As we put the Christmas and Holiday Season behind us, THE VOICE has one final memory to share from 2015. Linda's final show, a Christmas Show, meant so much to one of Linda's fans, and she chose to share this experience with you. Happy New Year, everyone!


Cynthia Stanford Suppon from Wisconsin writes…

Cynthia's nephew, Rian, meets Linda

This year, all I wanted for Christmas from my husband was to take my niece Ciara and nephew Rian to the Linda Eder Holiday Concert at the Historic Arcada Theatre, in St. Charles, Illinois on December 19, 2015... and maybe a few items in my stocking from Santa. So, not long after I noticed the date on Linda's website, I was very fortunate to acquire 4 front row balcony seats in a theater and city I had never been to before, a city over 300 miles south of my Wisconsin home.

To be honest, I was looking for an escape when I got those tickets. With my very elderly father in a rehab nearly 60 miles from my home and a mother in hospice on a memory care wing in my hometown, I was feeling overwhelmed with the responsibilities that come with trying to find the right balance for everyone. I also wanted to share a live concert experience with my Nephew Rian. I was able to take his sister to hear and meet Linda at the North Shore Performing Arts in Skokie two years ago when she was a senior in high school. I just knew that as a piano player, violinist, and overall music lover, he would enjoy this concert, Linda's amazing musicians, and most especially, Linda, the great lady herself.

My mother grew up in Chicago in the 30s and 40s with great music all around her, and she studied voice and sang opera a little before settling down like so many young women did in the early 50s, content to raise a family, leaving any dreams she had about singing in the dust of her past. But her musical ear and taste for fine music and stellar voices never left her. I remember how I learned to get through the doldrums of household chores the way she did, with either the radio or the stereo playing great music, and often singing along.

When I introduced Mom to Linda Eder's voice, she was immediately hooked, just like so many of us. When a hospice volunteer mentioned Mom seemed especially responsive to music, I found a “stereo” online made especially for dementia patients and loaded it with songs from LINDALIVE, along with several  songs from her many other recordings, as well as a few other singers Mom enjoyed. She really loved the music on her new little stereo. Even after she lost verbal communication, she could physically respond to my playing them and sometimes to my singing along. On November 23 at 12:50 a.m., I was with Mom, singing and stroking her hair when she took her last breath... she was there for my first breath and I wanted to be there for her last breath. Linda's voice and Josh Groban's were there with me too, such a source of comfort at a surreal time.

If you ever experience loss, even if you think you are prepared for it... you are not. You can encourage your loved one to go with God, but the moment they are gone, you want them back. It is only natural... you want what you know, not the unknown that is now lurking before you. As I spent Thanksgiving week (which was usually the biggest week of the year for Mom, the week that showed off her culinary skills and the spoiling of her husband, children and grandchildren) planning her out-of-state funeral, the thing that kept me going was Linda's music and the knowledge that I had the December concert to look forward to.

We got past that weekend and immediately began planning for our annual Norski cookie baking weekend December 12th & 13th with our Minnesota niece... yes, done to the strains of Linda's “Christmas Stays the Same” and “Christmas Where You Are” among others... but Linda's get the most play. I had given up all grain in March so I didn't touch a morsel. Not even the lefse! Dark Chocolate was a necessity. To be honest, I was just an exhausted, emotional lump at that point... we hadn't even decorated for Christmas. My heart was beginning to understand that Christmas would now be different forever.

Cynthia (left) with Linda
and her niece, Ciara

As the week between baking weekend and Linda's concert whisked away on the breeze with the crazy warm December weather, I began to feel the familiar pre-concert excitement and anticipation. We made the trip to Illinois, collected our niece and headed out to dinner. Where was my nephew? Late, late, late... arriving in time to wolf down a bowl of lobster bisque and a dish of creme brulee. Not quite 18, I wanted to shake my finger at him, but decided I didn't want to spoil the evening... his first experience with Linda had to be perfect. 

We drove to St. Charles and easily found the Arcada. I have had the opportunity to hear Linda at many different venues, but I think this was my first at a former Vaudeville house that seemed like it could host a vaudeville act at a moment’s notice. It was an interesting mix of architectural and interior details, but really, all we were interested in was how Linda would look and sound. We saw risers on the stage and my husband and I knew that meant a choir... this was going to be great! The Choir members and musicians took the stage. Ron Onesti, the owner of the Arcada greeted all of us and then introduced Linda to his stage for the first  time.

Linda looking dazzlingly lovely, strode out in a black, long sleeved “cold shoulder” style top, accented with sparkling jewels at the top of the shoulders and cuffs and an extravagantly detailed, and equally dazzling, statement belt over a pair of flowy black pants. We could see her plainly before us, but there were 4 or 5 big screens off to each side that we could view her, larger than life, stunningly beautiful with eyes that sparkled as she sang, as much as the twinkling of her dangling earrings.

I didn't memorize her set list, though I am sure I could recall it and write it down. From the moment she began to sing, all I could do was drink her warm, inviting and exhilarating voice into my soul. She was more open this night than I have experienced any night. She pointed out that she was wearing flats due to a broken toe... ah, that was what was different, I thought. The sound system and Billy seemed to not want to get along at first, but then they worked out the teeny kinks and she was ready to go. Then the unexpected happened… someone was taking a call on their cell in the first row. She answered the phone! No, I am not making this up. She politely told the person on the other end who she was and kindly asked them to speak to the person in the audience after her show. Looking around we all had these hand over mouth “Oh my Gosh” expressions and then could not help laughing a little. My nephew couldn't believe an adult person forgot to be polite and shut off their phone... we saw a few people checking theirs.

Meanwhile, Linda launched into her next song and we were all lost in the music again. There was a Santa hat that an audience member put on the stage and Linda eventually put it on for a number or two... guess she does like hats. She spoke about Pets Alive, and people seemed very touched by the story of the quarters and how much the money has helped her worthy cause. She sang songs from both Christmas CDs as well as LINDALIVE and the new RETRO CD, which I purchased when I arrived at the show. As usual the musicians and back-up choir were second to none.

I hate sounding like a broken record, but for the past three years Linda has sounded better than ever. I used to say, “She sounds as good live as she does on her recordings.” Now I say that she sounds even better live than on her recordings. A great and seasoned artist can become more alive in front of an open and appreciative crowd, and this is what happens now when Linda sings. I couldn't help but tear up, wishing my Mom was still around so she could experience Linda live.  My husband told me that even though he had heard her sing “Don't Cry For Me Argentina” from “Evita” on the LINDALIVE CD, that he had never really appreciated the lyrics of the song until that night. He said “Her delivery was so emotional, nuanced and beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes.” That's our Linda.

Cynthia's mother, Mabelle Stanford,
on her wedding day in 1948

She is right on the money (hopefully I am not misquoting her) when she says that people come to hear the sound of her voice, not her latest song or CD. She is absolutely right, but we also come because we admire who she is, and the simple, kind and charitable way she chooses to live her life. I wanted my nephew Rian to know that I admire Linda Eder as much for her very real human qualities as for the unmistakable voice that comes from the warm depths of her being. Before the concert, my husband jokingly told our nephew “You can't have her, she's mine!” We laughed and he scoffed.

When the concert ended, Linda mentioned she would be doing a meet & greet and CD signing in the lobby, so we stayed. Someone I thought worked with Ellen turned out to be another fan with photographs, and he gave one to my nephew Rian. I wonder if Linda ever has had a moment like this. I get to Linda, and the words that come out of my mouth are not the words I meant to come out. She was her warm and wonderful self, but I was on another planet or something.

We rushed along and when we left the theater I was asking the kids, “Did we even say thank you for sharing some of your holiday time with all of us or Merry Christmas?!” Yikes! In the car as we were leaving town, my husband asked Rian, “So, do you understand now why I said that she's mine?” From the back seat he said in a sort of drawl. “Oh, yeaaah.” We all laughed, but reflecting to when we were back at the theater waiting in line, this not very verbal, nearly 18 year old said, “I never knew anyone could sing so perfecly and more beautifully than on a recording.” He was thrilled when Linda signed the picture we got from the other fan and then posed for a photograph with him!

Just like my memories of sharing Linda's music with my Mom, the memories of that night, experiencing her stellar performance with the three people I love most in the world, will never fade away. They will shine in my heart and my mind forever. Thank you Linda, Billy, The Boys, and the “Nameless Choir.” Merry Christmas!