One woman’s hard journey in the entertainment world. Atlantic Cinemas, Atlantic Highlands, NJ, June 20 at 8 p.m. Red Carpet, VIP reception with cast members, at Blue Bay Inn, Atlantic Highlands at 7 p.m.
It takes more than talent in any business. Tons of musicians have tons of talent, but never make it to the top. It always takes that little something extra, or a shit ton of luck. Chorney’s little something extra? Tenacity.
Former Sea Bright resident and musician, Linda Chorney, brings her original brand of grit to a whole new level by producing and starring in her independent film, When I Sing. When I Sing premiered at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival, taking home the People’s Choice Award and picking up another honor, receiving the Special Jury Award, at Houston Worldfest for Best Feature Film – Low Budget.
Funny, irrelevant, heartfelt and real, the film features Chorney playing herself. This is the story of a singer/songwriter’s wild ride toward finally being “almost famous” after 30 years of gigging on the road. She is also one of the first genuinely independent musicians nominated for a Grammy in 2012. Emotional Jukebox was accepted in the category for American Roots. When it comes to the Grammys, Linda tells the story of the politics of the industry and how they operate.
“In short, The Recording Academy enticed independent artists to join as members, by setting up an online social network, (Grammy 365) exclusively for members to present each other’s music. Enough voting ears listened to my album, Emotional Jukebox, (plug plug) and I got nominated. If I may boast, I was the first person to achieve this for freaking Americana Album of the Year. So, not-coincidentally, the following year, The Recording Academy secretly put in a National Review Committee to pick the final five nominees in American Roots.
“I found this out from an insider’s letter and publicized it in my book. Then miraculously, the following year they came clean about the committees after membership had already doubled, since my nod. And still, in some categories, a few indies managed to get nominations. So, they got rid of Grammy 365 and downgraded our networking to Grammy Pro, allowing a maximum of 700 contacts. (Making it mathematically more difficult to compete with the support of the big labels.) But we formed Facebook groups to network. And as of last week? They strongly suggested we shut down the Facebook groups, as we might be considered block voters; thus, our ballots could be deemed ‘disqualified’ via some algorithm from Delloite and Douche. And they got rid of Grammy Pro altogether. So, we were sold a membership with hopes of getting recognized with perhaps a nomination…via the social networking site they offered, and now they stifled us completely. President Neil Portnow stepped down last Thursday…he’s out. But I don’t think it was because indies are getting knocked around. That’s not sexy enough for the press.”
But when it comes to the movie, I should mention that the film co-stars Chris Mulkey (CSI-NY, Cloverfield) and Maxwell Scott (The Prodigy). Chorney chose Monmouth County for the second stop on her continuing press junket as most of the story takes place in Sea Bright — including scenes at Sea Bright Pizza. Chorney also filmed in Red Bank, Atlantic Highlands, Sea Bright and Asbury Park. Some of the locals appearing in the film are Cono Trezza, Maggie Usden, Mike Krikorian and Antonia Silver.
When I spoke with Linda about her career and the current movie project, she had quite a bit to say on the matter, and I let her tell it here. The entertainment field has never been a natural field to break into when it comes to being successful. Well, maybe it was okay back in the 1950s, but I’m sure even then the industry was filled with hustlers and sharks all out for a piece of the artist’s pie.
Linda tells me, “I am part of the 99 percent of musicians with a dream, believing in myself. I thought being nominated for a Grammy was finally going to be my big break, but the industry gatekeepers tried to break me because no one profited off my nomination. Fuck ‘em. The truth has set me free. I have completed my bucket list by making this movie.
“It was the hardest, most challenging thing I have ever taken on. Did I know how to make a movie? No. Did I know how to act? No. I just did it. And I’m very proud of When I Sing.
“Of course, I couldn’t have done it without the team I surrounded myself with. They all believed in the story, and that’s all you need…well that, and money. I managed to make a film with a production value of millions, by pulling every favor from anyone who ever believed in me. And I got it done. I’m so grateful to them all. But it’s not over.”
“Completing the film is just the beginning. Now I want everyone to see it. Why? It’s an underdog story that I think not only musicians will relate to, but also just about anyone born without a silver spoon in their mouth.
“You think the music biz is tough? Try recouping money from a film. Ever since streaming, musicians and filmmakers are finding it challenging to recover expenses, let alone make a profit. I’ve confirmed the rumors that iTunes and CDBaby are phasing out even downloading music. Only streaming will be available. What is the point in that? Only the top one percent will profit off the backs of artists.”
“With regards to getting momentum on a film, there must be a better model other than dropping thousands of dollars on ‘submission fees’ to get into film festivals…or giving a film to a distribution company that might pay you something, after their ‘expenses.’ Fuck that…did I say fuck again? (I drop at least 50 f-bombs in the movie…but no nudity or violence.) At first, we were going to try and make it PG…but to do that, one can only drop one f-bomb. Fuck that, too! So, I don’t know what our rating is…FU? So, I’m going around the country, accompanying my film, and having a blast.”
“The best part is seeing the audience’s response. That’s more satisfying than a buck, although I’ll take that, too.”
To be clear, this film is not about sour grapes. There is a truth and exposure to the corruption of the music biz. But mostly, it’s just Linda’s story, from her shoes. It could be interpreted as self-absorbed to tell one’s account; admittedly, it is the artist’s ridiculous quest for validation…times 100,000. However, she has the ability to step outside of herself and objectively see this as a great story. And so can I. She has literally turned lemons into lemonade.
Linda Chorney will be hosting the premiere red-carpet event of her movie When I Sing on June 20 along with co-stars Maxwell Scott and Chris Mulkey at Atlantic Cinemas, Atlantic Highlands, NJ, June 20. 8 pm. Red Carpet, VIP reception with cast members, at Blue Bay Inn, Atlantic Highlands, 7 pm. Comedian Eddie Brill will get the ball rolling as well.
For more information on the upcoming show or to find out more about Linda Chorney, head over to lindachorney.com. And check out the official movie trailer on YouTube.