Elizabeth Sullivan Mother of Singers, Mistress of Songs






by Joe Regan Jr.



For 18 years Elizabeth Sullivan, now 86 years old, has traveled from Foggy Bottom, Oklahoma to do a Mother’s Day show, singing her own songs and featuring her extended family: her eight children, her daughters-and-sons-in-law and more at the Metropolitan Room.

Elizabeth, who still has a remarkable singing voice, opened with one of her special compositions, “You Are The Reason.” Clad in a tasteful white pants-suit with strategically placed jewelry, she brought up a very young granddaughter who sang one of her recent songs, “Chimes,” along with her.


Elizabeth saluted Richard Maidman who last year invited all the singers from the Cabaret Convention to his spectacular house which had been decorated by his late wife, Gail. In her story, she described a haiku Gail wrote that began “a bird doesn’t sing because it has a message/a bird sings because it has a song.” Elizabeth’s melody gave full glory to that phrase.


Some of the songs were not by Elizabeth. Because of its message, she performed “Without A Song.” Her oldest daughter, KT Sullivan, crazily performed “Buddy’s Blues” from Follies from her recent Sondheim show. KT also told the hilarious story about meeting her husband at a party and his falling into the swimming pool. When he got dry they looked at each other and he talked about his five children. It was instant love and her mother wrote a song about it,“How Were We To Know,“ which captured the moment.


Stacy Sullivan, the youngest daughter, described growing up hearing all kinds of music in their house: her brother, Tim (not present), singing country western; her mother singing gospel in the kitchen as she prepared the food; her sister Heather playing blues in the garage; and, with the support of Jon Weber, Stacy found out she was really a jazz singer. She performed the most quickly-paced “Lullaby of Birdland” I have ever heard.


Montana (Shawn Sullivan’s son) performed his own classically influenced composition, “Soul,” at the piano. Daughter-in-law Robin performed “Route 66” on guitar.  Savannah Brown, Stacy’s daughter, joined KT, Stacy, and Robin to sing Elizabeth’s beautiful “Where My Pictures Hang On The Wall.”


Towards the end Elizabeth remembered her late husband. She discussed that when her husband had his heart attack, Peter Leavy and  his wife took him into their home and nursed him. Then she sang a song she wrote about him, “Remember You,” which questioned if she would remember him. But she doesn’t have to because he is always with her. She then sang a song called “Friends” which was a sing-a-long, and on which every one of her extended family joined her on stage. The encore, also a sing-a-long, was Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!”


Sullivan expressed to me after the show that she really would like to do her shows more than once a year. She has to find a venue, she said. This Mother’s Day show was sold out and packed with celebrities including Mark Nadler, Tommy Tune and Bobbi Horowitz.