There's so much to be said for any one who follows their dream, no matter when in life they choose to do so. Tennie Leonard, for instance, always sang, always wanted to sing live, and now is doing just that, both live and on her first CD, From My Heart. Hers is a life worth singing about, full of experiences good and not so good. She had launched her cabaret career not long after marrying, and was on the rise with shows attended by the likes of Judy Garland and Buddy Hackett, but the sudden death of her husband stopped all that. From the pain of losing him at an early age to the joys and trials of raising her daughter Lauren, now an entertainment attorney, Tennie brings a lot to the table in terms of emotion. Her live performance recently at Tom Rolla's Gardenia was lively, engaging and entertaining, with lots of audience interaction. For that matter, her comfort level both with the crowd and the musicians belies her time off from the cabaret scene, and indicates the drive and talent of a true professional.

Tennie offers up a blend of standards and new material, and in the process demonstrates that she's got the pipes for everything from torch to ballads. Of special note is her rendition of "My Foolish Heart," which sums up a life of chances taken, with the results mixed. The same goes for her cover of "For All We Know," a song that can easily be mawkish but here is delivered with a bittersweet, knowing air. There's also a quiet, heartfelt rendering of "Ferris Wheel,"something new to our ears but hopefully a treasure that others will investigate.

Hopefully Tennie will be back on the West Coast soon so her growing cadre of fans here can see her again, ..."