Tuesday, November 15, 2016.
Deana Martin still remembers her father’s response when she asked for voice lessons as a girl.
“He said, ‘Why? Do you want to sound like everybody else? Get your own sound,’” she recalls with a laugh. “I don’t think he understood that not everyone has that natural, beautiful voice. Some of us need help.”
Nevertheless, Deana’s childhood suffered no shortage of inspiration from her renowned father Dean Martin, Rat Pack member of legendary status in Las Vegas.
Not only did she accompany her father to recording sessions at Capitol Records and performances at the Copa Room of the Sands Hotel and Casino, but there was also a steady stream of world-class artists in their Beverly Hills home, including “Uncle Frank” Sinatra and “Uncle Sammy” Davis Jr.
“Imagine coming into the living room and here’s Sammy Cahn at the piano,” she recalls of visits from the famous songwriter nominated for 30 Oscars. “I wasn’t intimidated by these people because I grew up with them. How they influenced me in my life was amazing. I just absorbed this music that was playing all the time.”
Currently touring nearly 300 days a year and singing many of the standards popularized by her father and his pals, Deana has continued to walk in her father’s footsteps. This includes recording in the same Capitol Records studio he did — with many of the same studio musicians — and even performing in some of the Las Vegas venues her father did.
Deana relished the elegant way people dressed for Vegas shows during her father’s prime, she remembers, with the audience gasping when Dean took the stage.
“It was a time of style and class,” she says. “For me now, when I walk out with the big band or orchestra, I feel the same excitement as I did when I saw my dad’s shows.”
She follows all of the rules her father taught her, she adds, including always being on time, learning lyrics inside and out, and treating everyone with respect, regardless of their position.
“He was funny and cool and sweet. When you saw Dean Martin on his TV shows or his movies, that’s who he really was,” she says.
One big difference between Deana and her father is rehearsing, she notes. She needs it, while her father didn’t.
“He did his TV show on Sunday afternoon. He’d just walk in after everybody had rehearsed all week, put on his tuxedo and watch the walk-through and then go out and do the show,” she says.
Deana has pursued other projects outside of performing. After taking aerobics classes from Richard Simmons decades ago, she was inspired to launch her own successful health company and fitness video.
An avid traveler, she is also a licensed pilot and enjoys getting behind the controls of her and her husband’s Twin Cessna when they have the time.
Looking forward to her holiday shows at The Smith Center on December 16 and 17, Deana says the coming year has big things in store, including the release of a new tribute album celebrating what would have been her father’s centennial birthday.
As she continues to perform, she says, her father remains her inspiration.
“When I go on stage, I think of my father and Frank Sinatra, say a little prayer and sing from my heart,” she says.
“Deana Martin: Holiday Cheer,” runs December 16 and 17 at The Smith Center. For tickets and more information, visit: www.thesmithcenter.com/event/deana-martin-holiday-cheer/.
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