Linda Chorney, a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter living in Tucson, made a documentary about the challenges of creating independent music. She puts viewers in the passenger seat through her journey of recording "The Cantina" and recruiting family, friends and strangers to make a new music video, all while showing the hard truth of how little independent artists are actually compensated for their efforts. "The Opening Act" is touring the film festival circuit and has yet to be released, but will be shown for an exclusive sneak preview on Thursday, May 26, at the Roadhouse Cinema, 4811 E. Grant Road. The proceeds will benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson's music and arts programming. To buy tickets or for more information, visit https://bgctuc.ejoinme.org/TheOpeningAct .
What first inspired you to become a musician?
I think it's in my genes. My great aunt was an opera singer, my grandpa played the mandolin, my mom was a piano teacher and everybody in my family can sing. Let me make a soapbox statement real quick: Being able to sing is just a gift. It's something you're born with. Of course, you can take voice lessons and you can expand your range, but if you don't have it, you're never going to have it. The only reason you have it is because you got lucky, so people shouldn't be cocky because they can sing. They should be grateful.
What then inspired you to make the Opening Act?
I wrote this song, "The Cantina," about the stupid laws in Arizona, where it's okay to carry a gun but not a beer. I performed this song at the Convention Center, and Henry Findeitz of Southern Arizona Video Productions approached me about making a music video, offering me a $20,000 shoot for about 1,200 bucks, but I said I couldn't possibly spend that money because how would I make that money back? I'm used to making music videos myself, hustling to find people to do it and I usually spend $100. He came back and made me an offer I couldn't refuse, saying he could do it for free. I had just released my sixth album, Emotional Jukebox, which had gotten nominated for the Grammy, and I thought that was going to be my last album. But I said, "Fuck it." Then I said to myself, if I'm going to do this again, let me record this from the beginning so I can document how much work this is.
What is The Opening Act about?
Number one, it answers the question, does it pay to play? Number two, it is therapy for all the 99 percent of us musicians who have to really hustle to get their music made and survive in the business. Number three, for those who aren't musicians who see the film, they can understand why we need therapy, because they will see what we have to go through and for what? As a result of all that work, effort, talent and hustle, what do you really get back? Some of us have to make a living off this, and it shows the average person what we go through in an entertaining way. This is not a puff piece to self promote, and it's not me on a soapbox. When watching you'll go on an adventure with me.
Why are you having the proceeds go to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson's music and arts programs?
I approached them last year and they didn't even have a music and arts program. I feel that the music, arts and theatre are so important for the development and joy of children. I want to put on a production with the kids called "When I Sing," and I want it to be funny and entertaining. I'm hoping this production, which we'll do in January, will be timeless and put on annually. We will start work in November, and hopefully show it in a few different places in order to raise more funds to do even more. I'm already working on gathering people to volunteer and help out from all around the community. My film is about art, but it's also about how important it is for there to be music, art and theatre. More and more schools are cutting out the funding for these kinds of programs, so the whole thing works together. Hopefully we'll sell out and I just can't wait to get started with the kids and really make a difference.