Bonnie Lee Sanders a jazzy, sophisticated, inventive cabaret singer and writer
'Positive Influences' at Opia a modern woman's upbeat take on love and life
Published June 2005
By Lucy Komisar
Bonnie Lee Sanders' lyrics are smooth, sophisticated and witty, and tell of a modern woman confronting love and life. I heard her at Opia, an attractive low-key cabaret on East 57th Street, where she sang her own songs and a few by favorites such as Peggy Lee, Cole Porter and Edith Piaf.
The trade has honored Sanders' work: In recent years, she has won a Back Stage Bistro Award for outstanding singer/songwriter and two MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs) tributes: an award and a nomination for Song of the Year.
Two of the songs she performed at Opia were "Positive Influences," the MAC nominee, which she co-wrote with jazz guitarist Ken Hatfield, and "Friends (Laisse Moi T'aimer)," the MAC winner, coauthored with Joel Diamond and Mila.
Bonnie has an appealing, upbeat, jazzy delivery and an inventive eclectic style. Among my favorites at Opia were "Broadway Moon," the show-tune prayer of a Broadway hopeful, and "Montauk," a poetic musing done as a tongue-in-cheek homage to "country and western." I loved its images:
Bonnie Lee Sanders
Comin' home from work at night
Feelin' tired and uptight
'Cause the city pace just knocks me off my feet.
And the sky is out of sight
Can't tell if it's day or night
All hemmed in by towers of steel and cold concrete.
That's when I dream of old Montauk
100 miles from New York.
Where the sea-swept cliffs at dawn
Make me feel I'm bein' born
As the sun begins to drench the rock-bound beach.
And the air is damp with spray
As the seagulls greet the day
Montauk, it's the place I want to be.
In addition to being a lyricist and performer, Bonnie is a musical book writer and a composer. She has scored music for films and has written songs for Hank Williams Jr., the Swedish rock group Abba, Dinah Shore and Eartha Kitt. Top cabaret performer Michael Feinstein was at the Opia opening. He told me that people in the business appreciate her ideas and craft. It's easy to see why.