Jane and Micah
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Jane and Micah

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"Burgesses perform cabaret with a twist"

Jane and Micah Burgess know how difficult it is to label their style of music. "We finally started calling it cabaret," Micah says. "We know that is difficult because cabaret means so many things to so many people."

In two Downtown shows on Friday, the couple, who are West Virginia natives and Duquesne University graduates, will give audiences a chance to determine if the label is correct.

Micah says the problem is some people think of cabaret in a tawdry way, featuring scantily clad songstresses singing songs filled with steamy meanings.

But there also is the powerhouse singing of performers such as Mary Cleere Haran or Anne Hampton Callaway, who have a rock-solid grip on songs along with the precision and power of operatic divas.
Micah has a definition for cabaret that can be used at least to meet the everlasting search for one: "Vocal showcases for theater-style singing."

He also admits one of the major elements that fuels cabaret popularity is its performance in "intimate-style settings," which is true of the two gigs here.

Micah admits that he and Jane give cabaret a little twist. For one, they perform their songs to Jane's voice and his guitar, instead of the usual mix of voice and piano.

Then, because of Micah's musical background, there is a stronger jazz element than is normally the case. The Clarksburg, W.Va., native got his bachelor's degree in Duquesne's guitar program which has a strong jazz edge.

They found jazz and blended well when they performed what they bill as their first official gig together. They were asked to do as much Cole Porter material as they could for a 2006 Christmas party in New York City.

That gave them the chance to add jazz touches to Porter classics. The songs also suited Jane, who grew up in Romney, in the panhandle of West Virginia, and studied classical voice at Duquesne.

That led to their nouveau-cabaret shows which include songs from George Gershwin, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline and the Beatles, as well as comedy.

The shows have further allowed the Burgesses to accomplish what few people in the arts can: maintain an existence in New York City without working a job to help pay the bills.

"Between private lessons, performing and composing, we have never had to work a day job," Micah says of their three years in the Big Apple.

The visit to Pittsburgh is part of that mix. They added the club date to flesh out a visit linked to Jane, who is wrapping up a weeklong vocal workshop at the South Hills Church of the Nazarene, in Bethel Park.

Micah soon will release an album on which he performs in a quartet that works frequently in New York. Meanwhile. he and Jane are working on one featuring their duo.

- Pittsburgh Tribune Review


Still working on that hot first release.



In their unconventional cabaret show, Jane and Micah Burgess bring to the table a diverse set of music that includes classic and modern music theatre, comedy, jazz, pop and country. After debuting their show in South Dakota, Jane and Micah are currently playing clubs, concerts and showcase venues throughout the eastern United States and in their adopted hometown, New York City.

Jane and Micah both grew up in West Virginia and although they met once as teenagers, it wasn’t until attending music school at Duquesne University that they got to know each other. While at Duquesne Micah studied jazz guitar and Jane studied classical voice. Because of their differing musical tastes neither one saw much potential in ever getting to work together. After many failed attempts and as Micah says, “violent tempests in an otherwise tranquil relationship”; however, they did find some common ground.

Their first official gig together was for a Christmas party in 2006 in which they were asked to perform for two hours and include as many Cole Porter songs as possible. Instead of trying to play the Cole Porter tunes in the typical jazz format, they opted to play them in a more theatrical style. Jane comments, “All of a sudden we were using Micah’s jazz training along with his arranging ability and my love for singing and theatrics to come up with a solid set of music”. It wasn’t until a couple of months later, though, when we finally decided to call it a “Cabaret”.”

Jane and Micah’s musical influences are reflected in their set list, which ranges from George Gershwin to William Finn, Patsy Cline to Joni Mitchell and even includes a song by West Virginia outsider Hasil Adkins. The two eventually plan to collaborate on original material but for the time being are dedicated to entertaining audiences with a collection of songs by artists they love.