“On the day that you were born, the angels got together and decided to create a dream come true ...”
That’s exactly how Lisa Rock feels about Karen Carpenter.
In her tribute show “Close to You,” Rock is connecting with the person who most influenced her own music career. She loves the music, she loves the voice and, most of all, she loves Carpenter.
She grew up listening to everything, thanks to parents with broad musical tastes. But Carpenter somehow made the biggest impact. When Carpenter died of anorexia, Rock was 13 years old but says she understood the tragedy and felt the loss.
“Karen never left me,” Rock said.
“We didn’t understand anorexia at the time, but I feel like as women we did,” she said, and those body image worries have followed her around because, like Carpenter, she is a woman in the spotlight.
“In 1996, a theater was looking for submissions. I wrote a show then about (Carpenter),” and what Rock emphasized was how women were viewed differently than men. “How People magazine described men by their accomplishments and women by their exercise routine and body type.”
Rock worked on other music throughout the years, but three years ago she put together a new Carpenters show and has been touring with it ever since.
“Everyone knows the story (of her death),” Rock said, so she doesn’t dwell on that. “I want to do the concert. I still want to talk in between about the band and the music. And I do mention how she died. I never want that forgotten. I think of her before the show and always have a private prayer.”
And then she takes the stage with her band and sings those songs — “Rainy Days and Mondays,” “Superstar,” “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Yesterday Once More” and “Close to You.”
She has immersed herself in all things Carpenter and loves sharing with the audience.
“At 18, she recorded ‘Close to You.’ She was just a kid. But you can hear it — hear this old soul in it that haunts you.”
And so she sings the songs of The Carpenters. And, yes, Rock is her real name, so maybe she was fated to do this. But she knows she wouldn’t be doing it if Carpenter was around to do it herself.
“I would not be doing this were she alive because she would still be performing. I give the gratitude back to the audience for keeping her music alive. I’m so grateful every day to be doing this. I do look out, and I know how everyone is struggling financially. I am grateful to each individual that is there and sharing this with us.”