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NOTE: This feature article, a cover story, was researched

and written for WOMAN, a monthly magazine published by

the Connecticut Post. 1,390 Words

Amy’s Decisive Mom

A Talk with Judge Frederica Brenneman

By Jane R. Snyder

Off of the dining room in her family’s cozy farmhouse in Westport, Frederica Brenneman leads me into what she calls, “The Women’s Room.” The Judge points with pride to walls lined with photos of her mother, her mother-in-law, her husband’s aunt, her daughter, Amy, and herself.  Then she adds, “There is no Men’s Room.”  Don’t be misled though, she has been happily married to Russell, since their sophomore year at Harvard law school, and they also have two talented sons. 

Her career as a juvenile court judge served as the inspiration for her daughter to create and star in “Judging Amy,” the hit CBS television series that debuted in 1999. The semi-retired justice, who serves the state system on an on-call basis, is still just as outspoken as her daughter’s bold portrayal.

Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Judge Brenneman fell in love with the East Coast while studying economics at Radcliffe.  In 1950, while working at some “dead end jobs,” Harvard opened its law school to women and she thought, “Oh, goody, I can go back to Cambridge and not have to write a P-H-D thesis.  That’s how motivated I was, but when I got there I realized what a good fit law was for me.”  She and Russell, a semi-retired environmental attorney, graduated together in 1953.

After an unsuccessful run for Probate Court Judge in Essex, CT, Frederica accepted a position as a part-time law clerk when she “didn’t even know what a law clerk was.”  With her husband’s support, she managed to juggle her family responsibilities with her work and she “found the whole legislative process fascinating.”

When asked about her role models, Frederica smiles.  “Until I was appointed to the bench there was only one female judge in the state, Margaret Driscoll.  She was a very feisty, early feminist. She was wonderful, but we had very different temperaments.  I never knew lawyers before I went to law school.  I never knew any judges until I became one. My whole life has been serendipitous.”  Serendipity or not, Judge Brenneman’s experiences have sharpened her outlook.

She explained that child abuse came out of the closet in about 1963, when a pediatric orthopedist and pediatrician said child abuse was a pediatric diagnosis. That unexplained injuries, or injuries the explanation of which was at variance with the symptoms, were scientific.  Child abuse laws were passed across the country and that put the courts in a position to intervene.  In 1967, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that juveniles were entitled to constitutional due process, Brenneman was appointed.  At that time there were only two judges in the state who reviewed juvenile cases.  She is pleased that Amy’s show can get a message out to millions of viewers.

“I would like to increase sensitivity to the fact that just because a mother uses drugs doesn’t mean that you have to remove the child.  If the parents aren’t there, is there someone else in the home to keep an eye on the kid?  How old is the kid?  Has the kid demonstrated an ability to live in this situation?

“DCF (Department of Children and Families) is apt to say mom’s got dirty urine, out she goes whether she’s an infant - which I would agree with - or an eight-year-old who’s survived. I’d like to get it across to the public that these things are not just automatic.  In fact, the name of the show when Amy made the pilot—and maybe that’s why the family name is Gray—was ‘Shades of Gray’. Everything is not just black and white.

“In a criminal court he either did it or didn’t and there’s a jury to decide. In a neglect case you’re trying to predict the future. One of the horses I’m presently riding, I think there should be a law that mandates a judge to make what amounts to an environmental impact statement, a removal impact statement. DCF comes in and says mother’s a druggie, mother’s a drunk. They look at the parent and see misbehavior and grab the children.

“It sounds good, new judges are apt to buy it, but I think moving against the X per cent that the child will be harmed, and the likelihood of harm if removed, even to a good foster home, doesn’t justify the separation from the parent.  They aren’t required to even consider it and harm is being done. Some of this predictive neglect stuff has gone way too far.”

“As a result of not wanting to make a mistake and being insecure, some judges are inclined not to make a decision which is the worst thing that can happen to a kid. Kids can get lost in the system, just linger in foster homes, which is why I think what we do is so desperately important.  Within the juvenile system, if you deal properly with a fourteen or fifteen-year-old delinquent there’s a good chance you won’t see them as an adult.”

Why do some people call the juvenile justice system the stepchild of the judicial process?

“When it was a separate court, it was an inferior court that nobody wanted to serve on unless they were bitten by the child bug. After the trial courts merged, I became a superior court judge and I was rotated in and out of difference assignments.  I found that what I was doing in the juvenile court was the most important, but it’s very hard to get judges to accept those assignments. I don’t know what the reason is. I think it’s becoming a women’s bench, which I’m sorry to see.”

Asked if she thought self-esteem is a factor for kids who wind up in front of a judge, Brenneman didn’t hesitate to respond.

“Years ago when I’d see teenage girls who had taken some drug at a party, I’d ask them, ‘Didn’t you think about what you were putting into your body?’  There seemed to be this indifference. I think that must have something to do with self-esteem.  I also think that teenagers who don’t care if they get pregnant, don’t care that it’s going to cut off their education, and limit their income, and, of course, the fact that they don’t know anything about raising kids, that must have something to do with, ‘I’m not worth much.’”

Does Judge Brenneman have any advice for aspiring women judges, today? 

“What started me on my path was when I said, ‘Yes, I would run for Probate Judge.’ You have to labor in the political vineyard and get yourself known by the people who make appointments.  Nowadays, I don’t think I would ever be appointed.  I really think I had a guardian angel.” 

For someone who didn’t want to have to write a thesis in graduate school, she laughs now when discussing the lengthy decisions she has drafted since being appointed to the bench.  

“Because I’ve been around so long I know staff all over the state. I think of myself as a kind of Johnny Appleseed—to educate social workers and lawyers on how to make their practice more effective for kids.”  Any one of them can consider themselves lucky to call this dedicated justice a mentor.

In her spare time, Frederica enjoys theater, museums, gardening, and, with two grandchildren living in California, traveling as often as she can.  She also functions as a non-credited consultant for “Judging Amy,” though she admits she’s always trying to make the stories “accurate for Connecticut.”

A big fan of her daughter’s work, she says, “We like watching just to see the range of work that she does.”  Brenneman also admires Tyne Daly who plays Amy’s mother. “I’m so happy for her because she’s such a good actress and aging actresses don’t get very many opportunities to play anything besides aging actresses.  Her sex life is better on the series than Amy’s!”

When Judge Brenneman walks into a courtroom in her robe, she trusts her ability to be decisive, but Amy’s mom admits, “When I have to give a dinner party and I can’t decide between lamb and chicken, I’ll serve both.” 

Considering all that Frederica Brenneman has managed to accomplish, I am sure that both her guests, as well as the public she continues to serve on a case-by-case basis, are all happy to see her step into the room.





CONCEPTS & COPY © 2011  Jane R. Snyder Marketing Solutions ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

NOTE: Web Content - This article was researched and written for

Just Your Style, a monthly Webzine for women using products

manufactured by Organon Pharmaceuticals. 960 Words



Jo Anne Van Tilburg, PH.D.

By Jane R. Snyder

When asked where her love of the natural world originated, archaeologist Jo Anne Van Tilburg, Ph.D., says, “From the time I was a small child I was interested. In fact, one of the earliest photos my parents have of me is at about 3 years old, dressed warmly, walking down a dirt road picking up rocks.”

Considered the world’s leading expert on the mysterious Easter Island (Rapa Nui) statues, Jo Anne has picked up her fair share of rocks during the course of her amazing career. Besides directing the Easter Island Statue Project, she is Research Associate at The Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Director of UCLA’s Rock Art Archive. Her newest book, Among Stone Giants: The Life of Katherine Routledge and Her Remarkable Expedition to Easter Island, is an impressive biography of another trailblazer much like herself.

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Dr. Van Tilburg received her BA in Humanities and Social Science at the University of Minnesota. After completing her first master’s degree in Educational Psychology at UCLA, she worked as a junior high school social science teacher. Later, while working with high school boys through the Fernald School of UCLA’s Psychology Department, she cleverly used archaeology to get them interested in learning.

When she took a break to spend some time at home to raise her daughter, Jo Anne’s avocational interest in archaeology deepened. She decided to return to UCLA, where she earned a PH.D. in the field that has held her passion ever since. She did a typical combination of archaeological fieldwork, interspersed with compiling research in her busy campus lab. Prior to finishing her Ph.D., Jo Anne worked on excavations in California, Mexico, and Guatemala.

“I was more or less a grunt on those projects. I basically had a chance to get my feet wet in a lot of things. I worked in pottery labs identifying lithics (stone tools). I also recorded prehistoric rock art.”

How she wound up working with the Rapa Nui community to inventory, describe, and catalogue the 887 statues (moai) that cover Easter Island is a story all by itself. Her success in documenting the size, shape, design, and placement of the prehistoric monoliths has brought Jo Anne worldwide attention. And the entire world continues to be fascinated by the moai, which average 14 feet tall and weigh between 8 and 10 tons apiece.

“Of all of the fields of archaeology, it was prehistoric rock art that interested me the most because it dealt with not only what people made, but what people believed. I love ancient aesthetics. It’s a window into a people’s way of looking at the world.”

Dr. Van Tilburg says that people always respond to the glamour of archaeology, to the excitement, and to what she calls the “Indiana Jo Anne-ish” part of it. What they don’t always understand is the hard, lonely fieldwork that is necessary to locate all the clues and then tie them together to reveal an entire story.

There are no typical days in Jo Anne’s life. Her work is divided into blocks of time in and out of the field. Sometimes she is sitting alone at a computer, writing. Sometimes she is busy supervising the 30 people at the Rock Art Archive, a research facility that is charged with conserving, preserving, and archiving the records of prehistoric art in California, the Far West, and the Pacific.

On average, she travels to Easter Island twice a year, staying anywhere from 2 weeks to 4 months at a time. Though she has taught in UCLA’s archaeology program in the past, Jo Anne is currently not teaching, but focused on research, lectures, and promoting her book.

Dr. Van Tilburg spent 5 years researching the life of Katherine Routledge in England, Scotland, and Africa, where the Routledges lived for two years. She feels that the journey she while writing her book was as exciting as any archaeological project in that she had to excavate the records of one woman’s life “with as much care, really, as I’ve been trained to excavate the soil to seek the answers to the past.”

Among Stone Giants follows a woman raised in a repressive Quaker home as she battles the constraints of the Edwardian era, and the stigma of hereditary mental illness, in order to make a truly remarkable trip to Easter Island on the Mana Expedition in 1913. As unveiled by Van Tilburg, Routledge’s life proves to be a compelling adventure.

“Following Katherine’s path in that early part of her life was almost shamelessly easy. I met so many of her relatives, all of whom were more than willing to share their memories. I found pages and pages of her unpublished manuscripts and notes that were very useful to me. Walking in her footsteps on Easter Island is basically what I do.

“Katherine began the work I’m now finishing. She started the work in 1914, but was unable to finish it because she became a victim of schizophrenia late in her life. When I started this book, I was afraid that my researching her life might discredit her work, but it didn’t. I can demonstrate that while she was working on Easter Island, she was in control of her illness, so her work is valuable and valid.”

Dr. Van Tilburg credits the ongoing support of her husband and her daughter for helping her to successfully juggle both her family and her career. Katherine Routledge may have begun the exploration of Easter Island nearly a century ago, but Jo Anne Van Tilburg’s own achievements continue to honor the memory and accomplishments of her spiritual archaeological mentor.

For more information, or to purchase Dr. Van Tilburg’s book, please visit: 





Meet the author of Riding in Cars with Boys



By Jane R. Snyder

Editor’s Note: Beverly Donofrio’s trials as a pregnant 15-year-old Wallingford girl were portrayed by Drew Barrymore in the movie based on her book, Riding in Cars with Boys.

If one pays careful attention, grace can often be discovered while moving from hard knocks to softer and more hope-filled landings. In Beverly Donofrio’s writing this lesson is happily served up in generous helpings. When it comes to her work she admits that the old cliche is true, “Basically, it’s 90 percent perspiration, and 10 percent inspiration.” And so she has.

Riding in Cars with Boys, unveiled her early life as a rebellious,  small  town  girl  who  became a  mother, wife,  and divorcee, all by the age of 19. “There weren’t too many memoirs out there when I was writing mine; it was not such a well known medium yet.... You’d be surprised at the people who’d come up after they read the book and bare their hearts and souls to me. Women who confessed they had had babies then given them up for adoption. They felt like I had written it for them.”

Director Penny Marshall turned Donofrio’s story into a poignant film. One critic referred to the movie as a “working-class Chekov.”

Pleased with the overall treatment of her book, the author’s main grievance was that in the movie she didn’t get to go to college. Beverly wanted a more upbeat ending, perhaps a letter saying she had been accepted to college. After Donofrio gave birth to her son, she studied at Wesleyan University then received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University.


Beverly’s own voice, both on and off the page, is direct, sensitive and punctuated by warm laughter. “While writing

I had a mission to let people know what it was like to be a single mother on welfare, to come from a working-class family and not be given the chance to go to college,” she explained. “I started it while I was in graduate school at Columbia. I wanted to let them know what it was like.”

What was her earliest memory of wanting to write? Says Donofrio, books have always been a passion. “It was probably the first time I read. I was five or six and I went in the basement where there was The Book of Knowledge, the only set of books in the house. Writing was the only thing I ever got any praise for in school... I never though a person like me could be a writer... I guess I had a deeply buried fantasy about becoming a writer, but it was nothing I would ever voice until college.”

Writing about her family wasn’t always easy, but it proved to be a necessary catharsis. Though some might consider her first book “airing my dirty laundry,” she dedicated it to her parents and son. “I’m so grateful to them for the fact that they let me write about them. They could be threatening to sue me or something. I take great license with their lives and they’ve always been supportive.”

Upon the publication of her book, they were finally privy to what she had been thinking all along as were the rest of Beverly’s readers. For what she describes as a “non-communicative family” this was quite a milestone. When asked about the best lesson she learned about being a mother, this single parent didn’t hesitate a bit. “Guilt only makes things worse. Guilt does no good for your child, or for you, or for the world. If you can control it, just drop it.”


Perhaps the most famous mother of all is the focus of Donofrio’s second memoir, Looking for Mary or the Blessed Mother and Me. In it, this “lapsed Catholic” describes her love affair with the Virgin Mary so well that non-mothers or non-Catholics would enjoy the journey. You may come away from it feeling as if you and Beverly have talked over a good cup of coffee.

“Mary is a female god. She embodies everything that we

think of as female only in a god. You don’t have to be a mother; she is your mother. She gives everything you would want from an ideal mother to give you. She’s very comforting and helpful.”

Donofrio’s enthusiasm for the Madonna is infectious and she believes everyone should “get yourself a Mary!”


This hard-working literary seeker, now living in Mexico, a place she reveals “makes you humble,” shared some philosophy worth considering. “All we really have is our own will and you really can will yourself to forgive...to feel joy...to look on the sunny side,”she said confidently. “If you can do that you have it in the pocket.”


NOTE: This feature article was written for WOMAN, a monthly magazine

published by the Connecticut Post. 750 words.



By Jane R. Snyder

We all learned to memorize the alphabet in school, but Bronx-born Jazz vocalist, Laurie Krauz, has made it her very best friend.  Whether she dives right into the heart of a lyric, or chooses to scat her way through the music, there’s no doubt you will remember her long after the notes have faded away. She talked with blue butterfly recently about the forthcoming release of her debut CD, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN.  Produced by Daryl Kojak, Laurie is joined by Sean Conly on bass, Gene Lewin on drums, George Coleman on tenor sax, and her longtime arranger/musical director, Kojak, on piano.

Laurie, those of us who have seen you perform understand why the word “passion” is often used to describe your style.  Where did all that passion begin?

“Probably, my mother would tell you in vitro. I have always been tempestuous. It would have to be an older family member to answer that. I’m sure from ‘out of the shoot’ I’ve always been that way. I’ve always had a lot of emotional energy.”

That makes Jazz a good calling.

“Yes. I also considered singing opera, but the difference in opera, which I love, there is a requirement to follow the music. In voice lessons I work on arias because I love singing them, but I need the freedom that comes with Jazz.”

Do you think your passion is well used on CATCH ME IF YOU CAN?

“Oh, yes, I’m very, very pleased with this and I’m not pleased with a whole hell of a lot. I’m a really tough critic.”

Why do I hear that from performers so often?

“You know I think, in a certain way, nothing would ever be finished. I was talking to someone about it recently. How do you know something is finished? Because there’s a deadline and you have to deliver the goods, but it’s never finished. In listening to the CD now, the goals that I set for it, and the risks that I sought to take -- if there’s no risk why bother?  Risk is so important to me in every aspect of what goes on, the recording, the packaging. There has to be risk -- everything I’ve done in my life has included risk.”

Do you feel that way every time you step onto a stage?

“Absolutely! In fact, I ask myself before I step on stage, What is the risk I”m going to take tonight? And it may not be something huge, I mean, we Americans think in terms of such black and white, but I think the way you grow and learn is by not looking at it that way.  That you take gray steps to really grow and change.

“The best part about what this is that it’s an art form where you are never a learned scholar. I think when Ella Fitzgerald went to her grave -- and she’s a deity to me -- she probably thought well, at that last gig, I could have done better.  I’m sure she did.

“I feel I honored what I do on this CD and I’m very proud of that. This is the CD I set out to make and I’m really happy about that. There were choices about what to put on it. About where to improvise and where not to. I didn’t want to sell out what I do. What I do is take risks.  My whole life has been designed around that.”

Your fans have been eagerly waiting for this project to be done.  Was it hard for you to select the final material you included on the project?

“It was. You know, we’ve been doing this so many years now there are, I don’t know how many tunes that we do regularly.

I made the mistake several years ago of sending out to fan/friends, people who’d been around me for years, a list of ‘everything we do’ and asking what would they want to hear on the CD.  It was a mistake because I got back information on everything.

“There was no consensus on anything. Then there are practical considerations: there need to be a certain number of upswing tunes, and mid-swing tunes, and how many ballads? So there was a structure to how we went about it. Then it becomes like Sophie’s Choice, you get down to two ballads which are very similar, similar keys, similar message, and you’re going to pick one of them.”

You have a longtime working relationship with your producer/musical director, Daryl Kojak. There seems to enormous trust between the two of you. Tell us about his role. 

“Daryl was an integral part every step of the way in the decision making process. It’s all a jumble to me now. He’s an amazing person to work with and I’ve been working with him now for about ten years.  I was looking someone different to play for me, someone who could bring me to a new place. Someone who’s passionate about his playing and can also improvise.

“The first time I met with Daryl, the first song I sang, I don’t remember now what it was, but I knew instantly this is the person I want to be working with. I’ve never felt different. Our collaboration is just -- you talk about luck -- it’s just a miracle in my life on every level. Whether it’s about picking the songs on the CD, his artistry as an arranger is just unbelievable and we’re very in synch about the expression of a song.

“Sometimes in Jazz I think things become so esoteric that an average listener becomes put off by it. It almost becomes too intellectual. As a musician, what Daryl is just incredible at, is expressing musically, really through the lyric, what is being said in the tune.  When he’s doing these incredible arrangements, or his amazing improvisations, he never gets really far from the driving force of the song which, for me, is the emotion of the song.”  

Do you consider CATCH ME IF YOU CAN a work of art or a work of heart?

“I’d have to say both. I hope it’s a work of art. I guess it’s a work of heart with the goal being that it’s a work of art. I know for a fact that it’s a work of heart. I hope it’s a work of art. I’ve heard other performers say this, and I think there’s some truth to it, that now that’s it’s out there it will be up to others to judge whether they think it’s a work of art of not.

“As much as I care about that because it impacts my career, I think an artist needs to stay in the moment with their work and not do things for the ultimate judgment of say the media, for example. Then you get caught up in that being the reason why you are doing it. I’ve been treated really really well by the media and I’m very grateful, so I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.  So, it’s a work of heart leading to what I hope is a work of art.”

What do you hope this CD will enable you to accomplish during the next year?

“That becomes business. And I’m very aware that this is a business. I think Joe Williams once said, ‘It’s not that you want to sing, but that you have to sing.’ I have to sing, but I also have a background in business and I understand very much that this is a business. I hope the CD opens doors for me that would not otherwise open.

“You can’t play certain clubs.  In today’s world if you don’t have a CD you’re not perceived as a professional. It is my hope that there’s airplay on CATCH ME IF YOU CAN so people who would never come to hear me live can hear it. You build you fan base that way. The ultimate goal of any artist is to build your fan base. They are the people who pay the bills. If you want to have a lucrative career you have to build that base.”

Will you want to continue to record?

“Yes, yes, we’re already talking about the next one.”

You seem to be very comfortable with the instrument of your voice. Has that always been so?

“That’s something I grew into. I always knew I could sing, but I’ve never held really great singing in the kind of regard I hold being able to throw a fastball 95 or 100 miles per hour. I think it’s just because when it’s something you can do you don’t think it’s so special. I do it because I enjoy it and it’s kind of surprising when people compliment me.

“It’s just something I do, but I didn’t always have the flexibility that I have now.  I was born able to sing, but training and study have enabled me to -- it’s like owning a great piano, you need to know how to play it, the nuances.”

Are there any teachers or mentors that have been special for you?

“Well, my voice teacher Marianne Challis. I tend to be someone who when I find somebody who’s the right person for me, I’m very loyal. She knows my voice, as well as I know my voice. I’ve studied it inside out and backwards.”

It sounds as though the past decade has been very important in the growth of your career?

“It has been. The past decade has been when I figured out as a performing artist what I really wanted to do. I hunkered down in a way that I’m very proud because I think few people focus the way I do. It’s hard for artists I think because we’re creative and we want to be able to dabble in many different things. And we’re easily distracted.  Daryl has been instrumental in encouraging me to take more risks. More so than anyone else. I’ve studied with other people. At the New School and elsewhere.

“Marianne’s influence is in my having a very facile voice. Most of her students are on Broadway so I may be her only Jazz vocalist client. My thought was that Jazz stylings can be detrimental to the voice and so I wanted to keep my foot  in a place where I would be getting really healthy training so I could have the instrument and play around with it. Most of us sing too much. When I do gigs where I’m doing three sets the people who advise me, Marianne and my ENT doctor, they don’t even want to hear about it. In a smoky room you shouldn’t be doing that.”

Do you remember the first Jazz vocalist who lit a fire under you?

“Probably Ella Fitzgerald, she’s just the quintessential Jazz vocalist. I don’t really remember who but there’s a movie that I watched as a child. We didn’t listen to Jazz in my home, we listened to musical theater.  I wasn't exposed, but I loved this movie. It was called The Five Pennies. It was about Red Nickles and Louis Armstrong was in it there was a lot of improvisation in it.

“Actually, probably Louis Armstrong, now that I think about it, because the movie got lost for a number of years and it didn’t get aired. Recently I saw it again and I realized why I liked it so much. Seeing it now I did know that I loved Jazz I just didn’t know it was Jazz. When you watch this movie there’s Jazz all over the place.”  

Looking down the road, what can you see yourself doing in another five or ten years?

“Well, on a business level, increased sales. In five more years I would have to have two more CDs out. And, more than likely, I would be touring around the world. In order for me to really make me living at this, to really have a lucrative career, I really need to go to places like Japan and France and Amsterdam. Jazz is an American art form and Americans don’t get. Americans don’t pay for it. You can really be ringing up the cash register if you get to places like that.”

Do you have an agent?

“No. I work with a manager, but I’ve been booking myself. That is something that at the right time, that critical mass time, when agents feel you can actually be bringing something to the table.”

What’s the most unusual thing your fans don’t already know about you?

“I am a huge sports fan. I am a big METS fan, but I live and die Penn State football. I’m like a real glitzoid -- I like to get really dressed up, wear a lot of makeup with lots of glitzy jewelry -- I can be sitting on the couch, crack open a beer, watch Penn State football and curse like a truck driver. I went to Penn State and my mood noticeably alters if Penn State loses a game which means I’ve been in a bad mood all season this year.

“I could have done play-by-play. I actually know the nuance of baseball better. I played softball. I actually had a fantasy of being the first female sportscaster. I think it’s a huge disappointment to my brother that I’m not. If you really want to know why I’m doing this singing thing it’s to get well known enough so I can stop by the booth and they’ll let me call a few innings.”

Are there any mentors along the way, or inspirational people, you’d like to mention?

“I had a teacher a number of years ago and she used to use phrase, ‘follow your bliss.’ Every time I get scared I changed my life, I had a whole other career. What I’m doing is crazy, but I think a person needs to decide. For some people it’s a reasonable choice following their bliss.  We make the mistake as artists of thinking everyone should stop what they’re doing and follow their creative need. And that it’s stupid to continue along a more common path, the road more traveled. I think were wrong about that.

“I think a person needs to decide are they someone who needs to blaze new paths or are they someone who needs a 401K. I decided I was someone who didn’t need the 401K. I was in that kind of life and was miserable, so I made a choice. Then I used follow my bliss whenever I got scared or I became unsure.  Whenever there was do I want to do musical theater? I was on the road for six years. Did I want to continue this? Or am I really bored and do I need to regroup? And, what would follow my bliss be? For me it was stopping and working with other musicians to see what interested me.”

How did you and Daryl hook up?

“Through a friend. Whenever I decide to change something I throw out a net. Tot he people I know I tell the people I know I’m looking for somebody new to work with.  A friend gave me his number and I went to meet him. I get to work with some of the most amazing musicians. They inspire me. Jazz musicians are guys who just work! Daryl and I rehearse a great deal then the musicians come in right before we do a gig.

“With some of the guys I’ve been working with for years they really know the stuff. We have George Coleman playing on this CD and he’s an amazing person. He inspired me. He’s self taught.  A lot of Ella Fitzgerald was.  Sean Conly and Gene Lewin are also backing me.  Gene was the very first drummer that I ever worked with doing this kind of stuff.   What a pleasure it was.”

Every time I’ve seen you perform and you take a little rest, and one of the musicians gets to do their thing, it’s just awesome to watch them. Talk about risk and trust going on.

“That for me is essential. Those moments that you talk about over the years are some of the moments that have helped me to grow. It’s a turn on for me to listen. When I come back in I’m at another level because of what they brought me to, I love that. I’m not just standing there thinking about doing the laundry, I’m completely lost in what they are doing.”

When everyone else in the room is being lifted why wouldn’t you be as well?

“That’s always been the brilliance of Jazz -- it’s an interactive art form. For everybody! If you go and watch a bunch of players they are just feeding off each other. It’s a feeding frenzy.”

Any there other musicians in your family?

“My mother plays piano and she did teach piano, but I don’t come from a long line of singers. Although my father was a bass and I always thought if he had had some musical training he might have been a good singer. There might have been a great uncle who was a cantor. And I’m named after him. I forget how far back. There’s nobody in the current generations who can sing, but my family’s been amazingly supportive. Especially early on when the audience is your mother and the friend she brought along with her.

“Boring is much more scary than risk can ever be. That’s the key thing a person needs to figure out. Which is more important?”

We’re looking at April for your release?

“Yes, early April, Springtime.”

Let’s talk about pulling yourself together to go on stage. What is that like for you?

“I love that. I get to wear things for work that most people never get to wear. There’s things I wear on stage that if I were going to a black tie event I would never wear because it’s just a little, you know, it’s performing, you can do things that are a little sexier than you might do if you were just standing around talking to people. It’s supposed to be out there, a little over the edge.”

When I’ve seen you on stage, you always seem to look exactly the way you’re supposed to look.

“Thank you. I think about it a lot. It’s part of marketing, really. And I enjoy it. I enjoy dressing up. I love that. When I see new, pretty things, where other people are thinking, ‘No, I shouldn’t,’ live in a world where -- and to the detriment of the art -- external presentation is valued more than substance. That’s unfortunate, but on the other hand, I get to wear pretty things.”

It certainly would be hard to see you scat singing in a hard hat and boots.

“Well, I do think it’s like an actor in a costume. When I used to do a lot of musical theater. In Man of La Mancha, I remember I was doing Aldonza and one of the costumes had this wrist thing that was tied with rawhide. Before I went on I never let anyone else help me tie it. To get into character, I just thought Aldonza would never have anyone helping her put her clothing on, so I used to take one hand and my teeth to tie it and that would help me get into character. For me the costumes I wear when I perform are costumes, they’re not street clothes. There’s a little magic to it.  I’m playing dress

up and it puts me in the mood.”

And yet the mood shifts from song to song through your sets.  The lighting helps.  The arrangements help.  There’s no boredom. By the end of the set you’ve taken us on a journey, but you’ve taken the journey, too.

“It’s not always the journey you thought it’s going to be. That’s part of the fun of live performance. I mean, I live for live performance. I enjoyed recording the CD, it was great, it’s a different kind of challenge because you have to bring it up without having the energy of people to feed off of.  For me, that’s no small thing.”

Will the CD translate into an evening on stage?

“That’s not the conception of it, but I think in picking the tunes we wanted to have a similar kind of variety that we have in a live performance, so, yes. Live performance is thrilling for me, it always has been. It’s like in Gone With The Wind toward the end, she’s fantasizing about what Ashley would say, and her father would say to her, it’s her energy from the red earth of Tara. I get my energy from the people. It’s really magic. Every single performance is different.

“It may not be the journey you thought, it can’t be, because every audience is difference. They bring something different to the table. The other musicians you’re working with, it’s a different time, it’s a different day, it’s a different humidity. Atmospheric things. All sorts of things impact a live performance. For somebody who likes risk, and likes to improvise, somebody who just thrives off the unknown, that’s live performance. I’m never afraid of what might happen in a live performance, whatever.

“The last gig I did, at the very last song, the mic stopped working because the cord was broken. So, I just reached down and I held the cord so I could finish the song. People couldn’t see me anymore and I was holding the cord and I said, ‘Pretend it’s radio.’ Everyone laughed and relaxed, but I finished the show.”

Thanks, Laurie.  We can’t wait to see you on stage again soon.



“Bronx, moved to New Hyde Park, L.I. at ten.”


“August 18th.”

Astrological Sign?

“I’m a Leo. I’m very much a Leo. And I’ve had my chart done and it’s all in Leo. I’m a Virgo moon.”


“I don’t. I would love to have a dog, but unfortunately my lifestyle just doesn’t allow for it.”

Favorite song?

“Wow,  hmmm.  You know I would have to think about it.  You know, it would be one and then another.”

Favorite color?

“Probably it would have to be fuchsia.”

Favorite vacation spot?

“Well, I like to go to mountain and lake areas, There isn’t one place, but if it’s a lake surrounded by mountains I’m, going to be a happy camper.”

Favorite food?

“Pizza, the Lord’s work. And I hardly ever have it.”

Favorite book?

A Wrinkle in Time.”

Favorite movie?

Babette’s Feast.”

College? Did you study music or performance in school?

“No. I did early on in junior high school and I’ve certainly studied with formal coaches, but, no, I didn’t go to a conservatory.”

Favorite performer?

“That would be a conglomeration. If it were an actor it would be somebody like DeNiro. If it was a vocalist it would be a combination of Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Carter, Carmen MacRae and Bette Midler. No one expresses a lyric better than she does.”

Venue you’d like to play that you haven’t yet?

“Well, I think in terms of fantasy my background was in musical theater so I love performing in front of large audiences. My absolute fantasy would be Radio City. In terms of my immediate New York City venues it would be places like the Blue Note.”

Performer you’d like to duet with?

“Ricky Martin, I have such a huge crush on him. I do enjoy his music. His energy, but I’ve seen him perform on La Vida Loca and it’s just thrilling to watch him. I think it’s because he’s enjoying himself so much and there’s so much honesty in it. There’s millions of jazz musicians around I’d love to work with.  I would love to do something with Bette Midler, I respect her work so much.”

Laurie Krauz can be contacted at: www.lauriekrauz.com


NOTE: Web Content - This article was researched and written

for www.girlawhirl.com  209 Words


Operation Iraqi Children

By Jane R. Snyder

Girlawhirl knows that education is the key to everything and for children living in a war zone it may be the only thing that keeps their dreams of a normal life alive.

With the help of Operation Iraqi Children, co-founded by

actor Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump, Apollo 13) and author Laura Hillenbrand (Seabisquit: An American Legend) in 2004, kids in this nation are getting the chance to re-enter their classrooms with all the tools they need to learn.

Girlawhirl recently filled a backpack with a “School Supply Kit”that will help one needy boy or girl succeed in class. In this land where pencils are precious, paper at a premium and even shoes hard to come by, OIC is making a huge difference. The smiling faces of these youngsters are more than enough

satisfaction for everyone who is reaching out to help them experience the same joy of learning kids share around the globe.

Follow Girlawhirl’s example and get involved now! And, if you can stretch your heart and budget just a little further, check out the OIC website for more ways in which you can help.

Please Do It!


Once you’ve filled a backpack, consider adding some urgently needed blankets, shoes and tarps to your shipping carton.


NOTE: Web Content - This feature article was researched and written for

blue butterfly magazine published by Jerome Records.  4,000 Words



By Jane R. Snyder

In the past, heart disease has always been thought of as more of a man’s illness. Women have often been ignored, misdiagnosed, or received less than standard care when they complained of chest pain.

In the United States each year, 500,000 men and women will

die of heart disease. More women over 40 will succumb to heart disease than to all forms of cancer combined. At menopause, around the age of 50, a woman’s risk of heart disease will increase substantially, due to the loss of estrogen. 

It’s never too early to be concerned with keeping your heart healthy. Today, women are learning how to take a proactive role in their health care. To protect yourself and those you love, it is important to be familiar with the risk factors for heart disease. How knowledgeable are you?



Is there a history of heart disease in your family?

If you aren’t sure, ask older relatives and make notes to take to your physician when you have your next complete physical.

Is your blood pressure higher than normal for a woman of your age and weight?

You should know what your normal blood pressure (BP) reading is and be aware of the signs of an increase in your pressure. If you are being treated for high blood pressure, follow your doctorís prescribed program of diet and/or medication.

Is your body mass index (BMI) for your weight in relation to your height a healthy one?

This figure has an effect upon your risk of heart attack or stroke. Is your weight what it should be to help maintain good health? Check the Health Tools section of the American Heart Association Web site (www.americanheart.org) for a BMI calculator and more information.

Do you know your blood sugar level and your family history of diabetes?

Diabetes increases the risk of cardio-vascular disease in both men and women. It’s important to discuss your family history with your physician.

Do you know your cholesterol levels?

Your high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), or “good” cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, and triglycerides levels are all measured with a simple blood test. Since high cholesterol increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, ask your physician to test you. If you test high, diet, exercise, and, if needed, medication, can help bring your levels back into the normal range.

Do you smoke?

If you do, stop. It adds significantly to your risk of heart attack and stroke. Your personal physician can offer suggestions to help you kick the habit.

Do you get regular exercise?

The latest recommendation suggests an hour a day to keep your weight down and lower your stress level. Challenging your heart by raising your heart rate with aerobic exercise will help to keep it pumping successfully.

Is your diet reducing or increasing your risk for heart disease?

Check with your physician to determine whether your eating plan needs to be fine-tuned by a registered dietitian or other qualified nutritionist. A diet low in saturated fat, trans-fatty acids, and cholesterol, and high in fiber, whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, fish and folate-rich foods is recommended to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

Are you of African-American or Latin heritage?

These two cultural groups have a much greater incidence of heart disease than other groups do. Be diligent about regular physical examinations.

Listening to your body and making simple lifestyle changes can help to decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease. While heart attacks and strokes are rare in women under 40, it’s important to know the warning signs because it may save the life of someone you love.



Some of the most common warning signs of a heart attack include:

Ongoing discomfort in the center of the chest that may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw, or      


Shortness of breath.

Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Common warning signs of a stroke include:

Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arms or legs,

especially on one side of the body.

Sudden difficulty in seeing, speaking, or comprehending

those around you.

Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or


Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

In case of a cardiac emergency, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can help a heart attack victim before an ambulance arrives. If you want to learn how to perform CPR, visit www.americanheart.org/CPR to locate a course in your local area. It is not hard to master this technique. Knowing how to do CPR will not only boost your self-confidence, but possibly even save a life.

It’s never too late to make lifestyle changes that can extend the quality and quantity of your life. Remember, a healthy heart allows you to live fully and love well.

For additional information on heart disease,

call your healthcare provider or visit:





NOTE: Web Content - This article was researched and written for

Just Your Style, a monthly Webzine for women using products

manufactured by Organon Pharmaceuticals.

CONCEPTS & COPY © 2011  Jane R. Snyder Marketing Solutions ALL RIGHTS RESERVED