|Ellen O’Brien is a vocalist in New York City–-photo by Barry Fidnick|
Wander down Restaurant Row on W. 46th St. to Don’t Tell Mama on a Friday night and you’re bound to hear the bluesy, soulful voice of Boston native, Ellen O’ Brien. She has recently joined the cast of seasoned belters at the popular Midtown cabaret – she returned to New York City in October 2012 after a seven-year hiatus – and began singing at the theater district club in December. One could say that O’Brien is fortunate to have found a gig like this one so soon after her arrival last year.
Ellen is thrilled to be in the heart of the New York musical theater scene at Don’t Tell Mama, a spot where Broadway veterans like Cuba Gooding Jr., Rosie O’Donnell, and Joanna Gleason frequent. Though she tends bar during Monday andThursday 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.
“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, she 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.
waking up and walking out the door not knowing what will happen that day, but it’s always something amazing.”
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!|
Ellen 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, she 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 she 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.”