By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City — Pleasant and classy. That is the music of Maggie Kresel, a singer-nurse, who hails from Connecticut. It is easy to like or dislike music, just hear the first note, and you will know it. Maggie Kresel’s songs, Let Me Feel and Shall I Wait?, from her album My Moment, just hook you.
My Moment, all 10 original compositions by Maggie, was launched on November 8, 2014 in Connecticut. Now it is enjoying a steady stream of listeners and buyers in Itunes and Reverbnation.
While that soothing and sultry voice is definitely one which can hook you to listen, Maggie has always been on the creative part as a composer. She’s more into that side of the art, until one day, her oldest brother suddenly died at the age of 56, leaving behind his young family.
It affected her so much and made her realize that she needed to bring her songs out. Maggie decided to record her compositions to dedicate it to her brother.
“He was the better singer in the family. He sang better than me. He played the guitar so well and always won competitions way back home in the Philippines,” Maggie recalled.
Her music begun to unfold since then, she organized her band and sang her songs in gigs. Maggie belongs to the genre of such magnificent performers Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, and Doris Day who happen to be her personal favorites.
She has been trained in classical music at the New York City School of Music in 1986. The first six months of the training was classroom lessons and later with a private trainer, an Italian classical singer.
Maggie soon bloomed to be a singing actress as she performed Alice in the Big River, the Story of Huckleberry Finn, and 42nd Street, on Broadway.
She also sang with a group, the Philippine Nurses Association in Boston, for seven years. The group performed in various shows and masquerade ball since 1989.
Maggie is a mother of three grown up children, and wife to a generous and loving husband Dr. Greg Kresel. In the sense of family and profession, she has come full circle since she moved to the US in 1986 with her husband.
Now Maggie is here to share her passion, her music.
Excerpts from our interview.
1. Tell us about the inroads of your first album. What do you think is your distinction as a singer?
My first album, My Moment, was put together for two years. I just did it in stride. I dedicate this work of mine to my older brother. Now I am promoting My Moment and singing in various gigs in the east coast.
I am classically trained and music is subdued and geared towards the European ear. I do jazz and modern, but I tend to flow towards classical so it is quite a soothing to listen to.
2. Who inspired you to sing?
My family is my inspiration, of course. My father’s side of the family was great at music. As a small child, I already showed talent in singing.
But there was this family friend of my husband of 29 years Greg whom I never expected to say something encouraging to me. Her name is Arianna, a well-respected singer in New York. She already passed away. She would come to the house in Lichfield to relax after some very grueling time at work. She told me to listen to singers like Sarah Vaughn and Liza Minneli, who is a family friend of hers, because I sang like them. I was flattered. But yes, I got inspired by that. And I continued writing music and singing my songs.
She wasn’t easy to please but she liked me.
3. Did you have formal training as a singer?
Yes I had. I remember my instructor would say…”Loosen up your shoulder bring it to the side and let it glide, relax your palate and let it be soft and smooth – ready to taste a sip of wine. Let your vocals lead your way naturally.” This was what I recalled many times before I would start to position myself for my lesson.
I started singing with my private instructor from Italy, Mr Paul Whiton. This was 1985 and New York city was tough for me because I was just learning about the city. I had to learn the ropes of riding trains, not to sing but to go to work as a nurse.
It was so cool and tough mostly.
4. Who were the singers you liked and sort of got inspiration from?
Ella F, Sarah Vaughn, Doris Day, Lloyd Weber, Shirley B, Liza M, and more. They were artists that I always dreamed of and their music became my practice pieces.
I remember he said not to memorize the piece but to learn how to love the lyrics and to express it out loud. If the word cry appears it has to be a gesture to cry and that is where the beauty of singing is because you can produce the sound of sadness and to cry without tears. Hmmmmmm, sometimes there are tears when you are in deep into it.
For me singing is, either you have the it or you don’t, a typical comment from my vocal teacher.
5. What do we expect from you in the coming months? Are you working on certain creative projects?
I am doing my second album which has Tagalog and Cebuano songs. Six are original and four are rearranged for me. I have a third album too, all English. I will record the songs, all 10 of them, in the Philippines towards the end of the year.
I love music in every genre but I prefer to make my music the way someone wants to hear it. When the groove comes, her heart starts to pump more blood and sweats starts to drip and tiny hair starts to stand, that’s it. Just hear the first note, and you will know it.
6. I am curious about how does an artist like you work? Do you do the lyrics first, then the melody or vise versa?
I write the lyrics first then the backdrop of music in my mind. I practice the singing the songs, until they are perfected. Then the band plays it too. I so enjoy this. I just want to share it.
I am grateful to a wonderful person that encouraged and helped me in the making of My Moments, Naldy Rodriguez, the in- house arranger of the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra Philippines. He and the entire team are magnificent. I am nothing without them.
(The featured photo is Maggie performing in Las Vegas early October 2015)