wendy waldman has a very diverse career in the music industry: a critically-acclaimed recording artist, a writer of multi-platinum songs for other singers in fields ranging from country to pop, film, jazz, children's music and r&b, a teacher, and one of the first women record producers.
wendy grew up in los angeles, in a musical family. her father, fred steiner, is a composer who wrote among other things the famous "perry mason" theme, as well as many episodes of "star trek," "gunsmoke," "rocky and bullwinkle," and "the twilight zone." her grandfather, george steiner, was also a composer who wrote music for laurel and hardy and animated features such as "betty boop."
in the early seventies, wendy formed a group with some friends, calling themselves bryndle, all of whom were active in the very creative and energized music scene of los angeles at that time: karla bonoff, andrew gold, and kenny edwards (who had been linda ronstadt's partner in the stone poneys and subsequently went on to be a major musical force in her career, along with the other bryndle members). after an unreleased album, the partners went their separate ways. however, the group proved to be a powerful springboard for all four, who each went on to highly successful careers. (the four have appeared on many other artists' records in various combinations-- audiences have been hearing this sound for many years without knowing it, on many classic albums.) wendy ultimately became a solo recording artist, a hit songwriter, and a pioneer among women producers.
her first album came out on warner bros. in 1973 and was proclaimed by rolling stone magazine to be the "singer-songwriter debut of the year." she was then the youngest member of the warner brothers "brain trust," a group of artists signed to the label who were known for their innovative and critically acclaimed approaches to music: maria muldaur, randy newman, ry cooder, captain beefheart, and van dyke parks. wendy toured extensively throughout the u.s, headlining her own shows as well as opening many larger tours. she also began to expand into other aspects of music, experimenting with collaboration, different approaches to the craft, and ultimately to production. the years spent learning and working "behind the scenes" would prove to be extremely valuable to her as time went on. one of the results of this experimentation was the collaboration with linda ronstadt on a children's song, "i want a horse,' which was included in the grammy-winning sesame street record entitled "in harmony," still considered a classic.
wendy moved to nashville in the early eighties, recognizing a renaissance in music there which to her was very exciting. it was in nashville that she honed her collaborative skills, writing numerous hit songs in country music and participating as well in studio work, touring with country artists, television, and record production. in all, there were some 70 ww songs recorded during those years, among them several bmi million-air award winners, and hit singles. among her favorites is the song "fishin in the dark," written with jim photoglo, which became one of the dirt bands biggest hits, and spun several follow-up singles with them as well.
with her partners phil galdston and john lind, waldman wrote "save the best for last," recorded by vanessa williams. it was a number one record on the pop, ac, and r & b charts for numerous weeks in a row, garnering a grammy nomination as well as ascap song of the year. the same team had a world wide hit with vanessa's follow up tune, "the sweetest days,' and aaron neville's hit "i owe you one." at the same time, waldman also received the coveted wrangler award from the cowboy hall of fame for her song "corn water and wood," written with carol elliot and recorded by michael martin murphy. it is this kind of diversity that gives her the greatest pride.
she continues to have her material recorded across the formats: in the year 2002, waldman songs appeared on two grammy-winning projects: alison kraus' exquisite folk project and cece winans' gospel cd. simulatneously, waldman had the title track to the nbc film "carrie" which was written with the ultra pop la team known as hypnogaja. the year 2003 is showing the same kind of diversity with tracks by deana carter as well as melissa erricone, produced by arif mardin. having collaborators who span the breadth of the music world is one of the most special aspects of her writing career.
after waldman produced her own project "letters home," she found herself being called upon by other artists to produce theirs as well. one of her earliest productions was the now-classic suzy bogguss album "somewhere between" which won the academy of country music's new artist award in 1989. another waldman production considered a "classic" is new grass revival's "friday night in america." some of the others who worked with wendy are: the forester sisters, matraca berg, the ozark mountain daredevils, jonathan edwards, sweden's elisabeth andreasson, and the sweethearts of the rodeo.
in the last few years, ww has been focusing on independent productions, where she believes a lot of great new talent will be found. she masterminded and produced both of john cowan's well-received solo albums for sugar hill records, the critically acclaimed "cowboy savant" by ronny cox, and the brand new cd from brian joseph entitled 'the king of echo park." owning her own studio makes it possible for her to devote much more time and care to the production of each of these artists' projects, and she is now booked continuously, developing several new artists.
life being the circle that it is, the group bryndle finally released an album which gained much critical acclaim, and toured subsequently all over the states and in japan. the group maintains a very active web site and has a strong following, and now has a second album, co produced by waldman and kenny edwards.
in 1997, warner brothers released a retrospective of waldman's first five albums, entitled, "love is the only goal." it is interesting to note that this cd is receiving the same sort of critical acclaim which accompanied the original records from which it is drawn, and new listeners are discovering wendy waldman's music.
after working on so many different projects, she has finally returned to her own recording career, releasing first a cd of previoulsy unheard songs as well as working on a new cd to be finished in the fall of 2003. she has plans to do a children's cd as well as a duet album with kenny edwards.
waldman has always been active in the music community, teaching workshops at telluride bluegrass festival, rocky mountain folks' festival, the kerrville folk festival,numerous ascap ,nsai, and bmi panels and workshops. she has served as a judge for many of the music organizations' songwriting contests including ascap's sammy cahn awards, and telluride bluegrass festival's writing competition. her studio/house in los angeles is now the home of the venerated public radio music show "folkscene," which has run continuosly for 34 years in la and now around the world on the web. in this way waldman gives back to the community that has supported her.
she is proud to be the first woman to join the elite team of taylor guitar clinicians, and the first to focus on songwriting as well as instrumental technique. these clinics have been very successful, and have been an excellent vehicle for exposing her to new fans as well as reconnecting with old ones.
waldman is playing shows as well, from house concerts to co-headlining a friday night show with ronny cox on the main stage at the kerrville folk festival.