Ann Hampton Callaway: Out at Last
BY Dustin Fitzharris
February 18 2009 1:00 AM ET
Have you found fulfillment in love?
I have. I've had moments in my life where I thought I had found
"the one," but being in the two-year relationship
that I'm in now is a revelation for me. I'm finally with
someone who is the perfect match for me. I feel like the
Goldilocks of love. You know, where she sat down in one chair
and it was too hard. Then she sat in another and it was too
soft. Finally, she sat in a chair that was just right. That's
how I feel about my partner. She's full of love, intelligence,
Earlier this month Etta James said Beyoncé was
going to get "her ass whipped" for singing "At Last,"
the song she made famous, for one of Obama's inaugural balls.
Are you nervous that James is going to come after you next?
What I've noticed about other singers singing "At
Last" is they always copy Etta James's arrangement, and I
What is so hard about finding your own arrangement and
interpretation? Why do you have to copy this great rendition of
a song that's already been done beautifully by the person who
dreamed of it?
My suspicion is if [James] is mad, it's because
[Beyoncé] didn't find her own interpretation. Shame on
Beyoncé if that is, in fact, the case.
Can you tell me about the TV show you have been working on
for PBS called
Singer's Spotlight With Ann Hampton Callaway
It's a television talk-variety show celebrating America's great
interpreters of song. We've done two pilots that aired in
Chicago, and they were beautifully received by the press. We
are in the midst of raising the remaining $2
million to finish the first season, but with this
economy, we are at a standstill. We need a show like this for
Americans -- especially young people who don't know about our
great singers and songs. I know young gay boys who don't know
who Liza Minnelli is. It's inexcusable that people aren't
Your show is different from
in that there is an element of connecting and learning about
the history of the songs performed. What are your thoughts on
I have a love-hate relationship with the show. I love that
Americans are so interested in singers. However, I often think
the emphasis is on the appearance and the gimmick of the
sexiness as opposed to how to really interpret a song and how
to reach into your soul and do something that is original to
you. I think it's turning into a formula, and any time you turn
something into a formula you take the life out of it. It's like
taking a Xerox of a song instead of the real song.