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    Smith, Orriel

    Soprano from Washington, D.C., who received some musical training early on at one of the progressive schools run by Johns Hopkins University.  She went on to further studies at La Scala Ballet School and Milano Conservatory, where she learned how to play the piano and violin.  Eventually she and her mother moved to Los Angeles, California, where young Orriel started singing publicly and landing acting roles on TV shows such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Divorce Court.  Music remained her number one love, however, and she continued to study it in venues such as Arrowbear Music Camp, where Jean Ritchie was performing.  Orriel was so taken with the idea of being able to accompany yourself on guitar, she immediately picked up the new instrument and learned to play it by listening to her Joan Baez records on the 16 R.P.M. setting and trying to play along.  In her late teens, she moved to New York to work with vocal teacher William Herman.  Orriel lived a double life, studying during the day and going at Gerde’s Music City at night to hear the likes of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and Jose Feliciano, with whom she frequently shared the stage.  When her mom came to pick her up to move back to L.A., they stayed at a hotel and she was “discovered” by Jack Beekman, who heard them singing in their room.  Bewitched by the young talent’s voice, he got her an audition with Johnny Carson, and he booked her on the show, where she sang an excerpt from “The Russian Nightingale”.  She even got a partial standing ovation.  Beekman parlayed the success on the Carson show into a recording contract for Orriel at Columbia.  The album, Voice in the Wind, garnered a positive reception.  It was released in 1963.  She appeared on Hootenanny a year later, where she performed “The First Time (Ever I Saw Your Face)”.  Eventually she hooked up with The Jimmy Joyce Singers, leading to loads of television work on The Glen Campbell Summer Show, The Johnny Mathis Show, The Red Skelton Show, and The Smothers Brothers Show.  She stayed with them for a number of years until deciding to go on tour with her trusty guitar.  One of her stops was the Washington Plaza Hotel in Seattle, and she became so enamoured of the city that she eventually threw down stakes there for a while.  Fascinated with the behind-the-scenes world of movie production, she worked for The Van Ackerman Film Production Co. as an apprentice.  There is little evidence this led her to a singing role on the soundtrack of Crypt of the Living Dead, as a wordless voice, in 1973.  Orriel arrived as a composer when David Frizzell recorded her song “Lifetime Woman” for MCA Records.  Other artists she has worked with include Charo, Dolly Parton, and The Ray Conniff Singers.  She went back to school eventually and obtained a degree in psychology and a license to sell real estate.  For over two decades she has taught presentation in corporate, educational, and governmental venues.  Her claim to fame, however, may be an album she recorded in 2002, The World’s Favorite Cluckoratura Arias, on which she clucks her way through Mozart, Offenbach, and Donizetti. 

     

    Sources:

    1. http://www.tradebit.com/filedetail.php/494960-the-world-s-favorite-cluckoratura-arias
    2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtp0Rxv_CWQ
    3. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061296/trivia
    4. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069933/
    5. http://www.terrascope.co.uk/Features/Orriel_Smith.htm
    6. http://playitagainmax.blogspot.com/2009/01/orriel-smith-voice-in-wind-1963.html
    7. http://cdbaby.com/cd/orriel3
    8. http://www.orrielsmith.com/index.htm

            

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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