Portrait by Isis

Where did I come from?

THE SAGA

Lois Walden (February 8, 1946-) is an American writer, composer, book and librettist, singer, songwriter, record producer, actor, and teaching artist. She is the author of the novels One More Stop (Arcadia, 2010), and Afterworld (Arcadia, 2013).

On the road, the first time
Born in New York City, Walden attended Boston University but decamped prior to graduation to join the band of jazz trombonist Snub Mosley, touring the still segregated South as a young white singer in an all black band.

The 70s, actress or singer?
By 1973, although she thought of herself as an actress, not a singer, she recorded her first Album Walden. Taking her voice on the road, she worked the Borscht Belt and opened for, amongst others, Red Skelton in Atlantic City, and Rodney Dangerfield at the Concord, and sang on the TV shows of Merv Griffin, David Frost, Steve Allen, Joey Bishop and many others. She landed a part in Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets (1973) and had feature roles on the Mary Tyler Moore Show and McMillan & Wife. Cast in a major role in the series Harris and Company, she also appeared in Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, Coma, I Love You…Good-bye, Chatterbox, and A Brand New Life. She signed a contract with Screen Gems, then returned to singing and premiered at the Roxy.

The 80s, Hollywood writer
Throughout the 1980s, Lois Walden worked as a writer in Hollywood, she wrote for popular puppeteer Shari Lewis, co-created the first musical written for television for singer Debbie Boone, and wrote special material for a variety of performing artists and jazz instrumentalists including Dionne Warwick, Jane Fonda, Kathleen Battle and Michel Colombier.

The 90s, Songmasters, Sisters of Glory, Woodstock and the Pope
In the early 1990s, Walden returned to the East coast and co-created, directed, co-wrote and hosted the inaugural season of SongmastersInsideOut, a thirteen week series of live performances at the Algonquin Oak Room celebrating the great masters of songwriting and the stars who made their music famous. Performing both classic compositions and her own original material, Ms. Walden shared the stage with more than 65 artists, including Roberta Flack, Al Jarreau, Gilberto Gil, Ben E. King, Laura Nyro, Jimmy Webb, Andrea Marcovicci and Brian Wilson.

The April 1994 Songmasters show, “Gospel Music from the Church to the Charts,” focused on the impact of the great female soloists of gospel. Assembling a supergroup of female gospel singers, was show was a major success and led directly to an invitation to open Sunday morning at Woodstock ’94. The group at various times featured Thelma Houston, Chaka Khan, CeCe Peniston, Mavis Staples, Phoebe Snow, Albertina Walker, Diane Reeves, and Ms. Walden. Ms. Walden conceived the group’s name – The Sisters of Glory – while in a headstand and the group gave an electrifying debut performance before 250,000 mud-soaked people celebrating the great legacy of gospel music.

Shortly after Woodstock ’94, Lois Walden and The Sisters of Glory performed at the Vatican for the Pope, The College of Cardinals and 6000 invited guests as part of a worldwide televised concert and charity benefit, Christmas at the Vatican. The Sisters of Glory recorded the critically acclaimed and best selling album Good News in Hard Times, on which Ms. Walden performed and served as co-producer.

Going Solo
In 1996, Lois Walden wrote and co-produced her album Traveller and performed solo at numerous clubs including New York’s Rainbow and Stars and the Algonquin’s Oak Room.

Late 90s, on the road again, teaching
In the late 1990s, Walden was injured in a car accident and decided to take a different path, beginning a long-standing commitment to educating teachers, students and audiences about process drama as a teaching artist for the Acting Company. She continues to devote part of each year working in inner city schools and with other artistically deprived populations. 

The millennium begins, and so do the novels
In the first decade of the new millennium, Lois Walden wrote the lyrics for the theatre piece American Dreams Lost and Found based on Studs Terkel’s book.

She then turned to a new medium and began writing One More Stop (Arcadia, U.S. Dufour Editions). The novel, a wild ride through the world of a teaching artist, a woman who is learning to live with the legacy of her mother’s suicide, was well received by reviewers and was named a finalist Best Debut Novel at the 2011 Lambda Literary Awards and a Waterstone’s NewVoices finalist.

Afterworld was published by Arcadia in the UK in September 2013 and will be introduced in the US in 2014. Lois has also begun work on a third novel, Beyond Expectation.

And then there’s the opera
Lois Walden, along with co-librettist Jean-Claude van Itallie, and composer Andrea Clearfield are hard at work on a new opera, based on the classic Buddhist tale, Mila, great sorcerer, which was commissioned by Gene Kaufman and Terry Eder, which is projected to appear in 2014.

Performing a one-woman show
Lois Walden appeared (with Paul Greenwood at the piano) at the Laurie Beechman Theater in New York City in May, 2013 in Footnotes, a show she created with original songs and classics and outrageous tales of Lois on the loose.

In the media
Ms. Walden’s life and music have been profiled on CBS Sunday Morning and Good Morning America.

Personal
Lois Walden lives in New York’s Hudson Valley and Manhattan. Walden is an avid yoga practitioner and teacher, and is a student of Continuum.