Karla Bonoff is bringing Home for the Holidays to The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia

Hear our full conversation on my Beyond the Fame podcast. You remember her from the “Footloose” soundtrack, but did you…

Hear our full conversation on my Beyond the Fame podcast.

WTOP’s Jason Fraley previews Karla Bonoff at The Birchmere (Part 1)

You remember her from the “Footloose” soundtrack, but did you know she’s also written hits for Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Lynn Anderson, Aaron Neville, and Wynonna Judd?

On December 11th, Karla Bonoff brings her “Home for the Holidays” tour to The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, where she will perform with Livingston Taylor, brother of James Taylor.

“I did a holiday album two years ago during COVID just for fun, it came out pretty well so we thought we’d hit the road,” Bonoff told WTOP.

That album was “Silent Night” (2020), featuring classic Christmas songs like “The Christmas Song”, “O Holy Night”, “The First Noel”, “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” . ‘ as well as lesser-known tunes like ‘River’ and ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’. “We’re also going to be doing some of our own songs, so it’s not 100% Christmas music,” Bonoff said.

Bonoff was born in Santa Monica, California in 1951 and grew up 20 minutes from Los Angeles’ legendary Troubadour Club. Eventually, she sang backing vocals for Ronstadt, who used three of her original songs on the Hasten Down the Wind (1976) album, including “Someone To Lay Down Beside Me,” “Lose Again,” and “If He’s Ever Near.” .

“I was in a band [Bryndle] with Kenny Edwards, who was in The Stone Ponies with Linda, and Andrew Gold and Wendy Waldman, so we used to do backing vocals on Linda’s albums a lot,” Bonoff said. “All of a sudden she was doing three songs, which was pretty incredible to me because I’d been working, writing, and struggling for 10 years.”

In 1977, Bonoff’s original song, “Home,” was recorded by Raitt, which she describes as a great honor, even if the work doesn’t compare to legends like Ronstadt and Raitt.

“These are apples and oranges,” Bonoff said. “They recorded different songs and they’re both so different, so I think they’re both incredible singers. So how lucky was I to get these two women to sing these songs when my songs were new to people?”

Bonoff released her own self-titled debut album, Karla Bonoff (1977), featuring songs like “Isn’t It Always Love,” which was later covered by country music star Lynn Anderson in 1980.

“Kenny Edwards and I did demos of those songs… so we had done a lot of homework for those songs and the others that were on my first record, so when we went into the studio we were really ready to do that record,” said Bonoff.

She was introduced to life on the go while touring her first album with Jackson Browne. After that, their second album, Restless Nights (1979), contained originals like Trouble Again and Baby Don’t Go and covers like When You Walk in the Room and The Water is Wide.

“I’ve had most of my life to prepare for my first record, then not much time to prepare for my second,” Bonoff said. “After my first album I toured extensively. If you sing every night and perform every night, your voice will get better and your interpretation of songs will get better. So when I went to my second, I felt like a better singer.”

Her third album, Wild Heart of the Young (1982), featured her hit, Personally, originally written by Paul Kelly and shown to her by the late Eagles great Glenn Frey.

“By the third, the music went into this more techno-English rock thing in the ’80s and what we were doing started to fall out of favor,” Bonoff said. “I had a harder time with this record and it didn’t go that well because the environment was different. … After that I went out and opened for James Taylor, which is one of my biggest memories.”

Her most famous tune remains “Somebody’s Eyes” on the soundtrack of “Footloose” (1984). The hit song was written by Dean Pitchford, who also wrote the screenplay.

“My friend John Boylan produced one of the songs for it,” Bonoff said. “I listened to it for 10 minutes, I got into the studio for half an hour, and this song has sold more than anything I’ve ever done because ‘Footloose’ has sold so many millions of copies. It’s hilarious that what I spent the least work on made me a lot of money!”

She switched to a new label for her fourth album New World (1988), which featured the song All My Life, which won a Grammy for Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville in 1989, as did Tell Me Why. became a 1993 country music smash for Wynonna Judd.

“It wasn’t a big record for me, but it was great to record other people’s songs,” Bonoff said. “I think it was just about some idiot I was dating. …You have to have some uptempo that you hope will get played on the radio, so sometimes it’s just an effort to say I have to write something saucy. ‘Tell Me Why’ might have been one of those exercises.”

After releasing a live album in 1997, Bonoff returned with a new studio album Carry Me Home (2019) and the aforementioned Christmas album Silent Night (2020).

“My big influences were Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro,” Bonoff said. “I hope that’s how I took my influences and did something inspired and valuable with what they gave me and carried on the legacy. … I am grateful to all of these women for their inspiration.”

WTOP’s Jason Fraley previews Karla Bonoff at The Birchmere (Part 2)

Hear our full conversation on my Beyond the Fame podcast.