by Len Lear
Storm Large, whose local connection involves holidays spent at her grandparents’ house in nearby Spring House and relatives who live in Blue Bell and Ambler, may not be a name you are familiar with, but millions of devoted fans around the world are. Her local fan base turned out in droves last weekend to cheer as she filled Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center in three concerts on Nov. 9, 10 and 11 with her one-woman show, “Storm Large: A Crazy Kind of Love,” accompanied by the Philly POPS.
Storm, 49, whose birth name was Susan Storm Large, is a musician, actor, playwright and author who ascended to national prominence in 2006 as a finalist on the CBS-TV show, “Rock Star: Supernova.” Despite having been eliminated in the week before the finale, Storm built a fan base, some of whom, like Grateful Dead “Deadheads,” follow her from city to city.
One could see the reason last weekend as Storm caressed classic love songs like “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “Somebody to Love” and “Forever Young” with her band as well as the Philly POPS. “There is no one quite like her,” said fan Doris Hammond of Wyndmoor, “with her combination of beauty, charm, voice, stage presence and class.”
According to Austin Barner, a spokesperson for the Philly POPS, “The audience was very clear about their feelings when Storm came out to the merchandise table. The line stretched almost halfway across the Kimmel lobby. They cheered and clapped for her when she came out, with people saying they’ve followed her for years through ‘Rock Star: Supernova’ as well as in Pink Martini. In fact, I saw multiple people actually driven to tears upon meeting her.
“They were extremely touched by the message of her program, in particular from her last song, ‘Stand Up For Me.’ Many of her family members were in attendance each night, most of whom were from Montgomery and Bucks counties. All of those were very happy family reunions, with Storm seeing people she hasn’t seen in years.”
Storm spent the 1990s singing in clubs throughout San Francisco. Tired of the club scene, she moved to Portland, where a last-minute cancellation in 2002 at the club “Dante’s” turned into a standing Wednesday night engagement for Storm and her band, The Balls. It wasn’t long before Storm had a cult-like following in Oregon and a renewed singing career that was soon to be launched onto the international stage.
Highlights of her 2017-18 season have included debuts with the San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Vancouver and Jacksonville Symphonies, as well as return engagements with the Houston, Toronto and Toledo Symphonies. Recent highlights included engagements with the New York Pops, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and performances at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago. She joined Michael Feinstein as special guest on the Jazz at Lincoln Center Popular Song series, as well as with Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey and the Pasadena Pops.
For several years, Storm was a co-lead singer with Pink Martini, a band that calls itself a “little orchestra” that crosses the genres of classical music, classic pop, Latin music and jazz. Storm made her debut as guest vocalist with Pink Martini in April, 2011, singing four sold-out concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
In addition to her musical talent, Storm is a no-nonsense take-no-prisoners truth-teller who is not afraid to alienate her own fans when it comes to serious political discourse. For example, here is one message she wrote on her website:
“Hello friends and lovers! Due to the current, appalling hate-filled climate out there, I am compelled to start dispatching what I can from here (The Road, my home) to shed light, to rant and to hopefully make a few people laugh. Yes, it will get political … I will call this blog ‘Storm’s Front.’ For those of you all frothy about the state of things, please hang out. For the rest who gnash their teeth at musicians and other mouthy-type artists getting into the fray with opinion and concern, go back to your happy place.”
After Storm socked it to Donald Trump in her blog, a reader replied, “Shut up and sing, you — —!” According to Storm, “That was a message I received from an irate former fan. From a guy who used to always compliment my appearance and voice. But he didn’t like it, NOT ONE BIT, when I ranted about The Donald and his KKK amnesia and general douchebaggery. I sent a gentle ‘f— you, bye’ to the offending/offended former fan, and then I blocked him …
“Some people enjoy engaging with hateful trolls online. Not me … Though not nearly as consistently as other notable women online, I get my fair share of sexist insults, like this — — guy. But despite all my pro-choice, pro-gay, anti-gun yet pro-cop and pro-Black Lives Matter and very, VERY anti-Trump and various other commie, sensibly leftist rants, I’ve only received a handful of death threats …
“I work big, dark rooms, ripe with the attention of thousands of strangers. Music is a magical thing. Doesn’t matter if you are religious or atheist, liberal, conservative, moderate. Even if you’re a troll, music has done magical things for you and your life. And I get to make it. Maybe that’s why artists get yelled at for being openly opinionated. Because people listen to us … ”
For more information about Storm, visit stormlarge.com