Pet Podcasts

Check Out

Click here for exclusive discounts for What Were You Thinking listeners!

"I Love My Pets" the new single from Mark Winter available in

Click here for exclusive discounts for What Were You Thinking listeners!

What Were You Thinking on ></a><a href=Bob Tarte, host of What Were You Thinking on

Bob Tarte
Exotic Pet Expert & Author

Orriel The Oriole

..........Orriel Smith

Linda Tarte...............................Orriel Smith


What would an aria sound like if a chicken sang opera? This isn’t a rhetorical question. Classically trained vocalist Orriel Smith joins Bob to crow about her CD, “The World’s Favorite Cluckoratura Arias,” which interprets classical operatic selections as a hen -- and in one case, as a hen and a cat -- might have performed them. Orriel also talks about her folk singing years in the flower power era, her appearance as a harem girl on “The Jack Benny Show,” getting dragged around by German shepherds in a movie, plus other weird and wonderful topics. You’ll thrill to snippets from her “Cluckoratura” CD, which is available at


Female Announcer: You're listening to

Male Announcer: You've had a long day at work and you can't wait to just get home, take off your shoes, plop yourself down in your favorite chair and relax. Wake up to your tranquil residential and your neatly manicured lawn in your quiet suburban neighborhood, put the key in the lock, open the door and (noises)… Yes! The pets have gone wild! What we’re you thinking?!

Welcome to the show about everything you've always wanted to know about exotic pets – where to get them, what to feed them and how to care for them. You’ll even find out why some people live with a monkey!

Now, here’s your host, exotic pet expert and author, Bob Tarte. Hey, Bob, “What Were You Thinking?”

Bob Tarte: Hi! I'm Bob Tarte, author of the books “Enslaved by Ducks” and “Fowl Weather” and you're listening to “What Were You Thinking”, a weekly Internet radio show about exotic pets, and by exotic pets I mean anything but dogs and cats.

Our guest this week doesn’t own an exotic pet – at least, as far as I know – and she doesn’t work with or write about exotic pets either. So, what’s she doing on the show? We will get to that. My guest is the amazingly creative, funny and talented Orriel Smith. Orriel grew up surrounded by operatic music almost from the moment of her birth. She attended an experimental school for young children at Johns Hopkins University, then her family moved to Italy where her mother have been invited to study and sing.

Orriel studied at the Milano Conservatory and she studied piano and music. Back in America, she acted in several TV shows including the “Jack Benny Show”, like I found that out online, and I have to ask her about that. Because of her amazing vocal ability which you will be hearing more of soon, she recorded a series of folk singing albums in the 1960s and these are highly priced today. Well, the list of her accomplishments just goes on and on.

I first heard from Orriel when she e-mailed me after reading my book “Enslaved by Ducks” and she was kind enough to send me a copy of her remarkable and truly one-of-a-kind CD called “The World’s Favorite Cluckoratura Arias”, and we're going to start out talking about this incredible recording.

So, hi, Orriel, welcome to “What Were You Thinking”.

Orriel Smith: Hi! How are you?

Bob Tarte: I'm great. It’s so good talking to you. We've exchanged e-mails for a couple of years now and I'm so glad that you're on the show.

Orriel Smith: Oh, well, thank you. It's a pleasure. I like your silvery (++).

Bob Tarte: Oh, thank you. That’s one person though. If you hear a cat in the background, Manner(?) just jumped on my lap and he’s almost always (++). You have a dog, right?

Orriel Smith: I have a new little dog, I'm so thrilled to finally have a dog again.

Bob Tarte: Yes, you sent me her picture, and remind me of her name.

Orriel Smith: Her name is Poppy and even though she's a dog and not exotic, she’s an exotic mix – she’s a Chihuahua Bichon, believe it or not.

Bob Tarte: Well, she is gorgeous and she has a modeling career, doesn’t she?

Orriel Smith: Already, she’s already done a hot shot for a website.

Bob Tarte: Do you have a link to that on your website?

Orriel Smith: They don’t have it up anymore. They just did it for a season.

Bob Tarte: OK. All right. Let's mention your website.

Orriel Smith: Sure. It's Very easy, just my name.

Bob Tarte: OK.

Orriel Smith: I want to tell you, too, that another site…

Bob Tarte: Yes.

Orriel Smith: …that is just so cute and flattering to me. One of my fans who lives in New Zealand started a MySpace site for me, and he’s just starting and I know he loves to get hits on that, and it’s

Bob Tarte: I was just looking at that last night, and that is a great site. It’s nice, too, that if someone just Googles your name, that shows up right away, too.

Orriel Smith: Oh, good, because it didn’t for a while there.

Bob Tarte: OK. Yes, that’s how I found it. Remember you tell me about it but I found it pretty quickly.

Orriel Smith: It was so frustrating because I was kind of being procrastinaty about getting on MySpace. “Well, I’ll just do it myself.”

Bob Tarte: But, if someone did it for you, it's great, it's got photos of your album covers from your folk music albums and there’s just all kinds of great stuff, biographical details.

Yes. Let's talk about “Cluckoratura Arias”. I'm going to ask you to describe the CD, but there's no way we can prepare anyone for the experience of hearing it…

Orriel Smith: Probably not.

Bob Tarte: …but how would you describe it?

Orriel Smith: Well, I can tell you how it came about because I think that helps before they put me away.

Bob Tarte: Yes, please do.

Orriel Smith: I was at my singing coaches and we were doing – because I still take lessons, I'm going to hang in there studying until I drop over – we were doing “Queen of the Night” which has got a lot of the (++) which is the short little note for people that don’t know that jargon of classical music. As I was saying this, I just suddenly went into clucking because I thought, “This might as well be a chicken to allow people”. You know, they don’t study the florid kind of music like they used to. I swear, I looked over it and my piano lady and I saw her in a big papier mache egg with her arms sticking out and I thought, “This is great! We’ll just do the chicken arias since they kind of sound like that anyway.”

Bob Tarte: Well, so you had a vision complete with…

Orriel Smith: I did, (++) moment

Bob Tarte: Well, what song would you recommend from – the CD is called “The World’s Favorite Cluckoratura Arias” and it's available on

Orriel Smith: Yes.

Bob Tarte: That’s just the letter

Orriel Smith: Then, they can just put my name in there.

Bob Tarte: OK.

Orriel Smith: And just always be sure there's two Rs in my name.

Bob Tarte: OK. All right. What track should we hear a snippet from?

Orriel Smith: I think probably the first one which is “Queen of the Night”.

Bob Tarte: OK, the “Queen of the Night” aria.

Orriel Smith: OK, this is goes full (++) and direct.

Bob Tarte: Well, that’s what we want. So, let's listen to some of that right now.

Orriel Smith: OK.


Bob Tarte: OK, I've never heard anything like that before in my life, and what I like about it is – yes, it's silly and yes, it's over the top but it's really impressive! You can tell that you really know what you're doing and that you're enjoying doing it.

Orriel Smith: Oh, yes, it's a lot of fun. Also, I really feel like I am a chicken when I do it. It’s very – what was that – Strasberg, the acting…

Bob Tarte: Oh, Lee Strasberg.

Orriel Smith: I really feel like I am a chicken when I start.

Bob Tarte: So, sort of a method acting…

Orriel Smith: Yes, absolutely.

Bob Tarte: …and you've gone to the chicken frame of mind.  Where did you record that?

Orriel Smith: I recorded it at a place called Headway Music, of course, poor engineer was in shock for a couple of times, so we got used to it.

Bob Tarte: Do you think he’s alright by now?

Orriel Smith: I hope so.

Bob Tarte: Yes.

Orriel Smith: He moved away to Texas.

Bob Tarte: Well, the backing is really nice.

Orriel Smith: Yes, there's one of those old accompaniment records they had years ago. Then also, a piano player did some of the piano back ups. I am working, I’m almost done with my new CD, and that’s started about double the amount of text on it…

Bob Tarte: Really?

Orriel Smith: …and it’s a lot more variety. So, the cat has been there a lot more, you might let your cat know.

Bob Tarte: Oh, OK, because I like, which cat has the cat did a duet on this?

Orriel Smith: Well, the duet is on the very last one, at the (++).

Bob Tarte: That’s the “Shadow Song”.

Orriel Smith: Yes, and that’s towards the middle.

Bob Tarte: OK, and later, we’ll listen to a bit of that one.

Orriel Smith: Yes, but I've gotten so much nice response from the cat.

Bob Tarte: I think there's more cat lovers than hen lovers.

Orriel Smith: I think so. Chickens are that’s pretty exotic.

Bob Tarte: Yes, it is exotic.

Orriel Smith: Yes.

Bob Tarte: Now, did you ever have any hens?

Orriel Smith: I never did. You know, I was one of those little children who has lived in Washington DC and then I lived in New York City and then I was in boarding school. So, pretty much my life revolved around what I think are adorable animals, the parakeets.

Bob Tarte: Oh, I love parakeets.

Orriel Smith: Oh, I love that kind of birds and reptile eye with the open eye.

Bob Tarte: Yes!

Orriel Smith: I would just fall in love with lizards and turtles and have that open eye.

Bob Tarte: Now, do you still have parakeets?

Orriel Smith: No, I don’t. I had parakeets; I had cats for a while.

Bob Tarte: Yes.

Orriel Smith: My favorite was cat, (++) called him the same as cat Randall Stiller, that’s his full name, and we had Missy the Bell, an interesting cat. Then my big love of my life was a golden retriever and I had her for about 11 years. Then, I really didn’t have pets after that. It was such a trauma of not having her with me.

Bob Tarte: Yes, it’s tough, it’s tough. Well, has there been any kind of a precedent for a CD like this?

Orriel Smith: Well, I haven’t found one. I'd looked, there are a lot of chicken singers out there.

Bob Tarte: Really?

Orriel Smith: If you go in and look for chicken music, but people are just kind of using either chicken sounds, do chicken sounds than doing Christmas carols. I haven’t seen anyone actually fully forebore(?) do real singing.

Bob Tarte: Is there like a genre of novelty operatic recordings or anything like that?

Orriel Smith: There used to be several ladies that kind of – well, of course, there's always some I forgot her name her right now but I will – there is a lady who sang very badly in her operatic arias.

Bob Tarte: I think I remember her from the “Tonight Show” years ago. Wasn’t she on there occasionally or not?

Orriel Smith: I think so and also, there was a lady in the 1930’s.

Bob Tarte: I didn’t see her in the Marx Brothers film, did I or something?

Orriel Smith: You could have.

Bob Tarte: Yes, yes.

Orriel Smith: My mother would play that I'd follow their laughing.

Bob Tarte: Now, I saw on your bio online that you're Mom was a singer and did concerts. Was she an opera singer?

Orriel Smith: She was operatic, definitely. She was what they would call what we need to be so people to understand that “Cluckoratura” comes from the word coloratura. That’s the high florid soprano. (++). She’s got singing for an opera singer.

Bob Tarte: OK. All right.

Orriel Smith: So, that was an old art that we don’t do too much anymore, people still do it of course, but it isn’t looked at with such glee in the early 1900’s.

Bob Tarte: So, the ornamental style has sort of fallen out of fashion?

Orriel Smith: Well, I find that a lot of young singers aren’t being taught that anymore. They do more of the lyrical stuff. The problem is, what the coloratura does is it creates a very fast mind for singing. If you only do the long swirl stuff in the (++) of things, you won't be brightening up your brain with learning to sing very, very fast.

Bob Tarte: Oh, yes. That’s a good point, and you do teaching, don’t you?

Orriel Smith: A little bit.

Bob Tarte: OK.

Orriel Smith: A little coaching here and there.

Bob Tarte: OK, so do you teach the coloratura style a little bit?

Orriel Smith: Well, I do and I try to have people listen to it a lot, like Joan Sutherland or whoever, because that’s how I learned. I listened to my mother, and the problem is, you learn it almost by ear and it's a mental thing.

Bob Tarte: What kind of reactions have you gotten to this CD?

Orriel Smith: Mostly good. I got one fellow who is very insulted, and I think he was quite elderly.

Bob Tarte: Really? What was he offended by?

Orriel Smith: Just doing it at all. However, after a few e-mails, I won him over.

Bob Tarte: Oh, did you?

Orriel Smith: Very nice fellow. I was just thinking he was taking himself in life a little too seriously.

Bob Tarte: Why, you’ve seen some really nice reviews, too.

Orriel Smith: I know, I've got wonderful reviews. I'm very, very thrilled with that, because you can imagine I went out there with a little trepidation.

Bob Tarte: Oh, yes. I mean this is new territory, blazing absolutely new territory.

Orriel Smith: You know, Disney had them. What was her name, Madam Cluck or whatever.

Bob Tarte: What was that in?

Orriel Smith: That was in the ‘40s, the Disney musical things.

Bob Tarte: Yes, you mean, the cartoons.

Orriel Smith: There was a person mentioned that what I'm doing is very, very different because I'm actually doing full performance.

Bob Tarte: Oh, yes.

Orriel Smith: Not just these little clucks on a balcony or something.

Bob Tarte: Yes. What I like about the reviews is they mentioned just how flawless your technique is.

Orriel Smith: I remember that stuff. I said, “Well, while my brain is still almost working.”

Bob Tarte: Right!

Orriel Smith: And, I have those in my head, I might as well do them and have fun because I found that book that said, “Do it like you must.” I can’t attest to the fact though that if you love and you make money, but I can attest to doing what you love all at once. So I said, “Well, I love doing animal noises and I love singing coloratura arias and being absolutely silly and ridiculous. So I thought I'll just do them all at once.

Bob Tarte: Yes. Now, was there anything sort of a uniquely challenging about a chicken’s approach to opera?

Orriel Smith: Well, singing as a chicken, I found it very exhausting. You're holding your breath at every note…

Bob Tarte: Yes, yes, yes.

Orriel Smith: …to make a good cluck. However, I like the way it feels because I have kind of a light voice, so by doing that little tightening, it's kind of feels good, it's almost like an exercise.

Bob Tarte: Now, this sounds silly, but do you actually write any of these out or is it just you spontaneously turn it into clucking. I mean, did you have to write any parts of?

Orriel Smith: No, I don’t at all, and I never practice the chicken.

Bob Tarte: You channel the chicken.

Orriel Smith: Yes, I channel the chicken method acting because, frankly – my next CD now is going to be real again and I don’t want to take my voice off its line too much. So, what I do is I practice everything normally, and then when I get in front of the microphone, I channel it. Maybe sometimes we do it in one cut, you know, I don’t want to get tired.

Bob Tarte: Well, I want to talk about your new CD. We're going to take a break because there's a slight possibility someone is sponsoring the show. So, we’ll be right back with “What Were You Thinking” and more with Orriel Smith after possibly a word from our sponsor.

Announcer: “What Were You Thinking” will be right back after Bob gets the ducks out of his living room. Don’t go away.


Announcer: OK, ducks are in the pond, rabbit’s in his hatch and monkey’s…oh! in my car! Oh, taillight, go check my insurance policy. We’ll turn you back over to Bob.

Bob Tarte: Welcome back to “What Were You Thinking” and we are talking to Orriel Smith:

Orriel, you know, it's always funny on a podcast, this isn’t like a radio show, so I always feel silly reminding people who they're listening to, I mean, they’ve downloaded the thing. But, let's pretend that someone has just coming in late and that’s an excuse to play something else from your CD. Do you think we should play part of “The Shadow Song” or is there something else you'd recommend?

Orriel Smith: Oh, I think “The Shadow Song” is fine.

Bob Tarte: OK.


Bob Tarte: OK. So that will give you another hint of this really wonderful CD, and I will remind you the title anyway just to get it out there again. It’s called “The World’s Favorite Cluckoratura Arias” and it’s at, and remember, Orriel Smith is spelled O-R-R-I-E-L and you got to get this CD. You've never heard anything like it in your life, except maybe partly what's coming up on your new CD?

Orriel Smith: Oh, yes, my new CD, I got terribly inspired a few times, and I was thinking, “Geez, for instance “Memories and Cats”, that song.

Bob Tarte: Oh, yes, yes.

Orriel Smith: Why not have a cat sing it?

Bob Tarte: Oh, my gosh!

Orriel Smith: I'm doing that and I'm doing “All I Ask of You” with the chicken and the cat duets. I've got more duets in there with the cat and the chicken.

Bob Tarte: Is that hard to do a duet?

Orriel Smith: Well, not really, we just do one-on-one track and then the cat, we work on the other track.

Bob Tarte: Yes, but it’s like when I see “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” where you got Bob Hoskins playing against the cartoon character and I was thinking, “That’s got to be hard because you're really only doing one side of it.” You're kind of doing that, too.

Orriel Smith: Yes, when you got to (++) all your earphones and I have an engineer now who understands me which is frightening.

Bob Tarte: Really? What planet is he from?

Orriel Smith: Yes. I know, but he does help me as far as the mechanics. When I was in the studio singer for years and I'm probably happiest and most comfortable in a recording studio.

Bob Tarte: Well, we're going to talk about that. Tell me a little bit more about the CD, what the title’s going to be, when it might be out? Yes, the new one.

Orriel Smith: Well, we’re trying to mix it now. I mixed six in the summer, so I mixed about three months’ worth so I wanted to get this out for Christmas. I'm trying desperately.

Bob Tarte: Are you feeling OK now?

Orriel Smith: Oh, yes, I'm fine. We just went on a nice long trip and somebody had Strickland, (++) on the CD.

Bob Tarte: Oh, no.

Orriel Smith: Of course, you don’t sing it all until you're absolutely well. So, I had to wait for months before I even try to sing.

Bob Tarte: Yes, and what's the new disc called?

Orriel Smith: It's going to be called “Alive from Carn Eggie Hall”, and it will be Cluckaratora (++) over because her name is the Cockaratora.

Bob Tarte: Yes.

Orriel Smith: Songs and arias. Then, I went to see that wonderful new movie about (++). Have you seen that the it’s called (++) Rose?

Bob Tarte: OK, no, I didn’t see it.

Orriel Smith: (++).

Bob Tarte: No, I know of her but I don’t …

Orriel Smith: Well, as I was driving home, these things hit me all of a sudden. And I was driving home, I said, “Oh, my God! (++) would be wonderful for a cat or then, as a chicken, but I had one cat with the cat is singing this solo and the chickens were all doing the accompaniment.

Bob Tarte: She has sort of a chanteuse style, didn’t she?

Orriel Smith: Yes, chanteuse and kind of a street singer.

Bob Tarte: Yes, yes.

Orriel Smith: I certainly went out of my character for that but I had a lot of fun doing that. That was really great.

Bob Tarte: You had such an absolutely amazing youth, I have to ask you about Jack Benny. Was that true that you're on the show?

Orriel Smith: Yes, and I almost didn’t remember it, until somebody sent me something.

Bob Tarte: OK, because I think I've got a bunch of Jack Benny’s old radio shows and Linda and I listen to them all the time. I think they're about the funniest thing I've ever heard in my life.

Orriel Smith: Oh, I love Jack Benny.

Bob Tarte: Yes. Now, how did that happen and what did you do on the show?

Orriel Smith: Well, I played the part of a little, I think it was the heroin girl or something. It was one of the, of course, later once, I'm not that old. I'm getting there.

Bob Tarte: I think I saw it. It was like ’68 or something like that.

Orriel Smith: Yes, it was there, because he was just doing his specials by that time.

Bob Tarte: Oh, OK.

Orriel Smith: Yes, so it was one of the television things.

Bob Tarte: OK. Did you have lines?

Orriel Smith: Yes, a couple.

Bob Tarte: Yes.

Orriel Smith: As I recall.

Bob Tarte: Now, I know, I love TV shows from the ‘50s and early ‘60s, but I have not heard of a show – was this the series “Mark of Distinction”?

Orriel Smith: Oh, “Mark of Distinction”, boy, that’s a mystery – oh, that’s kind of funny because it involved animals.

Bob Tarte: That’s right. That’s one reason I bring it up. Now, was that a series or just one show?

Orriel Smith: It was a movie.

Bob Tarte: OK, it was a movie.

Orriel Smith: It was done in Salinas, California and I was in high school. I had a couple of songs in it. So, they chose me for the part but what I saw, it was hysterical. He’s still alive, Jack Eisenman, and he had “London, the Wonder Dog”, do you remember that show?

Bob Tarte: I don’t remember “London, the Wonder Dog”. You sent me a photo though a couple of years ago.

Orriel Smith: He was very famous in Canada, and his dog had 500 word vocabulary. I've never seen anything like it and he was totally trained. But he had this London and his two sons were his stand-ins. So, they would hurt themselves.

Bob Tarte: That makes sense.

Orriel Smith: Of course, I didn’t get to stand-in. I was a human in this movie. The things that happened, I'm rolling downhills and they’d say, “No, hold London, (++). Go pull her by the arm.”

Bob Tarte: Oh, man!

Orriel Smith: And this dog’s are like a hundred or some pounds. It was hysterical. But anyway, I've never seen hide nor here, so to speak, hide nor fur of that movie anywhere and I've been looking for it because I thought, “Boy, that would be a funny party. It’s nothing else.”

Bob Tarte: That would just be great. You know, I remember seeing on television a dog and I think it was a German shepherd, that the owner would give it a long complicated series of instructions and the dog would do all those things consecutively. So, could that have been London, the wonder dog?

Orriel Smith: It might have been, it might have been. You remember the “Littlest Hobo”?

Bob Tarte: Oh, sure.

Orriel Smith: OK, that’s the same dog then.

Bob Tarte: Oh, OK. All right.

Orriel Smith: London, the wonder dog was out of Canada, and then I guess he moved here and then they did the “Littlest Hobo” movie.

Bob Tarte: Yes. I saw that one when I was a kid or when I was young, yes.

Orriel Smith: Or, you can Google it.

Bob Tarte: OK, I will do that.

Orriel Smith: I learned all about Shiloh Shepherd – I know we're not supposed to be talking about dogs.

Bob Tarte: That’s OK, let's talk about dogs. So, London was a Shiloh Shepherd?

Orriel Smith: Yes, apparently, and a lady who especially raises them, and apparently, they stand a little differently, they’re longer in the back and it’s really interesting.

Bob Tarte: Well, I remember the dogs were just gorgeous in the photo. You had a nice career as a folk singer in the 1960’s.

Orriel Smith: Yes. When my father died, we had moved to Long Beach. Then, after he died, my mother said – and I thought this was interesting because we were somewhere in the East Coast – she said, “Well, do you want to go back to the East Coast then go to (++) College, work towards that or go to Hollywood?” while I was singing and I thought, “Oh, let's go to Hollywood.” So, she always did what I wanted.

Bob Tarte: That’s nice.

Orriel Smith: We ended up there, and I was doing a lot of classical things even as a child. Then, I went to Arrowbear Music Camp, up in the Carehead area, and I was playing the violin in the orchestra up there.

Bob Tarte: Really?

Orriel Smith: And, Jean Ritchie was there entertaining us with her guitar and her (++) and she was singing some of those beautiful Appalachian songs, and I just fell in love with them. I really fell in love, being a lazy person, with the fact that you can take your guitar anywhere. I used to practice lying down in bed, you know, “This is great!”. It’s hard to carry piano around with you anywhere.

Bob Tarte: Oh, no, it's too hard to carry one of those. Was it hard for you to learn the guitar?

Orriel Smith: No. What we had was these old record players and it would go down to 16 speed, and I would tune my guitar down to the 16 speed and I'd listen to the Joan Baez accompaniment and copy them.

Bob Tarte: Yes, and someone heard you singing and you got on to the “Tonight Show”, isn’t that right?

Orriel Smith: Yes, someone manage to hear me when I was practicing in a hotel in New York City.

Bob Tarte: You and your Mom…

Orriel Smith: Yes, we were screeching away. He knocked on the door and said, “Oh, where’s that high voice!” So, it was an opening the next day on Johnny Carson.

Bob Tarte: And, you were compared to Ema Sumac, is that right?

Orriel Smith: Yes.

Bob Tarte: I remember Ema Sumac, she was the head of supposedly this real exotic person who had this voice, how many octaves?

Orriel Smith: Oh, I don’t know. I think they claimed four or whatever.

Bob Tarte: Yes, yes.

Orriel Smith: Very good voice.

Bob Tarte: Oh, yes. I have one of her albums somewhere.

Orriel Smith: I think Mariah Carey has those notes.

Bob Tarte: Yes, I think you're right. I think (++).

Orriel Smith: She sings very, very high and you really quite tell with recordings if you hear someone in person, but she’s very good high notes.

Bob Tarte: Yes, you can cheat now in recordings so easily.

Orriel Smith: Yes, I know, that’s so spooky.

Bob Tarte: Yes, but what’s so interesting to me is that here’s a person who is classically trained and you're singing opera and suddenly, you're doing folk music. So, you're not like someone from Appallachia who just picked up a guitar and learn songs from Grandpa. So, what was that like for you?

Orriel Smith: Well, I think part of it was my mother had a very big, beautiful lyric coloratura which is very unusual. See the things like “Lucia” and the big roles and still had a beautiful high voice, and I was a little intimidated. I was a little intimidated also by Joan Sutherland at the time because my voice is sweet, and I said, “God, do I really want to beat myself to death being an opera singer?” First of all, I've a silly personality anyway. I think I'd see myself maybe in some dark little opera for 30 years in Germany as that, “You know, it’s not me. I'm too commercial for that.” So, I feel in love with the folk song.

Bob Tarte: I haven’t heard your folk material, but I can hear you doing Irish songs because some of those are so sweet. You really need those kind of pure voice and you really get the kind of opportunity to kind of stretch out. They're very melodic and so, that’s some of what you did, isn’t it?

Orriel Smith: Yes, and what else I really love I wish I could really do a couple on my real CD, are the Irish tenor song. I used to call myself a female Irish tenor.

Bob Tarte: Oh, you did?

Orriel Smith: The ones that I did, like on stage, not necessarily on my original LP, Google here and there and finding all the LPs, it was called “The Voice in the Wind”.

Bob Tarte: Yes, I'm just looking at that from your bio. On eBay, I saw one of those going for quite a bit of money recently.

Orriel Smith: Yes, I've suddenly had people writing to me telling me how much they liked it. People are a little spooked by the chicken but (++).

Bob Tarte: Wasn't there some folk compilation that has come out on CD in the past couple of years?

Orriel Smith: Yes, in fact there’s even another one which was so unusual. In the ’70s, there was a – excuse me, I have a little fog, the chicken has a fog – wonderful composer and he hired me to sing two singles that were supposed to be used on a movie and I don’t know what happen with that. But one was called “Winds of Space” and the other was “Tiffany Glass”.

Bob Tarte: Was that Philip Lambro?

Orriel Smith: Yes, and that now has been put out on a compilation, those two pieces and I'm getting really good reviews from those.

Bob Tarte: You mean, are these two separate releases now or are they both combined in one CD?

Orriel Smith: They're combined on “Fuzzy Felt Folk”,it’s called.

Bob Tarte: “Fuzzy Felt Folk” and it’s both of the CDs?

Orriel Smith: Yes, both the “Tiffany Glass” and the other one, “Winds of Space”.

Bob Tarte: Oh, I've got to get that, and what kind of music is that? Is that folk or is it something a little unusual?

Orriel Smith: It’s more of what this CD, he hired me as a studio musician actually. “Winds of Space” I love – I think he listened to Disney people or something – but I was able to do it on the spot where I sang in the room with the musicians, and it’s all kind of country (++) and I love his style because it uses the chimes and things that make it sort of outer spacy. The other one was meant to be a child kind of a ghostly child singing. So, that was the “Tiffany Glass”. So, those are both on that album and they started in England.

Bob Tarte: OK, I see this is at, is this Trunk Records?

Orriel Smith: Yes, Trunk Records. John owns the record company, he is quite well known.

Bob Tarte: OK, and just spelt T-R-U-N-K

Orriel Smith: Then, another one that Philip Lambro did was the “Crypt of the Living Dead”.

Bob Tarte: “Crypt of the Living Dead”, now what can you tell me about that?

Orriel Smith: That’s with Perseverance Records, and that’s here in the United States, I think Burbank or something. And, that just suddenly came up, I think it’s wonderful there’s more interest in Mr. Lambro because he’s a wonderful composer.

Bob Tarte: This is was service spooky singing you were doing.

Orriel Smith: Yes, so I'm heard of doing little ghostly sounds, I'm not a good ghost, I guess.

Bob Tarte: Oh, that’s great.

Orriel Smith: (++) in there.

Bob Tarte: That’s great.

Orriel Smith: Then, the other Johnny Trunk put it out in another CD called “Now We Are Ten”, so that’s kind of cute and cool.

Bob Tarte: Well, that’s great and I want people to make sure and get the “World’s Favorite Cluckoratura Arias” and again, that’s on and it's by my guest, Orriel Smith. I want to thank you so much for talking to me today. Tell me again, remind me the name of the CD that we can look forward to.

Orriel Smith: I know it will be called “Alive from Carneggie Hall”.

Bob Tarte: “Alive from Carneggie Hall” and I'm really looking forward to that. Thanks a lot for talking to me. We've e-mailed back and forth for years, we’ve never spoken before and I'm just so happy to get a chance to talk to you.

Orriel Smith: Well, it’s wonderful to hear your voice.

Bob Tarte: All right. Well, thanks, Orriel.

Orriel Smith: Thank you. Bye bye.

Bob Tarte: Bye bye.


Linda: Hi! I'm Linda, thanks so much to Orriel Smith for being with us this week. Orriel, you're just amazing and I love the CD and all the chickens of America thank you. In there, you sound a little bit like you're about ready to lay an egg! So, that’s very impressive. Thank you so much.

Next week, I’ll be interviewing my friend, Janet Twisten (?) who talks about a few of her many exotic pets. If you have interesting stories about your pets, anything except a cat or a dog, you could be the next guest on our show. E-mail us at and tell us a little about your pets. That’s all for this week’s episode of “What Were You Thinking”. Thanks to our producers and thanks again for listening.

Bye bye.

Announcer: Thinking about buying a monkey? How about a ferret or a skunk? Then check out this show that will add to the burning questions where do you get them? What do you feed them? How do you take care of them? And most of all, “What Where You Thinking”? With exotic pet expert and author, Bob Tarte, every week on demand, from


  • All rights reserved.