It’s never too late to have your music put out into the world, and Miriam Weinkle is a prime example of that.
Now six years shy of a century old and living the retired life down in The Sunshine State, Weinkle was once an aspiring singer with dreams like anyone else. She was even told by Peggy Lee that “she has a lovely voice.” Simple yet deeply meaningful praise from a singing legend of her era.
While the luster of a music career seemed ideal, Weinkle decided becoming a housewife and raising her four children was the more practical route, especially back then. Her children grew up with her same love of music, and in a heartfelt gesture, Weinkle’s son Scott decided to have dusty demos of hers mastered and with life on the internet for us to hear- and it’s beautiful.
The first single from this unique project is “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” an old Rodgers and Hart tune made famous by Barbara Streisand.
We got to ask some questions to her son to learn more about his mom, her lost tapes, and much more.
To what extent did you know of your mom’s musical background and history?
This has been a learning process and more information comes out as I delve deeper into it. She played show tunes on piano often at home, but did not discuss her experiences singing in theatre groups in depth until recently, although I had seen some old pictures.
How prevalent was music in your life growing up? Did your mom instill it in you and your family?
She played piano often at home, but something was instilled in my brother and I from her. My brother at age fourteen won a Gibson guitar on the local Miami radio station WQAM for submitting the Best Electric Guitar Solo, and I was playing Jimi Hendrix songs on drums pretty accurately at twelve-years-old.
When did the lightbulb go on to get her demos mastered and ready for release?
I have been kicking the idea around the idea for a year or so. I felt she deserved to have that part of her life memorialized. At some point I thought about the film Searching for Sugar Man, where the music of Sixto Rodriquez is brought back to life. I was always afraid to even drive the vinyl master to the studio given the Florida heat. So I cranked the AC in the car for a while before driving it to Miami Tape who mastered it.
I was not sure all the snaps, crackles and pops could be removed, but the engineer took the job to heart and did a great job on the noise reduction. At that point I thought maybe we had something. I do not know much about streaming, so I decided to go to the professionals. I had an inkling it was special from people in the arts and music who heard it, but when Bill from Team Clermont confirmed it, I was off and running.
Do you know where, when, and with whom she recorded the initial demos?
Yes. It was recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami in 1965.
Van Smith, an orchestra leader at a prominent local hotel played piano on the song. It was done in one take without any rehearsal. It is actually a shortened version of the original song. Coincidentally, Jorge Garcia who did the masters two months ago worked with Criteria from time to time over several decades.
We were told she had “a little help from Peggy Lee.” What does that entail? Do you know much about her experience with Lee?
A good friend of Miriam was a hotel owner who booked many of the biggest acts of the day, and thought the demo was good enough to present to Peggy Lee who wrote that she had “a lovely voice.” Miriam never met Peggy Lee, but she attended many events hosted by her friend where the big stars partied.
What did your mother end up doing for work and a career?
She ended up being a housewife and raising four kids as opposed to a musical career. She also assisted my father in local politics when he was mayor of our town.
How do you think she’ll react once you present her with the recordings?
She has heard the remastered recording and was amazed to hear such a pristine version come from something buried for decades in a drawer. It was quite a thrill for her.
What was your reaction when you first heard these recordings?
I did not fully grasp what I was hearing when I stumbled upon it a couple of decades ago. It had a lot of pops and an extraordinary amount of reverb on the voice, so I just saw it as a relic. As my music education and appreciation increased, I began to understand its quality and its history.
Do you have any memory of hearing her play or sing, “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered?”
I don’t think so. I do remember her playing “The Shadow of Your Smile” and perhaps a Barbara Streisand tune. That’s all that’s in the memory banks.
What made you want to release this song first?
I thought it had a Lana Del Rey sort of feel to it- a kind of melancholy that could still be of interest. The extreme reverb on the recording gives it a haunting sound. Somehow it also reminds me of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” in its detached romanticism.
Where will people be able to find her music?
Any standard streaming service should have it, from Apple Music to Spotify to YouTube.