by Lola Rossi-Meza
Vocalist Francesca Amari is one of eight finalists in “The Voice of the Valley”
A very busy Cabaret vocalist, Francesca Amari will perform at the unveiling celebration party for graphic artist James Cesena on Saturday, September 1, at 7:30 p.m. at Azul Restaurant located at 369 North Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. Cesena’s series of portraits of area entertainers will be on permanent display there. Amari will also appear on Tuesday, September 18, as part of the Bella da Ball Cabaret Revue. (760) 325-5533.
Amari is one of the eight finalists performing on Tuesday, September 4, from 7:30 until 9 p.m. in “The Voice of the Valley” Cabaret Open Mic Competition presented by The Carol Channing-Harry Kullijian Foundation For The Arts. It is being held in The Lounge at the Agua Caliente Casino located at 32-350 Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage.
On Tuesday, September 11, from 7:30 until 8:45 p.m., she will be part of the Patriotic Musical Memorial with Brian Scott, produced by Bob Reinhagen. This Annual 9/11 Remembrance Tribute, a free event , will take place at The Palm Desert Civic Center Park Amphitheater. Attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket, chair, water and a candle.
On Friday, September 14, from 7 until 9 p.m., Amari will perform at Studio One 11 located at 67-555 East Palm Canyon Drive in Cathedral City. Guests include Terry Larson, Jerome Elliott, Charles Herrera, Alan Jon and Lenny Laboissonniere.
Born and raised in Battle Creek, Michigan, her family members know when she started singing. “Well it has been told to me by my family that I started singing when I was two years old,” Amari remembers, “I was being held by my uncle and singing with everyone in a bar called The Salty Dogs. I was one of six girls and when I was a little older, five of us sang together around town, we were known as The Amari Girls. My Mother would teach us the harmonies and we would sing songs by The Lennon Sisters.”
In elementary school, her first role on stage was being a Sugar Plum Fairy in the second grade and she sang in school concerts. In the fourth grade, she sang with The Master Singers, comprised of students from several elementary schools in her home town. “We would all meet once a week, learn songs and travel around to Senior Centers to perform. That was my first real exposure to music, learning how to read notes and harmonize. I never really had any formal training.” She did Community Theatre during high school and then attended college, where she earned her Bachelors of Applied Arts in Broadcasting and Journalism. She later moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan to pursue her career in public relations, marketing and fund-raising for non-profit organizations.
After a hiatus from singing for almost seven years, she decided to start singing again. She was offered a role in a dinner theatre original production of “Midlife! The Crisis Musical” written by brothers Bob and Jim Walton. This 12 week dinner theatre venture lasted for 3 years and took her to Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona. Ironically, in Arizona, she re-connected with and old friend from high school, Dan Sajtar, who was living in San Diego. They started a long-distance romance, but she finally made the move to California in January of 2010. They later married in July of 2010.
If you visit her web-site, you will see lots of video, photos, reviews and a list of performances she has been part of and starred in. “All through high school I was told I looked like Gilda Radner. They called me Roseanna, Roseanna Danna. Even after moving here, people still commented about the likeness. In the fall of 2010, I started seriously thinking about putting a show together about her. Then, one day I received a request to do a tribute to Gilda Radner to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Gilda’s Club in Grand Rapids. They asked me to have a show ready to perform in March of 2011, so I did.”
She researched Radner’s life and created her latest show, “You Make Me Laugh – A Tribute to Gilda Radner” She recently performed this show with pianist Joel Baker at Azul. “I really encourage anyone who wants to sing, just try it. Music is an outlet for everyone.”
See www.FrancescaAmari.com or call her directly at (616) 364-8589.