Sungirl Comes Home: An Interview with Twinkle | Entertainment
“Every great thing that has ever happened to me has happened in Sarasota.” Twinkle said, as she, her brother Tony LeClerc (bass player) and I sat down to lunch in her living room.
If you knew the restless Florida native, you’d know that she hasn’t always felt this way.
“I spent my whole life thinking I wanted to be in some big city in California or New York only to realize that this has always been my home.”
Of all the people I’ve interviewed, she’s the first celebrity to invite me to their house to dine – I arrive with a plate of honey salmon in one hand, and my notebook and pen in the other.
The Music and New Album
In 1990, Schascle (“Twinkle”) Yokim was signed the biggest record deal with Warner Bros. for any previously unsigned artist and has been touring and gigging ever since. Her big break came when James Fairs heard her playing at the Captain’s Club in Englewood as part of the then soul band, the Hurricanes, and liked her so much that he sent her demo to music producer Pat Leonard.
“Warner was always about artist development, which is why they signed me.” Twinkle explained. “They told me I was a prolific writer and that with each album I would hone my craft and they’d get the benefit of that. I got to see the music world the way it used to be, before art met commerce.”
Uniquely Twinkle is that the music was always going to be on her terms, having turned down the opportunity to hit the charts as a country music and pop recording artist.
“I knew,” she said, “that if I were going to make it, I wanted to make it honestly and to be up on stage with the people I respected, like Marley or Bob Dylan.”
Perhaps the desire to suddenly create some roots actually began further back than she consciously remembers. It was in 1993 that she met her half brother, Tony, in Bradenton – the two never knew the other existed. Now, they’re collaborating on the first album together, due out for release in December.
On Family and Performing at Eat Here
“I just learned I’m going to have a grandbaby,” Twinkle beamed proudly while I tried to envision the passionate soul singer (jumping up and down on stage) as a grandmother, but could not. “My daughters are here; I feel more strongly about this new album than anything I’ve ever done in my life; then I get a call from Sean at Eat Here, asking me to be a part of their family. The timing could not have been more perfect.”
Eat Here, the second of its kind opened by Sean Murphy, restaurateur of the Zagat-rated Beach Bistro and Eat Here Anna Maria Island, opened its doors in November of 2011 and quickly became a hot spot for both its food and the live entertainment in the rooftop bar.
It’s the first gig that Twinkle’s committed to playing weekly in more than a decade. When asked why Eat Here? She replied, “They make us feel totally welcome. They treat us with such respect.”
Her brother Tony nodded in agreement and added, “When we’re performing there, we talk to each other like brother and sister, and we talk to the audience as if they’re in our living room. The vibe is great, and when you look out at the audience, everyone is always smiling.” He also added that Eat Here bringing an assortment of pizzas out to feed the band was a nice perk too.
In addition to playing known favorites such as Summertime, Too Many People and Seagull, it gives them the opportunity to try out music from the new album and gauge the audience response. So far, it’s all been positive.
“If you had to pick one song, of everything that you’ve written that’s your favorite – or the most you – which would it be?” I asked the one question that I’m certain that most musicians hate being asked.
Twinkle’s response was to walk over and take a seat at the keyboard situated on the other side of the room. She pulled up a chair and said, “Sit yourself down, and scooch up a bit.”
She quickly recounted the story of a time when she was coming back from Germany during a winter storm. She was sick, cold and tired and just spent the night sleeping on top of her luggage in front of the McDonalds at Heathrow Airport before finally getting a connecting flight to Miami the next morning.
“It was a time when I was so worried about money, my career and my kids. My boyfriend was cheating on me, and I was so desperate for his love.”
Twinkle poised her hands over the keyboard.
“The plane landed in Miami just as the sun was setting and that bright orange ball was disappearing on the horizon; but the rays were still so strong that it felt like a warm hand on my cheek…This song is about my alter-ego. She doesn’t worry about anything. She’s strong.”
Sungirl, don’t worry ‘bout a love she said…
At some point, halfway through Sungirl, Twinkle leaned over the keyboard and belted out the tune with such emotion as she slipped into a trance-like zone where she was no longer in the room – she was completely lost in the music.
Sungirl, wait for me. I’ll be coming there with you cuz I wanna be a sungirl too.
When she was through, Twinkle looked at me as if to ask, “Did you get that?”
I sat with my notebook and pen, not having the faintest idea how I was going to wrap words around that performance in a way that would do it justice.
I nodded. I think I did.
Twinkle, Sarasota’s own Sungirl, can be heard live at Eat Here on weekends. Visit the “special events” page at EatHereSarasota.com for the schedule or phone 941-365-8700. For more information about Twinkle, visit Schascle.com
- Note: This article is re-printed with permission of BirdlandMediaWorks.com