Versatility: Often defined as “being capable of moving free in many directions…”. In part, this describes the ability of ”bright eyed, bright voiced” (Cabaret Scenes) NYC based music artist Elliot Roth. Known for his seemingly limitless vocal prowess; from high end arena style rock to his jazz and soul fueled ”silky smooth voice that seems as if it is caressing the air” (New York Times) Elliot has been hailed as one of the city’s most dynamic musical talents.
A reverent interpreter of the Great American Songbook in both his nuanced singing and piano playing, he is just as comfortable letting loose in a soul and rock setting…bringing to mind the stylings of many influential vocalists; from Stevie Wonder to Freddy Mercury. He is equal parts vocalist, pianist, instructor, writer and personality; sliding smoothly through musical worlds and constantly gaining the praise and attention of everyone from jazz critics to renowned Broadway veterans.
A masters graduate of the prestigious Manhattan School of Music jazz arts program, off-broadway credits include Our Sinatra at the world famous Oak Room, Mid Twenties at Manhattan Theater Source, and his sold out performance as ‘Jesus’ in the concert version of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Living Room. He has continued to explore his love for modern dance; serving as resident composer for up and coming choreographer Jessica Taylor (DamageDance)..
As a voice instructor, Elliot is one of the few performer/teachers who explores all styles of singing with flexible approaches…using relaxation techniques to access the voice through a full mind and body connection. He has aided students in contemporary singing elements such as ‘riffing’, blues singing, jazz scatting and many stylistic elements that have formally been ignored, discouraged or incorrectly examined in a private vocal setting.
Elliot’s students have appeared on XFactor, in National Broadway Tours (Cats, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Rent, Hair) and countless recording projects.
Currently Elliot continues to expand his teaching and performing across the country as he works towards two albums of original material and begins preparations for the album release and tour/performances of JennandElliot. In a world where young, raw and fresh can translate to ignorance and the schooled musician often lacks the look and personality to progress and evolve in today’s music industry…Elliot Roth is indeed a jack and a master of many trades.
KNOW ME BETTER, MAN!
20 questions, from an interview in ITM Magazine in no particular order
1. What is the strangest song someone has requested during one of your gigs?
‘Strange’ is relative…I have been stumped a lot but I haven’t raised an eyebrow at a request thus far. I’ll get back to you on that one!
2. If your iPod was on the fritz and you could only upload three artists on it, what would be on your iPod right now?
Well, two artists and an album: Crystal Lewis, Bjork and that classic Christmas compilation; you know the one! Barbara Streisand’s “Jingle Bells?”, Andy Williams’ “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, etc.; I could listen to that stuff year round!
3. What is your favorite childhood memory?
When I was really young, my parents used to take me to these 4th of July parties in the outskirts of Western Pennsylvania…it was at the beautiful home of a jazz sax player my dad worked with. It was a lot of ‘firsts’ for me; I was around a glorious mixture of people (my hometown wasn’t the most racially diverse town and the guy and his wife were a multi-racial couple with respective large extended families), eat food I was never aloud to eat (soda, chicken wings) and witness the greatest jam sessions of all time (from a big church lady rocking out a riffy gospel “On the Blood” to a 20 minute jam my brother and I even joined in on). It was amazing. I made so many friends!
4. What is the best Halloween costume you have ever worn?
Hmm…it’s recent actually. I was an 80′s tennis player…blond mullet, white sweat suit and all. I have to mention my least favorite, though (sorry, Mom). One year my mom made my brother and me wear these ghost costumes she made…they weren’t typical ‘sheet over head’, but that maybe would have been better. I ended up looking like a beekeeper in a white moo-moo.
5. What is your favorite book?
The Day on Fire (James Ramsey Ullman). It’s a semi fictional account of the life of French poet Rimbaud. It has seriously changed my life. It is so beautiful, tragic and edgy at the same time. He was the original “rock star”.
6. Where would you most like to travel?
I need to go to a tropical beach (aka not Florida or Cali). Barbados maybe? Of course France, Germany and Sydney are on the list as well!
7. When have you been most proud of yourself?
Picking myself back up after getting my heart broken to pieces (it sounds dramatic, but I do believe that’s what happened).
8. What is your favorite thing about living in New York City?
I like that there is always somewhere open to hang out…whether you want an early Sunday evening curry, or a 4 a.m. night cap!
9. What do you miss most about living in Pittsburgh?
Independent coffee shops. Now I have to travel to Brooklyn to find a string of them…Starbucks has taken over NYC!
10. What is your favorite item of clothing?
It changes. Currently it’s my vintage tan down vest. It was given to me by an 80 year old man who used to come see me perform when I lived in Pittsburgh…he used to wear it when he was in his 20′s and lived in the West Village!
11. What is your favorite song to perform?
Higher and Higher. I do my own arrangement, but I try to channel a bit of Jackie Wilson every time I do it!
12. What person, dead or alive, would you most like to have a martini with? Why?
Dorothy Parker, duh! Do I really need to explain why? ;)
13. Describe your favorite photograph of yourself.
I’m not that…ahem…vain…I would say my favorite one is a funny one I have from when I was 13. I had just gotten over mono and I’m at swimming championships so my head is shaved; I look absolutely frightening-kind of like a skeleton with stubble.
14. What do you like to cook?
I like to make beef stroganoff…my mom’s recipe, only I add a little bit of cinnamon. Word on the street also says I make a mean plate of super nachos.
15. If you were to have a martini named after you, what would be in it?
I already do!!! :) The place I used to play at in Pittsburgh coined the “Elliotini”: Raspberry Stoli, cointreau, splash of grapefruit and squeeze of lime.
16. What is your favorite outfit?
17. If you could ask Frank Sinatra one question, what would it be?
What/who is your most memorable fling?
18. What do you like to do to relax?
I like to get into my pajamas and watch cooking competitions on the Food network. ‘Chopped’ is my favorite.
19. What is your morning routine?
Lately I’ve been allowing myself to sleep in a little bit and wait to leave to the house for about an hour…so I’ve been getting into cooking a nice high protein breakfast and watching late morning talk shows. I’m still rocking the hot water and lemon every morning…going on 5+ years!
20. What do you love most about teaching?
I like it when I can share something with a student…be it a musical idea or even a pop culture reference. It makes me feel close to them, and usually helps break some sort of barrier that allows room for learning and ‘getting’ things. It’s what makes teaching most rewarding to me.
“There is no sense in singing a song if you can’t connect with the lyric; there are too many songs out there to choose from, and too often we are guilty of picking songs that simply show off virtuosity and such; there is a balance. There are a lot of singers not that much older than I am that are jaded and complacent; and I think part of it is because night after night they are singing words they aren’t LIVING. Believe what you declare. Live the song.”