Considering so many of Burt Bacharach's songs blissfully, euphorically celebrate the glory of love, it's appropriate that the inspiration for performing a concert of the composer's music came to Kama Ruby on her wedding day.
Eighteen months ago, Ruby married Frank Maccioli, an independent environmental consultant and freelance writer, whom she credits with getting her interested in Bacharach's music.
"He chose 'The Look of Love' for our wedding dance," she said. "That song spurred my interest in researching (Bacharach's) music."
Ruby, who will perform many of Bacharach's most beloved tunes tonight at the Padre's Prospect Lounge, may be better known to longtime Bakersfield residents as Kama Cottengim (Ruby is her middle name), a precocious singer and dancer who got a lot of notice as a teen performing in shows at Stars Dinner Theater, the Melodrama, Kern Shakespeare Festival and other productions. After earning an acting degree at CSUB, the singer earned an MFA in acting from University of Nevada at Las Vegas. She now lives in Los Angeles.
But performing Bacharach's music has more than personal significance for Ruby. It also represents an opportunity to stretch artistically.
"I just want in the year 2014 to grow a lot more," she said.
Tonight's show will include some of the prolific composer's most famous songs -- "The Look of Love," "I Say a Little Prayer," "(They Long to Be) Close to You," "Wishin' and Hopin'," "Alfie," and "Walk on By." Guest performer Arthur Ross will sing such "guy" classics as "This Guy's In Love," and "A House is Not a Home."
The all-Bacharach show is different, but not an atypical project for Ruby, who has had other themed shows before -- the music of Joni Mitchell, Maroon 5, Radiohead -- and likes to mix genres, such as her first CD release, "Straight Up and Chilled," a mix of jazz and chill rock.
"I pretty much choose projects from time to time that put me outside of my comfort zone."
Ruby said interpreting Bacharach's music has made her rethink her singing technique -- the music is more demanding.
"I cannot approach these songs vocally the way I normally do," said Ruby, who describes her typical style as "very laid back."
"(Bacharach's) music takes a lot more energy. I've had to refer back to my legitimate voice training."
For most of his six-plus decade career, Bacharach dominated the popular music industry, especially during his partnership with lyricist Hal David. The pair rose to the top of the music industry with the Oscar-winning "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head," and dominated the charts with songs written especially for singer Dionne Warwick. Bacharach's music was always noted for its departure from most pop songs.
"It requires a different phrasing, different meter and time than in pop music," Ruby said.
Other projects planned for this year include continuing to tour in a five-woman cabaret show, called "Stages" and recording a second album, due for a May release.
In addition to Ross, Ruby's group includes keyboardist Jeff Rosbrugh, trumpeter Steve Eisen and bassist Glen Fong, working under the name Company Present.