Julie Budd, Legendary Singer-Episode #153

Mar 23, 2021 | 0 comments

The dynamic Julie Budd is one of the most exceptional singers to ever light up a stage. Julie’s dazzling vocal gifts enable her to bring something fresh to every song she sings. The New York Times declared her as, “The consummate performer!”

Julie has worked alongside some of the most illustrious stars in performance history, including legends like Frank Sinatra, Bobe Hope, George Burns, Danny Thomas, Joan Rivers and Liberace – to name just a few. She’s appeared on stages and concert halls throughout the U.S. and around the world, and has sung with some of the world’s greatest symphony orchestras. She’s also made numerous TV and film appearances, including co-starring in the Disney feature, “The Devil and Max Devlin.”

A child prodigy, Julie began her professional career at the age of twelve after winning a talent show while vacationing with her family. In the audience was renowned, powerhouse Producer and orchestrator, Herb Bernstein, who took Julie under his wing. He introduced her to TV Talk Show Host, Merv Griffin, at a recording session in New York City. After Merv heard Julie sing, he invited her to appear on The Merv Griffin Show, which led to over a hundred more appearances on his show.

Julie was soon singing for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, on The Carol Burnett Show, The Ed Sullivan Show and numerous other major TV shows.

Julie continues to perform her concerts and one-woman shows nationally and internationally on prestigious stages like Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, The London Palladium, The Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center and many of the finest showrooms in Las Vegas.

Julie also had the extraordinary distinction of touring with the late, great Marvin Hamlisch, who personally invited her to be his Guest Artist for seven years.

Julie’s successful recording career has incorporated a broad range of musical tastes and styles on such CDs as Remembering Mr. Sinatra, They Wrote the Songs, The New Classics, If You Could See Me Now, and Pure Imagination.

Julie also teaches master classes to students all over the country focusing on the art of the vocal technique.

She’s currently writing her memoirs about her extraordinary life’s experiences from singing as a child to working with some of show business’s greatest legends.

For more, please visit juliebudd.com or you can find her on Facebook, where she responds and answers questions from friends and fans alike.




Read the Podcast Transcript

Steve Cuden: On today’s Story Beat…

Julie Budd: So here I am, I’m on stage, and I’ve been told, don’t talk to Sinatra. I’m not talking to Sinatra. Fine. I finished my rehearsal and everybody’s buzzing around me, and they say, hurry up, he’s on his way. He’s on his way. It’s like Conrad Birdie. I said, okay, okay, okay. I said to her, are we finished? She says we’re good, we’re good. So I’m finishing the last song, and I turn my head stage left, and I can hardly see, the lights are in my eyes. They’re running light cues on me. So I see somebody’s waving and blowing kisses in the wings, but I can’t see. But I see a person’s doing that, so I blow back. I figure they’re friendly in Vegas. What do I know. I walk off stage and it’s Sinatra. The first thing he says to me, throws his arms around me, and he says, if you need anything, you come right to me.

Narrator: This is Story Beat with Steve Cuden, a podcast for the creative mind. Story Beat explores how masters of creativity develop and produce brilliant works that people everywhere love and admire. So join us as we discover how talented creators find success in the worlds of imagination and entertainment. Here now is your host, Steve Cuden.

Steve Cuden: Thanks for joining us on Story Beat. We’re coming to you from the Steel City, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My guest today, the dynamic Julie Budd, is one of the most exceptional singers to ever light up a stage. Julie’s dazzling vocal gifts enable her to bring something fresh to every song she sings. The New York Times declared her as the consummate performer. Julie has worked alongside some of the most illustrious stars in performance history, including legends like Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, George Burns, Danny Thomas, Joan Rivers, and Liberace to name just a few. She’s appeared on stages and concert halls throughout the US and around the world and has sung with some of the world’s greatest symphony orchestras. She’s also made numerous TV and film appearances, including co-starring in the Disney feature The Devil and Max Devlin. A child prodigy, Julie began her professional career at the age of 12 after winning a talent show while vacationing with her family. In the audience was renowned powerhouse producer and orchestrator Herb Bernstein, who took Julie under his wing. He introduced her to TV talk show host Merv Griffin at a recording session in New York City. After Merv heard Julie sing, he invited her to appear on the Merv Griffin Show, which led to over a hundred more appearances on his show. Julie was soon singing for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, on the Carol Burnett Show, the Ed Sullivan Show, and numerous other major TV shows. Julie continues to perform her concerts and one woman shows nationally and internationally on prestigious stages like Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the London Palladium, the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, and many of the finest showrooms in Las Vegas. Julie also had the extraordinary distinction of touring with the late great Marvin Hamish, who personally invited her to be his guest artist for seven years. Julie’s successful recording career has incorporated a broad range of musical tastes and styles on such CDs as Remembering Mr. Sinatra, They Wrote the Songs, the New Classics, If You Could See Me Now and Pure Imagination. Julie also teaches masterclasses to students all over the country focusing on the art of the vocal technique. She’s currently writing her memoirs about her extraordinary life experiences from singing as a child to working with some of show business’s greatest legends. For more, please visit juliebudd.com, or you can find her on Facebook where she responds and answers questions from friends and fans alike. For those reasons and so many more, I am deeply honored and truly delighted to welcome the brilliant Julie Budd, the Story Beat today. Julie, welcome to the show.

Julie Budd: What an intro. I should just tour you around with me wherever I go.

Steve Cuden: I could be your perpetual PR guy.

Julie Budd: You could. People say, hi, how are you? I’d say, I don’t know. Ask him.

Steve Cuden: Ask him. He knows more than I do.

Julie Budd: How are you doing, Steve?

Steve Cuden: I’m doing great. Thank you for asking. So let’s go all the way back to the beginning. Back to your roots. You’ve been performing since what age? Did you come out of the womb singing or how did it work?

Julie Budd: Well, I came out performing.

Steve Cuden: Performing.

Julie Budd: Performing. There are just some kids that are like that. You could spot them. I bet you do it often, right?

Steve Cuden: Sure.

Julie Budd: There’s a presence about them and you know they’re going to be in this business. You don’t know how successful they’re going to be. You don’t know what capacity they’re going to be in. But you do know these kids were born to be in this business.

Steve Cuden: Absolutely.

Julie Budd: I was one of those kids.

Steve Cuden: So you knew what at the age of two, three, this was destiny.

Julie Budd: I used to sing. I used to sing commercials for my grandmother.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Julie Budd: Remember the old chock full of nuts commercial?

Steve Cuden: Oh, I do.

Julie Budd: Chock full of nuts. Remember that one?

Steve Cuden: Yes.

Julie Budd: Heavenly Coffee. Okay. I used to sing that for my grandmother.

Steve Cuden: Did you belt it out?

Julie Budd: Oh, honey. Full voice. My grandmother would say, this, this voice. You could just hear the angel sing. My father says she’ll go to med school.

Steve Cuden: He was kind of off, wasn’t he? He missed the mark. Did you know that early that you were that good?

Julie Budd: I knew I was a musician, and I knew, you’re going to laugh at this, I thought when I was a little kid—now, it may not have been true, it could have been true, but I thought I was better than the girl in the commercial. So, hey, why not?

Steve Cuden: You probably were better than the girl in the commercial.

Julie Budd: Well, I thought I was anyway.

Steve Cuden: So when did someone say to you, was it your grandmother or who finally said to you, you should be singing in front of people, or did you say it?

Julie Budd: I said it.

Steve Cuden: You said it.

Julie Budd: I said it. You’re not going to believe what I used to do at the age of five or six. I lived in Brooklyn, and it was all houses. You went from stoop to stoop, and you had your neighbors. I’m still friendly with all those kids. I grew up with those kids. I’m still friendly with them. I used to get all dressed up in my holiday clothes, and I’d go from door to door and ring a doorbell and I would tell them that I’ll sing for them, but they had to pay.

Steve Cuden: You were making a living as a kid, weren’t you?

Julie Budd: I came home. Do you remember the little girls used to wear crinolines?

Steve Cuden: Yes.

Julie Budd: I came home with my crinoline filled with nickels and dimes and pennies. My mother said, where did you get all that money? I came home with all of this money in my crinoline. I said, well, ma, I went, and my mother said, you bring that money back. I said, I will not. I earned that money. That’s my money. I sang, I earned it. The next day I went back, and I charged a quarter, and they paid it.

Steve Cuden: You weren’t just talented at a young age. You were also a business person.

Julie Budd: I always knew how to stay in show business.

Steve Cuden: That’s amazing.

Julie Budd: Even when I met Herbie years later, when I was 12 years old, I knew how to get into show business.

Steve Cuden: So you didn’t really need anyone to tell you how to go to the next place. You were just doing it.

Julie Budd: Well, Herbie got me to the really big next place.

Steve Cuden: Sure. Of course.

Julie Budd: I knew how to get to Herbie.

Steve Cuden: Well, that was a big deal.

Julie Budd: Yeah. But that’s what I meant about those kids. You always knew.

Steve Cuden: Did you know that this competition that you sang where he heard you, did you know he’d be there? Was that calculated?

Julie Budd: I got him there.

Steve Cuden: You got him there?

Julie Budd: I got him there.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Julie Budd: I got him there.

Steve Cuden: You were 12?

Julie Budd: I was 12.

Steve Cuden: Wow. I’m not sure at 12 whether I knew how to put my pants on properly.

Julie Budd: Do you know who used to say stuff like that to me? It was Mike Douglas. Do you remember Mike Douglas?

Steve Cuden: Of course.

Julie Budd: Oh, he was the nicest man in show business. The nicest man. I used to do his show, and I used to co-host when I was 14 years old.

Steve Cuden: That’s incredible.

Julie Budd: He looked at me and I just felt I was born to do this.

Steve Cuden: You must have been at that age, an old soul at that point. You were channeling some kind of energy from somewhere else.

Julie Budd: I didn’t know that. I just had the desire. I wasn’t that focused that way. Also, I wasn’t a showbiz, bratty kid. I was really very, very serious about the music. It was so important to me, as it is today. It was so important to me to be excellent.

Steve Cuden: Well, you don’t get to be excellent if you don’t desire to be excellent. I don’t think.

Julie Budd: I think you are so right.

Steve Cuden: I think that there are lots of people with talent that never exploit it properly. That never develop it.

Julie Budd: We know that’s so. But the thing is, I would be up all-night agonizing over a passage, and I was 12, 13, 14. It was so important to me to be excellent. I didn’t want to be good. I wanted to be world class. Good wasn’t enough.

Steve Cuden: Well, there’s no doubt that that showed up, didn’t it? Because you wound up not long after that, working with these massively well-known people. You can’t point to tons of 12 and 13 and 14 year-olds singing with those kinds of people.

Julie Budd: I’ll tell you something interesting, which you are really going to kind of know what I mean when I say it. They were not dealing with me as if I were a little girl, because the stakes were very high. I mean, I was on tour in these massive auditoriums being reviewed. They were giving me a big break. They put their reputations on the line to give me a chance and I had to show up. I had to really show up with very little training. So I was expected, maybe that’s the word I’m looking for, I was expected to hold my own with these pros.

Steve Cuden: Who told you what being a pro meant? Did anybody tell you that? Or did you just figure it out on your own?

Julie Budd: I was experiencing it. There’s nothing more than experiencing something. You have to experience it. I was experiencing what it is to have this responsibility.

Steve Cuden: So nobody took you aside and said, when you go here this is how you act. When you go there this is how you treat this person. You just were learning it as you went.

Julie Budd: No, I knew it.

Steve Cuden: You knew it.

Julie Budd: I knew how lucky I was.

Steve Cuden: So you really were born to do this. I mean, you just had it.

Julie Budd: I understood that 12-year-old kids didn’t get contracts at MGM Records. I knew that. I was understanding of that. Don’t forget, I had Herbie there grooming my career in every aspect. I had parents that would not tolerate a showbiz brat. Do you know what I’m saying?

Steve Cuden: I do.

Julie Budd: We have standards to live up to. We have standards.

Steve Cuden: Were your parents hovering? Were they helicopter type parents?

Julie Budd: No.

Steve Cuden: No.

Julie Budd: No. My parents told me two things. Two things. Are you a parent?

Steve Cuden: I am not, unfortunately.

Julie Budd: Okay. Well, I don’t have children either, but I have lots of nieces and nephews and I come from a very tight family.

Steve Cuden: Right.

Julie Budd: Okay. For Jewish, we’re very Italian, we’re a very tight family.

Steve Cuden: There’s an equation between Jewish people and the Italian people.

Julie Budd: Well, I grew up with—

Steve Cuden: Effusive. They love food. We talk with their hands.

Julie Budd: All my friends were Jewish and Italian.

Steve Cuden: Exactly.

Julie Budd: The family was very, very tight and still is. My parents told me two things. The first thing was, if you become a brat, if you become a real brat, and if you ever show up and you think you’re all that, and you don’t know your work, and you waste anybody’s time and you embarrass her, because that would be embarrassing, he’s a professional who’s putting his name on the line for you. If you do that, you only get one strike. You don’t get two. You don’t get three. You’re out.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Julie Budd: You got to know that that is not acceptable.

Steve Cuden: How did you take that? Did that scare you?

Julie Budd: No. I answered them like, of course. It was like that. It was like, why are you even telling me this? Of course. But they felt they had to say it. Then the second thing was, which was a complete turnaround. If it all becomes too much for you, you have a home and you come home. You have a home. You have a family. You have a place to come to. If the day comes along that this all becomes too much, you just come home, and we are here.

Steve Cuden: So you had a deep support system that you could fall back toward.

Julie Budd: But I was also in a disciplined support system.

Steve Cuden: When you went out into the world, your parents, did they stay back in New York, or did they come?

Julie Budd: My father was a very successful businessman. He couldn’t go on the road with me, and my mother had two other children at home.

Steve Cuden: So you were under Herb Burnstein’s…

Julie Budd: I went out with Herb, and my older sister Jill came out a lot with me often. Jill is almost four years older than me. So Jill came out with me a lot. And then my father would meet me on the road during the weekends, but my mother didn’t join me a lot.

Steve Cuden: You had a real first class, jump in the fire with both feet education, just being out there like that.

Julie Budd: I always think of it as people who throw kids in a swimming pool and say, swim.

Steve Cuden: Swim. Yeah.

Julie Budd: Swim.

Steve Cuden: Or the non-Jews would say, as a baptism by fire. You were out there, really just doing it. You didn’t need to go to school for anything somehow.

Julie Budd: I don’t know. Somehow, I knew. Somehow in the deepest part of me always just knew. Then I had Herbie there navigating it for me, rehearsing, teaching me, working on songs, working on phrasing, working on orchestrations. I just knew and I can’t explain how I did.

Steve Cuden: So you had no formal academic training as a singer?

Julie Budd: Not at that time.

Steve Cuden: Did you eventually get trained?

Julie Budd: Of course. I was a very serious student. Oh, yes. For people in New York who knew I studied with Lydia Summers and Willard Young for years and years and years and years and years and years. I agonized over everything because that’s just me.

Steve Cuden: I assume it was…

Julie Budd: It was never good enough. Do you know what I mean?

Steve Cuden: I think that that’s the mark of a great professional, is that you never are satisfied with the way you are. You’re always looking to push the envelope in some way.

Julie Budd: I think that if you really need that in your life, you’re never going to be calm. Don’t go into this business if you think you’re just going to be happy to do the shows. Oh, we got a show. Aren’t we happy? I’m never happy. Don’t give me happy. Happy, I don’t care about you.

Steve Cuden: But you’re always looking for that next thing to make yourself grow.

Julie Budd: Yes. That’s my whole thing. See, my whole thing is… listen, I’m making fun of it now, but truthfully, I don’t know too many people who aspire for real greatness, who are comfortable a lot of the time.

Steve Cuden: I don’t either.

Julie Budd: I don’t know who those people are. If they’re around, maybe they should be shot.

Steve Cuden: I know tons of really successful writers and they’re all insecure.

Julie Budd: Yeah. Everybody is. We have a love/hate thing, I think, with this industry. All of us. Do you know what I’m saying?

Steve Cuden: On the one side of it, it can be incredibly wonderful and rewarding and the other can kick your butt every which way.

Julie Budd: It does, all the time. The hardest critic, of course, is you.

Steve Cuden: Sure. Of course.

Julie Budd: But that’s okay.

Steve Cuden: I’m going to assume, and you’ll correct me if I’m wrong, that you’re able to look back and see how wonderful things have been.

Julie Budd: Things have been incredible. Things continue to be incredible. I am the luckiest girl singer in the business. Okay. I really have been, and I am. So much has been blessed in my life. I mean, just starting from my family, just that alone. I see horror stories in this industry. It really scars people. I just don’t know how people live past the stories they have to tell half the time.

Steve Cuden: Yeah. You see some young stars, especially, who are destroyed. By the time they get to be 19 or 20 years old, they’re already done. You survive through that.

Julie Budd: It’s a very awkward age, artistically, too.

Steve Cuden: Sure.

Julie Budd: When you go from childhood to teenhood to womanhood, I call it mature hood. Do you know what I’m saying? Because we do. How to navigate all of those places.

Steve Cuden: I would think, especially as a woman in particular, because the world is fraught with all sorts of things for a single woman out in the world, on her own. Especially back in those days where we were talking about the sixties and seventies. Yes?

Julie Budd: Even today. People like to think things change so much. We talk about it more. We fight it more. We’re more vocal. But you know what, the industry is still the industry.

Steve Cuden: Oh, no question.

Julie Budd: You still have to worry about how you look. You still have to worry about your image. You still have to worry about getting older. You still have to worry about how you present yourself and the physical aspect of it all. It’s not enough that you’re singing great. But the whole package has to be right. It’s endless.

Steve Cuden: So one can tell, all one has to do is listen to any song that you sing, and it’s instantly available to you as a listener that you are infusing every song with some kind of passion. It’s all coming from somewhere from passion. I assume. You can’t sing without doing that. Yes?

Julie Budd: Well, the first thing that’s important, I think—now, it’s just my feeling—is I think you need to sing songs that you have a need to do. You have to really want to do that material.

Steve Cuden: How do you find those? How do you make those decisions?

Julie Budd: It’s organic. A lot of it is organic. Herbie is a great source for me still. I still work with Herbie. I’m with Herbie 53 and a half years.

Steve Cuden: Is that all?

Julie Budd: That’s all. Can you believe it?

Steve Cuden: That’s amazing. He’s still producing you. Yes?

Julie Budd: Yeah. I said, Herbie, we got to get it right because we don’t know how to do this with anybody else. We have worked with other people. I’ve worked with Tony Hatch, and I’ve worked with Peter Matz, and I’ve worked with Sebesky and Peter Moore. I mean, I worked with a lot of people. But Herbie’s been like the ground zero, music wise.

Steve Cuden: He’s the bedrock. He’s where you can look back toward and know that that’s where you had a source of inspiration and training from an early point on.

Julie Budd: Herbie had always introduced so much material to me. Sometimes I wanted to do it, and sometimes I didn’t want to do it, blah, blah, blah. Then I discover it, and then I like it more. So Herbie taught me a lot about that when I was young. That you don’t always connect to material right away and say, oh, I love it, I love it, I love it. I got to do it. Sometimes you have to discover things.

Steve Cuden: I guess the question would be is, how often does that happen? Is it you have an instant connection to some songs, I assume, and that other songs have to grow on you a little bit?

Julie Budd: Yeah. But a lot has to do with the fact that then we start constructing it and Herbie starts orchestrating it, and we find our way to do it, and then all of a sudden, ooh, don’t do it this way. Put it in a medley of those things. Then when you come back to it, it’s kind of interesting, isn’t it? All of a sudden, I go, I didn’t know I was going to like this so much. Now we made a play out of this. I think I like this. It’s all those things that you do.

Steve Cuden: Are you always looking for songs that have a story in them?

Julie Budd: Yes.

Steve Cuden: Something you can tell.

Julie Budd: In fact, I very rarely do something that doesn’t. For me, it has to have a story. I mean, I very rarely do something that doesn’t.

Steve Cuden: What does that do for you as a singer to have that story in there?

Julie Budd: It makes it about something. You see, I think a lot of the reason why I don’t like a lot of things that I see often on film is because they’re not about anything. The film isn’t about anything. It’s a car chase. If I see another shoot-them-up, do this, do that. I can’t. Do you know what I’m saying? I need something that’s about something. I’m like that in my music too. It has to be about something. Then I’m happy to explore it.

Steve Cuden: So, of today’s music, the contemporary music, the most contemporary, are you finding it more challenging to find material? Because I would say submit that there’s a lot less of that today.

Julie Budd: There’s a lot. Here’s the difference. There’s a lot less records that are being done that way. But believe me when I tell you, there are a lot of good story songs out there.

Steve Cuden: Well, you’re also in New York, and there’s lots of folks there creating story songs, especially for the theater and people around the theater.

Julie Budd: But even the young kids, they are writing story songs. They get buried in their album. I’ll tell you something. I was listening to Michael Jackson’s Dangerous CD last night and there were story songs on there.

Steve Cuden: Well, sure.

Julie Budd: A lot of it was buried in production, and a lot of it was buried in funk and feel, and that’s all great because I love that stuff. But Michael’s secret was Michael knew how to read a lyric even in that genre. Michael was a really great artist. So I was able to find, believe it or not, some really great story songs. One of them was Gone Too Soon written by Larry Grossman, and that was on that CD, and I put it on mine as well. So they’re there. The story songs are there. You just have to go fishing.

Steve Cuden: Well, Larry Grossman’s from the theater.

Julie Budd: Yeah. But Michael was hip enough to find that.

Steve Cuden: Well, yes, of course. Well, that was what my question to you was. So he was very good at finding material, clearly. How do you look for material? Are you just listening to everything all the time?

Julie Budd: I listen to everything all the time. Everything. Even my clock.

Steve Cuden: It’s a beautiful sounding clock.

Julie Budd: Do you hear my clock? It’s almost funny. I hear it, but I don’t hear it all the time. I’m just so used to it.

Steve Cuden: Of course.

Julie Budd: But anyway, I’m always listening. I just listened—which I loved—to Shirley Bass’s new CD. Did you hear Shirley Bass’s new CD?

Steve Cuden: I have not heard her new CD.

Julie Budd: You got to go get it. You have to go get it.

Steve Cuden: She’s one of my all-time favorite singers. I mean, she’s amazing.

Julie Budd: I’ll tell you what I loved about it. It wasn’t all about the money notes, although they were there. There was this whole other texture about this CD, and it was done script-like. It started out with this story, and then it goes to the next thing and the next thing. It takes you on the journeys of all the things that happen to us as women and as performers. Then she tells this love story, and the love of her life turns out to be the music. That’s how she ends the CD.

Steve Cuden: So they programmed the CD in a story-like order.

Julie Budd: For me it felt that way. Right. So I loved it. Because you know me, I like when something’s about something.

Steve Cuden: Do you try to program your CDs that way, where there’s a flow and a story to it?

Julie Budd: Well, there certainly have been themes to the CD. Like They Wrote the Songs are about the new writers that I like. The New Classics was another way to look at the American songbook. The Sinatra CD is about the work that I did and heard on stage with Mr. Sinatra.

Steve Cuden: Well, sure.

Julie Budd: So they’re thematic in that story way.

Steve Cuden: So, all right. So let’s talk a little bit about performing. The art and craft of performing, which is a whole thing unto itself, beyond just knowing the songs or rehearsing to the point where you’re good at it. I assume if it wasn’t for Covid, you’d be out performing right now? Yes?

Julie Budd: Probably. Yeah.

Steve Cuden: Yeah. Because we’re having this conversation, this show will be around for a long time, but we’re having the conversation in the time of Covid, so people are not on out in theaters at all right now.

Julie Budd: Well, I finished right before Covid. I was lucky because I finished Vegas. I finished the New Jersey stuff. I finished New York. I finished my Florida stuff, and I came home. Then Covid hit. Then I was supposed to go back to Birdland for four or five nights. I didn’t do that. Then I had about five shows for the holiday and New Year’s, and I didn’t do those. Then there was going to be stuff afterwards, but it’s like, could have, should have, would’ve. I wonder how things are going to be when we all come back.

Steve Cuden: What are you doing now to keep your voice good to go, so to speak? How are you working it?

Julie Budd: I just do my vocalese as I always do.

Steve Cuden: As if you’re about to go on the road.

Julie Budd: Yeah. I haven’t been working as much as I do when I go on the road. You have no idea how rigorously I work when I’m going on the road.

Steve Cuden: Well, that’s what I want to know is how rigorous is it? What do you go through?

Julie Budd: It’s very rigorous. It’s very – it’s a lot, it’s a lot. I was kind of glad to get off my throat for a while, to be honest with you. I felt I needed it. I felt it was good that I wasn’t singing this year.

Steve Cuden: Can you feel the difference now having not?

Julie Budd: I feel I’m more relaxed in my vocal cords and I feel as I’m working it’s a little less strained and a little warmer. I think I just needed to get off my voice. I was working a lot. I think every now and then, it’s good to just get off your throat.

Steve Cuden: Just give it a break.

Julie Budd: Yeah. I think it’s important, but it’s important not to just let it lay there on the shelf. It’s a muscle. It’s got to be stretched. I’m not singing as much as I sang when I was actually working, working, working. But I’m singing enough to keep it stretched out so that when I’ve got to go back to that rigorous thing, I’m ready to do that. I don’t live in that rigorous state while I’m not working. I don’t want to do that to my throat.

Steve Cuden: As you say, it is a muscle and you have to keep exercising the muscle or, or it will go.

Julie Budd: Absolutely. Well, I don’t think I would atrophy because I’m singing so long and I’m not off it that long where it’s going to be atrophied, but certainly it’s going to take work to stretch it out again and get it back to that place where it can take that beating. Our throats take a beating.

Steve Cuden: Sure. Sure they do. Are you already thinking about how you’re going to have to ramp up certain parts of this when the world comes back and you’re able to start touring again?

Julie Budd: Absolutely. I’ve been thinking about that for a while. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I’m just not getting crazy about it. I just stay in it. I stay in it and I keep it stretched out and I stay in it. I know a lot of performers are out there doing stuff online and they have some need to somehow stay in the work process. But I don’t have that need. I’m not working under the conditions that I work with online when I’m doing my shows and stuff. I don’t want to produce something that isn’t going to be great quality. Yeah. So I’m kind of leaving that part of me alone. I do shows like yours. I love doing these shows. I like your show because it’s intelligent and here I go again, it’s about something.

Steve Cuden: Now I’m blushing.

Julie Budd: But as far as my throat is concerned, now I got vaccinated. I didn’t want to be around anybody. That was another thing.

Steve Cuden: For sure. Of course not.

Julie Budd: I spent a year alone.

Steve Cuden: Understand it.

Julie Budd: It wasn’t so horrible for me. I’m used to being alone. It’s funny. It wasn’t as horrible as I thought it was going to be. What was horrible for me was to hear about the deaths. What was horrible for me was to hear and see the sadness that the world was living through. But as far as my own experience, I was very solo through this whole thing, and I was afraid to be around people a lot.

Steve Cuden: You and me both.

Julie Budd: Yeah. For good reasons. Listen, we’re not crazy. I got the first vaccination. I’m getting the second one in about two and a half weeks. Herbie was already vaccinated months ago. He got his second round. So I’m not going to be afraid then to be around Herbie to start rehearsing and to get us cohesive again.

Steve Cuden: Well, I think once you’ve had your second shot a couple weeks has gone by after that, I think that you’re good to be around people.

Julie Budd: I’m good to go.

Steve Cuden: Even without masks on you’re good to be around them and together, not just out with anyone.

Julie Budd: I’m not going to be in crowds. We don’t know enough and that’s why I don’t want to work right away.

Steve Cuden: Alright. So I wanted to explore, for a moment, the differences for you between performing on stage and in the studio. What are the big differences for you? Do you treat the way you’re singing differently? Or is this virtually the same thing?

Julie Budd: Oh, it’s completely different in terms of its projection, but somehow, it’s just me. I just always knew how to trim that. It just felt natural to know how to trim that.

Steve Cuden: When you say trim that, do you mean pull it back in volume?

Julie Budd: Not just in volume, but your whole… When you are in a big house of 2000 or 3000 seats or even 1500 seats or 500 seats, whatever – these are big houses. Your projection is wider, somehow. Fuller, wider, broader. Broader, that’s the word. Broader. When I’m in a studio in a small room and the mic is there, it’s not.

Steve Cuden: It’s intimate.

Julie Budd: It’s intimate. So I pull out my broadness from maybe a little bit more personal space.

Steve Cuden: For you, it is two totally different things. Recording and performing live.

Julie Budd: Yes.

Steve Cuden: Do you have to then prepare yourself differently? Do you have to think differently? Do you have to work your body differently?

Julie Budd: You do work your body differently. You use more of your physicality on stage than you do in the recording studio there. The recording studio’s a very personal place. It’s a less stressful place because you could get it the way you need it to be. When you’re on stage you got one take.

Steve Cuden: So when you’re going into the studio versus getting ready to do a live performance, do you prepare differently? Do you vocalize differently?

Julie Budd: No.

Steve Cuden: That’s the same.

Julie Budd: Technique is technique. May I say, honesty to the work is the same whether you are broader or more intimate, but you find different ways to express that. Does that make sense to you?

Steve Cuden: It does. What’s your favorite thing about performing live? What turns you on about performing live?

Julie Budd: When it’s working and you are really in it, there’s this transference between you and the audience. It’s a funny place because part of you is still very private to do this work and yet you’re sharing it publicly with all these people in real time. Then you’re sharing it with the orchestra and somehow, I’m communicating with Herbie in that silent way up there that we know how to communicate. There’re a million things going on. It’s a head spin. There’re a million things going on stage, and then there’s the costume changes, and then there’s the other physical things that you do on stage. Then there’s the usage of the props and the video. There’s a lot of things going on when you’re on stage. Then when you’re in the studio, it’s just paired down and it’s smaller.

Steve Cuden: Are you thinking about an audience then? Are you just thinking about Herbie at that point?

Julie Budd: In the studio?

Steve Cuden: In the studio. Right.

Julie Budd: Well, in the studio I have the orchestra and Herbie, but it feels, oh God, what’s the word for it? Less pressure.

Steve Cuden: Less pressure.

Julie Budd: Less pressure.

Steve Cuden: Do you think he’s your audience? He’s the person you’re trying to play to?

Julie Budd: No. Even when I’m working with the audience, unless there’s a reason for me to bring them into the songs, I’m not playing to them. They’re observing what I bring.

Steve Cuden: Do you ever find yourself on stage that you get lost in it? Not that you are lost and don’t know where you are, but that you find yourself lost within it and that sort of takes over the performance. Does that ever happen for you?

Julie Budd: That happens all the time when it’s working right. When it’s working right.

Steve Cuden: Do you think of that as being in the zone?

Julie Budd: Well, that’s what I was trying to express before. That sometimes, you start working and you’re in this space and you can’t define that space. It’s almost spiritual.

Steve Cuden: Does the end of the song and the audience’s reaction to it then interrupt that? Or does it add to it?

Julie Budd: It does all of it.

Steve Cuden: It does all of it.

Julie Budd: It does all of it.

Steve Cuden: Because the end of the song is the end of the song, and you still have to go onto the next thing.

Julie Budd: Correct. So it’s all of that. It’s all of it. It’s invigorating and jarring. I call it the third element. It’s all there.

Steve Cuden: Sure. The audience is part of the evening’s performance, aren’t they?

Julie Budd: Yes. Well, that’s what I meant before when I said, you have this transference.

Steve Cuden: Sure. Absolutely. It’s an interesting thing. I’ve talked to any number of folks about when you are in a show, or in your case, you’re doing your one woman show, you know, night after night, after performance after performance, that there are differences and tonight was better than last night.

Julie Budd: You think that. Now I got to speak to that. Okay?

Steve Cuden: Sure. Please.

Julie Budd: We are sometimes the last ones to really know how good or bad it was.

Steve Cuden: Sure. Of course.

Julie Budd: Do you know what I mean? For a bazillion reasons, by the way, there have been nights that I thought were not as good as the night before, and I’ve actually seen footage of those shows and I’ve actually heard recordings of those shows, and I’ve actually seen how people feel about those shows. I’m never right about that. Do you know what I mean?

Steve Cuden: That’s partly my point – that the audience, unless I’m going to jump to a conclusion that you have a few groupies that have seen you more than a few times.

Julie Budd: Yeah. Right.

Steve Cuden: But other than those folks who are able to compare performance after performance, I would guess that the vast majority of your audience has seen you once, maybe twice total, but usually once. So that night is special for them and they’re getting that totality of performance from you that night. But you are comparing it in your mind’s eye to all these other performances.

Julie Budd: That’s the worst thing you could do. Because then you’re not in the moment.

Steve Cuden: Right. You’re not in the moment.

Julie Budd: I’ll tell you something about audiences that’s really interesting. People think that the greatest show they did was with the audience that was gregarious and yelling bravo and 12 standing ovations of blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Then they go, and the next night they do the same show. The audience loves it, but it doesn’t have the physical energy that was in the house.

Steve Cuden: Exactly.

Julie Budd: But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t great. That doesn’t mean that you didn’t bring something else different to it. Another thing that’s really important to understand is that doesn’t mean that the audience didn’t adore the show. They have a different energy.

Steve Cuden: It’s a different chemistry. There’s a chemical reaction that happens.

Julie Budd: They’re different. They might be older and more reserved. They may be listeners. There are people that are not as—how can I express it?

Steve Cuden: I believe it’s there, but do you find that certain audiences, there might be 1, 2, 3, 10 people who are more effusive than others, and they build the audience reaction by their effusiveness.

Julie Budd: Well, the great managers, Colonel Parks and all those guys that were handling people like Elvis, they used to plant people.

Steve Cuden: Well, sure.

Julie Budd: They knew that that was true.

Steve Cuden: Well, that was the famous story about Frank Sinatra, that he had plants.

Julie Budd: That’s the oldest trick in show business, that managers will pad the house. They’ll know somebody’s coming in on an important night and they’ll put them in the house because they know it revs up the audience.

Steve Cuden: I know that you have a great story that you tell about Frank Sinatra and that he took you a little bit under his wing and he wanted you to learn from his performance. Tell the story about what he did for you in Las Vegas.

Julie Budd: First of all, I have to preface it by saying that when I got this job with Frank Sinatra, I wasn’t yet 16. I was 15. When I met Frank, I wasn’t quite 16. We worked together in April. My birthday is in May. So I was going on 16. Everybody warned me. I call them the yes men. All the yes men, they were all warning me. The PR persons, the managers, the agents, the hotel people, the blah blahs. I call them the blah blahs. The blah blahs. They’re all telling me that I should not talk to Mr. Sinatra. That if I have anything, I should come to them. They’ll deal with it. Any of my needs, whatever my questions about the show, blah, blah, blah – I go to them. Okay, now you don’t look at Sinatra. You don’t breathe near Sinatra. You don’t talk to him. I said, I get it. I get it. I get it. I was one of these kids you didn’t have to say it a million times. It’s like with my parents. I got it. Right? I get to Vegas. I go out on stage. Now, you have to understand a lot of the orchestrations, they’re 45 musicians on the stage. I’m hearing these orchestrations for the first time. Me and Herbie have been rehearsing them at the piano for a month. Okay. I didn’t hear them fall off, so these are new charts. Now it’s opening day and 45 guys are there. I’m 15 and a half —16 years old. I’m going out. I never heard the complete charts before. I’m in rehearsal.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Julie Budd: But that’s okay because Herbie and I rehearse so well. I’ll never forget what Fred Astaire said about rehearsals. He said, rehearse to the point of nauseam so that it was so part of you that there is nothing that can happen that’s going to pull you out. That it is so second nature for you to do this by the time opening night comes, it’s not going to matter. That’s the way Herbie and I were. We were like so on our gig that it didn’t matter. So I got out on stage, and it sounded as if I knew these charts forever. Because I had rehearsed. Herbie would say, that’s where the flute comes in. That’s where the string lines come in. We knew, we worked. So here I am. I’m on stage. I’ve been told, don’t talk to Sinatra. I’m not talking to Sinatra. Fine. I finished my rehearsal and everybody’s buzzing around me, and they say, hurry up, he’s on his way. He’s on his way. It’s like Conrad Birdie. I said, okay, okay, okay. I said, Herbie are we finished? He says, we’re good. We’re good. I’m finishing the last song, and I turn my head, like stage left, and I can hardly see. Lights are in my eyes. They’re running light cues on me. So I see somebody’s waving and blowing kisses in the wings, but I can’t see. But I see a person’s doing that. So I blow back. I figure they’re friendly in Vegas. What do I know? I walk upstage, and it’s Sinatra. First thing he says to me, throws his arms around me and he says, if you need anything, you come right to me. Alright? Don’t listen to the yes men. So now I’m doing this run of shows with Sinatra. What he used to do is he’d put up a cocktail table in the wings. Pat Henry went on first. I went on second. He was very generous to me. Let me do like 35-40 minutes, which I thought was—

Steve Cuden: Ooh.

Julie Budd: I know. You know, that’s huge. Right?

Steve Cuden: That’s huge.

Julie Budd: I thought I was doing 15-20 minutes and going home and having a bagel. What did I know? 15-20 minutes. I figured I’m finished. Right? No, he said, go out there, Julie and do your show. Do that show. Fine. So I go and afterwards I quickly put on my robe and take the glad rags off and put on my robe. He had a table, a cocktail table in the wings and a chair. He had his props on the table. I was his prop girl. I used to hand him his props every night. Then he’d say to me, Julie, I have a setup in my room. My dressing room was right next door to his. He says there’s all kinds of food there. Take some food after the show. So I’d take some food and I’d sit there and have my pepper steak and watch Frank Sinatra work every single night from the wings. On his bows, he’d come off and I’d hand him his water and his napkin towel. He would talk to me in the middle of bows and stuff. I’d say, hurry up, you got to go out there. He’s having a whole conversation with me. I said, you got to go out there. They’re going to tear up the place. Come on. Get me out there. He used to laugh at me.

Steve Cuden: I think he knew they’d wait.

Julie Budd: Exactly. But we were having so much fun. I’d sit there every single night. But you see, he was a wise person because he knew, somehow he understood me. He knew I was watching, and I was learning. It’s like what I told you about those kids, you always know who they are. He knew I was one of those kids. Then he told me he was one of those kids. He told me his mother got him his really big first production job when he was 15.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Julie Budd: Around my age when he got his first big band job.

Steve Cuden: What would you say is the greatest thing you learned from him in terms of performance? In terms of the way you handle an audience and so on. What did you learn from him?

Julie Budd: Take your time.

Steve Cuden: Take your time.

Julie Budd: Take your time.

Steve Cuden: Don’t rush.

Julie Budd: A pro takes their time. Take your time. Let the moments happen. Take your time. Trust, take your time.

Steve Cuden: And thus is the essence of cool.

Julie Budd: So they say. But you see, what was cool about him was truly he didn’t know he was being cool. I mean, he played on it later when he figured it out. He was having fun with it. He was a very honest performer.

Steve Cuden: Yeah, absolutely.

Julie Budd: You noticed that in his film work. If you look at his film work, you will see. I even watched it on an episodic TV show that he did. He was on Hawaii with Selleck.

Steve Cuden: Magnum PI.

Julie Budd: I was on the internet, and I saw it, and I thought, well, this’ll be interesting to watch Mr. S on Magnum. It was so interesting to watch him against the other actors. His level of authentic, authentic self. They were all pros. Every one of the actors on those shows were great studio players and great pros and had fantastic experience. Then you saw Mr. Sinatra and there was an authenticity about him. I used to watch that. How he allowed himself to be as true in the moment as it could be. He took his time to make that happen on stage.

Steve Cuden: Well, he is certainly, from my perspective, and I’m hardly alone in this thought, he’s maybe the single greatest interpreter of lyrics who’s ever sung. He interprets lyrics in a certain way that is just uniquely him. When you were watching him perform, after performance, was he giving you the same song over and over again? Or was he always doing something a little different in performance?

Julie Budd: Well, just the nature of being live, you’re different every night.

Steve Cuden: Every night.

Julie Budd: Every night you are. Isn’t that wonderful? Then you know you’re in the moment.

Steve Cuden: Well, otherwise, I guess you could just put a movie up and it would be the same thing over and over again.

Julie Budd: I mean, certain things you have to mark when you work.

Steve Cuden: Sure. Of course.

Julie Budd: But even in that inflection and moments that are more that night or that you even discover. Isn’t it great when you’re doing something night after night, after night and you keep discovering new things?

Steve Cuden: To me that would be the joy of it. Yes.

Julie Budd: Not what it’s supposed to be.

Steve Cuden: Yeah. Sure. Because if you weren’t, I think it would get very dull, very fast.

Julie Budd: Well, also, the audience would never be moved by you. They don’t know technically why that’s happening, but they know you are not engaged.

Steve Cuden: Oh, no question.

Julie Budd: You’re missing in action.

Steve Cuden: They smell it. They can see it.

Julie Budd: Absolutely. That’s what I love about working with an audience. It keeps you very true. The audience will keep you true.

Steve Cuden: Have you ever found yourself slipping into that and you’ve had to work through it?

Julie Budd: Fatigue is your biggest enemy with that kind of thing. When you’ve been on the road too long and it’s time to get home. Fatigue can make that happen.

Steve Cuden: What do you do? How do you handle that?

Julie Budd: Take your time.

Steve Cuden: Take your time.

Julie Budd: Take your time. It will come. Take your time. Trust it.

Steve Cuden: That’s very interesting to me. I would think one of the bigger challenges of a career like yours is maintaining everything. Your vocalization, your energy level and all that over a very long haul. It’s a marathon.

Julie Budd: It is. It is a marathon. I always say to students that come in… now and then I’ll take on a student here and there. I say to them, be very careful. Because if you make it and you get an opportunity, you don’t want to be out of the tour more than you’re in the tour. That’s going to happen if you don’t pace yourself vocally and if you don’t know what you’re doing up there, even the finest singer can hurt their throat. You catch a cold. Fatigue. It’s a delicate thing, the voice.

Steve Cuden: Well, look at what happened with Adele. I mean, she’s gone through all that.

Julie Budd: That happens with every singer.

Steve Cuden: Yeah. It’s amazing. I’m going to ask you a question I ask lots of people, and I get very interesting answers back. For you, when you’re looking at a song to sing, what for you makes a good song good? What is the element? Is it just the story or is there something else to it?

Julie Budd: It’s usually driven by story for me. But now, and then it will be coupled with something so like the song, The Way You Look Tonight or Some Enchanted Evening. They’re written so well that the lyric and the progression in which they wrote it musically is so divinely coupled. It’s almost like it’s this perfect storm of heaven put before you for three minutes. You must do that piece. Do you know what I’m saying? Right. When you hear something like that and it happens, and you would discover it, and it works on your instrument so beautifully, you have to do it. It’s not even a question.

Steve Cuden: It’s what makes the difference between a good or a great song and something that’s a little more pedestrian.

Julie Budd: Also when you must do it. Am I making any sense to you when I say that?

Steve Cuden: A little bit. I want to go a little deeper on this.

Julie Budd: Okay.

Steve Cuden: Do you ever find yourself, you’ve set out on a song and you realize it’s maybe not at that quality. Is there anything that you can do to it?

Julie Budd: No. You know right away if it’s quality or not.

Steve Cuden: So then it goes. It gets cut out.

Julie Budd: You can’t. There are pieces that I just had to do. What can I say? I had to do them. I had to do them. They were there. It was this thing I had to. There has to be a great longing to do the work, or you pick something else.

Steve Cuden: Is there one or more songs?

Julie Budd: There are things that are more than others, of course.

Steve Cuden: Of course. Well, sure. How many songs have you sung in your life? You’ve probably sung thousands of them.

Julie Budd: Yeah. But I won’t do things I don’t have a real longing to do. There are some things that are just such a great longing I have to do them and it’s not even a question.

Steve Cuden: Right. Is there one or more songs that are your absolute favorites? You could sing them forever?

Julie Budd: Yes.

Steve Cuden: Do you care to reveal any of those, or not?

Julie Budd: There are Gershwin pieces that are just so compelling. The score of Porgy and Bess. I do them occasionally in my show. Jerome Kern pieces and Eric Clapton.

Steve Cuden: Which one?

Julie Budd: Tears in Heaven.

Steve Cuden: Tears in Heaven. Oh my goodness.

Julie Budd: I heard that, and I said, do you know what? As I’m telling you I got a chill. See, I always know when I’m telling the truth because I get that chill.

Steve Cuden: You get goosebumps.

Julie Budd: I get a chill. Yeah.

Steve Cuden: Well, that song came from such a deep place of pain for him.

Julie Budd: Yeah. There’s another piece I’m going to put in my show, Dance with My Father Again. I have to do it. You see, I get up in the morning and I say, I just have to. What can I tell you?

Steve Cuden: You let your psyche percolate on things and things then bubble up to you.

Julie Budd: Yeah.

Steve Cuden: I’m gathering you work a lot by your gut instinct.

Julie Budd: I always have. It’s my truth thing. See, I have Herbie. I would be scared of everything in this business if he couldn’t be my sounding board.

Steve Cuden: Well, the good news is you back it up with this just gigantic talent.

Julie Budd: With his talent.

Steve Cuden: Well, with your talent. Because if you woke up in the morning and you were just playing Jane out in the sticks and had never sung ever before, it wouldn’t matter how much you liked the song. It wouldn’t not come out the way you sing it, that’s for sure.

Julie Budd: Well, thank you. But I’m lucky that I’m sitting next to a person at the piano who’s aware, let’s put it in this range. It’ll be warmer on your voice. Let’s bring the string in this way because when you do that, and it couples that area of where you are singing it, supports even the lyric more. He understands the art of orchestration. Do you understand?

Steve Cuden: Yeah.

Julie Budd: It helps to tell the story.

Steve Cuden: Say that again. I’m sorry, I interrupted.

Julie Budd: It helps to tell the story. I hear a lot of these orchestrators. They get very, very, very, very, very, very, very busy and somehow the intimacy of the song and the story gets lost. Herbie knows how to be interesting without over-orchestrating.

Steve Cuden: Would you say that’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from him? How to be interesting without over-orchestrating?

Julie Budd: Yes. He understands the range of instruments and the importance of putting them in certain ranges for your particular voice. It’s very important.

Steve Cuden: That’s super important. Does he go with you when you do orchestras?

Julie Budd: He conducts all my orchestras. If the maestros insist on conducting, they have to rehearse with Herbie because he has to explain the… people think if you just bring the scores, they’re going to say, okay, we’re going to count off. These things are interpretive. You can’t do things like that. It just won’t be right.

Steve Cuden: Well, it’s the same thing you were talking about with Sinatra’s is to go easy, to go slow, to cool down, whatever it would be. If the conductor does not know this, they’re going to go maybe down a different road than that.

Julie Budd: They’ll never get the nuances of the timing right on the things. If you were going to look at my scores, you’d say, Jules, what are you worried about? It’s straight ahead. No, no, no, no, no. It’s very deceptive. It’s very deceptive. Very deceptive. Then if you heard me on it, you’d know what I’m talking about.

Steve Cuden: Take a step further. When you say it’s very deceptive, give us an example of what’s deceptive.

Julie Budd: The nuance and the timing in the pieces. It’s not always what it appears to be. It’s part storytelling.

Steve Cuden: I’m always fascinated by singers who are able to lay back a long way. I assume that you’re pretty good at it. At laying back a long way.

Julie Budd: Yeah. But you don’t want to lose the pocket either. Do you know what I mean?

Steve Cuden: Sure.

Julie Budd: You have to know how to do that. Don’t try this at home kids.

Steve Cuden: How much of that is instinct and how much of that is rehearsal?

Julie Budd: It’s all instinctive.

Steve Cuden: It’s all instinct.

Julie Budd: Yes. The rehearsal part of it is the way Herbie and I lock in, so he knows what I’m doing. So that when he rehearses, nothing becomes a mess.

Steve Cuden: Well, it’s back to your example about Fred Astaire, which I just adore. I’ve used him as an example on many, many things, especially with students. I’ll say to a student watch Fred Astaire dance. It looks like it’s effortless, but it only took a thousand hours in the studio.

Julie Budd: Gene Kelly was like that too.

Steve Cuden: Sure. Did you work with Gene?

Julie Budd: A lot of acrobatic stuff. Dangerous stuff. The jumps and all of those things. Do you know that one moment when he jumps up at singing in the rain, and he jumps up on the pole.

Steve Cuden: Yes.

Julie Budd: He holds himself out on almost a 90-degree angle.

Steve Cuden: Yes.

Julie Budd: Trust me, that was a lot of work.

Steve Cuden: A lot. Of course, it’s a lot of work. But they make it—

Julie Budd: On a wet set.

Steve Cuden: They make it look effortless. Like they’re not even trying. Yet it’s tremendous amounts of musculature and practice and rehearsal.

Julie Budd: Of course.

Steve Cuden: I love that. So I’ve been talking for an hour with just the divine Julie Budd and just so spectacular to listen to you tell stories. I’m just wondering, in all of your many, many experiences, can you share with us something that’s really quirky, weird, offbeat, strange, or just plain funny that’s happened to you out in the road all these years?

Julie Budd: Which night?

Steve Cuden: Pick two.

Julie Budd: Pick a night. Nothing’s happening. The show ain’t long enough. I do remember that when I was a kid, I was working in Lake Tahoe at a place called Harrah’s. I knew Mr. Harrah and I knew when he married Bobbie Gentry, which was even stranger. That’s how long I go back. I was working at his hotel. Why was I working at his hotel? I was 14-15 years old, and I was allowed to work in Nevada because they didn’t have child label laws. So there I was working at his hotel and there was some union law that once the show started, certain union guys could not go back out on the stage. They could do things from the perimeter, but they couldn’t actually, some crazy law. I don’t know. Don’t ask me. There was a dance team on before me. They had a stage that was flat, and they had to dance on wood naturally. See our stage was wooden top, but it had a cement bottom. Dancers, you can’t do that to them. So they had a wooden riser on top that laid flat. Sure. They were a great dance team.

Steve Cuden: It had a little give to it.

Julie Budd: Not after we did two shows a night, seven days a week. Sometimes we did three on the weekend. So everybody had to watch their instrument. I had to watch my voice. They had to watch their knees. Sure. They had to dance on a proper surface. When they finished, the board, like a book closed, and slid off. Then some guy from the floor put the mic on the stage and they rigged for my performance. One night they’re dancing, they close the thing like a book, and it takes my mic. The guy isn’t going out on stage because he’s afraid the union guy is there, and he is going to never be able to feed his family again or something. So they go, ladies and gentlemen, Julie Budd. Bill Harrah was a stickler on time. The minute they said your name, you had to hit the stage. That show had to go at a certain time. He was nuts. I remember going out on stage, stage left, and I walk off the stage and I wave to the audience like the Queen of England. I leave the stage. I had the wherewithal at 14 and a half years old to pick up a mic from the wings.

Steve Cuden: Oh wow.

Julie Budd: I remember they told me in rehearsal there was going to be a spare on the wings. I picked it up and I brought it out myself. Other people would stand there and say, would somebody please bring a mic to me? Then nobody would come. I just decided, do you know what? I’m just going to handle things myself.

Steve Cuden: Would you have sung without the mic?

Julie Budd: No, because I had 30 guys, or 20 guys, behind me and I was in a house that seated 1,750 people.

Steve Cuden: So nobody would hear you.

Julie Budd: Even if they did, I wouldn’t have anything in my throat for the next night. Do you know what I mean? Who does that? So I just went like, be right back. I’m not going anywhere. I went into the wings. I searched around for the spare. I grabbed the spare, I made sure it was plugged on the bottom and it was on the on switch. I went out and did my homework. I did my job. I was one time with a drunk sound and light man who fell from a scaffold, right behind me. I was in Detroit. I was in Cobo Hall, one of the hugest, it’s huge. The guy, drunk as a skunk, fell off a scaffold. Boom. He went down.

Steve Cuden: In the middle of your show.

Julie Budd: He got up in the middle of my show and he got up. I thought he was dead. I thought he was dead. I turned to Herbie. I almost had a heart attack. The guy gets up and he goes, I guess I shouldn’t have drunk so much and he walks off. I looked at the people and I said, live entertainment. They just stood up and applauded for me because I didn’t fall apart.

Steve Cuden: You could have said it’s spectacular, isn’t it?

Julie Budd: I know. Following that whole crazy thing, I sat down with Herbie at the piano and I said, Hey, it’s live entertainment. What can I tell you? These things happen. Let’s hope the microphone works and I’m still in my spotlight.

Steve Cuden: Have you ever had the mic go out anywhere else where it just drops off?

Julie Budd: Oh, the mic went out all the time. Mics go out every day. That’s why God invented spares. I always have one in the wings, or I always have one in the piano. I put them all over the place. I have microphone stashes all over my stage because I have this thing, if it could go wrong, it will.

Steve Cuden: Yeah, that’s Murphy’s law.

Julie Budd: Of course.

Steve Cuden: Well that’s fantastic.

Julie Budd: I’ve had police come in the middle of shows. Don’t ask.

Steve Cuden: Police in the middle of the show?

Julie Budd: Yeah. Somebody’s rowdy in the audience. In the old days, I used to work in all kinds of clubs as a kid and somebody would invariably do something ridiculous and they’d call security. And in the middle of the show you’d see somebody get picked up and taken out.

Steve Cuden: I assume that doesn’t happen that much anymore for you.

Julie Budd: No, I’m working at performing arts centers. Now I’m a decent artist. What can I say? But when you’re a kid, you’ll work anywhere because you just want to work.

Steve Cuden: Right.

Julie Budd: Getting through crazy things actually teaches you how to take care of yourself out there.

Steve Cuden: Well, no question. That gives you wisdom and experience and you can handle all that stuff.

Julie Budd: You don’t fall apart. Believe me, if you don’t fall apart from a guy falling down on a scaffold, you’re not falling apart at all.

Steve Cuden: No. You’re what they call good to go. You’re ready for anything. Alright, so last question for the day today, Julie. You’ve already given us tons of great things to think about and advice. But can you lend a piece of advice or a tip for someone who may be just starting out in today’s business or maybe they’re in a little bit and trying to get to the next level?

Julie Budd: I really can’t.

Steve Cuden: You can’t.

Julie Budd: No. I don’t give advice to anybody because I probably don’t know more about anything than anybody else. They’re going to instinctively understand what is going on once they’re in it. The thing is about this business, or maybe any business, is if that if you don’t eat, live and breathe it, you’re going to have to leave it. There is so much in this business that makes you sacrifice. You’re not going to be able to sometimes do something with your family. You’re not going to be able to go somewhere because you can’t talk in a restaurant over noise. Even in relationships, you better be with people who are understanding. It’s a difficult business and it requires so much physically from you, not just mentally. You’re not always going to be home. If you are not understanding of the fact that it is going to be difficult, you can’t do this. You have to go in understanding that and knowing it. That is so much of what happens in this business. If you don’t set yourself up to be strong, you are going to crumble.

Steve Cuden: I have told students for as long as I can remember, that if you don’t have a burning desire to do the business, it might not be for you. Because it’s going to push you around quite a bit. It’s not for the weak of stomach or the faint of heart. It really requires stamina.

Julie Budd: It impacts your personal life a lot.

Steve Cuden: Sure. Absolutely.

Julie Budd: If you don’t have the right partner who’s really a cheerleader for you, it’s going to be a very rough life. It’s going to be rough. You’re going to always be balancing the two and it’s going to be hard.

Steve Cuden: Well, for having no advice, I would say that’s exceptional advice.

Julie Budd: And you must train. Training is everything.

Steve Cuden: Without training, as you say, it will start to go away on you. You have to keep at it.

Julie Budd: I’ll tell you too, by my constantly working as a kid, that was training in itself. I was learning on my feet.

Steve Cuden: No doubt. Well, you were just doing it. You didn’t go to school at 12 to be a singer, but you understood it by doing it.

Julie Budd: Then just the mechanism of getting up there and going out and learning how to handle audiences and orchestras and what happens when they screw up and you have to keep going and you have to find that place to enter back in the arrangement. There’s so much to learn. We’re all still learning.

Steve Cuden: You’re still absorbing things, aren’t you?

Julie Budd: Every day of my life.

Steve Cuden: That in and of itself is a lesson, that you’re never going to arrive. You’re always going to be on that journey. I think that it’s super important that you just keep absorbing what’s coming at you.

Julie Budd: You can’t ever arrive, because then you’re done.

Steve Cuden: Yeah, I agree.

Julie Budd: Then you’re done. What good is it?

Steve Cuden: Well, Julie Budd, on that note, this has just been one of my favorite hours ever on Story Beat. I cannot thank you enough for spending some time with me today.

Julie Budd: It’s so nice to have me on.

Steve Cuden: It is nice to have you on. It’s a very deep honor, believe me. Because I’ve been a fan of yours for a really long time.

Julie Budd: Steve, thank you. Thank you.

Steve Cuden: I appreciate it.

Julie Budd: Well, we’re new friends now. After Covid, come to New York and we’ll go have dinner somewhere.

Steve Cuden: Well, you’re on. That’s for sure.

Julie Budd: You, me, and Herbie. Oh, you’ll love Herbie.

Steve Cuden: I can’t wait. Believe me. Thank you so much.

Julie Budd: Thanks a lot.

Steve Cuden: So we’ve come to the end of today’s Story Beat. If you like this podcast, please take a moment to give us a rating or review on whatever app or platform you’re listening to. Your support helps us bring more great Story Beat episodes to you. Until next time, I’m Steve Cuden and may all your stories be unforgettable.


Executive Producer: Steve Cuden, Producer: Casey Georgi, Announcer: Javier Grajeda
Social Media: Mina Hoffman, Design & Marketing: Holly Reed, Reed Creative Group


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