Winner Bios

JIMMY WEBB

ASCAP-Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award

Three-time Grammy Award winner Jimmy Webb saw his star rise quickly in the 1960s, when his songs seemed to be on the airwaves everywhere. His engaging melodies, striking lyrics, and musical versatility as composer, lyricist, arranger, and producer made the Oklahoma-born Webb a household name when he was still in his 20s. He remains the only person to win Grammys for music, lyrics, and orchestration.His heralded, chart-topping songs include “Up, Up and Away,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” “Didn’t We,” “MacArthur Park,” “Highwayman,” and many others. They have been recorded by performers from Glen Campbell to Frank Sinatra, from Richard Harris to Nina Simone, from The Fifth Dimension to Wu Tang Clan. He composed the cantata The AnimalsChristmas and has scored such films as The Last Unicorn and Voices.

Mr. Webb holds the distinction of having been the youngest writer inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and he has received the National Academy of Songwriters Lifetime Achievement Award and the Johnny Mercer Award. His singing career has included appearances over the decades at New York City cabaret venues, including Jan Wallman’s, The Bottom Line, The Cutting Room, and Feinstein’s at the Regency. His diverse catalog of songs has, of course, been embraced by generations of Manhattan club singers.

Mr. Webb has released more than a dozen albums under his own name, and he continues to make some 50 concert appearances each year, dazzling generations of fans with his playing, singing, and storytelling. In late May, he will embark on a multi-city concert tour in the U.K and Ireland. His first book was his celebrated guide for aspiring composers and lyricists, Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting (1999). In 2017, he followed up with The Cake and the Rain, a candid and quirky memoir of his early life and career. Dominic Green of The Wall Street Journal hailed it as “a dream of sin and redemption, told with contrapuntal rigor” and “quite possibly the best pop-star autobiography yet written.”

He is a Board member of ASCAP and has been supporting and fighting for songwriter rights for more than two decades. He is married to PBS’s Laura Savini. He has six children and—by the time the Bistro Awards event happens—five grandchildren.

Jimmy Webb’s songs live on in cabarets and concert halls the world over, and audiences young and old continue to be thrilled, enriched, and moved by his extraordinary artistry.

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SUSIE MOSHER

Variety Show Hosting and Performance

Susie Mosher has been performing professionally since age 16, when she appeared in the West Coast premiere of Godspell at The Old Globe Theatre. Appearances in nightclubs, theatre, television, and movies followed. Her films include Lost Souls, View from the Top, Its Pat, The Wedding Planner, and Bear City 2. She has been seen on television in Beverly Hills 90210, Snoops, Veronicas Closet, The L Word, and Nurse Jackie. She made her Broadway debut when she was cast in Hairspray, playing Prudy Pingleton for the last two years of the show’s six-year run. She hosts her own weekly show, The Lineup with Susie Mosher, at Birdland every Tuesday night. Bistro Awards reviewer Penelope Thomas wrote of The Lineup: “Susie Mosher is a hell of a good host…. Honestly, I’d see her no matter who her guests are. Mosher is real showbusiness and ready to roll with anything.”

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ARI AXELROD

Theatrical Artistry in Song 

(Aria’s Aria)

Ari Axelrod is an award-winning concert performer and director. His show A Celebration of Jewish Broadway has seen multiple sold-out runs at Birdland in NYC, featuring Emmy- and Tony-nominated guest star Tovah Feldshuh. The show has also played in sold-out engagements in numerous venues across the country. Ari’s work as a director has been seen at Paper Mill Playhouse, Birdland, Feinstein’s/54 Below, The Green Room 42, and Don’t Tell Mama. He was a 2020 MAC Award nominee for Best Male Vocalist. Recently, Ari was the recipient of The Jewish Week’s prestigious 36 Under 36 Award, which “honors 36 noteworthy New Yorkers, all 36 years old or younger, who make New York—and its many Jewish communities—better.”

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BOSSA TAP TRIO

Unique Jazz Presentation

(Felipe Galganni, Helio Alves, Jackie Ribas)

Unique Jazz Presentation Bossa Tap Trio celebrates Brazilian music in a unique way. With tap dance by Felipe Galganni, piano by Helio Alves, and vocals from Jackie Ribas, the trio pays homage to the most iconic Brazilian composers, including Antônio Carlos Jobim, Carlos Lyra, Milton Nascimento, Joao Donato, and more. Originally from Brazil, Felipe Galganni has spent the last 10 years choreographing, producing, performing, and teaching tap in NYC. He is a recipient of the Machado de Assis medal for his work disseminating Brazilian culture in NYC. He is also on faculty at Steps on Broadway and The American Tap Dance Foundation. Felipe is currently preparing for his upcoming show, The Rise of Xana DuMe. Grammy-nominated pianist Helio Alves, a native of Sao Paulo, combines the rhythmic complexity of modern Brazilian music with the edgy energy of contemporary jazz. Now a resident of NYC, Alves has received high praise as an in-demand sideman with Joe Henderson, Yo-Yo Ma, Slide Hampton, Paquito D’Rivera, Airto Moreira, and Flora Purim. He has released five albums under his own name: Trios (1998), Portrait in Black & White (2004), It’s Clear (2009), Musica (2010), and, most recently, At Play, released in 2020. Jackie Ribas’s vocals blend R&B, gospel, and Brazilian jazz. She was only age 15 when she recorded her first album, after having won a popular talent show on Brazilian national TV. In 2011, Jackie moved to New York City, where she has been performing with her band, Zamb’up. Jackie recently released her newest EP, See Me.

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FLOTILLA DeBARGE

Consummate Drag Artistry

Flotilla’s journey began in 1991 as a lip-sync performer at The Pyramid Club and Boy Bar in Manhattan’s East Village, but within a year she had made the leap to full-on speaking-and-singing comedy entertainer. Her smash cabaret debut was Experience the Flo (with music director Ricky Ritzel) at the Duplex, followed by Experience the Flo 2—Unmask the Bitch, The Flotilla DeBarge Minstrel Show, The Flotilla DeBarge Chanukah Kwanzaa Christmas Spectacular, A Night at Mamie’s, and Freshly Released—Black, Blessed and Free. She is currently in residence at Pangea, where she performs a yearly Gay Pride show. Flotilla’s film work includes To Wong Foo and Flawless, and her TV credits include Law and Order, Sex and the City, and Angels in America.

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HEY, FRENCHY! STORIES AND SONGS FROM THE PANTRY

Autobiographical Show

(Claudine Cassan-Jellison, David Gaines, and  Barry Kleinbort)

For Hey, Frenchy! Stories and Songs from the Pantry, performed at Don’t Tell Mama, vocalist Claudine Cassan-Jellison collaborated with director Barry Kleinbort and musical director David Gaines for their fifth show as a team—their first show was Yes, and… in 2012. Claudine Cassan-Jellison’s theatrical credits include Closer Than Ever (Cherry Lane) and Peter Pan (Peter, NY/Moscow). Her performances in cabaret/concert venues include shows at The Duplex, Michael’s Pub, Gypsy’s, and Merkin Hall. More recent shows include Idol Curiosity, Just Visiting (about being a first-generation American), and Packing Orders (which focused on downsizing memories). Hey, Frenchy! centers on her relationship with French language, French chansons, and her father, Pierre. Claudine has a master’s degree in education. Pianist, musical director, and composer David Gaines is currently a coach/accompanist in the Drama Division at Juilliard and has worked in the NYU Graduate Acting Program. He’s also on the faculty of Fordham’s summer intensive (musical theater and cabaret). Among the other cabaret artists for whom he has served as musical director are Penny Fuller, Jeff Harnar, Karen Mason, and Andrea Marcovicci. He has also worked for such theatres as Playwrights Horizons, the Vineyard, the Public Theater, and Westport Country Playhouse. Barry Kleinbort has earned the Edward Kleban Foundation Award for lyric writing, two Gilman-Gonzalez Musical Theatre Awards, the Second Stage Theater Writers Award for Musicals, the Jamie deRoy ASCAP award, two Bistro awards, and twelve Manhattan Association of Cabarets (MAC) awards for his directorial and songwriting efforts. He recently wrote the book for Cheek to Cheek: Irving Berlin in Hollywood, presented at the York Theatre Company, which will return in the fall. He has directed and/or written special material for Petula Clark, Marvin Hamlisch, Kaye Ballard, Rita Gardner, and many others.

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AMY JO JACKSON  

Outstanding Creative Characterization

(The Brass Menagerie)

Amy Jo Jackson (they/she) is a writer and performer based in New York City. Their Tennessee Williams solo show, The Brass Menagerie, was commissioned in 2019 by the Denovan Fellowship in Cabaret, and their original musical, Hatchetation, was a 2021 selection for the National Music Theater Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. As an actor, they have performed with Company XIV, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Exit Pursued by a Bear, Prospect Theater Company, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and more. As a dialect coach, they’ve worked extensively in NYC and regionally, most notably for Broadway’s Kinky Boots. Jackson co-hosts a weekly film podcast called And Almost Starring.

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BLAINE ALDEN KRAUSS 

Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award

Blaine Krauss is currently appearing in the National Tour of Hamilton as standby for both Hamilton and Burr. His Broadway credits include Kinky Boots (as understudy for Lola), Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, and The Cher Show, and his concert appearances have taken him around the world. He is a 2010 Presidential Scholar in the Arts, chosen as one of 20 young artists by the White House and Presidential Scholar Commission. This led to his meeting President Obama and performing at the Kennedy Center. Back in New York, he appears regularly at Feinstein’s/54 Below, in their Sondheim Unplugged series—and that’s where he debuted his acclaimed solo show, From the Soul.

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BETH LEAVEL

Excellence In Musical Comedy 

(It’s Not About Me)

Beth Leavel has dazzled audiences with her cabaret act, which she has taken from Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York City to venues across the United States. She’s set to return to Broadway as Miranda Priestly in Elton John’s new musical adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada. She played Dee Dee Allen in The Prom, for which she was nominated for Tony, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama League awards. Her performance in the title role of The Drowsy Chaperone won Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and L.A. Drama Critics awards. Beth has also performed in Bandstand, Elf, The Civil War, Crazy for You, Mamma Mia!,Young Frankenstein, 42nd Street (2001 revival), and Hal Prince’s Show Boat. Her Broadway debut was in the original stage 42nd Street. She’s been seen frequently Off-Broadway, in regional theatre, and on television.

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QUINN LEMLEY

Unique Biography-Based Cabaret Experience

(Rita Hayworth: The Heat Is On!)

Quinn Lemley has starred in the critically acclaimed shows Burlesque to Broadway and Rita Hayworth: The Heat Is On!  She directed and co-produced Rebel, Rebel: The Many Lives of David Bowie, Pink Floyds Dark Side of The Wall, and The Ultimate Queen Celebration with Marc Martel. She has recorded six CDs and has been seen on Good Morning America and Oprah and was a finalist on Shark Tank. She is the host for MNN TV’s Secrets of the Stage. Her Rita Hayworth: The Heat Is On! team includes writer/director Carter Inskeep, musical director Tom Wilson and his band, Wendall Goings (gowns), Mike Troy Brown (shoes), and her producer (and husband), Paul Horton.

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GAY MARSHALL

Recording

 (Back on Boogie Street— Songs of Leonard Cohen)

After making her Broadway debut as Diana Morales in A Chorus Line, Gay Marshall created La Vie lAmour, a solo work produced in the U.S. and in Paris, where she was also cast as Grizabella in the original French production of Cats. Returning stateside, she played Denise in The Bakers Wife at Goodspeed, York Theatre Company, and Paper Mill Playhouse. Her performance in the Off-Broadway revival of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well… was nominated for the Drama League’s Distinguished Performance Award. At the Metropolitan Room and Pangea, her shows landed her on Playbill’s “Top Ten Divas” list. Her Piaf show was one of Time Out’s Top Ten Cabaret Shows. In addition to her Bistro-honored album Back on Boogie Street: The Songs of Leonard Cohen, she has recorded two other CDs: Gay Marshall Sings Piaf (a 2010 Billboard Top World Album) and Go Back Where You Stayed Last Night.

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THE ROYAL BOPSTERS 

Jazz Artistry

(Amy London, Pete McGuinness, Jeanne O’Connor,  Dylan Pramuk)

The 2021 JazzTimes #1 jazz vocal group is celebrating its 10th anniversary and continues to bring a new and refreshing approach to the art of vocal jazz with intricate harmonies and wonderful energy. The Royal Bopsters delve into vocal improvisation with vocalese—the art of penning lyrics to famous instrumental jazz solos—and their original songs and arrangements further the tradition of modern jazz, bebop, and the blues. Their latest release is Party of Four. Amy London was in the original cast of Broadway’s City of Angels, as well as City Center Encores’ Promises, Promises. She has released many CDs, both as vocalist and with the Royal Bopsters. She co-created the Royal Bopsters in 2012, singing soprano in the quartet whose recordings have garnered rave reviews and received continual airplay across the globe. Pete McGuinness has had a long and distinguished career, first as a jazz trombonist for over 30 years, then as a multiple Grammy-nominated jazz / big band arranger, and finally as an award-winning jazz vocalist. Besides his work with The Royal Bopsters, Pete leads his own 17-piece jazz orchestra, which performs in the NYC area. He is currently an associate professor of Jazz Studies at William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ. Jeanne OConnor has brought her jazz-singing talents to New York City’s Blue Note, the Rainbow Room, Smoke, and many other jazz clubs. Before her tenure with the Royal Bopsters, she was a member of the String of Pearls female jazz vocal trio. With them, she appeared at the Kennedy Center, Alice Tully Hall, NYC’s Town Hall, and other venues in the U.S. and abroad. Dylan Pramuk has toured nationwide and across Europe as a founding member, a principal arranger, a contributing lyricist, and the baritone voice of The Royal Bopsters. An adept soloist, improviser, and bandleader, Pramuk has also taught at New York University, The New School, The City College of New York, Montclair State University, and Jazz House Kids.

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KIM DAVID SMITH  

Recording

(Kim David Smith— Live at Joes Pub)

Described by Broadway World as the “David Bowie of cabaret,” called “slyly subversive” by the Wall Street Journal and labeled the “male Marlene Dietrich” by The New York Times, Kim David Smith is a Helpmann Award–nominated cabaret artist, based in New York City. His debut live album, Kim David Smith Live at Joes Pub, was released on July 17, 2020, featuring artwork by fashion illustrator Clifford Faust. Kim’s musical programs Mostly Marlene (March 2020) and A Wery Weimar Christmas (December 2019) debuted at NYC’s Club Cumming. Kim Sings Kylie, Smith’s salute to Kylie Minogue, premiered at Joe’s Pub in June 2018 and has since toured to Kim’s native Australia. Mostly Marlene was recorded at Joe’s Pub in February 2022 and will be released as Kim’s next live album. Smith starred in the title role of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé for the Provincetown Theater’s 2017 season. In 2016 he portrayed the Emcee in Hunter Foster’s production of Cabaret at the Cape Playhouse.

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SALLY WILFERT

Vocal Artistry 

(How Did I End Up Here?)

Sally Wilfert is being honored with a Bistro Award for her Feinstein’s/54 Below show How Did I End Up Here? She has appeared on Broadway in Assassins, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and King David. She toured with The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Her Off-Broadway credits include Trevor, See Rock City, Make Me A Song: The Music of William Finn, and The Mistress Cycle. Among her many performances regionally, Wilfert has performed in Mamma Mia, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Chasing Rainbows, Damn Yankees, Kiss Me Kate, The Light in the Piazza, Little Miss Sunshine (premiere), Les Miserables, Elegies: A Song Cycle, The Last Five Years, and many others. Her TV appearances include The Blacklist, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Submissions Only (web series), and Loving. All the Girls, Wilfert’s album with the late Rebecca Luker, received the Broadway World Cabaret Award for Best Recording. Among her other CDs are One Voice (with Natalie Weiss) and Sweet Little Devil. Wilfert continues to appear in concerts across the country and internationally.