Friday, February 22, 2019
Rita Wilson Loves a Good Hook and Harmony
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Rita Wilson says she’s looking forward to performing at the Argyros Performing Arts Center, which she had a chance to tour while it was under construction. COURTESY PHOTO
 
Monday, February 11, 2019
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Rita Wilson is looking at “The Bigger Picture.”

It’s the title of her latest album and it’s the attitude she will bring to the Argyros Performing Arts Center  in Ketchum when she performs there with her band Saturday, Feb. 16.

The concert will start at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $35 and are available at www.theargyros.org or by calling 208-726-7872.

The title song of her album released a few months ago is based on a thoughtful, introspective song about trying to figure out who you are now by the person you were.

“Oh, they say you can’t move forward when you’re looking back. But I’m hoping there’s some answers hidden somewhere in the past…” she sings.

Wilson has a treasure trove of memories on which to look back.

After all, she has had a steady career as an actress, appearing in such films as “Sleepless in Seattle” and “Runaway Bride.” And she’s produced several films, including “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

She’s been a singer and songwriter, as well.

“For me it’s always about a good story being told—often about personal experiences,” she said. “When I sit down to write a song, it can be a theme I want to explore or a fun little melody in my head I want to set lyrics to. Sometimes I turn on a switch that says, ‘I’m open. Let me be open to whatever’s out there.’ And I love a good hook and harmony.”

In fact, Wilson began singing as a 10-year-old, gravitating towards such songs as “Ode to Billy Joe” and “Eleanor Rigby,” which hooked her on the power of songs to tell a story. She even took a job at Universal Studios so she could listen to the live music being performed there.

But she began her career at 14 with an appearance as a cheerleader candidate running against Marcia on “The Brady Bunch” in 1972.

Once she’d had some acting under her long locks, she returned to her first love, releasing her debut solo album “AM/FM” in 2012. That album featured such classics as “Wichita Lineman,” which she performed with the song’s composer Jimmy Webb.

She released the self-titled album “Rita Wilson” in 2016 and “The Bigger Picture” this past year.

One of the songs on that album, “Heart He Handed Down,” pays homage to her father, who was born near the border of Greece and Bulgaria. He escaped a Bulgaria labor camp with a friend during the war, and made his way to Turkey where he got a job on a freighter shoveling coal, all while sharing his food and water with a friend who had stowed away.

He then jumped ship in Philadelphia where he made his way to New York, enrolled in night school, converted from Islam to Orthodox Christianity and changed his name from Hassan Halilov Ibrahimoff to Allan Wilson.

“I thought about the courage it took to do that—what made a young man from a Communist country think he could ever get to America?” said Wilson. “The answer is: He valued freedom so much. And it made me wonder if that courage gets passed down to my son?”

Wilson’s mother also grew up in Greece. And she definitely passed down her love of music to her daughter.

“Mom has always had music on and loved listening to Greek and pop music,” Wilson said. “She also had a knack for choosing hit songs. She’d hear a new song on the radio and say, ‘That song is going to be a hit,’ and she was always right.”

Wilson’s mother lived long enough to see her daughter embark on her music career.

“I always hear her voice in so many different ways,” Wilson said. “And she exposed me to so many different genres of music.”

In fact, “The Bigger Picture” is the first of three albums Wilson plans to release from the past four years of songwriting.

“The Bigger Picture is an acoustic-based folk album, with songs like “Go On Through It,” about perseverance, and “Broken Man,” about romantic disenchantment.

Another of her new albums is a country album, which Wilson wrote with such country music artists as Sugarland’s Kristian Bush, the Warren Brothers and Darrell Brown.

The third is more pop-flavored.

Wilson says the act of recording and singing is very different from acting in some ways.

“Acting is so fun and satisfying. You’re trying to tell a story through a certain character and certain circumstances so you have something to hide behind,” she said.

“When you’re singing it’s like you’re very naked. But I love that. I love putting myself out there and giving my heart to the audience.”

 

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