Cheryl Bentyne reflects on the ups and downs of the Manhattan transfer
Although they’ve performed at the McCallum several times before, it seems a bit sweeter for Bentyne this time around, as it’s now a local show. Originally from Mount Vernon, Washington, she moved from a Boston suburb to Palm Springs three years ago to be closer to Zoë, who is based in Los Angeles. Bentyne found a place online and paid a deposit without going in person. “It was so certain,” she said. “It was the best decision I’ve ever made, in terms of where to live.” His daughter also loves the area and plans to get married in Joshua Tree later this year.
“It’s a calm I didn’t expect and a real spiritual experience,” Bentyne says of life in the desert. She has spent the better part of the past five decades, including raising a child, on the road. “The good news is – if there’s any good news about the pandemic – I’ve learned to dig and nest. And what a great place to do it. She lives near the mountains with a black rescue cat named Richard.
Apart from transfer projects, which also include a recent recording with a symphony orchestra outside Germany, Bentyne has maintained a solo career since the release of her first independent album in 1992. In recent months she has been developing her own show which will open April 8 and 9 at The Purple Room in Palm Springs.
“I used to make standards, now I make stories,” says Bentyne. “It’s music that reflects parts of my life, with a monologue in between. I’ve never done this before.”
The singer was inspired a few years ago after seeing Mandy Patinkin perform at the McCallum. “Just him and a piano. He tells stories, then he goes into a song that tells,” she recalls. “He was so relaxed and so in tune. I find it much more engaging. I just think at this point in my life, I’m not gonna get up and [repeat everything you’ve already seen]. It’s going to be more temperate to who I am now. I’m excited about this.
It’s bright-eyed excitement reminiscent of what Bentyne felt during his first musical review at age 14 as a high school freshman. She came from a talented and melodious family, but her parents didn’t realize she had caught the performance bug until she sang two songs from Funny Girl on stage in front of her peers. After that, the budding star started singing in her dad’s Dixieland band on the weekends.