Cece, a professional singer and actress, was recently interviewed for the Weekly Valley Vantage in her home town. For those who don't subscribe we have pirated some excerpts and added a few photos.
How did you first get involved in singing/when did you know it was what you love to do?
Cecelia and her grandmother
I knew from a very, very young age that I was fascinated by the mechanics of singing. I listened over and over to the records my older brother and sister brought home from the time I was 5 or 6, imitating every nuance I could of each individual singer, trying to knock off their styles, accents, everything. I listened to the Broadway recordings of musicals like South Pacific, Funny Girl, Jesus Christ Superstar, anything I could get my hands on, over and over ad nauseum! I’m sure it drove my siblings insane.
From them, I inherited my obsession with all the Beatles albums, and the Beach Boys’, and learned all about harmony. I lived and breathed that stuff. It got me through a lot of adolescent angst, like many of us, I guess. I had a good ear to begin with, and really fine-tuned it by constant attention to detail.
Two piano-playing aunts with saxophone playing uncle: Jack, Vera, Ann
I also came from a very musical family on my Mom’s side (she had 12 brothers and sisters, and I had around 60 first cousins), and we had big family gatherings where people played instruments, sang and danced. My aunt used to drag me up to the piano to sing from the time I was pretty small, although I was terror-stricken by it, most of the time. I preferred to sing alone in my room.
My parents had an enormous old stereo system in a huge hutch cabinet in the living room, and I would sit in front of one of the huge speakers and pull the cabinet doors around me on either side so I could listen and sing along in my own little world, when nobody was around....
Do you have any musical inspirations? People, places, objects, memories?
I remember seeing my first live play at about age 9, a high school rendition of “Carousel,” and feeling transfixed, literally floating out of the theater in a state of suspended animation. Or maybe it was arrested development - I’m not sure. But it was transformative. It wasn’t til almost 5 years later that I had the chance to audition and get cast in a high school play of my own. I think they only cast me because I was LOUD-which was a plus in those days. But I was hooked. I had finally found my niche. Unfortunately, that niche was in New Hampshire, not exactly the center of the entertainment universe.
Later, during my freshman year at college, I worked for a concert promoter, and was assigned to be Ella Fitzgerald’s dressing room attendant during a series she did at my school. I don’t think I appreciated her fully at the time, but I learned to, fast. That was incredible - to sit and listen to the best of the best, up close and personal. I have so many memories of great artists with whom I was privileged to hang out. I worked with local bands in college, and we had some great people coming through town.
After I moved to LA in '76, I ended up going on the road pretty quickly with a French artist named Veronique Sanson, whom I met through my then-boyfriend, who was working with Stephen Stills, Veronique’s then-husband. She is a hugely popular artist in Europe, and we toured every city, town and village for months. That taught me a lot, and opened a lot of doors to me.
Back in LA, I was lucky enough to work closely with Tori Amos in the early days of her career, singing on her first LP. I toured for several years with Rita Coolidge, also working with great folks like Connie Stevens, Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers, Eddie Money, Cheap Trick, Diana Ross, Olivia Newton-John, Jude Cole, Poco, Mick Fleetwood, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, Mike Trampp, Timothy B. Schmitt, Bob Cowsill, either touring or recording, or both.
You'll have to refer to the Weekly Valley Vantage for more. It may have been foolish of Cece to send the article to the editors of the McNally Family Album, who are always looking for copy. But we (the editorial we) think her cousins will enjoy knowing more about her career.