Born on February 3, 1961, in Tucson, AZ; daughter of an Austrian father and a Norwegian mother; married composer Frank Wildhorn, 1998; children: one son, Jake Ryan Wildhorn. Addresses: Record company--Atlantic Records, 9229 Sunset Blvd., Ste. 900, Los Angeles, CA 90069 Phone: (310) 205-7450.
During the 1990s, torch singer Linda Eder propelled her star onto Broadway, starring in the smash gothic musical Jekyll & Hyde, on stage at Carnegie Hall, debuting in "An Evening With Linda Eder," and onto the pop charts, recording four well-received solo albums. But while she made headlines in 1990 with the premier of Jekyll & Hyde, then saw her single "Something to Believe In" climb the charts in 1997, the singer remained relatively unknown to the mainstream until a widely viewed television appearance in 2000 on The Rosie O'Donnell Show. Popular talk show host, actor, and entertainer Rosie O'Donnell was so impressed after attending Eder's performance at Carnegie Hall that she invited the Broadway sensation to sing "Vienna" at the beginning of her show just two days later. She made room for Eder by scratching her standard opening monologue. Immediately after the show aired, viewers started sending e-mails and making phone calls to their local radio stations across the United States to request the song.
Concurrent with Eder's chance performance on national television, the singer's record company, Atlantic Records, released "Vienna" as a single from her 1999 album It's No Secret Anymore. The emotional and stormy "Vienna," the song that had won her a standing ovation at Carnegie Hall, was written by Gary Benson and Eder's husband, composer Frank Wildhorn. "Gary wrote this amazing lyric, really like a mini-movie," the singer said to Billboard magazine's Chuck Taylor. "You can see so much in it, and it's one of those where people can put their own visuals into it. My father is from Austria, so Frank suggested that the song be about Vienna." The same song was originally a track on Eder's debut solo album, but ended up buried in the record. "It's a staple in my act, and we reworked it so that it sounds like I had always envisioned it."
The daughter of an Austrian father and a Norwegian mother, Linda Eder was born on February 3, 1961, in Tucson, Arizona, but grew up in Brainerd, Minnesota. As a child, Eder was drawn to both popular and classical music forms, particularly by the voices of singers like Judy Garland, opera virtuoso Eileen Farrell, and Barbra Streisand, to whom Eder would later draw comparisons. A self-taught performer who never sang in public until the age of 17, Eder, upon graduating from high school, decided to focus on a career in music. In 1980, she teamed with a former classmate, pianist Paul Todd, as the duo Linda & Paul and began touring clubs in and around Minneapolis for the next seven years. This experience on the local cocktail club circuit helped Eder become a seasoned, concert-style singer.
Eder received her first break in 1988 when she appeared on the nationally televised show Star Search, winning Best Female Vocalist honors for 12 consecutive weeks. Eder had learned about the auditions for the TV show while continuing to hone her skills at local clubs. Because she decided to try out on such short notice, Eder never had time to feel nervous. "In fact," she recalled to Los Angeles Times writer Jan Herman, "the day I auditioned I had a horse show. I was in the show ring at 12:20 and had my audition at 12:30." Eder, who has raised and ridden horses since her childhood, won a $100,000 grand prize when she swept the Star Search competition in Los Angeles. With a portion of her prize money, the aspiring singer bought a piano and a 40-acre farm in Minnesota to raise her quarter horses.
While on the West Coast, Eder also had the opportunity to meet and begin collaborating with songwriter/composer Frank Wildhorn, who, along with lyricist/book writer Leslie Briscusse, was just beginning work on the musical Jekyll & Hyde. Sharing the same musical interests and aspirations, Eder and Wildhorn, who also commandeered the musical shows The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Civil War, soon fell in love and eventually married in 1998; Eder gave birth to the couple's first child, Jake Ryan Wildhorn, on August 22, 1999.
Wildhorn, regarded as one of the best young American composers working in the theater, set out to make his score for Jekyll & Hyde as accessible as possible. Also possessing a great contemporary pop sensibility, Wildhorn had no problem writing songs that would attract a broad audience. Since the late 1980s, approximately 150 of the composer's songs have been recorded, including Whitney Houston's hit "Where Do Broken Hearts Go?" He also wrote and produced many of the songs appearing on Eder's solo albums. "Linda has my favorite instrument," Wildhorn told Kathryn Bold of the Los Angeles Times. "I love writing for her. The way she interprets lyrics, her control and power is just amazing."
Jekyll & Hyde premiered at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas, with Eder playing the role of Lucy Harris, the prostitute/love interest who loves Jekyll and suffers the abuses of Hyde. (The character Lucy does not exist in the 1886 novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde written by Robert Louis Stevenson.) Although the musical received poor reviews overall, it became a hit with audiences, traveled to 28 major American cities, and enjoyed a long run on Broadway, debuting there at the Plymouth Theatre in 1997. Eder departed the show in 1998 just before her wedding.
Despite the less than favorable press, critics nevertheless noted that the singers saved the production. Eder herself won rave reviews, while her powerful soprano prompted standing ovations each night. Eder "possesses silkiness and power reminiscent of the young Barbra Streisand," noted Laurie Winer in a review for the Los Angeles Times. "She has a sinuous physicality not unlike Lonette McKee, and she belts her ballad 'A New Life' out to the rafters with the confidence of a woman on the top of her game." Several of the numbers sung by Eder went on to gain an international following, including the now classic "Someone Like You," "A New Life," and especially "This Is the Moment," which became the unofficial anthem of both the 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics.
Eder's mesmerizing performance in Jekyll & Hyde landed her a record deal with RCA Victor, for whom she recorded her debut self-titled album, mainly a collection of adult pop songs. In 1994, Eder moved to the Angel label for the release of her second album And So Much More. Highlights from the album included the bluesy, haunting "Till You Come Back to Me," "When I Look in Your Eyes," a song written by Briscusse arranged to sound similar to a bolero, and the humorous, zestfully delivered track "Is This Any Way to Fall in Love," about the complexities of dating in the 1990s.
"When it came time to record the third record," Eder explained to Taylor, "I wanted to do something timeless and never try and chase the charts, and Frank was writing all of this great material. That was a big step for us." This album, too, fared well. Released in 1997 on Atlantic Records, It's Time showcased Eder singing 1940s big-band standards such as "I'm Afraid This Must Be Love," as well as various show tunes, including her rendition of "Someone Like You" from Jekyll & Hyde. That same year, Eder's single "Something to Believe In" peaked at number five on Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart.
Two years later, after marrying and welcoming the birth of her first child, Eder returned on Atlantic with a new album entitled It's No Secret Anymore, a collection that she described as "a bit more jazzy, more musical, a little more cohesive in that there's a large stretch of songs that all fit together." Subsequently in 2000, the singer gave a stellar performance at Carnegie Hall, then made her first appearance on national television for The Rosie O'Donnell Show. Since then, Eder's popularity grew steadily. She continued to appear on television, most notably in a PBS special called My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies that aired in December of 1999, and give public performances, including a two-week, sold-out revue at Michael Feinstein's club in New York's Regency Hotel.
However, Eder was not so anxious to become a pop superstar as one might expect. "Maybe most entertainers are really career-oriented, but I'm just not that ambitious now. I'm happy with what I've done and fulfilled a lifelong dream at Carnegie Hall," she admitted to Taylor. "I never really thought I'd be a singer, so to have come this far is satisfying. Sure, I'd like to do another show on Broadway, but right now, I want time to garden, ride my horse, and raise my kid. There's a reason why they call me the reluctant diva."
by Laura Hightower
Linda Eder's Career
Teamed with a former classmate, pianist Paul Todd, as the duo Linda & Paul and began touring clubs in and around Minneapolis, 1980; won Best Female Vocalist honors for 12 consecutive weeks on television show Star Search, 1988; played the role of Lucy in musical Jekyll & Hyde, 1990-1998; released self-titled debut solo album, 1991; released And So Much More, 1994; signed to Atlantic Records, released It's Time, 1997; released It's No Secret Anymore, appeared on PBS special My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies, 1999; gave concert at Carnegie Hall, performed "Vienna" on The Rosie O'Donnell Show, 2000.
- Selected discography
- Linda Eder , RCA, 1991.
- And So Much More , Angel, 1994.
- It's Time , Atlantic, 1997.
- It's No Secret Anymore , Atlantic, 1999.
September 2, 2003: Eder's album, Storybook, was released. Source: Yahoo! Shopping, shopping.yahoo.com/shop?d=product&id=1921991382, September 2, 2003.
- Billboard, May 24, 1997; September 13, 1997; October 16, 1999; November 27, 1999; March 11, 2000; April 8, 2000, p. 72.
- Boston Globe, May 6, 1997; December 25, 1997; April 7, 2000; July 2, 2000.
- Los Angeles Times, August 17, 1995; August 24, 1995; October 31, 1998; March 21, 1999; May 10, 1999; December 11, 1999; December 13, 1999.
- New York Times, May 21, 2000.
- People, January 30, 1995; November 10, 1997.
- Stereo Review, September 1997.
- USA Today, March 24, 1997; April 29, 1997; December 1, 1999.
- Washington Post, June 14, 1999.
- All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (July 15, 2000).
- Rolling Stone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com (July 15, 2000).