by Dustin Fitzharris
Growing up in Minnesota, Linda Eder would spend hours listening to music. Her first idol was Judy Garland. Next she discovered opera singer Eileen Farrell, and as a teenager couldn’t get enough of Barbra Streisand. All of her studying paid off in 1988 when she was the winner on “Star Search” for 12 consecutive weeks. But that was only the beginning.
In 1997 Eder’s life changed when she made her Broadway debut playing Lucy, the leading lady in “Jekyll & Hyde.” The show not only brought her professional success, it also teamed her up with Frank Wildhorn, the show’s composer, and the man she eventually married. Together they had a son and went on to make a lot more music together. Although they divorced after six years of marriage in 2004, they remain friends and reunited last year on Eder’s album, “Now.” It was a project that Eder greatly enjoyed, and says she felt very comfortable working on.
“I always knew at some point we’d make another record,” she says, at home, on the outskirts of New York City. “It didn’t feel any different after that many years of being apart. It was like putting on a pair of old shoes that you were very familiar with.” When Eder isn’t performing on stage or recording in the studio, she’s spending time with her son, Jake, and her animals. During our entire conversation, Eder’s German Shepherds were curled up at her feet sleeping. Obviously, they knew they were the real stars of the interview.
TAILS: Tell us about your dogs.
Linda Eder: I have three German Shepherds. The male is named Rodin. Then I have two females, Camille and Roxy. Both Rodin and Camille are named after characters in the musical “Camille Claudel,” (which Eder performed in and Wildhorn wrote the music for.) Roxy comes from the character ‘Roxanne’ in “Cyrano de Bergerac,” which Wildhorn also wrote the music for, and Eder sang on the never-released album.) I’ve had five German Shepherds over the course of time. This is my latest batch. (One of her previous Shepherds was named Lucy after Eder’s role in “Jekyll & Hyde.”)
What do you love about German Shepherds?
I just love their look. I love their personalities and temperaments. They are very loyal. Shepherds are very home oriented. They stay on the property whether you have a fence or don’t have a fence. Mine always seem to know the boundaries.
Do you only have dogs in your family?
No, I have three horses too. My oldest is a horse I’ve had since he was born. I [took care of] his mother as well. He’s a Quarter Horse. His official name is Mercedes Benz—although, I call him Benz. He’s almost 29-years-old. Then there is Willet. She’s 17 now. I call her Willa. Then I have a 5-year-old. He’s my riding horse. His registered name is Flying Eagle, but I call him Eddie.
How long have you been riding?
Since I was 8. That’s when I got my first pony.
Okay, let’s get back to your Shepherds. Where do they sleep at night?
All around the bed. It’s hard to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom without stepping on a dog! We don’t let them up on the bed. We can’t have three huge dogs in there. I don’t usually allow them on the furniture, but I know Camille sneaks on the couch when we’re not home.
Are there any rituals you go through with them before bedtime?
No. When it’s time to go to bed, they know. They just get up and follow.
Do they snore?
No. These guys are really good. Sometimes they will pant, but all you have to do is do a quick, “Shhh,” and they know exactly what you’re talking about. I did have a Pekingese once, and he would snore. You could not have him in the bedroom at night.
What do you think they dream about?
Chasing things. My dogs love to chase squirrels around the yard. They love birds, too. I do have this one funny story about Rodin. We watched a program on wolves, and I guess because [the wolf] was dog-like. Rodin watched the entire program. From that moment on it was like a light bulb went on, and now he watches TV. The moment you turn it on, he watches it with intentness. His eyes will follow the action. He watches it too much! Sometimes we’ll tell him to go away, but you will see him peeking from behind to watch the TV. We don’t know why. We assume it’s from that wolf program. Maybe he’s waiting for them to come back. I feel like I need to video him for YouTube.
What do you dream of?
I’ve always been a very avid dreamer. I’ve actually dreamt full-length color movies. In detail!
Who are you currently listening to?
My three CDS in my car are the Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, and Lady Gaga.
Linda Eder sings Gaga?
Actually, she is as “Broadway” as you can get, when you think about it.
After everything you’ve accomplished thus far, what are you the most proud of?
Besides having my son, I would say winning “Star Search” in 1988, opening on Broadway in “Jekyll & Hyde,” and playing Carnegie Hall by myself.