Monday, March 23, 2009

The Frank Rendo WHLI Radio Interview

The following is an interview conducted by Mr. Paul Richards of WHLI Radio in Long Island, NY. As you will read, Paul was very taken with this effort by Frank, and his collaborator, the lovely Palma Pascale. I have listened to the interview many times over, in order to get it transcribed......but just once straight through – and that time, couldn’t help but choke-up listening to it. Somehow, strangely, I feel like I traveled this road with both Frank and Palma, having heard some of the first tracks of this amazing album from the beginning, in 2006. Listening to Paul’s excitement about it, and Frank’s explanation of it….and as you will read, the interesting exchange between Paul and Palma regarding the CD…well, it tugged on my emotions in a big way….no one really understood why, but I do…. as I am so proud for both of these extraordinary artists that this CD has been such a success, and is so masterfully done. I'm also quite proud of the fact that I had the privilege of also being a part of it.....I couldn’t begin to know the kind of time it took to create this masterpiece, but I do know that every single note is in place….every instrument is “sweetening the right corner” and the “less is more” concept is at work here, beautifully! (Pictured above: Paul Richards and Frank Rendo)
Great credit, too, goes to master recording engineer and President of TIKI Recording Studios in Glen Cove, NY….Fred Guarino. Fred’s
artistry truly shows through in this compilation.
And now, the totally unabridged version of the wonderful interview conducted by Paul Richards with Frank Rendo, as was heard on WHLI Radio, December 23, 2008: PR:WHLI on the day before Christmas Eve, December 23rd, 2008 and as promised, a very special hour begins right now. I am so excited to have Frank Rendo as our special in-studio guest here, following the 10:00 news. Good morning and Merry Christmas to my dear friend. It’s great to see you…it really, really is!” FR:Good morning Paul Richards here at WHLI.” PR:How have you been?” FR:I’ve been really good, yes.”
PR:Been busy?” FR:Been busy with concerts this month and doing shopping…and doing the Christmas thing. LOVE IT! I love this time of year.” PR:And you were upstate this weekend with this weather???” FR:Yeah….” PR:You’re a brave man!.” FR:Well, they weren’t that brave….they cancelled two shows out of the three – I have to go back up next week…we rescheduled.” PR:All right – it’s better than getting’ a refund!” (Both Laugh) PR:It’s worth seeing Frank Rendo in concert.” FR:Thank You.” PR:I had that pleasure and privilege once in my lifetime and I will make sure I take advantage of additional future opportunities to see you sing. It’s a heart-warming experience to sit there and just take it all in. You leave with such a great feeling!” FR:Oh, well that’s very kind of you – Thank you very much for saying that.” PR:It’s obvious that you love it and enjoy it.” FR:Well, yes….it’s the love of my life.” PR:How long have you been doing this?” FR:Well, I always tell people I’ve been doing it all my life, but ummmm…I’ve been doing it professionally probably for almost 30 years.” PR:Ummm Hmmm – All right!”
FR:I started out as – you know, like….a two year old!” (laughs) PR:All right – and how long has the recording career been in existence?”
FR: “Actually, I started doing THAT in 1978.” PR:Really??” FR:Yeah – so I guess this is 30 years of THAT.” PR:Wow!” FR: But, I kind of came into my own about 25 years ago, and recorded my first big project in 1991 – the ‘How Can You Say No To This Man’ CD.” PR:Which is a great album – I have that album…” FR:Thank You.” PR: “…and it’s a marvelous album – in fact, we play, as a part of the regular WHLI rotation, one of the songs from that album. It’s an amazing album.” FR:Well, thank you.” PR:AND, you have future endeavors, in fact – you k
now what? I saw you once sing a song at that concert that I was at, and I’m trying to think of the name….” FR:DON’T LAUGH AT ME!” PR:Okay….” FR:That was the one!” PR:No………….was it?” FR:Yeah, cause you told me if I could track that, If I’d record that – that you would play it and I haven’t …..I’ve failed to do that, and I will be doing that in January.” PR:Will You?” FR:YesPR:So, we have something to look forward to in the near future from Frank Rendo.FR:Yes, yes!” PR:All right, now – of course it’s the Christmas season and I wanna wish you the merriest of Christmases.” FR:Thank You.” PR: This has taken on a life of its own. What I mean by “this”, because this is radio, and they can’t see me – I’m holding up a copy of your Christmas Album called REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS, which I was in receipt of a little bit too late last year to make it a part of the WHLI Christmas presentation – But not THIS year! We are making up for it this year, for sure.” FR:Thanks.” PR:Tell us a little about how the idea was born for REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS.” FR:It’s interesting how it happened, because I’d been wanting to do a Christmas album for a very long time, and my collaborator, Palma Pascale, worked with m
e on this and we originally started it out as a piano vocal project, and then it kinda took on a life of its own and we worked on the album for about a year and a half.” PR:RightFR:And fully orchestrated it – Palma did a great job with arranging it and performing on that, too – and that’s how it came about. The title track was a song that she had written for a Broadway show – she wrote two songs on there – and I sang songs that I love to do and that meant a lot to me through the years, and stuff that I’ve done in other Christmas concerts through the years….finally, you know, tracking them for myself.” PR:It is apparent when the average person listens to REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS the hard work that went into just the song selection itself – You take a look at the 14 tracks – you go….somebody had their thinking cap on when it came to song selection on this thing.” FR:Thanks.”
PR:Whadda ya say we start with the title track?” FR:Absolutely!” PR: "REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS….Frank Rendo @WHLI." PLAYS TITLE TRACK: “REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS PR:That is from the Broadway musical called WHAT THE HELL, NELL?” FR:Right!” (laughs) PR: (laughing heartily) “and written by, ah… do you pronounce her name?” FR:Palm-a Pas-cal(e) – who dueted with me on that song.” PR:And she wrote that song?” FR:Yes, she wrote it.” PR:We are with Frank Rendo – a great artist from this absolutely extraordinary album, REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS, which we just played the title track from. And, we’ll be with Frank probably for the better part of this hour. What we’ll do Frank, is take a quick break, and come back with the other song Palma wrote – and it touches me deeply. This song….(contemplates)….when I sit back – and I get a lot of comments on this song – this one and another one which we will talk about later on in the show…..this one coming up after the break….uh….I’m a big boy, and I don’t cry very easily – but if I’m here by myself in the studio, and this song is on, (which it’s on A LOT on WHLI this Christmas Season)….and nobody’s looking through that window you see there…?”
FR: (laughs) “yeah…” PR:I get a lump in the throat – a little moist in the eye, and that’s how moving the next song is.” FR:Awww….that’s nice.” PR:We’ll talk about it right after the break." STATION BREAK PR:Ten twenty – twenty past 10 o’clock – it’s a Tuesday, the day before Christmas Eve. Here at @ WHLI I’m Paul Richards here with our very special guest in the studio, Mr. Frank Rendo, and again, good morning and thanks for coming out.” FR:Thank YOU.”
PR: “Have any trouble finding the joint?” FR:No…just some pothole roving repairs on the Southern Parkway, so…” PR:You worked your way around them?” FR:I did….got through, yes.” PR:A little zig – a little zag…” (both laugh) FR:Got here in time!” PR:We spoke on the phone a couple days ago and lo and behold, about a half hour after that, Palma called me.” FR:Yes, that’s what I heard.” PR:And, we talked a little bit, and among the many things, one that we talked about is this next song for the album that we’re gonna hear.”
FR: “Yeah….” PR:Called ‘Much Less Than Christmas’.” FR:Yes.” PR:And she surprised me – but rather than me giving it away, tell the audience what she had to say about the song and who it was originally intended for….” FR:Well, Palma was a composer for the Carpenters, and this song was written for them. Karen, unfortunately, never had the opportunity to record it because of her untimely death – so, umm….it was just sitting – waiting to be discovered and when she offered it to me….when we were working on this album….I said YES, and….let’s do it the way, perhaps, they would have done it. So, we kind of have that Carpenteresque flavor to it. But the song is very apropos for me because we’re in war time, and it talks about people who aren’t with us right now – or are no longer with us. And we kind of
miss them – like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas" was during World War II. I kind of sing it with that longing.” PR:Yeah…and it’s a…..the first time I played this song on WHLI, I told the audience it’s not the happiest Christmas song on record, but it’s moving and its beautifully performed, by the way.” FR:Thank You.” PR:It’s just all four minutes and 32 seconds – is just – you take it in….and you make sure you digest every little piece of this one cause musically, as a piece of music, it is superb! It is superb!!! Written by Palma Pascale, and it’s on the album REMEMB ERING CHRISTMAS, which by the way is available – I know has it…” FR:Right – The Christian Corner has it – The Christian Bookstore in Bethpage. But also, me directly; if you email me at” PR:All right – give that address out once again…” FR: PR:All right – it’s a great album to own – it’s also a great album to give as a gift.” FR: laughs……”Thanks!” PR:It’s also a wonderful stocking stuffer. And this is one of my favorite pieces from the album; so without further adieu…..if you haven’t heard this yet, and a lot of you have cause we really have been playing this piece…..take a listen to “Much Less Than Christmas.” This is Frank Rendo….” (pictured above: Palma Pascale) PLAYS: “MUCH LESS THAN CHRISTMAS
PR:WHEW! You should be mighty proud of THAT piece.” FR: (chuckles) PR:That is such a great song – and hats off to Palma, too, who did a lot of the instrumentation. On the liner notes you say 99% of the instruments?” FR:Yeah, she did – I mean – maybe I played some percussion and stuff like that, but she is a brilliant musician and a genius songwriter.” PR:Yeah, very, very good. Okay, now we gotta cheer up the people too, because as I said that’s a tear-jerker, that song. This one here, the Sinatra-Crosby classic – that was a tough chore to handle, but you pulled it off!” FR:That was great fun to do – I actually dueted with Fr. Charles Mangano and his sister Laurie Mangano and Palma did the back-ups, as well. We had great fun with this one.” PR:And the results are just shining on it. This is a wonderful rendition of something you all know – ah…’We Wish You The Merriest.” Again, from REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS, Frank Rendo….” PLAYS: “WE WISH YOU THE MERRIESTPR:Wow! Frank, dueting with Fr. Charles Mangano – Laurie Mangano on t
he track – Palma Pascale; Les Brown’s classic, ‘We Wish You The Merriest’ from REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS. It is 10:38 – we’re back with Frank Rendo here at WHLI…I’m Paul Richards, and again – congratulations my man, on what I feel is the holiday album of the year.” FR:Oh! That’s wonderful.” PR:It’s just a wonderful, wonderful thing. And again, we’re gonna play a song here which further demonstrates the…..ah……the thought that went into the song selection. How did you decide to (muses)….hmmmmm…..I think I’ll take something from a Disney animated feature and put it in my Christmas album?” (laughs) “Tell me about that.” FR:Interestingly, I had been singing ‘God Help The Outcasts’ for a few years and that song always struck a chord with my audiences – so, when we had the opportunity to do this record…” PR:Yep..” FR: “….I said – you know, I should just add it to this because, you know, what a better time to sing this message that’s about loving and reaching out to those in need?” PR:Now this is the season for that kind of message.” FR:Right! So that’s why we put it on.”
PR:And again, the performance of the song – well….there’s not a stiff on this album! You know that, right?” FR:Thank you.” PR: There’s 14 gems in this package and we urge people to, ah…..if you have to buy ONE Christmas album this year; make it this one – you’ll never regret the decision. It’s available at and also by emailing you at …..’ FR: PR:And here, from the Disney animated version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame is ‘God Help The Outcasts’.”
PLAYS: “GOD HELP THE OUTCASTS.” PR:My man, you put your HEART and SOUL into this project, did you NOT?” FR: (chuckles) “Yes…yes, I did.” PR: And, I noticed this took the better part of a year to do cause, right in the liner notes, ladies and gentlemen, when you open up the booklet – in fact (laughs)….my mother used to be fond of a saying: “A month of Sundays.” Well, this took a year and a month. October 6, 2006 until November 8th, 2007 – you guys worked on this project.” FR:Right…yeah – 13 months.” PR:And it SHOWS! Thirteen months to come up with 14 glorious songs on a wonderful Christmas album.” FR: “AND, brilliantly engineered by Fred Guarino at TIKI Recording in Glen Cove.” PR: “Yeah, he adds excellent production values all around….this IS the album to get.” FR:Thank You.” PR:For me, with Ms. Pascale – it says 99% of the instruments – well, here are some of them…..piano, electric piano, harpsichord, bass, solo violin and cello, string sections and string effects, clarinet, flute, oboe, English horn, French horn, trumpet, trombone, baritone sax, harpsichord, xylophone, vibes, B-4 organ, accordion, drums…” FR: (chuckles) PR: (cont.) “…and on and on – the chime bells – wait a minute, chime bell tree – what is a chime bell tree?” FR:It literally, physically looks like a tree that you hit, and it does all that tinkling.” PR:Okay…..triangle, tambourine….”Madona mi!” and human voice effects…
.” (laughs) FR:Yeah, I just sang – that’s all I did.” PR:That’s all you did, huh?” All right….ah….this song here was recorded by just about anybody – I mean….almost everybody records a version of ‘We Need a Little Christmas’…..when I heard YOUR version…….This actually, to me, portrayed the meaning of the song – the meaning of why you need a little Christmas – because you spell it out by painting a picture – it’s as if it were a portrait and then, of course, it goes into a jubilant thing…in all its splendor and glory… get the effect of the song as intended when it was composed. From the beginning you actually say “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THIS IS WHY, FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD, WE NEED A LITTLE CHRISTMAS.” And…this is the track that leads off the album.” FR:Right – It’s the opening.” PR:You first open this up, take the shrink wrapping off – put it in your CD player and listen to Frank Rendo on his album REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS. This is the first track you hear….” PLAYS: “WE NEED A LITTLE CHRISTMASPR:And you certainly give it to us with this album. You tell us why we need it, and you get 13 songs after this that really give you….well, it just sums up Christmas beautifully.” FR:Oh! Thank you.” PR:So….what are your future plans? What are you gonna be doing?
Where are you gonna be?”
FR:Where am I gonna be??! Come January? Well, I’m always appearing at Samantha’s Li’l Bit of Heaven the first Saturday of every month…” PR:Right.” FR:And that’s in East Northport. It’s kind of a coffee-house situation – I’m always in concert there. And, other things are kinda up in the air for the moment.” PR:I see – now we can catch you in various churches…” FR:Right.” PR:Are there night time concerts?”
FR: “Yeah, I do a lot of concerts through the year.” PR:Well if you can keep in touch with the itinerary, there are a lot of people that are going to want to check you out.” FR:Anybody who wants to can e-mail me and I’ll put them on the mailing” PR:Why didn’t I think of that?” (both chuckle) “You could be the host – want my job? How about my shirt – wanna buy my shirt?” (laughs)…..”We’ll be right bac
STATION BREAK PR:This hour went too fast!” FR:Yeah, I know…!” PR:We began at ten o’clock, now it’s five till eleven….time’s flying – it’s what happens when you’re having a lot of fun, lilstening to just a glorious project known as REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS, which, by the way, a lot of people have been call
ing and asking how to get it – and the easiest way in your opinion and probably the way to save a few pennies is by e-mailing you?” FR:Yeah, and I can get it to you sooner, I think. is my e-mail address.” PR:Right, and mention that store in Bethpage again…” FR:The Christian Corner, on Broadway in Bethpage – they also carry it.” PR:Okay…plus of course on the Internet at, which is a great little Internet record store, by the way.” FR:It IS, especially for independent artists like me.”
PR: “They have very fair, reasonable prices and quick service.” FR:Yes.”
PR:Quick…I’m tellin’ ya! All right – regarding REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS – track three (3) – I never heard of the man who wrote this – I’m looking at this, uh…credits on the album right now….the song is credited to a Michael Card. C-A-R-D. Do you know who Michael Card IS?” FR:Yes, I do…He is a brilliant songwriter in the contemporary Christian music field, and he loves to do story songs. He’s also a theologian. And, he wrote this song called Joseph’s Song, which is an extraordinary thing, and I’ve been singing it for many years. So
, Palma, who was my collaborator on this project, said: “Well, that’s one of the first ones we’re gonna do” cause she loved it so much, so….we did it.” PR:Yeah, when she called me, she related to me that when she first heard you, she knew she had to work with you. The FIRST TIME she heard you, she said “I have to work with this man.” FR: (chuckles) “Well, it was good fortune for both of us.” PR:So…Michael Card wrote this?” FR:He did! It’s a story that comes from Joseph’s perspective of what it would have been like for him to raise the son of God as a child in his household. It’s something we never really think about….what that would be like….to be a parent to JESUS.” PR:I’d never thought about it until I saw a production in Lancaster County – it was a great production – a very elaborate production; in fact, bigger than anything you’d see on Broadway.” FR:Hmmmm….yes….” PR:So big, that I don’t even think Radio City Music Hall is big enough to house this thing…..and I kiknd of got a little perspective about Joseph, watching that production.” FR:Okay…” PR:And that’s been a few years ago. Until, of course, THIS album came along and, before we hear it, and we’re just seconds away from hearing it, I must tell you that, as far as audience response, from our listeners – this is the highlight of the album.”
FR:Oh, wow!” PR:In their eyes…” FR:That’s very nice.” PR:It IS great – it’s beyond great – it’s tremendous!! This is….Joseph’s Song…..Frank Rendo from his album, REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS, on WHLI. (pictured above: Frank Rendo and Palma Pascale)
PLAYS: “JOSEPH’S SONGPR:Wow! There’s that chime tree you were talking about.” FR:Yep! That’s the bell tree.” PR: (laughs) “What a song!” FR:Yes…..” PR:What a song – Joseph’s Song.” FR:Joseph’s Song….Michael Card.” PR:It’s GREAT! Now, here we are at the top of the hour – so since we’ve got our traffic report and CNN headline news now, I’m gonna ask you a mighty big favor, Frank Rendo…”
FR:Yes?” PR:I’m gonna ask you to hang for just a little big – till after the news because I do wanna get to an extraordinary version of O Holy Night!” FR:Sure.” PR:Can you do that?” FR:Absolutely!” STATION BREAK/CNN HEADLINE NEWS
PR:It’s nine minutes after the eleven o’clock hour – one hour to go towards the Joe Satter show on this Christmas Eve …..I guess it’s Christmas Eve eve?” FR:Yes, it is!” PR:And a Merry Christmas to you, again!”
FR:Merry Christmas!” PR: Thanks for hanging out overtime.”
FR:I’m having a great time.”
PR:It’s kinda like a football game…..gonna play a little overtime!”
FR: “Studio time goes – like an hour goes like in five minutes!”
PR:It’s amazing…it’s amazing! So…a lot of people wanna know where and how they can get REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS – this extraordinary Christmas album that you did. First of all, thank you for MAKING this. I’d like to personally thank you for making this product.” FR:And thank YOU for playing it as much as you do – such great support. Very generous.” PR:You know what? Good music is good music! Let’s face it – so how are some of the ways you can get this thing?” FR:Well, you could e-mail me at PR:All right, and of course we should mention about, cause they’re a really great, great store – very reputable, by the way.”FR:Yes, and they’re very supportive of independent artists like myself.”
PR:All right!! Now, we’re done with the business…..let’s go to what I can the granddaddy of all Christmas Carols.” FR:Oh, my favorite one.” PR:Yeah, I - - you know what? A LOT of people I think have told me when it comes to Christmas songs….and how many countless thousands of Christmas songs there are…….a lot of people’s favorite Christmas song is O Holy Night!” FR:That’s the one!” PR:It really is….and you do it justice – BEYOND justice.”
FR: “Oh, thank you.”
PR: "This is like a majestic rendition of O Holy Night!” FR:Thank You.” PR:From the album REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS…..Frank Rendo…..O Holy Night!” PLAYS: “O HOLY NIGHT(pictured above: Frank Rendo)
PR:Wow! As I say, once in a while on this show….”Madona, Mi!” (lots of laughter from both) PR:Oh wow! All right…..REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS…again, you can e-mail Frank at” FR:Yes, that’s right.”
PR:And that little store in Bethpage has it?”
FR:Yes, The Christian Corner, on Broadway.”
PR:And has it too?” FR:Yes, they do!” PR:Frank – thank you so much – have a wonderful merry and blessed Christmas.”
FR:And you as well.”
PR:And, thank you for joining me, here.”
FR:Thank YOU for your generosity and your kindness.”
PR:Wow, how an hour and 18 minutes can fly by – filled with beautiful music, though! FR:Thank You.”
PR:It’s just certainly a Christmas album for the ages – it’s GREAT!” We love it! FR:Awww….Thank you.” PR:A permanent, annual part of the WHLI Christmas celebration.”
FR:That’s incredible – thank you.”
PR:Hey…have a safe holiday season.” FR:You, too!” There you have it, my readers – a really great interview by Paul Richards of WHLI. Of course, you could guess this, but I wrote to Paul just after hearing this interview for the first time. He was quite gracious, and wrote back, even though he was a bit under the weather at the time. He told me Frank was a great artist, and a friend of WHLI, and that REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS was a real favorite there, too. He spoke quite highly of Frank! Hmmm….I’d wonder why………….but I already KNOW! Until my next installment… safe, and may God Bless you all with the wonderful music by Frank Rendo! It WILL bless you!
Musically Yours, ~Martini

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brilliant work by everybody involved. Loved to read this!