Women on the Verge of a Breakthrough

On-stage and behind the scenes, a diverse and determined group is carving off a big piece of the local rock

It's been pure pandemonium for Long Distance since January, when the company severed ties with the Cincinnati-based outfit they were originally affiliated with and embarked upon an aggressive expansion program. From a two-person operation (Adrian Biondo, a reformed music writer, has been with Delano almost from the start), Long Distance has grown to employ a staff of twelve, not including student interns.

"It's fair to say we're undergoing severe growing pains," admits Delano. "But we're one of the few (if not the only) companies that can take a local original band and still service them when they go national. It isn't easy, and a lot of times you have to keep your personal feelings out of it. There are a lot of bands that I book every day that I would never go see, but they make a lot of money, and there are other bands I love that I can't book very often because they don't make enough. You can't lose sight of the fact that it's a business." (Delano is far too savvy to tell a nosy music writer which bands fall under which category.)

Ironically, the woman who has had the greatest influence on Miami's original rock scene might be neither a member of a band nor a behind-the-scenes businessperson. Kay Kramer, mother of Matt (former Saigon Kick lead singer), is a vocal coach (she prefers the term "voice technician") who, in addition to her famous rock star son, counts Mary Karlzen, Valerie Archon (of the Bellefires), Kathy Fleischmann, Cindy Ditto (of the band Ditto), Robert Melendez (formerly of Coral Gables), and Rene Alvarez (Forget the Name) among her clients.

In action, Kramer, who has studied voice virtually her entire adult life, including fifteen years of opera training, is a little like a benevolent drill sergeant. "I'm not an easy teacher, but an effective one," is how she puts it.

"It's something I believe in with all my heart," she adds. "The voice is part of a whole person. Singers are the only musicians who carry their instruments inside their body. A voice is not like a guitar, where if you break a string you can just go out and buy another one. I specialize in singers who have suffered some vocal damage, and if I think the damage is serious enough, I may have them stop singing and talking -- not using your speaking voice properly can harm your singing. It's a strenuous art if done correctly, and I try to build a solid foundation through creative visualization and yoga. Rock singers have to be on top of things physically as well as vocally.

"Nobody ever reaches the point where they can afford to quit studying A not even Pavarotti. When you think you're green, you're growing. When you think you're ripe, you're rotten."

Words of wisdom for women whose musical prospects look green indeed.

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