Sophia Anne Caruso, Damon Daunno, Amber Grey and More Join Virtual Event Celebrating THE LIZ SWADOS PROJECT

Ghostlight Records and Joe’s Pub will present a free virtual celebration of the new album The Liz Swados Project on Tuesday, November 24 at 8:00 PM Eastern.

Sophia Anne Caruso, Damon Daunno, Amber Grey and More Join Virtual Event Celebrating THE LIZ SWADOS PROJECT

GHOSTLIGHT RECORDS and JOE’s PUB will present a free virtual celebration of the new album The Liz Swados Project on Tuesday, November 24 at 8:00 PM Eastern. The event will feature several of the performers who appear on the album, offering singular musical performances and personal insights into Swados’ work.

Highlights include the world premiere of a special new music video produced, directed and starring Sophia Anne Caruso, in addition to new studio videos from Damon Daunno, Amber Gray, Stephanie Hsu, Grace McLean, Alicia Olatuja, Ali Stroker, and Taylor Mac. The evening will feature a special appearance by Swados collaborator Utkarsh Ambudkar (Freestyle Love Supreme, Pitch Perfect) and rare footage of Swados herself on the Joe’s Pub stage. The album is currently available on all platforms. Hailed as “a stunning new anthology album” by American Theatre Magazine, The Liz Swados Project – a newly-recorded tribute to the visionary artist – features an epic family of performers, composers and lyricists, who have been influenced and inspired by Swados as a performer, composer, lyricist, teacher, and trailblazer. After the event, the program will be available on the venue’s YouTube channel for two weeks. For more information on the Joe’s Pub online event, please visit the venue’s website HERE.

The Liz Swados Project features an all-star cast of luminaries from Broadway, downtown and beyond, including vocalists Starr Busby, Sophia Anne Caruso, Damon Daunno, Amber Gray, Stephanie Hsu, Jo Lampert, Alicia Olatuja, Ashley Pérez Flanagan, Grace McLean, and Ali Stroker, in addition to songwriter/performers The Bengsons, Heather Christian, Michael R. Jackson, Taylor Mac, Dave Malloy, Shaina Taub, and the late Michael Friedman, among others. The CD booklet features Liz’s personal illustrations, archival photos, selected lyrics, and special reminiscences from colleagues and friends. The album – featuring the world premiere recordings of 14 songs – is produced by Lauren Fitzgerald, Kris Kukul and Matt Stine, with Kurt Deutsch and Roz Lichter serving as executive producers. Kris Kukul, Ms. Swados’ longtime music director, provides orchestrations and arrangements. Preston Martin serves as choir manager. To stream or download the album, or order the CD, visit

A moving music video for the song “We Are Not Strangers,” with a timely message for the nation, is performed by Heather Christian and features several of the album’s performers participating from home.

Watch below!

Works are featured from her landmark Broadway hit Runaways (1978), about the lives of children who run away from home and live on city streets, including a performance by Sophia Anne Caruso, who appeared in the show at New York City Center’s Encores! Off-Center series in 2016. Selections also come from Swados’ little-known masterpiece The Beautiful Lady (1984), a deeply felt meditation on the triumph and catastrophe of the Russian avant-garde; Alice in Concert, her 1981 Public Theater production which updates Alice in Wonderland, originally featuring Meryl Streep and Debbie Allen; Nightclub Cantata, the revue which became a downtown sensation in 1977, and other pieces throughout the decades. Swados herself is represented on the album, performing her composition “Bird Lament,” echoing the natural world with guitar and colorful vocal sounds. Her work was featured on a 2017 concert evening for Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series; Michael Friedman’s live performance of “Things I Didn’t Know I Loved” from that special show provides the fitting closing track for the album.

Swados introduced new forms to the mainstream – world, folk, rap and experimental music – and wrote of topics not usually seen in musical theater: racism, murder and mental illness. She defied “downtown” categorization, with her work performed around New York at venues ranging from La MaMa ETC, The Public Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall and Broadway, as well as cabarets, rock clubs, churches and synagogues around the U.S. and Europe. Swados is one of the few people to have been nominated for four Tony Awards in one season, for Best Direction, Score, Book, and Choreography. As Hilton Als wrote in her obituary in The New Yorker, “(Swados) was born talented and she stayed talented, her eyes always wide with the expectation that something amazing was about to happen-and if it didn’t, she’d make it herself.”

“I just remember Elizabeth as a person with an inexhaustible creative energy. The voice that emerged – unique, female, eternally young and tied to childhood – has not been duplicated in the theater.” – Meryl Streep

Elizabeth Swados received her BA from Bennington College and an honorary Doctorate from Hobart/William Smith College. She composed, wrote and directed over 30 theater pieces including The Trilogy, Nightclub Cantata, Runaways, Alice in Concert, Doonesbury and Rap Master Ronnie (both with Garry Trudeau), The Haggadah, Jonah, Job, Esther, Jerusalem (with Yehudah Amichai), The 49 Years (with Estelle Parsons), Bible Women, Jabu, and Missionaries. For Runaways in 1978, Swados was nominated for Tony Awards in the categories of best direction, best original score, best book of a musical and best choreography, plus Runaways was nominated for best musical.

As a composer, Swados wrote music for films, television shows, and performed at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, the Asia Society, as well as cabarets, rock clubs, churches and synagogues around the United States and Europe. As an author she published three novels, three non-fiction books, and ten children’s books. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, Vogue, O Magazine and she is included in a number of journals and anthologies. She also collaborated on film scripts with Milos Forman (based on her musical Groundhog), Marlon Brando, Sean Penn and others and television scripts with Tom Fontana and Kelsey Grammer’s television production company.

Her expertise with young people is exemplified by eight shows made for and with teenagers (Runaways – Broadway, “The Hating Pot” – PBS Special, as well as two new works “Heart and Mind” about mental illness in children and “Everything is Different” about diversity, both for national video release). She developed “The Reality Show” for and with the students of New York University to introduce incoming freshman to their first year of college.

Swados was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Ford Fellowship, a Convenant Foundation Grant, three Obies, four Tony Nominations, a Special Pen Citation, a Cine Award, a Mira Award, and many other awards and grants.

Track List

Music and lyrics by Elizabeth Swados, unless noted:

1. “We Are Not Strangers” – Heather Christian (from Runaways, 1978)

2. “Every Now and Then” – Dave Malloy (from Runaways, 1978)

3. “Oh, King Daddy” – Amber Gray (from The Concert at the Bottom Line, 1978)

4. “The Red Queen” – Taylor Mac (from Alice in Concert, 1980 – adapted from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll)

5. “In This My Green World” – Stephanie Hsu, with Preston Martin (from Alice in Concert, 1980 – music by Elizabeth Swados, lyrics by Kenneth Patchen from his poem)

6. “Take Me to Paris” – Ali Stroker (from The Beautiful Lady, 1984 – based on Russian poems translated by Paul Schmidt)

7. “Souf” – Jo Lampert (from Nomad, 2015 – music by Elizabeth Swados, lyrics by Erin Courtney)

8. “You Gave Me Love” – Alicia Olatuja (from Lullaby and Goodnight, 1982)

9. “You Do Not Have To Be Good” – Shaina Taub (from Atonement, 2007 – music by Elizabeth Swados, lyrics by Mary Oliver)

10. “Song of the Child Prostitute” – Sophia Anne Caruso (from Runaways, 1978)

11. “The Dance” – The Bengsons (from Nightclub Cantata, 1977)

12. “Salvador” – Ashley Pérez Flanagan, with Rachael Duddy and Hannah Whitney (from Missionaries, 1997)

13. “Isadora” – Damon Daunno (from The Beautiful Lady, 1984 – based on Russian poems translated by Paul Schmidt)

14. “Lonesome of the Road” – Michael R. Jackson (from Runaways, 1978

15. “War Gets Old” – Grace McLean (from Dispatches, 1979 – music by Elizabeth Swados, lyrics by Michael Herr)

16. “A Change Shall Come” – Starr Busby (from The Beautiful Lady, 1984 – based on Russian poems translated by Paul Schmidt)

17. “Bird Lament” – Elizabeth Swados

18. “Amen” – Choir (from The Haggadah: A Passover Cantata, 1980)

19. “Things I Didn’t Know I Loved” – Michael Friedman, with Rachael Duddy and Dara Orland (from Nightclub Cantata, 1977 – music by Elizabeth Swados, lyrics by Nazim Hikmet; recorded as part of Lincoln Center’s American Songbook at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s The Appel Room)

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