New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

No One Can Hurt Me When I Sing

By Gary Wien

originally published: 05/26/2018

No One Can Hurt Me When I Sing

It’s rare to get the chance to talk to actors portraying their own lives on screen, but Linda Chorney is no ordinary actor and her story is anything but ordinary.  In 2012, she became known as the artist who crashed the Grammy Awards.  Her story is now told in the film, When I Sing.

In 2011, Linda Chorney released Emotional Jukebox, an album featuring great musicians, strong songwriting, and a trio of wonderful covers of tunes by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones.  It was an album she was extremely proud of and one she believed in.  She thought the music spoke for itself — all she needed was others to hear it. Thanks to a mix of ingenuity, hard work, and networking, she was able to connect with Grammy voters and get them to listen.  They not only liked what they heard, they voted for her. In doing so. Linda Chorney became the first independent artist to earn a nomination for Best Americana Album. Millions wondered how she did it, but Chorney’s album competed alongside releases by Ry Cooder, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, and Levon Helm who took home the award.  The film asks the question, “Will being nominated for a Grammy be her big break or will it break her?”

To her dismay, the gatekeepers of the industry were not pleased with her nomination and went to great lengths attempting to discredit her.  They manufactured headlines insinuating she cheated to get nominated, which was not true.  Chorney used a legitimate Grammy website ( to contact Grammy members directly. Neil Portnow, The President of National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. (NARAS) went on the record saying Chorney did nothing wrong, yet The Recording Academy changed the rules to ensure a similar situation would never happen again. Not only did they implement committees to decide the final five nominees in all American Roots categories, but they eventually shut down the website — a move appearing to keep real indie artists out for good.

Chorney originally told her story in the 2013 book, Who the F**K is Linda Chorney.  Her new film tells that story and more. It’s a funny look at Chorney’s career and her adventures around the world, leading up to the moment she became “almost famous” after 30 years of gigging on the road.  While the book starts on the night she learned she was nominated, the film shows her complete journey as an artist.

“This movie is my ridiculous quest for validation. It starts with a flashback of my life so the people who don’t know me can see that I’ve been around a long time,” explained Chorney.  “It’s been a long, hard road of good guys and bad guys and ups and downs.  In order for the audience to understand that journey, I had to do a flashback of my life.  But I do it quickly. I get to the friggin’ point!”

The article continues after this ad


The film premiered at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival in February where it received the People’s Choice Feature Film Award.  “When we premiered in Hollywood, I cried,” said Chorney.  “It was emotional. It was like giving birth. The hardest project I had ever taken on. And I am proud of my baby.”

The film moved on to Worldfest Houston International Film Festival where it received a special jury award for Best Theatrical Feature Film “Low Budget” in April.

Since New Jersey is a part of the story, capturing the local charm and flavor in the film, Chorney has been looking forward to having it screened in the Garden State. It would have been a perfect fit for the Asbury Park Music and Film Festival, where Chorney previously won Best Documentary for The Opening Act, but her new film was not included in this years’ program.  Nonetheless, the DIY poster child is independently touring with the film and has sold out every screening. It will have its’ New Jersey Premiere at Atlantic Cinemas, in Atlantic Highlands, on Wednesday, June 20th.  The night includes a Q&A with several cast members, comedian Eddie Brill, and musical performance by Chorney. The event is sponsored by her beloved Sea Bright Pizza courtesy of Cono Trezza; Joe Amiel’s Baypointe Inn, and Mike Krikorian’s Blue Bay Inn.

Chorney, who grew up in Massachusetts, spent a number of years living in New Jersey.  She used to travel from Weehawken to the Jersey Shore to perform every weekend, building a solid following in the process...and marrying New Jersey native, Scott Fadynich, now both residing in Arizona. ‘Visit Tucson’ has embraced the film, and is a sponsor for her tour.

The cast includes a mix of recognizable actors, like Chris Mulkey and Marion Ramsey, and then whoever Linda could talk into participating.  It’s a much larger cast than most indie films. “There’s a huge array of characters, because I met so many people on the crazy ride”, said Chorney.  “It’s almost like The Big Fish in how he goes on that wild, unpredictable journey, but these are real people that I meet.  You get to go on the adventure as if you were in my shoes.”

Using her entrepreneurial skills, Chorney self-financed the film, along with local investors, and screenwriter, Robin U. Russin (a cousin by marriage) who also teaches screenwriting at University of California Riverside.  Russin believed in the story so much, that he took a semester off from teaching to direct the film, and received a grant from the university to cover editing costs. The screenplay was written by Chorney and Douglas A. Raine.  Chorney also took on just about any other role she could wing.

“I wore many hats because I didn’t have to pay myself,” said Chorney, who was involved in the writing, producing, starring, casting, soundtrack, and co-editing of the film. “But there is no way I could have done it without the amazing crew, who worked their asses off.”

Chorney stars as herself in the film, but originally was hoping to get Sandra Bullock for the role. After repeated attempts to reach Bullock through her office, Chorney had begun to move on, when she found herself in Wyoming and a chance meeting Sandra’s father. 

“I had this gig at The Mangy Moose, and the owner put us up. Part of the movie talks about the way to survive in the music business...having a free place to crash,” explained Chorney.  “If your overhead is more than you make on the gig, what’s the point?  I actually do this for a living, so the challenge is keeping your costs down.

“So we’ve just been in L.A., striking out on ‘Finding Sandra’, and the club owner invites us to his restaurant for drinks.  He proceeds to introduced us to the man sitting next to him... John. fucking. Bullock.  Sandra’s father!

“Scott and I just looked at each other with our mouths hanging to the floor,” she recalled.  “I was like, ‘Sir, you’re not going to believe this’” and she proceeded to tell him about her story and her desire to have Sandra in the leading role.  The very charming gentleman, responded in calm panicked southern accent, “I can’t hear anything!  You have to go through Sandy’s agent. If you tell me your story and then Sandy ends up doing a film that’s similar, we can get sued.”

Without Sandra, the part fell to Linda herself, which wasn’t a bad thing.  She not only knew the script, she had lived it, and she wouldn’t have to be paid or worry about an actor quitting a role shot over a two year period.  But she made Russin promise her that if he thought she sucked, they’d get someone else. After a couple of scenes, Russin looked up from the monitor, “Holy shit, Linda, you can act!”

Chorney, although extremely grateful to have Robin, says having her cousin “direct” her was challenging in scenes about her own life, because she lived it.  She wanted everything to be authentic.  If people were assholes, she wanted them to be seen as assholes.  If they were good, she wanted them to look good.  At times, they butted heads.  “He deserves a medal for putting up with me,” she laughs. Chorney did have the opportunity to direct second unit locations and plans on directing in the future.

Actor Maxwell Scott plays Chorney’s husband, Scott. Upon the actor’s arrival in Tucson, where much of the film was shot, they road together from the airport. Maxwell asked Scott for tips on how he should be portrayed, Scott offered the advice, “Just be cool.”

When I Sing includes cameos from grammy voting artists, celebrities, Astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson, and legendary musicians like Jackson Browne, Bernard Purdie, Leland Sklar, and Liberty DeVitto. 

This film represents the 99% of musicians, who Chorney feels can easily relate to her struggle as an indie artist.  

“My movie is like cheap therapy for musicians,” said Chorney.  “You spend $30 for a ticket, and get a trip through your entire life, and hopefully, find it healing to know that you’re not alone. But I think anyone who has a dream to succeed and belief in themselves, will also relate.  Too bad it wasn’t so cheap for me, though. This therapy cost me a shitload to make the movie!” Chorney giggles.

Even though she still has to endure continued severe backlash and false accusations concerning her nomination, Chorney turned lemon into lemon aid. She stresses that the motivation of this film is not revenge or sour grapes.  She can step out of her shoes, look objectively, and say, “This is a great fucking story. It just so happens to be my life story...and many others.  Best of all no one can hurt me when I sing.”

When I Sing will be screened on June 20, 2018 at 8:00pm at Atlantic Cinemas (82 1st Avenue) in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey.  Click here for tickets.

For more by this author, click here

State Theatre Presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back In Concert with NJSO
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra present Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in concert with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra featuring Conductor Constantine Kitsopolous on Saturday January 6, 2019 at 3:00pm. Tickets range from $35-$125. 
The Morris Museum Brings Back Exhibition On Screen series
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- The Morris Museum brings back a film series from Exhibition on Screen beginning on Wednesday, December 12, 2018 with the feature film Degas: A Passion for Perfection.  Two additional films will also be shown: Young Picasso, on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 and Rembrandt on Wednesday, April 10, 2019.  All films will be screened at 7:30pm in the Bickford Theatre.  
A Look At New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, in association with the Rutgers University Program In Cinema Studies, presents the New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019 which marks the festival's 37th Anniversary.  The Festival will take place between January 25 and March 1, 2019. Showcasing new international films, American independent features, experimental and short subjects, classic revivals, and cutting-edge documentaries, the New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019 will feature over 35 film screenings. 
NJPAC Presents Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Live in Concert With The NJSO
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The Harry Potter Film Concert Series returns to New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Live in Concert, on Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm. See the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra perform the magical score live while the entire film plays in high-definition on a 40-foot screen.
Kean Stage Hosts "White Christmas" Sing-Along
(UNION, NJ) -- Kean Stage hosts a White Christmas Sing-Along on Sunday, December 16 at 3:00pm.  Gather your family and friends for this beloved 1954 holiday film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen. You’ll enjoy singing along to Count Your Blessings, Snow, Sisters and, of course, the iconic White Christmas. And don’t worry if you don’t know the words – the lyrics will be shown on the screen.

REVIEW: "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald"
For better or worse (worse in this writer’s eyes), the success of the Harry Potter franchise is largely responsible for the current Hollywood landscape of endless sequels, prequels and that awful phrase “universe building.” The Potter films showed Hollywood that it was a far safer financial model to hook audiences into returning for instalments of an ongoing series rather than taking a punt on the unknown quantity of original properties.
REVIEW: "Shoplifters"
Earlier this year, writer/director extraordinaire Hirokazu Kore-eda surprised us with The Third Murder, a legal thriller that made for a stark departure from the sentimental family dramas he’s become known for. With his Palme d’Or winning Shoplifters, Kore-eda is back on familiar ground, but this particular family drama shares much in common with The Third Murder. With his thriller, Kore-eda deconstructed the genre, forcing us to question how willingly we place our trust in a storyteller. Similarly, Shoplifters sees Kore-eda lull his audience into a false sense of security, making us develop a warmth and affection towards people who may not warrant such empathy.
REVIEW: "First Man"
The image that most defines the 20th century is that of a man standing on the surface of the moon. The man is astronaut Neil Armstrong, but we can’t see his face as he’s wearing a helmet, the glass of which reflects our collective achievement back at us. When he took a small step, we all took a giant leap with him, and Armstrong instantly became more than a mere man, a symbol. With First Man, director Damien Chazelle takes us inside the famous helmet, stripping away the symbol to tell the story of Armstrong the man.
REVIEW: "Halloween"
In 2013, John Carpenter’s Halloween received a 35th anniversary blu-ray release. The accompanying booklet credited the following line of dialogue to Jamie Lee Curtis’s babysitting heroine Laurie Strode: “Was it the boogeyman?” Of course, that’s a misquote. In the scene in question, Laurie admits to herself that “It WAS the boogeyman,” to which Donald Pleasence’s Doctor Loomis solemnly replies, “As a matter of fact, it was.”
REVIEW: "Cold War"
Back in 2006, German cinema scored something of a breakout global hit with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others, which followed the travails of a group of disgruntled, pro-western artists in communist era East Germany. At the time I couldn’t help viewing the protagonists of Von Donnersmarck’s drama as the sort of people who would be just as discontented with their lot if they found themselves living in the capitalist west. The grass is always greener on the other side.

Event calendar
Wednesday, Dec 12, 2018


SONIC 5 @ Lobby Bar at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 7:00pm

Live Band Karaoke w/ the Goldenboyz @ Crossroads (Garwood), Garwood - 10:00pm

Holiday Season Celebration @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 7:00pm

Vienna Boys Choir @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm


Elf, The Musical @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 2:00pm

Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn @ Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn - 7:00pm

View all events


For more on our awards, click here

New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 |

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.