The award-winning singer returns with a tribute to New York City at City Winery’s famed venue.
We caught up with one of our favorite live performers, the out, proud, and always fabulous Anne Steele, who will be wowing the crowd as part of Voices On the Hudson at City Vineyard at Hudson River Park’s Pier 26. We had a bunch of questions for one of our community’s most beloved artists, and she had some thoughtful and heartfelt answers for us.
What does New York mean to you?
Anne: New York will always feel like home to me. I moved to the city 25 years ago and I was immediately at home. I grew up in a small town in Indiana and it never felt right to me. I always knew I was meant to be a big city girl. I loved the hustle and bustle of the city and of course the access to art, theater and live music…and the food! Any kind of food you want at any time of day! I just love the energy. It feels so alive and makes me feel alive.
And how has that changed in the past couple of years?
Anne: Since the pandemic New York has certainly taken quite a hit. Every time I go into the city I see another restaurant or bar that I love has closed. It’s been really rough. Not just on business but on people. I lived through 9/11 in New York and that was truly terrible. It was scary and emotional and overall devastating. However we could all gather together as friends and help each other through it. I think the pandemic has been extremely difficult because we couldn’t gather together and hold each other up. Because of that I think the isolation has taken a huge emotional toll on all of us. But this is something I know for sure: New York is tough and New Yorkers are tough. You can’t live in a city like this and not be resilient. So, I guess my biggest takeaway from all of this is that I am proud to be a New Yorker and I always will be.
Favorite things to do in New York City when you are in town?
I think I would have to start with Broadway. There is nothing better than sitting in a Broadway theater and waiting for the curtain to go up. The anticipation is so fantastic. I know how hard the actors, crew and musicians work so it adds an extra layer of respect and appreciation. I also love New York City piano bars. That’s where I got my start in the city and there is nothing better than the talent you see in a piano bar. We also love going out for dinner and drinks. Some of our favorites are Indochine (whenever we see a show at Joe’s Pub), Mary’s Fish Camp and Jeffrey’s Grocery in the West Village, The Mermaid Inn on the Upper West Side, La Grand Boucherie for brunch in Midtown and the classic theater go to Joe Allen in Midtown.
I saw on Sara Bareilles’ Instagram she admitted to getting help for mental health issues during these tough times. It’s been hard for performers and for all of us who love gathering live. Any words of hope, inspiration, encouragement for those of us struggling with mental health during this time?
Anne: First of all, I can totally relate. I have struggled during these past 2 years in a way I never had before. To have everything I do professionally just end and to not know when it was coming back, that was extremely difficult for me. I had to really look inside of myself and focus on the good things in my life instead of all of the unknowns. I am more than just my profession and I started to adjust my thinking. I started to look for the silver linings instead of all of the clouds. I would say that if you are struggling and feel depressed, maybe start a list of all of the things you are grateful for in your life and the people that mean the most to you. When you need to remember just read that list. Then reach out to those people and ask for support. The best thing you can do is be honest about how you are feeling. There is no shame in being vulnerable. We have all been there. It does get better.
Can you tease a preview of your concert, New York State of Mind?
Anne: The last concert I played before the world shut down was at City Vineyard on Jan 26th, 2020. I thought since I am going back to play almost exactly 2 years later, I should honor the city that I love. The show is called New York State Of Mind and it’s kind of about me spending the last 2 years revisiting all of the music that really created the artist that I am today. So much of that has been about living in New York and how the city changed me, so you can expect lots of songs about New York but also other songs that have inspired and kept me going over that last couple of years. Mostly it will be a super fun night of great music, food and drinks in a gorgeous setting with huge expansive windows over-looking the NYC lights! What’s better than that?
Absolute best thing about performing live in front of a crowd?
Anne: The energy is the best thing for sure! When we were all in lockdown I did lots of online concerts from my home and although I am so lucky that I was able to do that, it made me realize how important a LIVE audience is to my soul. It’s so hard to express in words but I it’s just this incredible feeling that connects a performer to the audience. It’s truly and give and take. I put out all of my energy and it literally bounces off of people and comes right back to me. It’s the greatest gift and I will never take a moment on stage for granted again.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I want everyone to know that City Vineyard is taking covid protocols very seriously. You must show proof of vaccination AND booster to enter and you must wear a mask unless actively eating or drinking. They want to keep the space as safe as possible for all of the audience and the entertainers. I really appreciate that and I know my audience will too. You can attend knowing that our safety is a top priority.
Anne Steele in New York State of Mind at City Vineyard on January 29, tickets here.