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About Thomas Dunning

By his own admission, Thomas Dunning is not a trained musician, but he plays one on the stage.  And in the studio.  And as a producer.  And so on. He is the perfect example of becoming what you need to become through an unstoppable desire to share your passions with others.

Like many, Tom claims a flirtation with choral singing during his "skool daze."  In high school he appeared in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and GREASE.
Who didn't?  Regarding music at the university level, he had this to say:

"The only thing about my college career that's interesting is that I went to three different schools. At one I was introduced to revolutionary feminist theory, then I got arrested (I was one of the DeKalb 79), then I got kicked out. I sang at the other two."

That auspicious beginning nothwithstanding, Tom the Performer is now possessed of a gift that most pros beat themselves up trying to achieve: an ability to be "in the moment" during a piece, which is why he and Kate Bush are so compatible.  His antics, his storytelling, his life on stage appear rehearsed, planned, orchestrated.  Then he'll dismount and say "Oh, I had no idea what I was doing."  It's a sweet edginess -- wherever he's headed, the audience begs him to please, take us with you.  He connects.

His high school counselors would call Dunning, Tom a "people person." Attending the Gay/Lesbian Pride Parade with him was a little counter- productive, since most of the float participants would empty onto the streets and into Tom's arms at the sight of him.  Wherever he is, he's the goodwill ambassador for that particular 500 square feet - the Sovereign Mobile State of Tom.  However, while politicians press the flesh and record execs schmooze the room, Tom just says hi to his friends.

So here's our Tommy, a friendly, Irish Catholic choirboy.   Now meet TOM, the subtle, self-assured street urchin/entrepreneur --Dodger and Fagin in one.  His e-mail handle is "stunning."  His business cards report "Brown Star Records...Don't Ask."  And his "band" - which is to say Tom plus the vast array of musicians he works with at any given time, equals "Tom Dunning and Your Boyfriends."  This sly little tip asserts that our Tom-Tom has appropriated your men for his own agenda.  Then to finish his fantasy: while hosting an evening of gender-bender music, he became one of "Your Girlfriends."

Don't Ask.

Tom is fourth generation Irish by way of the O'Neils of County Tyrone and the Owens of County Mayo.  He seems very connected to his heritage, peppering his speech with words like "dinna," as in "Your band sounded great!  I dinna have to pay to get in."  Fittingly, the first song he ever performed live as a solo artist was "The Emperor's New Clothes" by Sinead O'Connor, presented on Barbra Streisand's birthday (April 24th) in 1996. Add Madonna to round out the diva trio, and you get a little closer to "stunning."

But most of all, he wanna be Kate.  On his must-sing list,

"......"'Houdini' because I can scream the big parts really well, or 'Under The Ivy' - but I only want to sing the harmony on that and it's about 5 seconds long."

Meanwhile, back at the studio, Tom decides to bring it all home by positioning his contribution, "Not This Time," as the last track of the pack.   The lyrics implore  "...what chance do I have here?  Put an end...to every dream..."   No pressure --  this simply MUST be Tom's finest hour. He remembers this:

"...I was becoming very stressed out because I couldn't get the endings to FEEL right.  I was in the recording room with the headphones, while Liam Davis, John Ridenour, Dave Trumfio and Kenny Sluiter (the engineer) were in the the engineering room.  After I finished a bunch of takes, I heard Liam through the headphones tell the others that he was going to go talk to me.  I was terribly nervous singing this really emotional song in front of these men.

He came in the room and got me focused, reminding me of the whole project, and of why I chose to do this Kate song over all the others.  I did some breathing, checked my picture of Kate I brought with me for inspiration, and thought about how absolutely elated I was to be free of the painful psychic burden of a particular boy (or so I hope, they're always in there though, aren't they?).  I was pretty much just crying by the end of the song and that was the take we used."

That is "stunning."                                                          

- Jacqueline Krupka             


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