Listening to Inga Neilsen sing on her new CD of love songs sends one right into the reverie of the live moment. It’s almost as good as hearing her in the intimacy of a club and, as luck would have it, Neilsen, a longtime Palisadian, is performing songs from her new album “Love Me With All Your Heart” on Thursday, February 5 at the Gardenia in Hollywood. Neilsen wraps her big voice around lyrics and sends them out as if they were intended for you alone. Even with songs that have become other artists’ signatures, such as “Over the Rainbow” or “Send in the Clowns,” Neilsen offers her own personal style, complemented by musical director Lee Lovett and his jazz ensemble, who will also be appearing with her at the Gardenia. Musicians, who Neilsen says “often don’t like singers,” have responded to her work. “While we were recording the CD, Larry Dougherty, who plays tenor saxophone and flute on the album, was in the sound room with his eyes closed, listening to the playback of ‘When Your Lover Has Gone.’ ‘Boy, can this gal sing,’ he said.” Neilsen started her career at the age of 8, winning a scholarship to the American School of Dance in Los Angeles. In high school, she was involved with the a capella choir and the dance club. By 19, she was singing and dancing in shows in Las Vegas, Japan, and Hong Kong. She took time off to raise her son, but several years ago decided to rekindle her first love. “The reopening of my career started with Didi Presents at Mort’s,” she says. From there, she began to sing in clubs and cut her first CD, “Keys to the Heart.” But her big break came when she was hired to perform in the Palm Springs Follies, a Broadway-type show of music and dance performed by “hard-core professional, first-rate performers…who just happen to be old.” While Neilsen, 62, was the youngest of these troupers, she says that she was working as hard as she ever has. After appearing in The Palm Springs Follies as a featured singer for three seasons, she is back in town and performing locally. Her new CD offers a variety of material, including “Love Me With All Your Heart” in English and Spanish. While her music is not of today, Scott Elsworth of KWXY in Palm Springs plays it every weekend. “You give a ballad to a 19- or 20-year-old singer and they don’t know what to do with it,” he says. “They have to have lived a while.” Dinner at the Gardenia is served starting from 7 p.m. For reservations to the dinner/show, contact (323) 467-7444. The album is available at any show at which Neilsen performs, also at Hollywood Sheet Music, 7777 Sunset Blvd., (323) 850-1075, or from the artist at 454-4272.
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