El Dorado Hills resident Michelle Whited was once asked to sing The Carpenters’ “Rainy Days and Mondays” at a lounge. When a musician from Reno took notice of her voice sounding “very close to Karen Carpenter’s,” he asked if she would consider starting a tribute band. From there, Whited and several others formed Close to You: A Live Tribute to The Carpenters.
“They thought it was a good idea; we sounded pretty good, and it was very hard to find a lead vocalist who could sing in her lower range,” Whited said in an over-the-phone interview with Examiner.com.
Close to You: A Live Tribute to The Carpenters will be performing at the Paradise Performing Arts Center on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 4 p.m. Tickets are $24 in advance and can be purchased in Paradise at Izzy’s Burger Spa; Grocery Outlet; PostNet; and Wilson’s Printing. They can also be purchased at Jaki’s Hilltop Cafe in Magalia; The Music Connection in Chico; or online at www.starbrightshows.com.
Whited said she never saw the band perform live, but she grew up listening to their music, and that has given her the opportunity to get her voice “down into the depth of [Karen’s] range.”
“Listening and trying to get her phrasing down, I feel like I still have some ways to go, but the audiences sure love it,” Whited said.
The Carpenters had “exquisite studio sound and arrangements,” most of which was done by Karen’s brother and keyboardist, Richard Carpenter, Whited said. This makes it “very hard to emulate” their songs for a live performance, but she feels they are close to the real thing and that audiences will feel the same way.
“They need to see the music come alive, because it was so beautifully done on a record that it’s hard to make it sound close, and I think they need to come and listen to our band, because we’re pretty close,” she said. “We play it very similar to the way they played it live when they toured.”
Whited has even been told that she sounds better than Karen Carpenter, she said.
“There are some people that like the small differences and nuances to my vocal presentation a little better, and then are some who say I sound just like her,” she said. “They’re reliving the moment; they love it.”
This will be the band’s first time in Paradise, but they have been touring all over California, and have even gone outside of the country for performances, Whited said.
“At the end of July, we were flown out to Ottawa, Canada. We were there for four days to do a three-show stretch, so it was really an honor,” she said. “Just recently, we were asked to go into Toronto. We may be doing that in May; we’re still in negotiation state.”
Aside from the Carpenters tribute band, Whited has also been involved business and real estate transactions, but music always comes first for her, she said.
“Passionately, music is where it's at,” she said.
Whited also sings a “variety of music,” ranging from country to Top 40, she said. She’s been asked to sings songs of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Shania Twain, and Journey. But she tries to “stay focused on The Carpenters.”
Joining Whited onstage for Close to You are Don Stamey on the piano/keyboard; Jason Galbraith on the woodwinds; Gary Simington on the drums; Jay Posey on the bass guitar; and Ryan Martell on the guitar. She is always grateful for the musicians with whom she works, she said.
“I respect them, and I couldn’t do it without them,” Whited said
The Paradise Performing Arts Center is located at 777 Nunneley Road in Paradise. Directions from Chico can be found here.