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Singer Roslyn Kind loves to take audience ‘on a journey’


The last time Roslyn Kind sang in Las Vegas, it was alongside her sister — somebody named Streisand. (At the MGM Grand Garden in 2012, when she joined Barbra for a duet of “Happy Days Are Here Again”/“Get Happy.”)

This weekend, however, Kind has the stage to herself for a two-night stand at The Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz.

It’s hardly her first Las Vegas gig, however.

In 1973, Kind performed at the Las Vegas Hilton — which opened in 1969 as the International, with one Barbra Streisand as the initial headliner.

Yes, when your big sister happens to be Barbra Streisand, people are bound to point out the connection. Kind must be used to it by now.

After all, “my sister taught me how to harmonize,” she recalls during a recent telephone interview.

Technically, Streisand and Kind are only half sisters, Kind being the child from their mother’s second marriage. (Kind’s 63; Streisand turns 72 next month.)

But when Kind speaks of her, Streisand is always “my sister.”

Their “maternal grandfather was a cantor,” who traditionally leads Jewish congregations in musical prayer, which helps to explain the family musical talent.

As for that superstar sister of hers, “she used to sing at school, as I did,” Kind says. “She wanted to be an actress, and singing was her means” of attaining that goal.

For Kind, “singing was first,” she says.

“I spent my childhood hours” alone, pretending to be the star of “TV series I wished I was on,” Kind remembers. “Or choreographing ballets to film music — I loved film music.”

But show business became a reality, in part, because “I also saw that my sister did it. It wasn’t a fantasy.”

Indeed it wasn’t; Kind recorded her debut album two months after her 1968 high school graduation and followed up with more recordings, nightclub gigs, Broadway and TV appearances, from “The Ed Sullivan Show” to “Saturday Night Live.”

When she started performing, Kind remembers feeling some “shyness” onstage.

Now, however, “I’m no longer shy,” she admits, adding that she relishes the chance to “take people on a journey” — the musical kind, performing “songs that I love, songs I feel I can translate over to the audience.”

Some of those songs come from the so-called “Great American Songbook” of golden-age standards. “Some are more contemporary,” Kind adds. “There’s a little jazz, story songs. I tend to kibitz” between numbers, she admits, sharing stories with audience members.

Establishing that sort of rapport in an intimate venue such as Cabaret Jazz is easy. But “it can be done in bigger places” as well, Kind says.

“I love the challenge” of making that connection, regardless of venue, she explains. “That’s the goal, by how you relate to them, how you sing to them.”

After four decades in showbiz, she notes, “you learn lessons as life hits you.”

Not just by “paying your dues” — learning how to handle some soused spectator who interrupts the show with repeated requests for “Melancholy Baby” — but by building “your conviction and your professionalism,” she says.

Along with a crucial sense of empathy, Kind adds.

“If I see someone in the audience who’s not happy, I’ll work toward them. I want everybody to be happy,” she says. “That’s what entertainment is all about. It’s tied to happiness.”

Contact reporter Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.

 

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