A Rare Southern Gem
"Courage is just fear that said it’s prayers, and I spend a lot of time on my knees”
The most fascinating thing about Shelley Fisher and her one-woman show “The Hebrew Hillbilly” is Shelley’s indomitable spirit. Sticks and stones can’t break her bones and names will only encourage this chanteuse to sing louder.
If Dolly Parton had a Jewish Doppelganger it would surely be Shelley Fisher. “The Hebrew Hillbilly”, not only a poignant dramatic solo show, is also an original musical starring Memphis singer/songwriter Fisher. Accompanied by Platinum Award winning song writers Harold Payne (on guitar) and Ken Hirsch (on keyboard and musical director), the show is a departure from traditional solo faire and engages the audience, clapping, cheering and swaying from our seats. Shelley’s show is like watching American Idol set in a country bar, so much talent with a lot of “y’all”
Fisher presents a milieu of life experiences, pulling and enticing us along with wit, humor and pathos, as we partake in her unique southern childhood and her journey to become a famous singer. Through her eyes we experience isolation, loss of a parent, first love, marriage, missed opportunities and motherhood.
So what’s it like to be a Jewish Hilbilly? Shelley describes: “Growing-up in the land of Shalom y’all instilled me with a sense of pride in my heritage of survivors and thrivers; happy to assimilate but unwavering in my quest for identity, achievement and justice. She describes southern barbeque as wonderful and a challenge: “As my Mama always said: “Our house is kosher but our stomachs aint”. The show is filled with these delicious antidotes.
In chance meeting with Elvis Presley on an airplane, Elvis gives her sound words of advice “Don’t lose your sparkle in California or you’ll become another hardened broad”.
And true to his words, Fisher did just that. Despite her difficult times, her sparkle is still so bright that you’ll need a pair of Ray-Bans to watch as she illuminates the stage. Fisher is gutsy, talented and reminds us all that we don’t need the validity of fame to feel worthy. In a town full of struggling artist stories Shelley’s resounds because she is living proof that you can survive this business and keep your priorities in check. Although Shelley sings songs that will melt your heart or bust your side laughing, she acknowledges that her true success was having a daughter and attributes her as “The reason for the whole damn thing”.
Honest and authentic, Shelly leaves us rooting for her success while wondering how she was overlooked in the Hollywood game of craps. But then we realize, it’s never too late-this sparkly gem is simply a late bloomer and is in fact, RIGHT on time.
Shelley’s next performance of “The Hebrew Hillbilly” is March 17th at The Soho Playhouse in New York. Tickets are available at: www.sohoplayhouse.com.
For more information: http://www.hebrewhillbilly.com/
I like to get to the heart of the matter, and fortunately so did Shelley in our one-on- one interview:
RB: How do you feel about finally receiving the break that you so deserve?
SF: Bring it on!
RB: Does success now, have a different meaning then it did when you were a young woman?
SF: I wasn’t prepared. I did the best I could but I didn’t have any idea about life and managing the ups and downs of showbiz. There was a fundamental darkness, perhaps self-sabotage like “I don’t deserve this”.
RB: In your show, you tell a story how a “missed” phone call from NBC cost you to loose a big job presenting an award on TV to The Bee Gees. How would things be different if you got that call today?
SF: That was 26 years ago. Now, I would have a cell phone! I was in the emergency room with my daughter at the time and couldn’t be reached.
RB: But what if you missed the call again?
SF: I would keep going. I would have a better handle on it. If I do get a break, I will handle it humbly. This Industry is for whores and pimps. Nothing else like it can set you up to put you down.
RB: If a genie were to appear and grant you a wish, what would it be?”
SF: To keep doing the show. I’d like it to get bigger and include multimedia. To never give-up. Perhaps turn it into a movie with Harvey Weinstein producing. I would play the role of my mother. She was the most powerful role model, and the most fascinating person-good and bad.
RB: What can advice to do you have for other people in your stage of life?
SF: As you get older it is easy for people to disregard you. It’s all about your own positive thinking. I will never give-up my dream.