Deana Martin, daughter of the legendary singer, actor, comedian and Rat Pack stalwart Dean, and a celebrated entertainer in her own right, will help the Ocean City Pops kick off its 89th season on Sunday night at the Music Pier.
And while Martin puts her own personal style and a decidedly female perspective onto such Dean Martin standards as “Everybody Loves Somebody” and “That’s Amore”, she certainly understands when listeners compare her to her Dad.
“It’s in my DNA,” she said during an exclusive telephone interview Thursday afternoon with OCNJ Daily. “I am (myself) and I do my own take on these wonderful songs, but I am Dean Martin’s daughter.”
Martin spoke of a recent recording session at Capitol Records’ famed Studio A in Los Angeles where her Dad recorded all of his hits and where her “Uncle Frank” Sinatra recorded many of his.
“I never heard of a female recording ‘Who’s Got the Action?’” Deana said with a laugh. But that’s exactly what she was doing recently under the direction of Grammy-winning producer, arranger and conductor Patrick Williams.
“It was the first time I sang it and it was such a cool arrangement, and when we finished, Patrick Williams, who is wonderful, said ‘You sound just like your Dad!’”
It is fitting Martin’s Ocean City show will take place on Father’s Day. She will sing a “duet” with her Dad’s video image and recording, along with many of his other well-known standards and those of her “Uncle Frank.”
The Ocean City Pops will perform under the direction of Maestro William Scheible. The show is June 19, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 in the auditorium and $25 in the solarium. They are available at the Welcome Center in City Hall at 9th and Asbury; at the Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center; at the Ocean City Music Pier Box Office and by calling 609-525-9248 on Saturday and Sunday. They are also available by visiting www.ocnj.us/boxoffice.
Martin said she knew early on that she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps. Uncle Frank and Sammy (Davis Jr.) were around the house when I was growing up, and just seeing them made me want to (pursue an entertainment career) myself,” she said. “I was always around people like Bobby Darren and Peggy Lee and Rosemary Clooney. Now Peggy Lee…there is a woman who could sing any ‘man’s’ song. Learning from people like that was a thrill.”
Growing up in LA, she went to school with Desi Arnaz Jr. and Lucie Arnaz. Her late brother Dino had a rock group Dino, Desi and Billy with Desi Jr., that had some hits in the 60s, and Dinah Shore’s daughter Melissa Montgomery was a schoolmate.
“In a sense it was normal to be around these people but at the same time I saw people’s reaction to them and I knew they were special. It was an amazing time. People respected the stars more. No paparazzi were around getting paid thousands of dollars for a picture.”
She recalled asking her father if she could take singing lessons and he demurred. “Why… so you can sound just like everybody else?” She said her father was not formally trained but was blessed with a naturally beautiful singing voice.
When she asked “Uncle Frank” for advice, he gave a very technical answer about breathing and staying on pitch. “And I asked him if my Dad did all that stuff and he said ‘No! He doesn’t know what he is doing.’”
Sinatra then went on to tell Deana, who was then 16, something that stuck with here ever since. “You have to sing the song many times and all different ways to make it your own and to live with the song,” Sinatra said. “Put yourself and that moment in your life into it.”
Deana said she always thinks of those words when she records or performs a song, and that will certainly be the case on Sunday night. She remembered asking her Dad’s old partner Jerry Lewis if he would consider writing the foreword of her book and Lewis did so the very next day. He recalled some of the good times and said “It’s just like being at the Jersey Shore.”
“I am very much looking forward to the show,” she said. “It’s always nice to perform with an orchestra. These songs are timeless and they are (versatile). You can swing them, you can do them all different ways. The people are going to get to hear them but they will also get some humor and a lot of great stories. They will laugh and they might even cry as I sometimes do when I am singing a duet with my Dad.”
She described the show as something that will “take the audience back in time. It is sophisticated, fun and I think everyone will have a great time.”