That makes sense when you consider that Charlap’s father was a composer himself. Moose Charlap wrote the scores for a number of Broadway musicals, including his most famous creation, that for Peter Pan. Additionally, his mother, Sandy Stewart, was a well-known pop singer in the sixties.
Yet, in spite of Bill Charlap’s familiarity with fame, he is unimpressed with it. Instead, as he reveals in this interview, Charlap’s interests lie in the beauty that music creates. In fact, art itself is one of the most important elements in Charlap’s life.
In pursuit of creating art, and relying on his already-formed love of popular song, Charlap formed his trio, one that in the past year has gained a large following as it wins poll after poll. With mature confidence and respect for the art form, on his first Blue Note release, Written In The Stars, the Bill Charlap Trio revels in the possibilities that the American Songbook offers. Charlap talks about the formation of that trio and much more in the following interview.
JazzReview: Your trio played at the Vanguard last week?
Bill Charlap: Yes, that was a fulfilling and gratifying week on many levels. It was great to see the people enjoying the music. It meant a lot to me that many musicians came out to hear me...people like Frank Wess, Dick Hyman, Jay Leonhart, Ted Rosenthal, David Hazeltine, Harry Allen, Donald Fagen, Walter Becker and Tony Bennett. The trio felt very relaxed. You can hear everything in the Vanguard. I think it’s the greatest jazz room in the world. The sound on the stage is so good that you can hear all of the nuances that each other plays. That makes it so easy to react to one another in an honest way. Playing there becomes a focused listening experience, which creates the best performance from us. The Vanguard doesn’t serve food, and that makes it different from any other jazz club. Also, the room has a rarefied quality. By a freak of nature, the shape of the room makes the music sound good. And of course, the history of the performances there makes it sort of a hallowed hall.
JazzReview: Do you book the dates yourself?
Bill Charlap: Yes I do. Joel Chriss works as a booking agent for me. It’s just a matter of answering the phone, for the most part. And it’s important to be as organized as I can be.
JazzReview: Does Blue Note help too?
Bill Charlap: Not as a booking agent. But with Blue Note’s tentacles out there in the media, our group is in almost fifteen different publications right now. I’ve done quite a bit of radio, including Voice of America and Terri Gross’ Fresh Air. All of that exposure is very valuable.
JazzReview: Did you arrange for the Vanguard gig in conjunction with the release of the CD?
Bill Charlap: That was done before the Blue Note record was completed. When I told Blue Note that I was going to be at the Vanguard on those particular dates, I think that the company did it best to coincide the dates with the release. The CD, Written In The Stars, came out the week before we played the Vanguard. So, the connection between the two events was a happy accident.
We’ve been playing our music the same way since Kenny, Peter and I started as a trio. Everything that has occurred happened because of our music. People respond to it.
JazzReview: You started as a trio about three years ago?
Bill Charlap: We really started on the CD called All Through The Night, which was recorded for Criss Cross a day or two after Christmas in 1997. We got together, played the material through once or twice, and we went into the studio. We had immediate rapport. I knew that this was the trio I wanted to focus on.
JazzReview: Did you play in clubs before that?
Bill Charlap: No. That was the first time we played. Still, you can hear the rapport on All Through The Night right away. We’ve played in a lot of different situations since then. I’ve always loved the harmonic acuity in Peter Washington’s playing and the rhythmic precision in Kenny Washington’s work, as well as their ensemble playing. They’re wonderful when they play in combination with each other, and I knew that they were ideally suited to the kind of music I wanted to focus on. I had played with Kenny once before in a trio with Ray Drummond. Also, I had worked with Peter in a group when I was subbing for someone. They’re both very well educated in the history of the music. We have similar perspectives on small-group playing. Also, we have similar ideas about the purity that we like to hear in music. We have a sense of brevity and we try to make what we play mean something without wasting any notes. We try to leave some space for reflection as well.
JazzReview: Were you the producer of All Through The Night?
Bill Charlap: Actually, Gerry Teekens was. I had already had different musicians on two Criss Cross trio records. The first record had Scott Colley and Dennis Mackrel on it, and the second was made with Sean Smith and Bill Stewart. But All Through The Night was the first CD on which I decided upon making the type of recording that reflects the music I’m playing now. I think it takes a while to find out what’s most central and important to a musician. For me, those elements involve the American popular song and the great jazz writers. Also, I was interested in what, to me, are the greatest rhythm sections in the jazz that I love the most. Three very important trios would be the Oscar Peterson Trio with Ed Thigpen and Ray Brown, the Bill Evans Trio with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian, and the most important of all, the Ahmad Jamal Trio with Vernell Fournier and Israel Crosby. For me, other important rhythm sections include Philly Joe Jones, Paul Chambers and Red Garland; Jimmy Cobb, Paul Chambers and Wynton Kelly; Louis Hayes, Sam Jones and Tommy Flanagan; and Art Blakey with Doug Watkins and Horace Silver. There are more, of course, such as the Nat Cole Trio.
Kenny, Peter and I all have an understanding and deep feeling about that type of playing. I think we bring that knowledge to what we like to do without really talking about it. We never sat down and powwowed about the music. Our deepest conversations about music happen when we’re playing music.
JazzReview: Do you choose the repertoire for the group?
Bill Charlap: Pretty much, I choose it. But there have been times when I’ve brought in tunes that are less suited than others to our group’s sound, and we decided to throw them out. Those choices always involve a friendly persuasion. I’ve also asked Kenny and Peter about tunes that they love and that they want to play. Usually, the tunes they suggest are the same ones that I want to do.
I’m the leader of the trio, and that’s how they would have it as well. I don’t think great bands exist without a defined leader. I don’t believe in a leaderless band. I’ve tried it before, and it hasn’t worked.
JazzReview: Are you referring to free improvisation?
Bill Charlap: No, I’m talking about not having someone who is the final "president" of the organization. Someone has to lead the group to give it a focus. I can’t think of a great group that isn’t like that. However, I think the best leaders have also been great sidemen.
JazzReview: Of course, the pianists you’re compared to, like Tommy Flanagan, have been great sidemen.
Bill Charlap: Well, I’m very flattered by that comparison, but I’m certainly not trying to ape anything that Tommy does. First of all, nobody can. Even if I tried to play like Tommy, I would be nothing but a shell of his greatness.
JazzReview: Your styles, though, are different.
Bill Charlap: Our linear languages are different. Our harmonic languages are different. Our rhythmic languages are different. If you describe musicians and their music, you have to deal with their basic tools and how they apply those tools. That’s what differentiates musicians. In some ways, there are similarities because I believe that Tommy wants to hear purity. Also, he’s the type of player who doesn’t waste notes at all. I mean, he’s my favorite living jazz pianist, that’s for sure.
I feel as influenced by Tommy as by Bill Evans as by Oscar Peterson as by Jimmy Rowles as by Hank Jones as by Wynton Kelly as by Red Garland as by Kenny Barron. I’m always learning something, but I’m not trying to play like anyone else.
I think that when people hear a certain harmonic language that draws on Impressionism, they’ll think about Bill. The way he developed his lines profoundly influenced every jazz pianist who came after him, such as Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea.
I took lessons from Jack Reilly, who knew Bill when they were in the military together. Jack was profoundly influenced by Bill too, but he doesn’t sound anything like him. Jack has written books about Bill’s depth as a composer. Jack has a very profound analytical mind and is able to put that in writing. He’s a great teacher, and he can show students how the pieces are structured on a technical level.
Another huge difference between Bill and me is that I’m not a composer. Bill’s pieces are very deep, and they were written on a high level of composing.
JazzReview: You haven’t tried composition?
Bill Charlap: Try. How can I explain this? I don’t "try" to play the piano. I think a lot of people can compose. And then, there are very few people who are composers. I’m probably one of those people who can compose. I’ve written a couple of okay things. The truth is, I don’t really think I’m a composer. I don’t have anything burning in me that I need to write. I think I do have one mission as a composer, and that’s to single-handedly save the world from a lot of mediocre music by not writing any. I’d rather play the music of a profound composer. Cole Porter wasn’t a jazz pianist, and neither was Irving Berlin or Richard Rodgers. Gershwin was a hell of a piano player. He wasn’t a jazz pianist in terms of being a linear improviser.
JazzReview: Gershwin may have been ahead of his time.
Bill Charlap: Actually, I don’t think it’s possible to be ahead of your time. Gershwin was right in his time at his time. Everybody else was behind. He is what I consider to be one of the six top writers of the American popular song. Of course, he wrote concertos, Rhapsody In Blue, An American In Paris and Porgy And Bess. But Gershwin was always coming from the side of the tracks involving the popular song. He wasn’t like Leonard Bernstein, who had already written a symphony before he had written a popular song. With Gershwin, it was the other way around, and you can hear that in the way he used connective tissue to take one theme to another. Gershwin didn’t use real motivic development in the way that a "trained" composer would create it. Arnold Schoenberg wrote a wonderful essay about Gershwin in which he states that Gershwin is much more of a composer than those who play mathematical games with notes. Gershwin towers over them because he had something important to say.
JazzReview: Also, Gershwin included emotional content in his music that the mathematicians can’t.
Bill Charlap: Of course. The simpler the form, such as the blues, the more complexity that can develop from it. The blues contain so much joy and sadness at the same time.
As I was saying earlier, Gershwin is one of the six top composers: Gershwin, Porter, Arlen, Kern, Berlin and Rodgers. Everybody else is next. That’s not to say that Lerner and Lowe, Cy Coleman and Frank Loesser are "lesser," no pun intended, in terms of being prolific. They left a huge amount of repertoire, and each one of them left a wonderful personal stamp on their music. The exception is Berlin, who can write like anybody, even as he sounds like Berlin. I realized that I had covered all of those composers, except for Kern, on Written In The Stars.
JazzReview: And you know hundreds of tunes.
Bill Charlap: Probably. If you know the way a song is structured, and if you hear it in your inner ear as a jazz musician, then you can play it. It’s not like I have to remember that E7 goes to A at this point. It’s like speaking a sentence. I don’t have to see the sentence structure to know how the sentence is put together. We musicians know theory, and we use our ear. It’s not just the American popular song that we play, although that’s a great deal of what’s central to my musical upbringing and me. I have a strong kinship with the great jazz composers as well and do have a vast repertoire of that music. When I talk about the jazz composers, I’m talking about, first of all, Ellington, who wrote an unclassifiable new music. Other composers would be Monk, Kenny Dorham, Wayne Shorter, Gigi Gryce, Bud Powell, Coltrane, Bill Evans, Thad Jones, Tadd Dameron and Elmo Hope. I also consider Bird to be a major composer, although that may not be a fashionable belief. Bird didn’t often write his own chord changes, but his melodic language is so strong and important that he has to be included.
JazzReview: Have you had any problems with critics?
Bill Charlap: Everybody has different values. I’ve read a lousy review of one of my albums, and then I’ve read a great review of the same album. If you talk to two people, one likes vanilla ice cream and the other likes chocolate. There’s room for everything. What I can say to critics is, "If you don’t like my record, you don’t have to buy it!" [Laugh] "I won’t force you to listen to it again." I suppose there’s a place for critical thought, but I think it’s important for a person to make up his or her own mind. Don’t dismiss something that you haven’t heard or seen.
JazzReview: Will you stay with the American songbook concept?
Bill Charlap: I don’t think I’m playing any concept. I’m just playing the music that I love to play. It so happens to be these songs right now. I’m not trying to make a concept record or a concept group. This kind of music has always been a major part of who I am because I grew up with two musicians who were deeply involved in that music. My father, Moose Charlap, was a songwriter and wrote most of the music to the Broadway musical, Peter Pan. My mother, Sandy Stewart, sang with Benny Goodman and was a pop singer of her generation.
However, I wouldn’t say that I’m going to stick with any concept, except to play music that has truth and beauty. It has to have a sense of balance, and it has to be music I don’t get bored with. The music should have enough riches in it to keep my audiences and me interested.
"Truth and beauty." That’s what Bill Evans told Tony Bennett before he died. Bill called up Tony from a hotel room, and he just said, "Truth and beauty. Truth and beauty." Tony told me about that. It’s funny: Bill was less and less interested in modernity and more and more interested in beauty.
There’s room for everything in art. There’s room for rage, and there’s room for political dissatisfaction. But I’m more interested in the finer things in life. Bill Evans said something else that I can relate to: "I like music that contributes to a better world." All of art can improve life. To me, art is the most important thing in the world, besides love and family. Art helps us reflect on who we are, and it deepens our worship. Art helps us learn from each other. It helps us really respect and appreciate each other as human beings. It’s beautiful to read a book by a person with a different perspective from yours or to hear some great art from a person with an upbringing totally different from yours.
One of the other things that happen in our trio is the care that all of us have for each other. Musicians bring the feelings they have for the other members of the group onto the bandstand. I believe that everything a person is comes out in the music. It may be difficult for people to like some musicians who have had a hard time. We can all think of some examples. But probably the best part of those people’s personalities came out in the beauty of their music. You can hear when a person is tough or tender, kind or angry, complicated or simple.
Eddie Locke is a wonderful drummer who played with Roy Eldridge and Coleman Hawkins, and he was a protégé of Jo Jones. Well, Eddie was something of a father figure to Jon Gordon and me. I met him when I was quite young. Eddie was always talking about how good people were as human beings, and not how much music they could play. He’s the one who told me that you bring who you are up onto the bandstand. He even went so far as to talk about love on the bandstand and how it comes out in the music.
Music is language. It’s not math, although it may be made up of mathematical things. All I can do is play the music the way I believe in it and be honest. I can’t worry about leaving an imprint. Not everybody will be Mozart. The idea is just to be myself. Coltrane wasn’t trying to play new music. He was just playing music the way he heard it. It’s all about listening...listening to a conversation you’re having, listening to the music you’re making, or listening to what you’re playing. For example, as I’m speaking to you, I’m trying to listen carefully to what I’m saying.
On the other hand, playing music also involves developing your craft in a thorough way. That only comes from very hard work. You can’t cut corners. You need to deal with the building blocks of music if you want to play on the highest level. The language has to be spoken very fluently. You shouldn’t have to think about conjugations or synonyms and homonyms. They should be at a musician’s grasp immediately. The craft is all you can ever learn in music. Art is going to be who you are.
JazzReview: How did you attain that craft?
Bill Charlap: You study your instrument in a technical way to remove the technical barriers between you and the instrument. You study making the sound. You study the building blocks of music: harmony, rhythm and melody. I don’t ever remember a time when music wasn’t the most central and important thing in my inner life. Now, my children and my family are central as well.
JazzReview: Did you take private lessons when you were young?
Bill Charlap: My first teacher was named Beverly Wright. She’s now an artist/manager in the field of classical music. We’re still friends. She took me to my first piano recital by an Israeli pianist named Amiram Rigai, who played the Beethoven Appassionata at Carnegie Recital Hall. I remember that he had vinyl records for sale afterward. One was his performance of the Appassionata, and the other was the music of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, a pre-Ragtime composer. She said, "I’m not getting the Beethoven for you. I’m buying you the Gottschalk. That’s what you need to hear." She was right too. It’s marvelous music. My next teacher was a man named Paul Sargent. He was a wonderful person, and he taught me to read notes on a staff. He wrote some short piano pieces that sounded something like Gershwin. Part of my lesson was that Paul would take me out for a hamburger afterward. I always looked forward to that. However, I was very fast with my ear. I asked the teacher to play the piece, and often I could play it back. So I wasn’t very focused. I was a little too fast, and I charmed my way through the lessons. But really, I didn’t study seriously with a private teacher until the end of high school. That’s when I studied with Jack Reilly and later with Eleanor Hancock.
JazzReview: You were born in New York?
Bill Charlap: Yes, I was born and raised in New York City. I lived there all my life until two years ago, when I moved to New Jersey. Until the age of seven, my mother was more active in participating in my father’s demos and raising the children than in pursuing her singing career. I have a sister, Kathy, who is two years older. I have a brother, Tom and a sister Anne, who are from my father’s first marriage. Tommy is nine years older than me, and Anne is eleven years older. After the family got older, my mother did a lot of singing on television commercials in the mid-eighties.
The High School For The Performing Arts was a special place because it was a public school in New York City. Yet, it was a special public school because it taught talent children from all over the city. It was totally racially diverse with African-Americans, Asians and Hispanic people. That environment was wonderful. That kind of cultural diversity was the best thing that could possibly happen to a child in New York City.
JazzReview: Did you perform in any groups there?
Bill Charlap: Not until the end of school when I was in a jazz quintet that included Jon Gordon, the wonderful alto saxophone player who is one of my dearest friends today. Also, the bassist from Connecticut, Sean Smith, was in the quintet, even though he didn’t go to Performing Arts. We all hooked up because of the McDonald’s Stage Band, even though I wasn’t in it. Another band I played in was the gospel choir. Now that was really worthwhile. Where would a Jewish kid from the East Side get experience in a black Baptist church? Nowhere. A fellow named Roger Holland, who now sings with James Williams’ band, led the group of organ, piano, drums and bass--the classic gospel set-up. He wrote for the wonderful choir, which had some very talented kids in it. Roger taught me what little I know about the Walter Hawkins family and true gospel piano playing. By no means am I a master of it, but it was important to get at least a cursory overview of it in my playing.
After high school, I went to SUNY-Purchase for a couple of years, and I continued to study with Jack Reilly. But I dropped out of school because it was starting to get in the way. I was busy doing chamber music, classical theory and vocal accompaniment, all of which were very valuable for well-rounded musicianship. But I needed to focus all of my energies on jazz piano at that point. So, I dropped out of college. I rented an inexpensive apartment on Dyckman Street in New York. I rented a piano and built a platform for it so that it wouldn’t bother the neighbors. I filled the platform with shredded foam. I hammered some acoustical foam on the wall. Then I practiced all day. That’s all I did.
JazzReview: What did you do for income?
Bill Charlap: The apartment was inexpensive, and I was lucky to have a family member, my uncle (my father’s brother, Paul), who was well to do. He helped me out by sending me enough money to pay for my rent, to rent the piano and to buy food. It involved a $400 apartment, $100 for piano rental and another $100 for food. So I wasn’t being a spoiled rotten brat since it wasn’t a lot of money. One of the nice things that happened was that I was able to call my uncle after a year and say, "OK, Paul. You don’t need to send any more checks. I’m making money now, and I don’t need it anymore." That was a very generous thing for him to do.
I just realized that I left my Toyota on the street. I’m going to get a ticket if I don’t move it. That’s OK. I can take you with me. I have a cordless phone. I might freeze a little bit, though. I’m in shorts. I must be out of my mind. Are you still with me?
JazzReview: I’m still here.
Bill Charlap: This is sort of like an initiation rite. Done!
JazzReview: You’re OK?
Bill Charlap: I’m OK. I may come down with the flu, though. I think I’ll make my wife and me a cup of tea.
Getting back to my apartment on Dyckman Street, somewhere along the way, I started playing in town. I think your reputation, more than anything else, builds your career. The question always is, Can you play or not? If you can play, you’ll get gigs.
Once Jay Leonhart and I were playing at a college in the Midwest. Often, we get this type of question, particularly in those areas that aren’t cultural Mecca’s, to say the least. Someone asked him there, "How do you break into the business?" That’s not how it is. You don’t "break into the business." Someone else asked Jay, "Well, did you ever audition?" And he said, "No, I think I auditioned only once. But every time you play, you’re auditioning." That’s the way you break in. That’s the way Phil Woods plays when he’s at rehearsal--the same way he does on the gig. No less.
JazzReview: You eventually met Bill Mays.
Bill Charlap: Here’s how it went. I was walking down Columbus Avenue, and I ran into Bill. I admired his playing. He invited me to his pad on 70th Street, where he had set up a Fender Rhodes piano, as well as his grand piano. We played some tunes together, and I was nowhere nearly as advanced as he at that point. But he was very generous with his musicianship. At the time, he was quitting Gerry Mulligan’s band. He thought that I was ready, and Bill recommended me for the band. Actually, I did audition for Gerry’s band, although it was against one other pianist. That was my first exposure to world-level jazz. However, I had done a couple of concerts for Dick Hyman, where he introduced me as a young new talent.
JazzReview: How long did you stay with Mulligan?
Bill Charlap: About two years--in ‘88 and ‘89. I basically played in all of the major jazz festivals. Franck Amsallem and Joel Weiskopf followed me as Gerry’s pianist. Then Ted Rosenthal finally was the piano player who really worked out right for Gerry. Ted is a comprehensive pianist, and he understood the composer’s point of view (being a composer himself). See, Gerry was not interested in someone just playing bebop piano. He wanted his piano players to be orchestral. He wanted them to use the piano the way an arranger would use an orchestra. He didn’t want the piano to be limited.
JazzReview: Did you know all of that when you joined him?
Bill Charlap: No, I didn’t. But it happened that I was already geared in that direction.
JazzReview: Why did you leave his group?
Bill Charlap: I quit Gerry’s band because I felt that it had been enough. Anything can become a trap if it doesn’t stay vital--not that Gerry wasn’t vital. He was always great. But I felt that it was time for me to move on in order to continue to grow.
JazzReview: So you free-lanced after that?
Bill Charlap: Well, yes. Pretty much. A year or so later, I had gone on the Song Of America jazz cruise. The theme was a tribute to Benny Carter. Flip Phillips, Jon Gordon’s band and Dave McKenna were on the cruise. Phil Woods heard me play with Jon there. Soon after that, I played with Steve Gilmore at the Deerhead Inn in Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania. Phil came in and said, "If I could have two piano players, I’d have you and Jim." I just took that as a very flattering compliment. A little while later, Phil called me and asked if I would be available for a tour of Germany that summer. I said, "Oh course, I would." He called me a couple days later and said that he would like me to join the band. I was ecstatic because Phil represents a standard of unmatched excellence. I’m still a member of his group. But Phil’s group isn’t very busy, which suits me just fine because I like to do other things too.
Right around the time I joined Phil, I did a lot of accompanying of singers and musical directing.
JazzReview: And for now, you plan to stay with your trio?
Bill Charlap: I don’t see any reason to change. One never wants to say, "This is what I’ll do forever." But I see us being together for a very long time. One of the most important goals for our trio is that we want to be part of a continuum, and not a rebellion against what’s been here. Fashions come and fashions go, but some things never go out of style. That’s how music works. If there had been no Bach, there would have been no Mozart. No Mozart, no Beethoven. No Beethoven, no Schubert. No Schubert, no Liszt. No Liszt, no Debussy. No Debussy, no Stravinsky.
No Armstrong, no Eldridge. No Eldridge, no Gillespie. No Gillespie, no Miles. No Miles, no Freddie. It just goes on and on. I hope to be part of that continuum. However, all of those pairs were complete schools unto themselves. I’m not going to begin to compare myself to those types of schools. I’m just trying to do something real, honest and from my heart.
JazzReview: Do you have any other long-term plans?
Bill Charlap: I plan to go on a diet, to start exercising and to start eating better.
No, I really don’t have any long-term plans. I guess they would be to try to be a better dad and husband every day. I know that sounds seriously corny, but it’s true.
You really can’t have long-term plans. You have to have short-term plans. I do have some of those: to develop some new repertoire, to work toward the upcoming gigs, and playing solo and in duet.
My long-term goal is just to keep developing my music from within. Instead of adding things to it from the outside, I’ll let it develop freely from the inside out.
JazzReview: Where did you meet your wife?
Bill Charlap: We met in summer camp when we were kids. I went to Camp Taconic, which was arts-oriented and non-competitive. It wasn’t really an arts camp either. It was just a Jewish camp. [Laughs] Everyone there wanted to be a theatrical agent. Sandra and I weren’t really childhood sweethearts. But she stayed in touch with me over the years. Many years later, Sandra showed up at the Village Gate and said, "Do you know who I am?" And I said, "I do know who you are." We fell in love pretty fast. Now we have two children, and there’s no way out! [Laughs] And I would never want a way out, for that matter. We have a wonderful marriage, and I’m very lucky.
JazzReview: Do you think your career has reached another level now that the Blue Note CD has been release?
Bill Charlap: I think that the music has grown to the point where I feel that some of the attention is warranted. The trio has really developed into a band. Beyond that, do I feel that it has reached a new level? Well, I hope I’m getting better all the time. I think that in that way, I’m reaching a new level constantly. The record I made for Blue Note is the same record I would have made for "No Note." The fact that the album was released on Blue Note is wonderful, don’t get me wrong. I’m very happy to be with a company that has people like Bruce Lundvall and Tom Evered, who care about the music. Beyond that, I do feel that I’m reaching a deeper point in my music all of the time. And that’s more important to me than a new place in my career. Of course, that new place in my career allows me to have the freedom to develop my music. So it goes hand in hand. Careers go up and careers go down. If anything, that’s one important thing I learned from having musical parents. My mom was very well known in 1965. Nobody has heard of her today. That wasn’t a lot of time in between her popularity and relative obscurity. A career is about what happens over a lifetime; it’s not about stardom.