Years ago, Saugatuck Congregational Church drew Lalie Madriguera in.
She loved co-pastor Marty McMane and Alan Johnson’s sermons. The community of worshipers embraced her.
And the choir was wonderful.
That was important. Lalie (it’s pronounced “Lah-lee”) was a singer.
She discovered her talent years earlier. Living in New York — but unsure of what to do in life — she heard a little boy screaming in a grocery store.
Without thinking, Lalie sang “Pennies From Heaven.” Instantly, the child stopped.
His grateful mother invited her to sing at the boy’s 3rd birthday party. Then she invited Lalie to share her talent with others.
“If you can calm a special needs child,” the mother said, “every parent will love you.” So Lalie embarked on a singing career that featured many children’s shows. She called her performances “Flash! Bam! Alakazam!”
At last, Lalie has recorded some of those comforting songs. “LalieByes” — a play on the word “lullabies” — is her debut CD.
I should mention here that Lalie is 76 years old.
And a great-grandmother.
“LalieByes” is strictly a cappella. After all, Lalie notes, “when a mother sings to her child, there’s no piano, guitar or orchestra.”
The songs are from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. She hopes they will soothe not only infants and small children, but elders and those with special needs.
Some of the tunes– recorded at New York’s St. Michael’s Church — are from her children’s shows. But many are different.
“They have to be calming,” Lalie explains. So she sings “Summertime,” and one her own mother sang to her: “You Were Meant For Me.”
Lalie says she is “carrying on the great American songbook. I’m trying to pass on this music to the next generation.”
She knows her musical history. Lalie’s father Enrico was a Spanish-born violin prodigy whose orchestra performed at New York’s Biltmore and Waldorf Astoria hotels, and on WNYC. Her mother — vocalist Patricia Gilmore — hosted a weekly radio show on NBC. And Lalie’s aunt married guitarist Andres Segovia.
Lalie’s daughter, Linda Couturas, lives in Westport. She’s a Black Duck regular, performing with Cinderella Saturday or a big band.
Earlier this month, Lalie offered “LalieByes” to Saugatuck Church parishioners — where she sings in Heather Hamilton’s magnificent choir. You can buy the CD here.
Of course, Lalie notes, many people today don’t own CD players. So it’s available to download too: just click here.
We’re in an exciting new musical world. And — thanks to Lalie Madriguera — it’s a comforting old one too.
BONUS FUN FACTS: Lalie performs her original composition “Mother’s Song” every Earth Day at the Saugatuck Church. And — as in past years — she’ll sing with Chris Coogan’s trio at the Seabury Center this Sunday, as part of Westport’s First Night.