The duo of Jonathan Cring and Janet Clazzy have been together since 1991. According to the band’s bio, over the 21 years they have worked together, they started a symphony orchestra in Hendersonville, Tennessee, wrote 15 screenplays (which were produced in the independent film industry), and recorded nine CDs. Jonathan also published 14 books.
On Sunday, April 23, the dynamic duo will perform at the Wesley United Methodist Church in West Melbourne.
I spoke with Janet about the duo, their instrumentation and their connection with audiences. So, let’s “Shake, Rattle & Know”: Cring & Clazzy
QUESTION: Your bio says you have been described as the “biggest two-piece” band in America. Tell me more.
ANSWER: That mainly refers to the fact that Jonathan plays piano and sings. I play the obo and a wind instrument called the WX-5 that has basically 250 instrument sounds within it. It offers great variety, and the possibilities are endless. I can go from violin, cello, to flute and change the sounds within the course of a single song. Within one song, I go through seven different sounds in a 1-minute-and-45-second stretch. With the instrument, we can have an Irish feel in one song to a Southern gospel sound the next. I think that diversity and the many different instrumental sounds we can offer is why we were labeled as the biggest two-piece band.
Q: The title of your show is “Good News and Better News.” What is your message to fans?
A: It is simple really. We make life way too hard. Jesus was a great proponent of a good sound bite such as, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Jesus said there would be trial and tribulations in life, but your job is to spread good cheer. Jesus said he overcame the world so it is not our jobs to overcome the world. Be of good cheer, and that’s our only job. Go to bed and wake up with the good to spread cheer, and it’s a pretty easy job to have. If we all did that, we could really change the world.
Q: Describe a Cring and Clazzy show?
A: It is thought-provoking and people will leave entertained and inspired. Jonathan is a very funny guy. He could have been a standup comedian. He tells stories that will make you laugh. People watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” every holiday season for the same reason; you watch it and you feel inspired and entertained. I enjoy spreading joy and believe we are all capable of making life better and spread cheer.
Q: How hard was it for you to master the WX-5 Wind Machine?
A: It uses saxophone fingering and once it is set up properly it’s not too bad. I have 64 sounds programmed into mine and just learning what to push and when was the most challenging.
Q: Between the two of you, you have received recognition as composers, writers, conductors,
A: First is being an obo player. I have worked on that my entire life. Second, I would have to say conducting. We started this back in the 1999-2000 timeframe and we established a symphony in Hendersonville, Tennessee. I was the very first female symphony conductor in the state of Tennessee at the time. I started out as a player and was a part of symphonies for decades, I studied conducting and to get to be a conductor was something I was very proud of. Third, I would have to say was writing music for a screenplay. Jonathan was writing music for a production that used an all-female cast and production team and he said that I should try writing for it. I had never really written music before, but found out it was something I could do and have so much fun with. It was an extraordinary experience.
Q: What is the most enjoyable part of performing?
A: I think it is seeing people just “wake up” and come alive. Especially in a church. I saw on “Family Feud” the No. 1 answer to places you are most likely to fall asleep was “in church.” I love when I see people sitting forward in their seat and their eyes wide open and arms open wide. I love when people are enlightened and challenged at the same time. I love when people hear and feel the music. Jonathan believes music is emotion. Music is feelings for the ears. I love how talking about music and sharing emotions brings joy.
Q: What would you want people to take away from your show?
A: The fact that we are supposed to be emotional beings. We are meant to be emotional and often people have the same emotions with only minuscule differences. We get mad, and frustrated at a lot of the same things whether you are a man or a woman. We have so much in common as people that we should all just try to help each other.
Who: Cring and Clazzy
When: 10 a.m. Sunday, April 23
Where: Wesley United Methodist Church, 2075 Meadowlane Ave., West Melbourne