Eugene Ebner: Multi-Talented Performer,
Writer, Producer and Show Host
Eugene Ebner has a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Arizona and also studied voice in Salzburg, Austria. Eugene has danced on stage with entertainment legend Diana Ross numerous times, has performed in front of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, has shared the stage with Broadway stars Annaleigh Ashford, Beth Malone, Alice Ripley and Andy Kelso and has sung the national anthem three times at Colorado Rockies games for over 25,000 people. Eugene has performed in such infamous venues as the Laurie Beechman Theatre, Birdland Jazz Club and Carnegie Hall.
Most recently Eugene went into the recording studio with Broadway powerhouse vocalist Jeremy Stolle (Phantom of the Opera) and has released a new original song “Angel.” Produced by Emmy Award-winning producer Denise Gentilini. This inspiring ballad was originally written in honor of Eugene’s mother who passed away from cancer many years ago. “Angel” is a song that anyone can dedicate to someone they love or miss.
Eugene is co-founder of Ebner-Page Productions, and is an experienced TV host and interviewer with the intention to inspire, educate and entertain.
(Taken from https://www.eugeneebner.com)
TSM: Thank you so much for doing an interview for Talent Spotlight Magazine.
EE: It’s an honour, thank you for asking me.
TSM: What inspired you to get into performing? And did you always want to be a performer?
EE: I grew up with a lot of music in my house. My mother was an opera singer. She performed a lot locally more than anything when I was little. She had performed across the country as a Mezzo, never in NY at the Met. However, at other opera companies, the Arizona opera company, and in Ohio and California. So, when I was born she had already kind of moved through that part of the career, but she taught voice and was our choir director. She led the congregation, and played piano in our house. So, music was important and I always loved it.
My mother used to tell me that I would stand in front of the television when I would see an orchestra playing, or someone performing with a band, and I would conduct. I would act like I was conducting on TV. It was interesting because I loved to sing, but I also had a passion for standing up in front of people and leading them or conducting, which I don’t do now. I do, however, continue to share all my projects. I got involved with school and church, and in productions. I also took classes and got involved with the Tuscon boys choir that I did for many years. I did some local productions at theatres. Then I decided that I wanted to follow in my mother’s footsteps, so I went and received a vocal performance degree in 1997 in opera.
My mother ended up passing away when I was twenty-three from cancer, and that really shook me up because I was still in college. I actually dropped out of the first semester to help take care of her. She also did get to see me in the lead of Cosi Fan Tutte in the opera before she died. She was in a wheel chair, but when she passed away it really kind of woke me up, even though it was very challenging. That’s when I realized that I really needed to pursue what I was most passionate about with my art. That was not necessarily opera. I liked to write music, and perform more Broadway, classical, pop, cross-over, ballads and some dance music. So, I went ahead and moved to L.A. after I graduated from college. I wrote an entire album, recorded it and then my journey continued.
So, I always wanted to be on stage, to perform and be creative, but I also had a passion to be on television. I also really wanted to be a weather man on TV because I love the weather as well. Now I didn’t go that route, as I chose the singing and performing. That led into my own interviewing, podcasts, webcasts and producing. It has always been a part of who I am and I’ve always wanted to do what I’m doing since I was little.
TSM: You’ve mastered a wide spectrum of vocal styles. Do you have a favourite vocal style?
EE: You know it’s interesting and funny because for me what I enjoy singing the most is the inspiring, dramatic ballad. For me when I feel the most connected is when I’m expressing something in deep emotion, but I’m also very playful. What I find is people seem to enjoy my voice more lately when I’m singing more pop, like clear and smaller kind of tones. Although, I don’t enjoy singing as much in that style, maybe because of the way I was raised by my mother being in opera. So, for me it’s more of that dramatic ballad, not necessarily opera, but like a Josh Groban song. That’s what moves me the most.
TSM: What would you say is your most memorable theatrical show you’ve done and why?
EE: This is perfect that you asked this because I think for me it was the United in Love concert that my husband and I put on three years ago tomorrow. It was April 30, 2017. Not only was I a featured performer, but it was a dream of mine for ten years. In fact, around the time I met Amy Barbera and you, I had the idea to put together this concert where it would help a local charity that was helping others in need. It was ten years of a dream, and it finally came to fruition in 2017. We brought out Broadway stars from NYC that had lived in Colorado previously, and we involved the entire theatre community. We raised over 41,000 dollars in one night for the Denver Actor’s Fund, which helps all actors in need, especially medical needs, for insurance if ran out of it or don’t have work – now it’s really important during the pandemic. That’s what I’m most proud of because I performed with an individual by the name of Mara Davi, who has been on Broadway many times, so that was really exciting for me. That is also the concert that inspired Paul and I to re-locate to the New York city area. It was such a big moment that fulfilled the singing, producing, event planning and giving back because with everything that I do I want to make sure that I’m helping others through it. It’s so interesting that you asked that today because it has been on my mind.
Another major highlight of my performing career took place last year in May in NYC. I was a featured soloist at Carnegie Hall.
TSM: Which show were you on stage with the legendary Diana Ross? Tell us about your experience with her.
EE: I met Diana Ross for the first time as a child in 1985. I continued to go to her shows, and she would pull me up on stage and ask me to dance with her. I’ve danced with her on stage seven times between the late 80’s into 2004. In 2004, I danced with her on stage in Phoenix. The one that’s probably the most memorable is Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1993 because I was on stage with her twice over that weekend. It was one of the most magical experiences. I’ve also been backstage with her, and spent time with her band, plus even her pilot. I also met her ex-husband, and got to see all her gowns and jewelry. She’s a very lovely person.
TSM: You’ve been interviewing people since 2007. So, I’m sure you’ve evolved as an interviewer. What have you learned about interviews over the years?
EE: You know it’s interesting because my ex-partner, James Armstrong said in early 2007, “Eugene, I’ve been wanting to do a radio show. I think you’d be a really good co-host.” And I said, “I don’t know, I don’t know if I’m good at that.” I always saw myself as the performer, singer, or songwriter. He replied saying, “Nah, I think you’d be really good.” So, we started that show, and during the process I realized that I loved connecting with people and asking questions. I’m inquisitive, and love to share empowering and inspiring stories. So, my interviewing in the beginning was interesting for me because again, I wasn’t used to it. However, the more I did it, the more I enjoyed it.
Now it’s become such an important part of who I am. It has evolved and changed because what I learned to do is that I would listen back when I would interview somebody, and to listen more to what the person was saying, like being almost intuitive during it. You can have set questions written out, but that it was important to tap into their feeling during it, and listen to see if there was something else that was meant to come out during the conversation. That’s why the conversation piece is important to me because I feel like you can have your set of questions, but other things can arise, or come out of it. So, I’ve learned that along the way, and not to use as many filler words. I always try to listen to that as I continue to be a better listener and interviewer, and make sure that the conversation in in purpose.
TSM: What advice would you give out to those starting out as interview hosts?
EE: My first advice is just start doing it because it’s the practice piece, it’s getting yourself out there, it’s allowing yourself to be vulnerable and learn, if you have an inquisitive nature, if you like connecting to people and if you like sharing information (like you’re doing right now). That’s what it’s about. So, for me just start doing it. Nowadays, look what we’re doing on Zoom, anybody can interview right now, especially during the pandemic. So many of us are at home now and so many people yearning to connect this way. So, I would say, get a Zoom account, a Skype account, if you want to do it this way. You can start a podcast, there are tons of podcasts you can do; it can be your own podcast, you can sign up and work with a podcast directory or company. You can also upload to Youtube, or any social media and just see if people are drawn to it.
TSM: Are there any interviews that have stood out and had a profound impact on you?
EE: One that comes to my mind that has impacted me and continues to impact me is when I interviewed Matthew Shepherd’s parents. It was such a pivotal interview because not only was it very emotional, but I also learned from it. They said something in the interview about tolerance. Some people will say, I tolerate them being gay, or I tolerate this. Tolerance is actually still a form of not accepting fully who a person is. I was using the word tolerance and they corrected me and said, no, we celebrate. I am someone that is all about wanting everyone to be fully embraced for who they are. So, I will never forget that because it helped me re-define how I express myself. That’s why I think I will celebrate people, and use that a lot more, or fully embrace. Even acceptance, if you just accept somebody, is this fully embracing or celebrating them? That was a huge interview for me.
I would also say Olivia Newton-John because I’ve interviewed her twice. She just touched me both times because we talked about her having cancer, and about all that she’s done to help people through that. Those are the two that come to my mind.
TSM: Tell us about your latest show Conversations With Eugene Ebner.
EE: It’s kind of ebb and flow because I’ve been in the New York city area for two years. Prior to this pandemic, I started interviewing Broadway and cabaret singers that were doing live cabaret shows in NYC for Broadway World. It was Broadway World TV Cabaret Concert. I was the main interviewer, and did some award show red carpet interviewing on location. It had changed a little bit, and so the Conversations With Eugene Ebner became more of a platform in the last of years for sharing these well-known performers, shows, and also they would share inspiring stories. Now since this has all occurred, I’m bringing back my webcast, kind of like what you and I are doing now. I’m interviewing and telling people stories of what their experiences are through this, how it’s affecting them and what are they doing to stay hopeful, and how were they still being able to use their talents in a different way now . virtually, remotely.
TSM: If you had the power to do something in the world today, what would it be and why?
EE: I think for me if I could have more of a visible platform that I could continue to inspire and open peoples hearts and minds, and encourage them to realize that it begins with our own individual selves, self-love, self-respect and self-awareness. If we can truly know ourselves and love ourselves through this journey, and accept all people, that it would create unification. I really feel like I just want to help people unify and come together, and truly love themselves, and therefore make the world a better place. So, that is my biggest goal moving forward with really anything that I do.
Of course, I want to continue to spread joy, playfulness, creativity and humour is important. If anything, with my interviewing or singing right now, I just really want to help people along their journey because we’re all going through hard times.
I wrote a song called “Angel,” and I really feel like right now the song, and the lyrics to the song are so important. I’m really wanting to continue to honour all the frontline workers through the song, or anyone that is missing anyone during this, or anyone that dies from it and they’re sad. Here is the link to my original song “Angel” https://youtu.be/GRXFTB4Ym1w
TSM: What is one of your favourite quotes (or lines) that inspires you?
EE: I don’t know because for me, anything that has to do with shining and owning your own power. The power is within you and to shine is your choice. We can all choose how we express and shine our lights. I think that has always been very important to me. I also like so many quotes from Don Miguel Ruiz, and his sons about how loving ourselves is the biggest goal on the planet, and therefore sharing the love with others. I love the quote, “Live – Love – Now.” It’s simple, but true.
TSM: Anything else you’d like to share?
EE: I think I’ve talked your head off. Lol I want to thank you because it’s nice to be asked questions, as it doesn’t really happen to me very often now. I’m the one usually asking the questions, so it has really been special for me. I want to thank you for the time that I got to express.
I think the main thing is to just continue to encourage people to realize that we all have unique gifts and talents, every single one of us. We’re all special, unique, and all of us have a right to share who we are. Whether we have a million or ten views, it’s still just as valuable and important.
TSM: Thank you so much again for doing the interview and all the best in the future.