestmusicians I've ever encountered, was a truly magical experience. I can't wait to get out there and play this music live!" While most of the lyrics were written before Wendy came on board, Lands with husband/collaborator, Jim Gillard, wrote lyrics for one of the songs, "True And Tender." Born into a family of painters, writers and musicians, Wendy's interest in music started when she inherited a piano at the age of six. "I was able to pick upsongs I knew and figured out how to play them by ear. Before I knew it, those songs began to give way to my own." Throughout her school years, Wendy performed in school plays, camp musicals and on Canadian T.V. When she graduated high school with a scholarship, Wendy made her way to Toronto toattend York University's Fine Arts Studies program, where she continued to write and demo her own songs. She got together with Andy MacLean and wrote a few songs with him; called themselves Double Dare and were soon offered a recording contract. "It allhappened a little too fast," Wendy recounts, "Andy and I hardly knew each other and there we were, with a song on the radio, and a video on all the music channels. So, we did what a lot bands do when they get their first taste of success we broke up." Lands got an agent, started acting in films and TV and then, the hit Broadway musical Les Miserables came to Toronto for its Canadian debut. Wendy sangfor the producers at an open audition and out of hundreds of hopefuls, she was chosen to join the ensemble. After a year in Les Miz, Lands was invited to join the original cast of The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Webber as a featured soloist, where she shared the stage with such Broadway luminaries as MandyPatinkin, Patty Lupone, Colm Wilkinson and Betty Buckley. Wendy's "Triple Threat" skills were put to the test when Toni winning director, Susan Strohman (The Producers) cast Wendy as a tap dancing, roller skating, banjo playing singer in Kander and Ebb's The World Goes Round. Ultimately, Wendy kissed musical theater goodbye and, with the help of musician and producer friends (including husband-to-be, Jim Gillard); sherecorded her debut solo CD, Angels & Ordinary Men, and released it independently. Within weeks of its release, it shot up the charts. Word quickly spread about Wendy's riveting live performances with her band at Toronto's famous club, The Cameron House. Her performances suddenly went from standingroom only to totally sold-out and before long, the buzz burst throughout the industry about Wendy's unique voice, emotional songs and uniquely intimate live performance. Billboard exclaimed, "She's totally captivating and mesmerizing." At the start of the new millennium, Wendy set her sites south of the border. Believing that change is the fuel for creativity, she and Jim set out on ajourney from Toronto to Memphis to New Orleans to Austin - to their final destination, Los Angeles, gleaning 3000 miles of poetic and musical inspiration along the way. "Even though I had left my home and family and everything that used to define me," she recalls, "I felt more excited about life and musicthen ever before." Since her recent relocation from Toronto to L.A., Wendy Lands' voice has been heard on CBS's Family Law, Fox's 90210, VH1's Slow Burn, The WB's Felicityand NBC's The Amy Fisher Story. She has worked with a Who's Who list of L.A. songwriters, including legendary songwriter and Academy Award winner Paul Williams, multiple Grammy winners Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and Grammy winner Melissa Manchester. The Music of The Pianist WladyslawSzpilman performed by Wendy Lands, lengthy title and all, seems destined to make Wendy Lands synonymous with transcendent artistry and dreams coming true.