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Episode 53

Manhattan Transfer & Vocal Harmonies featuring Cheryl Bentyne

Episode  53
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The Manhattan Transfer will be ringing in their 50th anniversary with all kinds of goodies. A symphony album, a documentary and a box set. Member in excellent standing Cheryl Bentyne joins us with behind the scenes insights into crafting harmonies both on and off the stage. She also shares her Cancer battle and recovery journey and her inspiration to bring healing to others through her podcast, I Sing The Body. Plus Fritz and Weezy are recommending Bosch, Letters to America by Willie Nelson, Mr. Graham and the Reasonable Man from Radio Lab, This is Pop and The Boy Band Con.

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Louise Palanker (00:00:00):

That's what I have.

Fritz Coleman (00:00:03):

Welcome to Media Path. I'm Fritz Coleman.

Louise Palanker (00:00:05):

And I'm Louise Palanker.

Fritz Coleman (00:00:07):

As we stroll along the media path, Louisiana and I pick and choose items to put in our reusable, environmentally friendly shopping bags, items that we think you'll find interesting and compelling from all areas of entertainment. We do that and we do this. This week we talked to an enormously talented guest from the world of music. Cheryl Ben Teen, who spent most of her career with the iconic vocal group, Manhattan Transfer. She's had a great solo career. We'll talk about her solo albums and we'll talk about her latest project, which is helping many people have a quality of life. Her podcast, dealing with those in various stages of recovering from cancer. Can't wait to talk to Cheryl. Should be right with us in a second. Wheezy, what do you have for us?

Louise Palanker (00:00:51):

Well, Frise, this week I would like to recommend an episode of Radiolab and More. Perfect. This one specific episode is called Mr. Graham and the Reasonable Man. I listened to this over a year ago, and it, it resonates with me and I think of it often, and I think it's something that everybody should partake of. Uh, in conversations about police abuse and misconduct, we've been often hearing the term qualified immunity. And in this episode, you get a quick education into the origins and the meaning of this concept. On a fall afternoon in 1984, de Thorn Graham, a diabetic, ran into a convenience store for a bottle of orange juice to help him balance his sugar with his insulin. When the line was too long, he ran back outta the store, jumped into his buddy's car, and this behavior seemed suspicious to a nearby cop who pulled them over, unable to get orange juice into his system.


Thorne's behavior became increasingly odd. He was stumbling around the car. The cops handcuffed him and threw him face first into the curb. Devorne took his case to a lawyer and it worked its way all the way up to the Supreme Court, who in 1989, ruled that an objective reasonableness standard should apply to a civilian's claim that law enforcement officials used excessive force in the course of making an arrest investigatory stop or other seizure of his or her person. It's legal, I can't speak legal, that fluently Fritz <laugh>. This seems like a win for those seeking reasonable police behavior, but interpretation of the ruling has been twisted over time to mean that if at any moment in the arrest a cop feels threatened, he or she can use force. This is what we know now as qualified immunity in the wake of the George Floyd ruling. It's an excellent time to learn more about the genesis and the initial intention of the concept. Look for Mr. Graham and the reasonable man from Radiolab and more. Perfect.

Fritz Coleman (00:02:41):

I, I think you've turned a couple of people on the radio lab, cuz you've discussed it before. And the, my only exposure to it is public radio is okay, uh, KP C in Pasadena. But is there another place they can get It? Can,

Louise Palanker (00:02:53):

It's a podcast. Oh, okay. Yeah. So it's there, uh, at your demand whenever you click or tap Sounds right. You can, you can access it.

Fritz Coleman (00:03:00):

Well, my first item is something I've talked about before, but I can't help it. It's the final season of Bosch on Prime video. And here's the deal about Bosch. I was way too a d d to binge watch anything until I was turned on to Bosch. Wow. And then after I burst through that barrier, I did it with the Crown. And now I'm uncontrollable <laugh>. But, but Bosch is a show I love, and they just posted their seventh and final season. It's Prime's longest running series. And for the three and two thirds people who don't know who Bosch is, he's a creation of writer Michael Conley. It's based on Conley's character, hous Bosch called Harry. He's a disgruntled Hollywood detective. And part of the fun of this show is seeing every episode, including great locations shooting all around Southern California. You'll recognize most of the streets. It's kind of cool.


This season gets really juicy. Harry's partner, Jay Edgar hits some emotional speed bumps and he's usually the stage sort of linear guy, and so you don't expect that from him. They come up against street gangs and Mexican drug cartels. They even have an arc with a character very similar to Michael Milken. You remember hearing as the junk bond king who won a foul of Wall Street regulations and did time in a, um, golf course prison. Really a great sendoff for the series for Bosch fans. Harry isn't retiring. This is a spinoff. It's in production already. It's gonna be not on Prime, but on Imdv, which is kind of odd, but I guess they're trying to drive viewership over there since they don't have any original programming. Okay. Ha. Harry becomes a state licensed private detective and there are one or two characters from the old Bosch that will go there as well. I love the series.

Louise Palanker (00:04:39):

Wow. That sounds extremely exciting. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. I will, I will look for all of that. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> very good recommendation. Fritz and the spinoff is a hot tip. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I'm watching a show on Netflix. It's a limited series called, this is Pop.

Fritz Coleman (00:04:53):

I I am too.

Louise Palanker (00:04:54):

Yes. Okay. I didn't

Fritz Coleman (00:04:55):

Know you were watching it. I can't wait to hear what you

Louise Palanker (00:04:57):

Think about it. I'm lapping it up. Uh, this is a, uh, Netflix series, which sets out to uncover the real stories behind your favorite pop genres, songs and artists. The topics covered in each episode are unique and intriguing. They include Tpan and autotune, the history of music festivals, the disproportionate influence of Swedes on American pop music and <laugh> and The Boys to Men Effect, which studies how in the tradition of many great black artists, the sound and style of Boys to Men was quickly appropriated by white artists who then met with even bigger success. For example, boy band producer Lou Pearlman actually placed an ad in trade publications witch read, looking for Boys to Men vocals with new kids on the Block. Look what could be more blatant

Fritz Coleman (00:05:44):

In veil racism there.

Louise Palanker (00:05:45):

<laugh>, which brings me to Lou Pearlman, the Lou Pearlman doc on YouTube, which is a thing of glory. Okay. This is produced by Lance Bass. The film explorers the crazy career in legacy of record producer and convicted criminal. Lou Pearlman. He's a conman who managed to fill his giant mansion with cute, young singing, dancing boys. He drove them to stratospheric success while maintaining control of them and of their money. Pearlman winds up, spoiler alert, dying in prison. <laugh>.

Fritz Coleman (00:06:17):

But I love are, are you finished for this?

Louise Palanker (00:06:20):

Um, I think that has to be a closing sentence.

Fritz Coleman (00:06:21):

That was fantastic. And I love the series, but quite seriously the number of people who were influenced by Boys to Men, including Justin Timberlake, right. And all these people that had huge, um, uh, careers. Also, you, uh, you, you suggested something that I want to talk to Cheryl about, but not right away, which is autotune and the electronic effect on, you know, the purity of the vocal

Louise Palanker (00:06:44):

Incident. She is not in need of said plugin.

Fritz Coleman (00:06:46):

No, no. Alright, well, I got one for you here. It's Willie Nelson's Letters to America. I love Willie Nelson. It's an Amazon, uh, book. I'm a huge Willie fan. Yeah, me too. But full disclosure, what drew me to this book more quickly than it might otherwise have done, is that it was written by a friend of mine, Turk Pipkin. He's not a close friend anymore. We did comedy together 30, 25 years ago. He's a comic, a magician, and a juggler. He wrote episodes of Night Court for Harry Anderson. Went on to have other many noble pursuits. He's a good friend of Willie's. Letters to America is intimate thoughts and stories about a whole range of topics by Willie. It's exactly what you'd expect from one of America's great songwriters, one of the great writers of songs that are immensely sensitive. And he is the same in these essays. He offers thoughts on Americans past President and Future. He talks about his heroes, including some of our founding fathers. And, and they, at the end of the book, publish some lyrics from some of his songs. Like, let Me Be a Man, family Bible, summer of Roses, me and Paul, and yesterday's wine. The book will make you smile, make you think. If you love Willie, you'll love him even more. It's really wonderful.

Louise Palanker (00:07:59):

That's really cool. I'm reading his autobiography right now, and when I'm done with that, I'll read what you're recommending. Fritz, let's bring our guest into the conversation. Oh,

Fritz Coleman (00:08:07):

Let's do it. Yeah. We are so happy to welcome Cheryl, Ben Teen, uh, talented in so many ways. She spent most of her careers of vocalist for Manhattan Transfer this iconic vocal group. They together won 10 Grammy Awards. Uh, she's done some wonderful solo products, uh, projects, including, uh, something cool in 1992 where she performed traditional music in jazz standards she did dreaming of Mr. Porter. Love that It's a tribute to Cold Porter. And she released that in 2000. She narrated an audio book called Little Girl Blue, which is the Karen Carpenter story, and she worked with Michael Feinstein with Songbook Academy. And most recently, she's been hosting a podcast called I Sing the Body Conversations with Cheryl Beneen, which concentrates on people who are in various stages of recovery from cancer, which she is herself. Cheryl, we're so happy to have you here today. Hello from the Warm Desert.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:09:03):

Oh, hi. Hi, Louise. Hi. Greetings, Fritz. Nice to be here.

Louise Palanker (00:09:07):

So we're gonna open by introducing people to a little bit of your sound. I wanna play just a little bit of the song Trickle Trickle, which, you know, I'm a big fan of the doop stuff, but I just wanted to kind of open with this. Have you got that Franny

music (00:09:19):

Check Splash? Tell me how long keeps dropping me. Listen, hey, don't, the rain will stop runny. Dig my close here, boy.

Louise Palanker (00:09:43):

So Cheryl, we have really good news for you <laugh>, when the presence of an actual weatherman who can at long last answer the age old question, tell me just when this rain will stop

Cheryl Bentyne (00:09:54):


Fritz Coleman (00:09:54):

And since I retired, I've had to relinquish my license. So I tell her what I tell everybody else. Look on your phone and you learn everything anyway.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:10:05):


Fritz Coleman (00:10:05):

Oh man. That sounds, I rather

Cheryl Bentyne (00:10:06):

Listen. Good, confused. That's,

Fritz Coleman (00:10:08):

That's that. That sounds so good. Isn't that

Louise Palanker (00:10:11):

Just the

Fritz Coleman (00:10:12):

Best? Oh my God. And, and the transfer does acapella Vocalese. What is Vocalese?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:10:18):

Uh, yes. Well, Lambert Hendrix and Ross, if you recall a trio in, uh, the mid sixties, they kind of, uh, were the starting point featuring, of course, John Hendrix lyrics of Vocalese. Well, what he would do is take a jazz instrumental piece, whether it's Miles Davis or Clifford Brown or, uh, even, um, Dave Brubeck and put lyrics to it. So it turned it into a song that you could sing, which is pretty, uh, it's challenging and it's so exciting. Like, we'll do an ensemble part of that corner pocket, which is a Count Basey piece, and just sing those horn parts with a story. And then when the solo comes around <laugh>, that's when it gets real, uh, interesting. Then one of us, whoever is appropriate for that solo and that instrument will continue the story. Um, and some of the solos are pretty intense. So it's, it's a wonderful style of

Fritz Coleman (00:11:22):

Music. Yeah. And you give this song a Second Life. We had a guest on here who started, uh, friends of Distinction who did that with, was it Grazing in the Grass or what song did he put lyrics to that gave it a Second Life? It was a, it was a Ramsey Lewis instrumental song. Help Me,

Louise Palanker (00:11:38):

I can't remember. Oh,

Fritz Coleman (00:11:38):

Okay. God Almighty. Not

Cheryl Bentyne (00:11:40):

The In Crowd. No, no,

Louise Palanker (00:11:41):

No. Close, close, close.

Fritz Coleman (00:11:43):

But, but it was one like that, and he gave it, you know, another five or 10 years of life beyond its original popularity, which nav

Louise Palanker (00:11:50):

Was grazing in the Grass. I, I, I just, I don't have that at the tip of my head, but what I'm, what I'm wondering is like a lot of those, those, those jazz riffs were improvised. Do you guys just memorize what was on the record and capture that and stick to that? Or when you're on stage, do you sometimes kind of do a little bit, have a little bit of fun with it?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:12:09):

Well, no, the rule is, it's a really good question. The rule is you stick with the solo mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, and because they're so, uh, intricate and difficult, it's always challenging. So it doesn't really get boring ever. You know, and our, our harmonies are always, always fresh because you never know how it's gonna sound. That's, that's the love of, you know, four Part Harmony. Oh, yeah. You just never know. And yeah, it's that, that record, by the way, vocalese <laugh> turned us around. We got, uh, 12 Vo 12 Grammy nominations for that. And, uh, it was, it was, it changed us, it changed our careers. And the record company, I can say this on the side, because <laugh>, they didn't wanna do it. They said, no, no, no, no, no one's gonna listen to that. No one, no, no. And Tim Houser, God love him. You know, our, the founder of our group mm-hmm. <affirmative>, he just went in there day after day fighting and fighting and fighting until they finally said, okay, go ahead. And it turned out to be probably the most memorable and my favorite record of our careers.

Fritz Coleman (00:13:14):

Wow. Hey, spinning of Tim Hauser. Uh, um, uh, let's just do a, a, a broad reflection on the nearly 50 year career of Manhattan Transfer. Talk about how it got started. Tim was the founding member. Am I right?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:13:28):


Fritz Coleman (00:13:28):

Exactly. And then, and just, just generally walk us through, and then there are two manifestations of the transfer too. You're smiling. Is that a bad idea? Is it gonna take too long? Long? No. Okay.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:13:37):

No, it's funny because I wasn't there, but I've heard the story so many times. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, uh, they started in 72. Uh, Tim was driving a cab in New York City and, uh, was a musician on the side and picked up a fair, who was Laurel Masse, who was, um Oh, wow. Who I replaced Yeah. In 1979. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And she a singer. And they started talking about music and he, he was talking about how he wanted to start a vocal group, and they stopped and had coffee, and then ended up going to a party where Janice was, because Laurel's, <laugh> boyfriend was in the pit band of Greece. So he also knew someone who could sing 10 and wanted to leave, you know, leave the Broadway show of Greece. Let me backtrack a minute. So Janice Siegel was at this party. Okay. She was singing with a trio mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And they were there, and they were all going, whoa. So they started talking. I don't know if this was all in one night, but I liked to like, you know, all compartmentalize

Louise Palanker (00:14:36):

In the cinema version. It's one night.

Fritz Coleman (00:14:38):


Cheryl Bentyne (00:14:39):

Yes. Not the extended Netflix version.

Louise Palanker (00:14:42):


Cheryl Bentyne (00:14:42):

Uh, so then, uh, they needed a tenor. They were gonna do four part harmony. Tim's dream was to be like the sack section of the Camp Bai band, where it's, oh my

Louise Palanker (00:14:51):

God, that's

Cheryl Bentyne (00:14:51):

So good. You know? Uh, you know, the four parts, which were two women and two men, which really hadn't been covered a lot in the past. There were a lot of men groups, and of course the girl groups. So they got a hold of Alan Paul, who wanted to, uh, do something new, you know, was in love with vocal harmonies in that whole era of music. So there you go. They started, they started, uh, writing out vocal arrangements. Janice just did it by scratch. She didn't know, just by their ears. And they sat around and learned, uh, four or five tunes, and they went to like Trudy Heller's and, uh, what other, you know, the, the clubs in New York, and that's all they knew. So they would do the five or so tunes and then take a break and then do them over <laugh> and then take a break. And in the meantime, they were gaining a huge, like, underground audience. Yeah. Because they came out, they weren't dressed in <laugh> Tales and, you know, and gowns, yet they were dressed crazy. Like, um, I think Janice was wearing a diaper, uh, you know. Wow. They were very, very, very abstract at that point. And the guys would wear makeup and then they'd sing these forties tunes with this beautiful harmony. So it was like

Louise Palanker (00:16:04):

A little bit performance art. Oh yeah. A little bit, you know, a lot vocal harmony. And you were given one of their albums when you were in a group that you were in, correct.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:16:14):

Ah, how do you know everything? Yeah. Well, it

Louise Palanker (00:16:16):

Sounds Wikipedia, Cheryl <laugh>. I don't like to look

Cheryl Bentyne (00:16:19):

At that stuff cause I dunno what it's gonna say about you. It's

Louise Palanker (00:16:21):

All good. It's all good.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:16:22):

Oh, I can't now. Yeah. I was in a swing band out of Seattle called The New Deal Rhythm Band, and we kind of were along the same lines. We were kind of a, a funky, crazy group of musicians. I was the front girl, and we sang in the clubs, you know, up in Seattle, the tavern, uh, you know, uh, and all down the coast in San Francisco. And my boyfriend was the trombone player. And one day he handed me the first album of the Manhattan Transfer, and he said, you gotta listen to this. It'll blow your mind.

Louise Palanker (00:16:52):

That is some foreshadowing.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:16:55):

I know. Oh, there's too many like, coincidences. We don't have time. Okay. <laugh>,

Louise Palanker (00:17:00):

I love this. When

Cheryl Bentyne (00:17:01):

I heard this, I just went, oh my God, this is, this is me. This is, I love this. I'm crazy about this. These people are insane. I've never heard about this. Because they were relating to a younger audience. Yeah. Be because they were young. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So you're, you're, you know, pulled in by the fabulous songs. And then these crazy different looking people, these four very different personalities, and then the fantastic music. So that was my introduction to them.

Fritz Coleman (00:17:31):

And, and, uh, I, as a baby boomer and, uh, one, one of my passions is doop. I'm from Philadelphia, and that was, you know, mother's milk in Philly. Uh, but, but, but you had, you had an attraction that was very similar to the early doop, which was, uh, uh, uh, particularly the acapella stuff. Every voice sounded like a different instrument. And that was the start of doop. So that's, you can hear it on Trickle Trickle. It's just like the, the bass is a bass drum and the

Louise Palanker (00:18:00):

Yeah. And if you go back to the Mills brothers, they used to do that. Yeah. Four, four boys and a guitar. Yeah.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:18:05):

They really did it. They became instruments. We have one song where we really do, uh, sound like instruments. We, I have a solo in a, uh, a song, A Miles Davis piece. Herbie Hancock actually called Cantaloupe Island, and I have the solo in there, and you have to become that sound. We do that a lot. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, within, within songs and sound like instruments. But they were the, you know, they were the kings, the Mills brothers. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> absolutely amazing. When you listen to them, you cannot believe that they came, that that comes out of their voice.

Louise Palanker (00:18:38):

Yeah. And, and you can't, and you can't believe that that's the sound they decided to create. You know, like maybe what inspired people in the twenties was, well, <laugh>, we don't have any musical instruments. But yeah. I like some of what I'm hearing on the radio. How can we make that sound? And you just out of inspiration. I mean, we don't know the music that people were making a thousand years ago, but you have to imagine that they were being super creative. It just isn't recorded, so we don't have a record of it.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:19:05):

Exactly. Exactly.

Louise Palanker (00:19:05):

So tell us about the Dixieland band that you traveled with. Your dad was in a Dixieland band. Yeah. Yeah.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:19:12):

We didn't travel. I went as far as my house to the Oaks Club up

Louise Palanker (00:19:15):

<laugh>. Oh, I see.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:19:16):

<laugh> <laugh>. But that was interesting. Um, well, in high school, let's back up a hair. I was, um, in the musicals, I wanted to be a, you know, an actress mm-hmm. <affirmative>, who sang mm-hmm. <affirmative>, not a singer who acted, I thought I'd be a, an actress, Barbara Streisand. When I saw Funny Girl, I just went, I wanna do that. You know, not knowing what, what a large undertaking that would be to become Barbara Streisand. So I kind of put that aside, <laugh>. And, uh, my mother saw me in a musical, in, in, uh, at high school. She didn't know I could sing. I was like a closet singer where I wouldn't let anybody listen to me. I would just go out in the back room and sing to records, mostly Streisand. And she said, you can sing. Why don't you go and sing with your dad's band? Aw. So, um, I was like 14.


And, uh, so I did, I'd go out on Friday and Saturday nights and sing with the, uh, he had a dance band. He was a clarinet player. It was his band, clarinet sack flute. And that's how I, you know, those were my early, uh, learning days of, of, I mean, new Deal Rhythm Band was of course, after that. But this is how I got a start in singing in front of people and, and enjoying it. I didn't think there was anything, I thought everyone could do this. So that's how naive and weird I was. Well,

Louise Palanker (00:20:38):

You knew that you were, you were singing probably standards. Yeah. And your friends were listening to pop music. So you must have known that not everybody's dad is a band leader. I mean, on some level you must have known that my musical tastes run deep and they don't, they don't, they're not limited to what's being played on Top 40 radio.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:20:55):

Exactly. I didn't really listen to it that much. I like The Beatles, and that's kind of the beginning and the end of it. Okay. I didn't really, you know, Sergio Mendez, Brazil 66, I just, I went that direction from, from that age on. So, yeah, you're right.

Fritz Coleman (00:21:08):

And the transfer did Brazilian music too, and popularized that in their kingdom.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:21:12):

Yeah. We were sitting in a living room once at Tim's house, and this is how those projects used to happen. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they just would happen. We were sitting there talking, and all of a sudden we realized all four of us were separately listening to Brazilian music, and we went, whoa. Well, I think we should probably do a record then. So that was a real, real fun project. We went to Brazil, we sat around the piano, Tom Jo's piano, and sang and, and met all the, the musicians and composers that we later did, uh, their music with English lyrics. So, um, that was wonderful too. That was a great,

Fritz Coleman (00:21:49):

So, so, um, using that as an example, was it always a community contribution setup? Or was there one person who was doing the arranging in the picking?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:21:59):

Well, it was always all four of us deciding. And sometimes that would become a little bit difficult. <laugh> one would really have to campaign if he really believed in the song. And eventually we all trusted each other and Yeah. And sang and chose the music together. Janice has done a majority of the vocal arrangements. Alan's done quite a few. I've done a couple. I did one with Bobby McFaren on Vocalese that won us a Grammy. Oh

Louise Palanker (00:22:27):

My gosh.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:22:28):

So I kind of thought I'd stop there. I got lucky. <laugh> <laugh>. I think I'll stop while I'm ahead. And then we, we do farm out arrangements occasionally if it's a real special piece of music. So,

Fritz Coleman (00:22:41):

So you started with a transfer in 79. You replaced Laura Masse, correct? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. How did that happen? Was it an audition? Did people understand your reputation beforehand, or how did you get the job? Well,

Cheryl Bentyne (00:22:52):

I was lucky. I had a manager from, uh, when I came down from Seattle and left the New Deal Rhythm Band. And her name was Linda Friedman. And she, you know, was grooming me. I took dance lessons, singing lessons, blah, blah, blah. We went out and heard music, and I did, uh, what they called Hoot Knight at the Troubador. I was doing all these little clubs, and she knew the group's manager, Brian Abnet, and also their agent, I think it was, uh, William Morris at the time. And they were looking for, you know, a fourth member, a soprano. But they were looking quietly around, you know, they were asking each other and their friends, I mean, you know, colleagues. And they asked Linda and she said, yeah, yeah, I know somebody who could probably, you know, be good for this. So I auditioned, you know, they didn't know me from anybody.


And, uh, I went to Janice's house. She lived next to the Hollywood Bowl on sh I forget the name of the street, right up next to it. Walked in her house. And, uh, they asked me to do two songs, get, have two songs ready, cuz I was, the Soprano was a melody. So, and I knew their music. I knew all their songs. Yeah, yeah, yeah. <laugh>. So I went in and sang, and they said, they told me, they said, after about eight bars singing along in Harmony, they looked at each other. And I was like, the seventh or eighth person, I think, to, uh, audition. And, and they looked at each other and they kind of, it, it's like, that was the sound. Wow. You know, it's, it's tricky. You gotta get a sound that, that where the voices just ring together.

Louise Palanker (00:24:32):

It's a chord. You're making chords. So tell me about the first Pinch Me moment where you're on stage with the Manhattan Transfer

Cheryl Bentyne (00:24:40):

<laugh>. Uh, we went straight to Europe after we, I learned all the back material, and then I learned all the music for the, for the Extensions album. We went in the studio, we did Birdland. The first song, I'm like, ah, <laugh>. It was, it was, it was like a punch in the face, like over and over and over, but a good punch. Yeah. Uh, so then we went to Europe. We did a show in Amsterdam that was televised, I think in like 10 countries or something crazy. And, uh, that was my first show. That was my first show. Wow. And it was insane. It was insane. So I remember that.

Louise Palanker (00:25:18):

That's so what, what's the personality mix like? Because that, you know, those are also harmonies. You know, you're out on the road with people and everybody's kind of vibrating and what was it like, uh, to be the new kid? Or, you know, or were there, was there a moment of honeymoon and then a moment of like, y you put this here and it doesn't go there, and, you know, how, how does that work on the road when everybody's kind of, can be cranky and, you know, what are the things that people get irritated about?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:25:49):

Oh boy. It could be something big. It could be something really small. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and <laugh>. But it's an interesting question because not only are we these sports singers, you know, we're dear friends. Uh, my daughter is best friends to this day with Tim's daughter. Oh. They're the same age. Wow. Uh, also with Janice's son, they all were about the same age coming up in the group. So we're family in that sense. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But we're also, you know, we're business partners. We're we, we're music partners, we're friends, we're family. And all that combined can get, can get very, uh, <laugh> complicated sometimes mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that's a good word. <laugh>. So when we do push each other's buttons, at this point, we know what those buttons are. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So we kind <laugh> we kind of stay clear of that and just let the music lead the way. Yeah. Because that's what we're there for.

Louise Palanker (00:26:42):

Yeah. Because it's like, it's hard enough to have one marriage, but to be in, in a group. And now coming up on your 50th anniversary, that means, and you, since 1979, that means you have to navigate all, every, every person in the group has a unique relationship with every other person. So there's all these crisscrossing relationships that are one-on-one, one-on-one, one-on-one. And you have to, you know, you just have to know how to, how to navigate, how to choose your words in a, in a way that sounds, uh, kind. And even when you, what you're, what you're about to deliver is maybe something where you feel extremely annoyed, <laugh>, but you still have to say, you know, to find a kind way to, to that would be a productive way to deliver this, this message. Yeah. And be heard. Are

Cheryl Bentyne (00:27:31):

You sure you haven't been in the studio with us or our rehearsals? I

Fritz Coleman (00:27:35):

Can't even, she's been in enough studios on her own with stuff. <laugh>.

Louise Palanker (00:27:38):

You know, I had a, you were

Cheryl Bentyne (00:27:40):

There, I know you were at our rehearsals. Yeah, exactly.

Louise Palanker (00:27:42):

But I think we, we're not all in Manhattan Transfer. We're not all in the studio with you guys, but we all have similar types of friendships or business endeavors where that kind of thing is essential. And you can hit a point where it almost might fall off a cliff, but you, everyone has to love it enough to not let that happen.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:28:01):

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And she

Fritz Coleman (00:28:04):

Made a documentary about that, about the Calci family called Family Band. Right now it's on Netflix or Prime. No,

Louise Palanker (00:28:11):

It's on Prime.

Fritz Coleman (00:28:11):

And uh, um, and it was the same thing with them. You said to juggle a separate personality and you got to observe it from a distance, but

Louise Palanker (00:28:20):

They were siblings, so they really had to find a way Yeah. To find a way. But y you, you guys do it by, um, by choice. And that's, that's beautiful. That's something beautiful to treasure. Yeah.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:28:33):

Oh, did

Fritz Coleman (00:28:33):

You take your, did you take your children on the road with you? It sounds like they spend a little time with you guys,

Cheryl Bentyne (00:28:38):

<laugh>. Yes. How do we do that? You ask? Well, you know, uh, both Janice and I had our, our children Oh. About a year apart. So I was watching her and how she did it. We had to have nannies with us. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> cuz we're going on stage. Yeah. We nurse our babies before the show. Wow. Unbelievable. Go on stage. And then, uh, get up twice a night with the babies, and then get on a plane or whatever the next morning and do a show. I, to this moment, I don't know. I don't know how I did it. I don't, wow. You know, you go on on mommy adrenaline, you know, I just, so yeah. She had to be with me. And then finally, uh, you know, when she started preschool, it was time to be home and learn how to be a real little person. A not mm-hmm. <affirmative>, not just a, a road puppy.

Louise Palanker (00:29:28):

Have you watched the, the pink documentary?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:29:32):

I can't remember.

Louise Palanker (00:29:32):

Yes. Did you relate to that? I

Cheryl Bentyne (00:29:34):

Don't know how Yeah. How she's,

Fritz Coleman (00:29:36):

She's really a devoted mom. I came away with a lot of respect for her and her husband, who completely, uh, uh, subsumed his own career for her and played a great dad while she's on the road. It was really interesting.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:29:48):

That's right. Uh, incredible show. I mean, that, that is magical what she does. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, uh, she's got a lot of strength. I don't think I'm that strong. I mean, I, it was, you know, we travel just as much. We don't play to billions of people in a concert. We don't hang you

Louise Palanker (00:30:03):

Rarely. You're rarely upside down.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:30:06):


Louise Palanker (00:30:07):


Cheryl Bentyne (00:30:08):

<laugh> singing upside down. Yeah. She's amazing.

Louise Palanker (00:30:11):

She's amazing.

Fritz Coleman (00:30:12):

But, well, what, what country other than the United States, did you find the greatest response? Were you Manhattan transfer resonated the

Cheryl Bentyne (00:30:20):

Oh boy. Um, well, I don't wanna be like, you know, you know, it's different. Everywhere we Japan is, is huge for us. Uh, we got most of our gold records from there. We've done television commercials there. Uh, they love us. Love us, love us. They love

Louise Palanker (00:30:40):

Vocals. That's a big vocal.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:30:42):

That's Well, they love

Louise Palanker (00:30:43):

Jazz fan country. No,

Cheryl Bentyne (00:30:44):

They're like American

Louise Palanker (00:30:45):

Jazz. Okay.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:30:46):

Yeah. I've taught a lot of, um, Japanese students. I did a whole workshop there. I did one online. And they just wanna sing our standards. And it's challenging, as you can imagine. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, to, to coach them with that because they're, you know, they didn't grow up with that, but they wanted so bad. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So That's lovely. And then Europe is wonderful. Europe is wonderful. Australia is wonderful. I can't really mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, pinpoint one place. We're really lucky. We've had fans that have held out for as long as we've been around, you know, and they're my age now, you know, and then what their kids and then their

Louise Palanker (00:31:23):

Kids <laugh>. Oh yeah. What style of music, because you guys are known for your eclectic, uh, arsenal of, of or beautiful, uh, repertoire of songs that you, that you can perform. What style is the most difficult? Maybe not just to sing, but to, to, to blend?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:31:41):

To blend? Um, for me, I think you'd get a different answer from the re from maybe others. But for me, the pop music is, is challenging for me. Cuz I'm, I'm not a pop singer, you know, Janice is a pop singer. Alan can, you know, obviously, but Tri and I are more from a different school of music. So I find that challenging because the beats are all, all four. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, jazz and r and b is on two and four mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So right off the bat, it's a different feel. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, you have to emphasize every word in pop music. And it's very often three part harmony with a vocalist, you know, in the lead. So it's not, you know, it, it's harder, I think, to get a blend and sound like us sometimes with that kind, that style of music.

Louise Palanker (00:32:32):

And you're always chasing that. You're always wanting your, your unique sound that your, your brand.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:32:38):

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think that just kind of happens. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, especially early on, we didn't, you know, <laugh> producers thought we were nuts. We sang around one mic together up until, I wanna say maybe after Brazil. I mean, we'd, we'd sing around one mic and that was our organic sound. You know, voices would kind of fade in and out. If somebody hits a wrong note, we have to do the entire song again. You know, so we, we did it the hard way. And, uh, we don't do it that way anymore. Mm. We're older. Our voices have changed. We have a new bass in the band. So the bass now can sing on his own and create the foundation.

Louise Palanker (00:33:21):

Can you talk about how that felt to, to lose Tim?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:33:25):

Oh, it was, it was devastating. You know, we, he had been ill for a long time, you know, and insisted on going out in the road. He was the heart and soul of the group, you know, and still is, you know, we still talk to him once in a while and he's up there just giving us hell yeah. You know, <laugh>, he's doing that all the time. I can hear him. But he was the soul, he was the glue that held this together. He, um, he would always be there for every single one of us was very concerned about like, each of us being represented on a record or, uh, he would pick a lot of the material. He, he knew what this, he knew what he wanted and he'd fight for it. And he was crazy too. I mean, he would really, you know, he had this genius for music and he knew every record be a side B side, you know, especially Doop.


That was his thing, but also jazz. And he just, uh, you know, he championed me when I came in. He was determined to find my place in the group. Mm-hmm. You know, he goes, June Christie, you know, you're a cool singer. Sing something. Go sing that style. And then he'd find me another song and then another song. And, uh, he did that with all of us. So he is sorely missed. We the first show in, uh, Japan, I mean, these young ladies who love us, they were sitting there weeping. Oh, a lot of people were.

Louise Palanker (00:34:50):


Cheryl Bentyne (00:34:51):

You know, crying.

Louise Palanker (00:34:51):

I love you guys too. I bet. Like we

Cheryl Bentyne (00:34:53):

Came out. Yeah. So, and they still love us though, of

Louise Palanker (00:34:56):


Fritz Coleman (00:34:57):

Well, he, he started the Manhattan Transfer. And I think for modern audiences, say Baby boomers forward, he, your group is what attracted attention and grew new fans to vocal harmonies. And you end up with a pentatonics, which are now, which my daughter loves. And I think that that's sort of opened the gate for all of what succeeded you guys. And you were the first.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:35:24):

Yes. Thank you. I'll take that. Because I agree. You know, pentatonics is, they're superstars. You know, we know them. We went to a show you couldn't believe the enormousy of their, uh, their show and their voices. They're all pretty much, uh, you know, uh, classically trained mm-hmm. <affirmative>. They're very, very good at what they do. Um, I'd agree with that. I think it's great. I mean, even those pitch Perfect, those movies, it came out, um, glee, you know, all of these shows, all of this stuff that we've been doing since, you know, forever. Yeah.

Fritz Coleman (00:36:00):

So, and even bands like, like what you were talking about Boys to Men, four Part Harmony. Oh yeah. Probably could be traced back to, or the appeal of Manhattan Transfer. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:36:09):

Sure. Sure. Absolutely. And, and what do some young people say to you or people that are even now doing well in music? When they come up to you and they're, and they're meeting you, what, what are some of the, the things that they say to you and that they're eager to, to let you know?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:36:24):

Uh, well, they couldn't be sweeter. I mean, there's so many, like, college vocal groups that we come upon, you know, that will come backstage and sing for us. And they're just like, ah, and they'll sing our songs. And, uh, so that's really, that's, it's so rewarding. It's so, it's so touching that that happens. But they just go, you know, you introduce me to Jazz, or, or you know, we got Married and that's the song we play. You know, there's so many wonderful things that have happened on that level where they'll, we'll get a letter and they'll go, you know, I, I lost my, my father and this is a song that he loved. And it's, so we somehow have touched a really deep level with people that is just, it's, it's so gratifying and it's so moving. Uh, but young singers, again, they'll say, vocalese, turn me on to Miles Davis or to the jazz in, in general. And, um, it's wonderful. And Pentatonics, they, you know, they're their own thing. But they, uh, we did one recording with them actually. Really? One of their Christmas records. We were on Jacob Collier, I don't know if you know who he did the vocal arrangement. He's a young vCAN.

Fritz Coleman (00:37:34):

No, but that's powerful with you guys and them together. My That must

Cheryl Bentyne (00:37:36):

I know. It was great. It was great. It's on, uh, we did White Christmas, I think, and it's on. Yeah. And it's on one of their many Christmas records. So

Fritz Coleman (00:37:46):

Back when you were 13 years old and just starting to sing with your father, Dixie Land band, who were your musical heroes? Who did you look up to? And one em emulate?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:37:54):

Well, my dad, the clarinet player. I know it sounds weird, but that's how I learned to swing music. That's how I learned tone, that's how I learned, uh, phrasing. You know, it's just being around him. And then there was anything from Judy Garland to, uh, to Ella, to Tony Bennett, to Frank Sinatra. You know, I think I listened to everybody after that. But early on, you know, I just, I really didn't have that vocabulary. I'm very small town. Didn't go to Broadway shows, didn't go to shows. Although my parents' first show they took me to in Seattle was, uh, Peggy Lee and Mills Brothers. What? Wow. I know. I got a good start. Right?

Louise Palanker (00:38:39):

Oh my gosh. Well,

Fritz Coleman (00:38:40):

We love's family is personal friends with the Mills brothers. And so she goes way back on a family level with the Mills brothers. Oh,

Cheryl Bentyne (00:38:47):


Louise Palanker (00:38:48):

Wonderful. My mom actually interviewed them when she was in high school and stayed friends with them. So, throughout my childhood, you remember during the kind of nightclub days when you would do a two week engagement in a town?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:39:01):

Yes. So we

Louise Palanker (00:39:01):

Were, we were in Buffalo, New York. It's summertime, and the Mills brothers are coming over for dinner every night. Cuz we were their Buffalo family. <laugh>. I think they had a family in every port, you know, just so they could feel normal and not have to eat hotel food. And, and so that was just kind of magical. Yeah.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:39:18):

Wonderful. Wonderful. I think that was a stepping stone for me. You know, the universe telling me, okay, Cheryl, you got, you're gonna sing Harmony and you're gonna sound like Pehi <laugh>. So,

Louise Palanker (00:39:28):

Well, I was, I was always that kid that wanted to sing the harmony on the record. And then I wanted to make up my own harmony and find one that wasn't in the arrangement. And was that you?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:39:40):

No, no. I was never a harmony singer. I was, you know, solo. I always sang the melody. But That's nice. That's interesting. You'd make up your own part.

Louise Palanker (00:39:49):

But I think that came from me being, you know, influenced so young by the Mills brothers, you know? Yeah. Having that in, in our home and just sitting with your, your arrogance, the speaker. Cuz you wanna hear every, every part in the arrangement. Not just the vocals, but in the ins in the instruments, you wanted to know, you know, was that an alto sax or a tenor? You know, like you Yes. You just wanna be, you wanna just peel it back and be able to see <laugh>, you know. So if I, if you went to a concert, you'd get, wanna get as close as possible so you could see what everyone was playing and, you know, and how it all came together.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:40:21):

Exactly. Exactly. Oh, that's great.

Fritz Coleman (00:40:24):

What about contemporary artists? Who do you like these days?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:40:26):

Uhoh Uhoh. I was afraid you were gonna ask

Fritz Coleman (00:40:29):

<laugh>. No, that's okay. I would be the same way. Can't I? I the one with purple hair,

Cheryl Bentyne (00:40:33):

You know, I was watching the b e t awards the other night, scared me to death. So I turned out that's, well that's a whole different music. You know, it's a different paradigm. Music is not what it was when I grew up at all. I do have, you know, now I sound like an old bitty, but I do have favorite singers. Pink is one of them. Um, you know, Katie Lang? Yeah. I mean, this is still not real current. Um, gosh, who else? Uh, Kelly Clarkson I think is amazing. Yes. I like, uh, Vince Gill. Oh,

Louise Palanker (00:41:08):

I like it. I love his voice.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:41:10):

Right. Amazing. Um, oh, God caught me way off guard. No, no,

Louise Palanker (00:41:15):

That's, those are good answers. You're doing great.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:41:17):

Well, it's kind of across the board. I've got a Rhea callous on my turntable right now. <laugh>. So it's all over

Louise Palanker (00:41:24):

The, I love the part where you have a turntable

Cheryl Bentyne (00:41:27):

<laugh>. Oh yeah. I've got the works here. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:41:30):

Yeah. I wanna get a jukebox and put all the singles from my childhood that I still have in the jukebox. That's

Cheryl Bentyne (00:41:37):

A great, yes. Tim used to have juke boxes. He had about three or four. Did he, you know, one played 70 eights. Oh yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:41:44):

Wow. Oh, that's, know's. Super cool. Well talk about what it was like to now be on the side of the, the auditioning side of things where you're seeing people that are gonna now sing Tim's part in, in your group. Um, what was that like? Did everybody agree on what you were seeing and hearing? Does the person's personality factor in when you have the conversations afterwards about who would be a good fit?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:42:10):

Well, it happened again, like, kind of magically we didn't audition. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we didn't have time. Tim got sick on the road and we needed somebody the next night.

Louise Palanker (00:42:20):

Oh my goodness.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:42:22):

And I called Claude McKnight from Take Six, and I said, we need a bass. And he goes, well, here's two, two guys. One is TRS Curl. And I went, oh, I know who he is. He's a, he's a sound man too. He did sound for Pentatonics. Okay. He did sound for me a couple times at Vitello's. Uh, so I called him, you know, the group said, please call him. We need somebody. I called him and I explained what was going on and he said, yeah, of course I'll do it. So little did I know he had a vocal group called Impact. Okay. And Trit knew a lot of our music, you know, and has great ears. And he literally met us on the road and we threw him on stage and he did an amazing job. I mean, and he's a real bass. Tim was not a bass, he was a tenor.


Mm-hmm. You know, that was forced to sing bass lines mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, and, and he had a different personality because of that. So Tris is, you know, amazing. He's amazing. He does beatbox. He does things that we were never, that was never in our repertoire. So he's bringing us, you know, a few levels up, you know, and the blend is different, but it was different when I came in too Sure. When I replaced Laurel. So you just kind of go with it and, and the personalities get along really well. And that's really almost, that's almost 50 or more percent of the success of us, you know? Absolutely.

Louise Palanker (00:43:47):

So, so what is on the horizon for the transfer? You're coming up on your 50 year anniversary and we're, and now we're coming out of a pandemic. So what, what have you guys got planned for us?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:43:58):

Well, <laugh>, we haven't sung for a year and a half together. It's kind of nuts really. First thing we're doing is going in the studio, uh, end of July, early August, we're doing a symphony project, uh, uh, German, w d r Symphony Orchestra from Germany. Wow. And they hired us to do this. Basically, they came to us. So all the symphony tracks are done. We, we, uh, had new charts done for, for the vocals and obviously for the symphony. And, uh, we're going in to sing, you know, in the studio. We'll see what happens with songs that we've already done, like I said, that didn't have symphony charts attached to them. Okay. So that'll be really interesting. Yeah. And then we're working on a documentary, oh, probably will come out maybe 22, early 23. And we start touring Oh. And a box set, uh, Concord box set with five, five CDs, five discs from un unknown stuff that was never re never, uh, put on a record to live things. And, uh, so that's wonderful. A lot of stuff is coming together next year. That's

Fritz Coleman (00:45:11):


Cheryl Bentyne (00:45:12):

I know, we're pretty excited. Yeah.

Fritz Coleman (00:45:14):

I, I, I wanna talk about your diagnosis, Cheryl, because it's, uh, it's uh, uh, slightly adjusted the last part of your life, but you're giving so many people, uh, hope in in what you're doing with your podcast. First, let's talk about your diagnosis.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:45:30):

Oh gosh. Well, we were on the road in 2011 and, uh, I started getting ill. I just didn't feel good. We were in Europe and of course we were in Europe. Right. And went to a doctor and they, they gave me like a breathing machine. It didn't help. I was just getting weaker and weaker and weaker and I couldn't eat. I stopped eating and <laugh>, something's really wrong here. So when we got home from Europe, I'm, I'm really condensing this cuz it's, yeah. You don't need detailed details. Alan Paul, my partner, said, I'm sending you to my doctor tomorrow. Something's wrong here. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I'd lost over 25 pounds. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> on the road. And I was like this, hanging onto the mic stand. Aw. Thinking, you know, the last thing you think is, of course, I went to the doctor that next day and got blood tests and went home.


He called me when I got home that night and he goes, uh, is your daughter with you? And I said, yes. Can she drive you over to Tarzana to the, uh, emergency room? I said, uh, yeah, what's going on? He goes, well, I saw something I didn't like in your blood test. So, uh, went there. Of course they don't tell you until, you know mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I went in that night and the next day they took my spleen out. Oh goodness. And, uh, yeah, it was riddled with cancer, I guess. And then I had to wait a full month for that to heal better and then, uh, started chemo. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, I had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma the first time around and I did, uh, I was off the road for eight months, which that was the hardest part for me. <laugh>. I know it sounds silly, but I was like, I can't do this.


I gotta be on the road. We have a Christmas tour coming that's not so at all, you know. So I stayed home, did 12 treatments of chemo and, uh, lost all my hair. Started wearing wigs, went back out for a year with the group. And almost to the same month, a year later, I got sick again. Oh boy. This time it was rougher. Cuz you could see swelling on my lymph glands all around me. I went, no, no, no, no, no. So I went back to the doctor and, uh, this time it was Hodgkins, which is much more severe and, you know, it's brutal. And they, uh, went to a doctor, my doctor, and he sent me to a stem cell transplant specialist at City of Hope, which I gotta give them so much credit. They're an amazing place. And I got a stem cell transplant. Wow. They said, doctor said, you don't wanna go through this anymore, do you? And I said, no, <laugh>.

Louise Palanker (00:48:08):

Wow. So we're gonna change. How, how many,

Fritz Coleman (00:48:10):

Lemme just put this in a timeline. How, how long ago was this? We're talking about,

Cheryl Bentyne (00:48:14):

Uh, started 2011 and I was clean and bill of clean Bill of Health. 2014. Yeah. So, so when you get this,

Louise Palanker (00:48:22):

The stem cell, um, we're gonna change how your cells are reproducing. Is that the idea?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:48:27):

Yeah. They took mine and they put it through the, through the ringer, so to speak. Okay. And, uh, put it back in me, you know, clean, shiny, clean cells. Okay. And, uh, <laugh>, I did have a scare during the pandemic though. I had a, had to get a biopsy, but I'm fine now. You're

Louise Palanker (00:48:45):

Fine. Okay. Good, good, good. You

Fritz Coleman (00:48:47):

Look good. Have such great energy and a great smile. It looks like you're feeling well. Wow. And all of this led to your current project, which is quite impressive. And even, uh, people who are not touched by cancer directly, when you listen to your podcast, it's very hopeful. It's called, I Sing the Body Conversations with Cheryl Beneen. Tell us about that.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:49:07):

Well, that actually, um, happened early on in the Pandemic. I, uh, we got, you know, we got off the road and I immediately started writing songs. I don't know what that was about. And they're still sitting somewhere in a corner. And then I thought, it's something I've always wanted to do cuz I went to like a, a healing workshop called We Spark in Los Angeles when I was healing mm-hmm. <affirmative> emotionally. And I realized I had hit a wall emotionally at a certain point. This was like a year plus after I was fine. And, uh, it's, it's, you know, post-traumatic stress disorder. Yeah. Basically for post-cancer, you know, survivors and they don't tell you about this, you know, I had to try all these different, uh, you know, uh, I tried all different, what's the words? See, I don't have words right now. Therapy techniques, antidepressants.


Oh, okay. Yeah. Because I was like, I was crazy. I'd pull over the side of the road and just sit there and cry mm-hmm. <affirmative> and scream mm-hmm. <affirmative> and da da da. I'm going, something's wrong here. So when I finally got settled into what works for me and what will keep me going and not kill people, <laugh>, uh, I thought, I wonder if there's other women I can talk to. This is a mystery. This is the unspoken, uh, part of cancer surviving after it's all over, you know, and when you're trying to like, you know, be another, be a person again, and, but guess what? You're different. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and you do see things differently. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and you and resentments can like, you know, fall into place. Uh, self, self anger, self-doubt. If there's not self-care taking place. This is my experience as you're, as you're healing. And when you're done with cancer, if you're, if you don't stop and go, Cheryl, your body just went through hell, you gotta thank it.


You gotta be nice to yourself. Instead, I just went out in the road and I just kept working, working, working, working. You know, without, without grieving, without. That's a big part of my podcast. I ask all the ladies, you know, did you grieve your illness? Because that's the healing part. If you can grieve and go, God, this is, you went through so much, you kind of clear, clear the air for some reason. But it's not till after I, I, you know, struggled through those steps and didn't clear it, that I realized I gotta talk to some women. So in talking to these women, eight different women, seven of 'em are singers and very good friends of mine. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, this is just skimming the surface of, let's see, who can I talk to? Oh, there's her, there's her, there's her all different kinds of cancer. Two of them are still struggling, you know, in, in this, in the struggle, in the battle. Um, and they gave all different stories of how they got through it. I said, I wanna do this for women who may just be beginning chemo and think they can just walk away and like continue their lives normally like they used to be. Because you can't, you know, you've gotta emotionally deal with it and you see things differently. It can be subtle, but I think the longer I'm, I'm, um, you know, well and clean from cancer, the more I'm really appreciating that I'm here for one thing. Mm-hmm.

Fritz Coleman (00:52:27):

<affirmative> are, you offer some great, uh, repeating words of advice, uh, in your podcast. One is we are all different, but we're all on the same road. Which is kind of something you can expand out to every human being's relationship to every other human being. But for cancer survivors as, and another line you use that I love, you don't wanna frighten, you just wanna inform.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:52:52):

Yeah, yeah. Exactly. I had to keep saying that because, you know, for people who have not gone through it, you know, it really is for cancer survivors, but it's hopefully for everybody. Like you were saying, that it's how to treat your friends or your loved ones, or your mother or your whoever who's gone through it, they don't know what to say. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> or what to do. You know, I'd get rides to chemo. Even my daughter, you know, she was in high school when this began. She didn't know what to do. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, she froze up. I mean, she was there for me, but what's a kid gonna do when her mother's sitting there, you know, on the couch for six months? So it is, it is truly, I'm really proud of it. You know, I talked to eight women, I think that's enough <laugh>. Yeah. I mean, how much more can you, you know, so I'm looking in another direction with possibly, uh, healing music that, that these women can sing or put online because Oh yeah. I'm realizing going through this, that the music portion of their lives really played a role. You know, you don't have to be a musician, but you, but, uh, a healing, something healing. I was playing opera in the hospital room when I was getting my, uh, my, my new cells. Cause I thought, okay, there's gotta be some sort of celebratory sound, you know? And nobody else in the hospital is playing music. So anyway, I'd like to, I'd like to go to that level next if I do. Well,

Fritz Coleman (00:54:19):

We ought to say, uh, um, um, that it's interesting and hopeful for people who aren't even cancer folks. And because it's not what you think it's going to be like a serious conversation between you and your doctor. You have many laughs. I loved hearing the stories between you and your friends, and there's laughing and there's joking, and it's not, it's not down at all.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:54:41):

Yeah. There has to be humor involved. Thank you. I I appreciate that. It's, uh, yeah, there were some funny moments, you know, and I'm sure there are people listening, going, how can they laugh at that? Well, you do. You know? And, uh, that kind of helps you get through, as you both know. I mean, you, you're lighthearted beautiful people, so it's, you need that.

Louise Palanker (00:55:02):

Yes. I think we all, we all need to laugh. And even, even though, and I think people laugh at things that are very inside, and you know, in this case it may seem like to someone who's not going through this, how could you laugh? But when you're inside of it with someone else who's inside of it and you're sharing it, that is what invites laughter. And then the laughter is then healing and it's part of the healing.

Fritz Coleman (00:55:27):

Did you find that people, uh, uh, um, were, were eager to tell you their story because you're a sympathetic ear, or you have to pry it out of them because it seems so personal and dark.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:55:39):

Oh my god. These women, I had to edit. I was an editor too. They would go on and on and on and on. They loved sharing it cuz I think probably hadn't talked about it maybe to anyone on this level. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>

Louise Palanker (00:55:53):

Or someone else who could understand fully. And it's so cathartic to just be heard. They

Cheryl Bentyne (00:55:58):

Felt good afterwards. I learned a lot from them. So I was very, very blessed that they were, they were there for me too. You know, I just let him go. But again, there were so many stories, I had to cut 'em down a bit. Right. You know, it was fun.

Louise Palanker (00:56:12):

And you learned how to make a podcast and this is wonderful

Cheryl Bentyne (00:56:16):

<laugh>. Yeah. I don't know if I remember now, it's a while back, but, you know, I might continue that it's Yeah. In, in form.

Louise Palanker (00:56:23):

I mean, there may be something else about which you wanna do a series of shows.

Fritz Coleman (00:56:27):

No, I love your idea of the healing power of music. I think that's a podcast in itself.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:56:32):

Right, right. I don't know if I can that people

Fritz Coleman (00:56:34):

Contribute their music that got them through a tough time.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:56:37):


Louise Palanker (00:56:38):

Well, people are struggling with all kinds of things, you know, different illnesses, even, you know, mental, you know, health issues. And so, oh yeah. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> music is kind of, it does sort of change your cellular balance. I notice, I notice when I put it on, it changes how I'm actually feeling in that moment. So something is transforming when we listen to music, there's a reason why humans are attracted to these sounds that we can make. And

Fritz Coleman (00:57:05):

I, I have an example of that in a far less dramatic form than recovering from a disease. But, uh, a a as the pandemic started, I promised myself because of what we have been through without being specific the last four years in Washington, uh, I was going to tune out the news, uh, because I had become addicted to all platforms of news. Uh, you know, it was like looking into the abyss, and I was afraid I'd miss something. So I, I promised myself I was gonna stop doing that. And I did. And I started listening, and it was so therapeutic. And until recently, when the dust settled a little bit, and I went back to the little news, I, I found myself listening to Sirius xm, every channel, the Blues Channel, Motown, uh, sixties on sixth, the seventies on seven, all that stuff. And it was so, it honestly had elevated my spirits from where they had been for four years. Honestly. It was very therapeutic.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:58:00):

I believe you. I believe you. Look how lucky I am that I get to make music. But I I'm with you a hundred percent. I mean, I just,

Fritz Coleman (00:58:08):

Uh, how old is your daughter now?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:58:10):

Oof. She's 26.

Fritz Coleman (00:58:12):

Oh, good. So if you go back out on the road, you don't have to nurse anybody. Oh,

Cheryl Bentyne (00:58:16):

<laugh>. She rarely her boyfriend out. And I said, honey, I'm not there to make money. Not spend money.

Louise Palanker (00:58:24):

I think it'd be interesting to have a, uh, a music club, kind of like a book club where everybody listens to the same album for the week and then have a podcast. That's

Fritz Coleman (00:58:35):

Not a bad idea. Share

Louise Palanker (00:58:36):

Host the

Fritz Coleman (00:58:37):

Podcast. That's a great idea.

Louise Palanker (00:58:38):

Talks about how the music ef not just what you thought of it, but how it affected how you were feeling.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:58:42):

Oh my God, you wanna be my producer?

Fritz Coleman (00:58:45):

She's, that's her, that's her talent. We'll

Cheryl Bentyne (00:58:46):


Fritz Coleman (00:58:47):

About that. As a matter of fact, I will say this, that when you guys get close to that documentary, you ought to bring every, bring the whole group and come back and talk to us again. We'll help you promote it. Oh

Cheryl Bentyne (00:58:55):

Yeah, absolutely. Would love to do that. I would love, love that so

Louise Palanker (00:58:58):

Much. I have. One's

Cheryl Bentyne (00:59:00):

A great idea with

Louise Palanker (00:59:01):

It is. Okay, Cheryl, we'll talk. So I have one question to you. And this comes to you from every fan or anyone who's ever listened to your music before. Do you actually know anyone with a dueling scar?

Cheryl Bentyne (00:59:15):


Louise Palanker (00:59:17):

Wow. The boy from New York City apparently has, I

Cheryl Bentyne (00:59:19):

Know, I know.

Louise Palanker (00:59:20):

Among other attributes,

Cheryl Bentyne (00:59:22):

A dueling scar. I can only think of my that from,

Fritz Coleman (00:59:27):

Oh, you mean do I do I do identity? That one. Oh

Louise Palanker (00:59:30):

No. It's like, no

Cheryl Bentyne (00:59:31):

Way. It's the craziest. That's

Louise Palanker (00:59:33):

Hilarious. Lyric ever. Like he's got the car, he is got a b a wall full of money and he has a dueling scar, which makes him badass.

Cheryl Bentyne (00:59:40):

<laugh>. I know. Totally

Louise Palanker (00:59:42):


Fritz Coleman (00:59:43):

Wow. Good job.

Louise Palanker (00:59:44):

Because I don't know anyone with one. I just picture him like, you know, in the year 1805, you know, of a sword play or something on the front lawn. <laugh>. Well, Cheryl,

Cheryl Bentyne (00:59:56):


Louise Palanker (00:59:56):

Funny. It's just a delight talking with you. And, uh, thank you so much for sharing all of your wisdom and all of your talent with us. I'm gonna read our closing credits is B before I do. So where can people find you online? We're gonna add some links and stuff to our show notes so that people can find everything having to do with you and having to do with, uh, Manhattan Transfer.

Cheryl Bentyne (01:00:17):

Well, my website is is under under repair right now. I don't even know if it's there. You know, you hear that a lot. Manhattan Transfer official website is up. Uh, Facebook. I'm there. I got a, a pro page. Um, let's see. And, uh, I sing The Body Is is on Apple Podcast. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So you can find that, you know, and my phone number is, I'm kidding. <laugh>.

Louise Palanker (01:00:42):

We'll be right over <laugh>. All right.

Fritz Coleman (01:00:46):

That was a treat. Thank you guys. Thank you so much, Cheryl. It was wonderful.

Cheryl Bentyne (01:00:50):

Thank you.

Louise Palanker (01:00:51):

We would love for you to join us online on Instagram and Twitter, where we are at Media Path Pod and on Facebook where we are. Media Path Podcast. You can find full episodes with all kinds of bonus visual content on our YouTube channel Media Path podcast. We would love to know what media you've been enjoying. You can contact us at our social media or email us at media path podcast We wanna thank our guest, Cheryl Beneen. Our team includes Dean of Friedman, Francesco Demond, John Maddox, Sharon Beo, bill Fiac, Thomas Hubble, and you. Our theme music is by me and John Maddox. I am Louise p Planker here with Fritz Coleman, and we will see you along the media path. But first, Fritz has more to tell you

Fritz Coleman (01:01:32):

And listen you, if you enjoyed this episode of Media Path, it would help us greatly to be more discoverable by potential new listeners. If you leave us a quick review on Apple Podcast, and if you're new here and this is your first time with us, please check out our back catalog. You may find us binge worthy. Recent episodes include Gary Puckett, the Cows Sills, Keith Morrison, Henry Winkler, on and on and on. We've done 60 episodes nearly, and they're all interesting for different reasons. Thank you for spending an hour with us, and we would be overjoyed if you took a moment to share your thoughts with us or recommend us to a friend be safe. That was great, sir. Thank you so much.

Cheryl Bentyne (01:02:12):


Louise Palanker (01:02:13):


Fritz Coleman (01:02:13):

A joy to talk. Yeah. You have a, you have such a great attitude,

Louise Palanker (01:02:15):

Great energy.

Cheryl Bentyne (01:02:17):

It's coffee.

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