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Maude Maggart staying true to her cabaret roots

Maude Maggart is town for concert North Shore Center for Performing Arts.

Maude Maggart is in town for a concert at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts.

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♦ 9 p.m. April 20

♦ Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie

♦ Tickets, $45-$100

♦ (847) 673-6300;

Updated: April 10, 2013 1:46PM

Maude Maggart was destined to be a singer.

“It was something that came naturally,” the Los Angeles-based cabaret artist said. “When you find something that feels natural and enjoyable, you want more of it. That sort of translated into having a career in music.”

It’s not surprising that Maggart’s love of singing evolved into a career. Her musical roots go back two generations, starting with her grandmother, who starred in the “George White Scandals of 1926,” and her grandfather, a vocalist with the Harry James Big Band. Her parents performed on Broadway and singer/songwriter Fiona Apple is her sister.

Maggart has enjoyed acclaim since she first began performing in her native New York. Her early career was helped because of the encouragement of two well respected performers.

“I met Michael Feinstein and Andrea Marcovicci, who were my two mentors, through a songwriter/lyricist named Marshall Barer, who was a good friend of my father’s,” Maggart related. She was 12 years old at the time. “I would attend with my father when Marshall Barer had soirees at his house. He had a baby grand white piano. Various people would get up and sing. That was fun to be a child sitting on a couch watching all of this.”

Although she had known Feinstein and Marcovicci since childhood, they didn’t become her mentors until years later after Barer had died and the two singers heard Maggart perform one of Barer’s songs at a memorial service for him.

“It sort of grew from there,” Maggart said. “Both of them liked the way I sang and wanted to help guide me because I wasn’t sure what kind of direction I wanted to take musically.”

In addition to offering advice, “They introduced me to their audiences in cabaret,” she said.

It was a natural fit because Maggart always sings songs she likes and they tend to be ones from the Great American Songbook — favorites with cabaret audiences.

Cabaret is a perfect fit for Maggart’s talents and interests. “It’s very intimate and there’s a lot of breathing space,” she said. “The kind of cabaret that I like is very subtle — not over the top. It’s kind of a breath of fresh air to me to sing and listen to a simple song performed simply.”

Maggart has performed at such prominent places as Feinstein’s in Manhattan and the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach to rave reviews. For the Northlight performance, she plans to present some of her favorite stories and songs from past shows that she has created.

You can expect to hear a story about songwriter Marshall Barer.

“He was really gifted and a very strange person. He makes for a wonderful storytelling subject,” Maggart said.

The singer will also share interesting facts she has culled through our research. “I like discovering little gems of musical history that not everyone is familiar with,” she said.

This will be a quick trip to Chicago for Maggart so she only has plans to do one thing while she’s here, she said: “Give a good show.”

Myrna Petlicki is a local free-lance writer.

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