Storm Large stirs up Pink Martini into an eccentric Portland band

CorrespondentSeptember 5, 2013 

Pink Martini comes to the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh Friday.

COURTESY OF PINK MARTINI

  • Details

    Who: Pink Martini

    When: 8 p.m. Friday

    Where: N.C. Museum of Art, 2110 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh

    Cost: $16-$45 (free for those 6 and under)

    Info: 919-839-6262

Storm Large is the perfect moniker for Pink Martini’s tall singer with the larger-than-life stage presence. The musician/playwright/actor, who was named Susan Storm Large 44 years ago, looks like a younger, prettier, punkier version of actress Kim Cattrall from “Sex and the City.”

Large, who is 6 feet tall, (“it doesn’t make it easier when it comes to dating,” Large says) stands out in other ways. She scored national notice during the run of the reality competition show “Rock Star: Supernova” in 2006.

“I was hired to be the hot blonde and I had fun with it,” Large says while calling from Charlottesville, Virginia.

The sultry singer didn’t win the contest, but she continued working with her band The Balls and acting in various productions.

“I like going out and taking chances,” Large says.

One of those risks was agreeing to front Pink Martini when singer China Forbes had vocal surgery in 2011.

“When the offer arrived I didn’t want to do it,” Large recalls. “But (pianist) Thomas (Lauderdale) insisted. I said ‘I never heard your music.’ He said it didn’t matter. And he was right. I love it.”

Pink Martini is an eccentric Portland-based band that mixes jazz, pop, Latin and lounge.

“There is no other group like Pink Martini,” Large says. “It’s such a challenge. I slept with ear buds in when I was studying the music. I had to learn to sing in French, Croatian and Japanese, but it was well worth it.”

Large was kept on by the band even after Forbes announced her return six months ago. Both vocalists recorded with the band on “Get Happy,” which drops September 24. The album is filled with eclectic, wistful, melancholy songs.

“It’s wonderfully varied,” Large says. “The material mirrors the title of the album. ‘Get Happy’ is an imperative in life. It’s so difficult since life throws you many curves. You need to get happy. So we have a variety of songs.”

And two different singers. In an industry in which egos are as bloated as ticket prices, it’s remarkable that Large and Forbes co-exist.

“China is awesome,” Large said. “We get along so well and it really is amazing. What she went through is like watching a woman leave her husband for a year and when she comes back to him, the husband says, ‘I’m glad you’re back but I’m marrying the other woman as well.’ I think people expect us to scratch our eyes out but it’s not that way at all. Sometimes we perform together and other times, we go out and lead the group solo. I’m not sure what’s going to happen in Raleigh. I’m going to call China after I get off the phone and see what’s going to happen.”

No need to call Forbes. When Pink Martini performs Friday at the North Carolina Museum of Art, it’ll just be Large and Pink Martini.

“It’s all completely normal for this band to do different things,” Large says. “Thomas likes to take chances. He’s rolled the dice that two women will get along and we do.”

Perhaps it would be more difficult for a pair of men to deal with such a situation?

“You’re the first man to say that,” Large says. “Every interviewer wonders how we avoid catfights, but men have insecurities too. It’s all working out for everybody and that’s a great thing.”

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