|Ellen O'Brien is a vocalist in New York City--photo by Barry Fidnick|
"I'm now immersed in a world [Broadway] that many people suggested I should get into, but never thought I would," O'Brien explained in her charming Southie accent. She observes the nightly shows in the cabaret rooms booked by legendary performer and manager, Sidney Myer. "I learn from every situation," she said.
The vocalist is thrilled to be in the heart of the New York musical theatre scene at Don't Tell Mama, a spot where Broadway veterans like Cuba Gooding Jr., Rosie O'Donnell and Joanna Gleason frequent. Though O'Brien tends bar during Monday/Thursday happy hours and Friday evenings, she also hits the Midtown nightclub's stage. She is rehearsing well-known Broadway tunes like "And I'm Telling You" from Dreamgirls, and "When You're Good to Mama" from Chicago.
But if you catch the singer during one of her Friday night sets, more than likely, she'll be crooning a tune from one of her idols like Etta James, Jill Scott, or even Stevie Wonder.
"To come into Mama's on a Friday Night, the place is packed with people who love music," she said. "The amount of incredible talent that everyone has blows me away, and inspires me every time they get up and sing."
|O'Brien originally moved to New York with a suitcase full of dreams in 1995.|
But after years of a successful singing career in NYC, O’Brien got a call to move back to Boston to help an ailing family member in need, leaving in 2005. With her heart still in the borough she called home for a decade, she always knew that one day she would end up in Manhattan again.
She had a friend who was kind enough to let her bunk for a few weeks until she got on her feet and started working. She went on to stay just outside the city with another accommodating friend, and is currently searching for a Manhattan apartment in which Sparky, her adorable 10-year-old Greater Swiss Mountain Dog can live too.
|Sparky goes to the beach when he has a day off!|
O'Brien is savoring every moment now that she's back in New York. Whether she's behind the bar mixing cocktails or belting in the spotlight on stage, she feels right at home. "To see people have such a good time and enjoy what we're doing up there is amazing and never gets old." Aside from performing at Don't Tell Mama, O'Brien makes her rounds singing at various open mic nights around town. When she's not on the stage, she's probably in the studio working on her upcoming album, scheduled to be released this fall.
Though this Bostonian is comfortable singing R&B, Blues, Broadway, Rock and Pop, no matter which tunes she rehearses or where her career takes her in the future, New York will always be her home."New York keeps me alive. New York is my lifeline."