To hear Glenn Close tell it, she really doesn’t know a great deal about music.
“I think of myself actually as a music ignoramus,” the acclaimed actress told CNN on Tuesday.
Interesting, given that she has a new album coming out and a viral music moment from the recent Academy Awards ceremony that people are still talking about.
Close curated “Transformation: Personal Stories of Change, Acceptance, and Evolution” with her dear friend and Grammy-winning musician Ted Nash.
It features powerful spoken word performances by some notable names, including Wayne Brady, Amy Irving, Matthew Stevenson, Nash’s son, Eli, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) with Wynton Marsalis.
Close said that while she grew up with an uncle who was a conductor and an appreciation for classical music and the work of Rodgers and Hammerstein, it took befriending Nash and Marsalis to get her into jazz.
“I always was very intimidated by jazz as I got older, because I thought it was very cerebral,” she said. “I have been so opened up and so informed by knowing Ted and Wynton and all those incredible musicians at Jazz at Lincoln Center that now I find comfort in jazz.”
Nash has a similar appreciation of Close, who shares his belief that there needs to be more of a focus on examining what we have in common as human beings.
“Especially now in this last couple of years or something, I feel like more than ever, we need to focus on that,” Nash said. This whole Transformation suite of music has all sorts of different, personal stories that are relevant in different ways to where Glenn and I believe is very important to address and to embrace right now.”
From actor and comedian Wayne Brady introducing “Creation, Part I” by reciting the opening lines to English poet Ted Hughes’ “Tales from Ovid” to Nash’s son reading a letter to his father about coming out as a trans man, Close is especially cognizant of the healing power of music given the pandemic.
“I don’t think… I’m able to articulate yet what this whole last year has done to me personally,” she said. “I think we all kind of kick into survival mode one way or another, some more successful than others.”
A long time mental health advocate, Close said that where pre-Covid stats place one in five as being touched by mental illness, she now believes it is now closer to one in three.
Which is why she’s focused on bringing joy, much like she did recently when her moment of performing Experience Unlimited’s “Da Butt” at the Oscars went viral.
Close said that while she was informed prior to the awards show that she would be asked about the classic go-go song and dance made famous by Spike Lee’s 1988 film “School Daze,” her dance moves were impromptu and she said she hope it helps further interest in the genre.
“It was such a great thing for me because I, of course being me, I didn’t know about go-go,” Close said. “I didn’t know about the whole incredible music family, [group] The Backyard Band, [artist] Sugar Bear the whole DMV. It informed me.”
“I was so thrilled that a lot of those musicians were interviewed and made comments,” she added. “[Director] Spike Lee with his family called me. It was very cool.”
“Transformation” is out Friday.