By Mary Ann Bourbeau
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – Singer/songwriter Linda Chorney is returning to the Jersey Shore to host a red carpet debut for her film, “When I Sing.”
The June 20 event at Atlantic Cinemas in Atlantic Highlands, which quickly sold out, will be followed by a Q&A session with the cast and a performance by Chorney, who wrote, produced and starred in the film. “When I Sing” tells the story of her 30-year struggle to make a living as a singer/songwriter. Though the former Sea Bright resident now lives in Tucson, Arizona, she felt it was important to hold the film’s debut in New Jersey.
“The story takes place primarily in Sea Bright and this is the closest theater,” she said. “And I could not imagine any other place than the Shore to have the premiere.”
“When I Sing” is a funny and irreverent story about Chorney, who has played in bars and resorts across the globe, self-produced five albums and opened up for big-name acts. She even made history in 2012 as the first truly independent artist to be nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Americana Album category. But fame continues to evade her, as documented in her autobiography, “Who the F$&# is Linda Chorney?”
“This film shows what it’s really like to live in the shoes of a musician,” she said. “Not Bruce Springsteen, but for the rest of us who truly have talent but just have not gotten that break. I hope people will have a better appreciation of how hard musicians work.”
Chorney was raised in Massachusetts and moved to Weehawken in the ‘90s. She was a regular at Jersey Shore venues, including Donovan’s Reef in Sea Bright. She met borough resident Scott Fadynich after he saw her perform in Vail, Colorado.
“I literally performed across the street from his house but he never saw me there,” she said.
The couple married and Chorney made Sea Bright her home.
“I fell in love with Scott and Sea Bright Pizza,” she said. “That’s what made me stay.”
It was Fadynich’s idea for her to sign up for Grammy365, a $100 per year social networking service that allows independent artists to actively campaign for their albums to be considered. Amazingly, without a single registered sale for her album, “Emotional Jukebox,” the strategy worked. Chorney was nominated along with Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm, Lucinda Williams and Ry Cooder. One of her proudest moments was when her name was posted on the Borough of Sea Bright’s official sign, saying, “Bring Home the Grammy, Linda Chorney.”
Many naysayers called for her to withdraw, suggesting that she had gamed her way into the system.
“It was a shitstorm equivalent to (Super Storm) Sandy in the music business,” she said.
(Side note: Levon Helm won the Grammy that year.)
When it was all said and done, Chorney chose to remain an independent artist, claiming there was too much corruption in the fight for Americana airplay.
“People were expecting a Cinderella story, but instead everyone in the industry tried to poop in my glass slipper,” she said.
With her own money and the help of a few investors, Chorney decided to make a film based on her book, and enlisted the help of comedian Eddie Brill as a consultant. Viewers can expect to see shots of Sea Bright, Atlantic Highlands, Asbury Park, Red Bank and Highlands as well as actors portraying local residents, such as Cono Trezza, the owner of Sea Bright Pizza, where many of the scenes take place. Trezza is also a sponsor of the film, which won the People’s Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival and the Special Jury Award for Best Low Budget Feature Film at Worldfest Houston International Film Festival.
“Cono is a really dynamic guy,” said Chorney. “I tried to get him to play himself, but he was too busy.”
“When I Sing” includes cameos from New Jersey musicians Bernard Purdie and Marc Ribler as well as Chorney’s performance at the Light of Day concert in Asbury Park. Michael Krikorian also appears in the film along with his restaurants, Copper Canyon and Blue Bay Inn, where he is sponsoring a sold-out VIP Red Carpet event before the screening.
“I’ve gone as far as one can go in the ridiculous quest for validation by making this film,” said Chorney. “But I feel it has something to offer. It really shows the life of the 99 percent of us who are struggling to make a living.”
Arts and entertainment writer Mary Ann Bourbeau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published in the June 14-June 21, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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