It's the first step in what becomes almost two hours of philosophizing. "Gardenia" is a haunting, introspective ballad Bernard fashioned as a sort of musical tribute to the late dancer-actress Ginger Rogers.
The notion of this being work seems almost laughable. Bernard became acquainted with the late movie star at a 90th birthday bash for Bob Hope. And I thought, 'Where were all those people who loved her?
A woman approached Bernard at the table at which she and her father were sitting. "'I don't know if you've heard of her,'" Bernard says, recalling the words the woman said. "I didn't spend all the time that I wish I could have spent with her. '" Themes of love and loss shape much of the singer's new material.
"'Her name is Ginger Rogers.'" Here, Bernard becomes animated, snapping her fingers to emphasize the jolt the name delivered. And when she died, it was such a surprise, and it was a heartache for me." "This woman was the toast of the country," Bernard explains. The provocatively titled "Don't Touch Me There" actually refers to Bernard's heart -- and to a relationship long ago which taught a younger, ambitious actress what love was and wasn't.
By Andy Culpepper Turner Entertainment Report Senior Correspondent LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- We've known she's funny. Crystal Bernard made a name for herself in television sitcoms -- "Wings," "It's A Living," "Happy Days," among them. " She punctuates the sermonette with a nod and a smile.
What some may not have known is what a terrific singer she is.
The actress-cum-singer is something altogether different, though perhaps nonetheless audacious. "And if you're present in every situation." "I've been thinking about...," she pauses as if to find the precise word.She descends a huge staircase -- it makes her seem even more petite -- wearing a blue pullover top and jeans, her trademark strawberry blonde tresses falling over her shoulders, bangs framing a smiling, eager face. It's an internal debate Bernard seems intent on winning at a time when she sees a definite need to find some roses to stop and smell. "If we're talking about the catharsis of my life ... "Enjoying life, enjoying every situation, and what do I get out of it? "Not 'What do I get out of this interview,' the publicity ..."Hi, I'm Crystal," she says as she extends her hand. "'Happy' comes from the Greek word which means 'happenstance,' which means like a roller coaster," she declares as she makes a rolling motion with her hands and utters a little "whoosh! and if I can sell more albums from this interview." Bernard's songs reflect this invigorated search for the ever-changing notion of "more." One, in particular, begs explanation.He didn't want me to fulfill any of my dreams, and it dawned on me that he didn't love me." The man in her life now might be country singer Billy Dean if he weren't what's become known in '90s-speak as "geographically undesirable." The two have become close despite their 2,000-miles-plus separation. "And the truth is," Bernard begins, sincerity etched in her forehead. Singers who've recorded songs Bernard has authored include Paula Abdul, Lisa Stansfield and Tracie Spencer.Now, she's poised to enter a new phase of stardom as a recording artist of no mean talent. Bernard grew up on the road singing gospel with her family. The practice of sharing her thoughts and inspirations -- ministering, if you will -- might be second nature by now.
This pint-sized (5 feet 3 inches) actress is quite the singer-songwriter, a fact she displays in earnest on her recently released album, "Don't Touch Me There" (River North/Platinum Records). Bernard lives high above the Los Angeles fray in a gated community off Mulholland Drive. After three television series -- successful programs, at that -- she's had time to take stock of what she deems important.