DCMTA Exclusive: Helen Hayes Award Winner Iyona Blake Announces Upcoming EP ‘Timeless’

On a recent warm Monday evening, Helen Hayes Award recipient Iyona Blake announced her next musical venture, an EP (extended play) of some of her favorite songs. The album will be called “Timeless.”

Iyona Blake in 'Lady Day' at Creative Cauldron. Photo by Keith Waters Kx Photography.
Iyona Blake in ‘Lady Day’ at Creative Cauldron. Photo by Keith Waters Kx Photography.

The title “Timeless” is very purposeful, noted Blake. The songs she will select and sing will be those that “are not just trendy, but for the ages. Sophisticated, beautiful songs that speak to a listener; that spark a listener no matter whether heard today or twenty years from today.”

“These are timeless songs with a shape, melody, texture, rhythm, and lyrics that can have a listener feel refreshed. Songs that together will weave a story on the EP,” said Blake.

“I have known Iyona for over two decades as a friend and an artist. It is past time for this timely artist to perform her ‘Timeless’ album. She encompasses sounds and styles from yesteryear into the present,” said Matt Conner, producer, NeverMore Records. NeverMore Records will produce and release the “Timeless” album.

Champions Alan Savada and Will Stevenson provided lovely intimate, unamplified surroundings for Blake and her very personal cabaret evening of songs and storytelling. Over 50 guests from far and wide provided their support as Blake launched the evening with her warm presence.

At the evening event, the songs from Blake’s stylish selections demonstrated her genuine emotional impact and illustrated her personal storytelling skills. They provided a taste of what listeners can expect when the “Timeless” album is produced and released. But Blake made clear that final selections for the “Timeless” album are not yet completed.

Blake’s soprano vocal technique and easygoing storytelling were in full display as the audience sat hushed and leaning forward. She was accompanied on piano first by Mark Meadows and then by Doug Bowles.

By way of background for those less familiar with Blake, she is a graduate of Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Shenandoah University Conservatory, where she studied Voice Performance and received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Performance. She received the 2017 Helen Hayes Award as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical, Helen Production for her role as Caroline Thibodeaux in the Creative Cauldron production of Caroline, or Change.

Iyona Blake in 'Blues in the Night' at Creative Cauldron. Photo by Keith Waters Kx Photography.
Iyona Blake in ‘Blues in the Night’ at Creative Cauldron. Photo by Keith Waters Kx Photography.

Her cabaret evening song list included musical numbers from a wide range of composers and decades. Each showcased her heartfelt interpretations and touching delivery. Each provided their own emotional wallop.

Blake’s intimate cabaret evening song list included:

“God Bless the Child” Billie Holiday (and Arthur Hertzog Jr), 1939

“What a Little Moonlight Can Do” Harry M. Woods, 1934

“The Very Thought of You” Ray Noble, 1934

“No One is Alone” Stephen Sondheim, 1986

“Maybe This Time” John Kander and Fred Ebb, 1964

In a later conversation, Blake said she “felt so blessed for such a beautiful evening.” An evening that took place not long after Blake’s closing night performance in the critically and audience-acclaimed production of Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Signature Theatre.

For the “Timeless” project, Blake expects to select 6-7 songs to record. The songs will range in decades from the 1930s to today. Some will be covers and others original numbers. Each will have a story to tell singly, then shaped and woven into a connected whole. “For this is what I do. I am a teller of stories through song of all kinds,” said Blake.

It was clear to those who attended the event for Blake’s upcoming “Timeless” album that she is a woman who feels what she sings and sings what grabs her so she can hold the audience to her. And that is such a satisfaction.

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David Siegel
David Siegel is a freelance theater reviewer and features writer whose work appears on DC Metro Theater Arts, ShowBiz Radio, in the Connection Newspapers and the Fairfax Times. He is a judge in the Helen Hayes Awards program. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and volunteers with the Arts Council of Fairfax County. David has been associated with theater in the Washington, DC area for nearly 30 years. He served as Board President, American Showcase Theater Company (now Metro Stage) and later with the American Century Theater as both a member of the Executive Board and as Marketing Director. You can follow David's musings on Twitter @pettynibbler.

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