Miss Nevada 2009 & Miss Outstanding Teen

Miss Nevada 2009
The new Miss Nevada 2009, Christina Keegan and Miss Nevada Outstanding Teen 2009 Jordan Orris were just crowned this week in Reno, Nevada at the Pioneer Theater. I was asked to be one of the emcees along with Executive Director, Miss Nevada 2002 Teresa Benitez-Thompson, Choreographer Miss Nevada 2005 Crystal Wosik-Scotten and Miss Nevada 2004 Elizabeth Muto.

The Producer Del Beatty put on a fabulous production along with all of the contestants from around the state. The theme this year was Broadway Songs so it was a natural for me to join in the spirit of it by singing 'Don't Rain On My Parade' from the Broadway Musical FUNNY GIRL.

The judges had a difficult time choosing between all the talented girls this year. Each had strong platforms and are donating their time to charitable organizations. When asked the challenging on-stage questions they came back with educated answers and insights about today's top news stories. It was a pleasure watching the girls interact with each other.

They rehearsed long hours, had interviews, visited the children's hospital and still had enough energy to run the show twice before the curtain opened at 7 pm Saturday night to an expectant audience.

Awards were given for the girl who raised the most money for the Children's Miracle Network and for the girl who was involved in the most charitable works. It was a lot of hard work and the girls were up to the task putting on a wonderful performance while making it look effortless.

The talents were acting, ballet, jazz dance, piano performances and singing. It was an entertaining evening with a goal in mind, to crown a new Miss Nevada Outstanding Teen, who will go on to compete in the Miss Outstanding Teen Pageant in August in Orlando and Miss Nevada, who will go on to compete in the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas in January 2010.

I know only one girl gets to walk away with the crown in the end, but each one of these girls is a winner. They are following a dream, putting an extra effort into making a difference in the world through their platforms and charitable works and planning for their future by going on to get an education through the scholarships they receive from The Miss America Organization.

I want to say, Congratulations to each and every one of these girls. Enjoy the journey and follow your dreams. This experience will go forward with you throughout your life. The values that you learn today will lay the foundation for a rewarding career and personal growth. Make the most of it and you will be amazed at the results. You are all winners.

Your 'Miss Nevada Sister' Sandy Kastel

Nashville Sessions

Been working in the studio again in Nashville.  Excited for everyone to hear the new songs.  I'll keep you posted.  I know it's been awhile, but it takes time to get everything together 'just right'.  So, hang in there.  After Nashville we are heading to Pigeon Forge, which is a great place for the family to come and see a variety of shows and spend their vacation.  We are going to go visit Dollywood, too. Maybe we'll see Dolly!


The Follies Closes after 49 years in Las Vegas and Sandy Kastel is there!

If I was on the front of Fashion Icon Magazine today this is what the article might say (IF it was written by a reporter who really cares what I think and IF it was a favorable article...and that's a lot of 'ifs'). So, here goes....

Sandy Kastel attended the final performance of the Follies Bergere Show at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas last night. As usual she was 'dressed to the nines' for the special occasion wearing Dolce Gabanna, Louboutin shoes and carrying a Prada bag. She stepped onto the stage with the alumni of performers who have worked with Jerry Jackson for over the past three decades. The event was the closing of the Follies, which ended it's 49th year run.

When asked by Fox 5 what she thought of the show closing, Sandy said, "I feel it is a continuing trend, which marks the end of an era for Las Vegas. This town is constantly upgrading it's image. It's sad on one hand because this December would have been the 50th anniversary of the show and the new owners could have drawn out the celebration over the next 6 months. It would have brought a lot of new blood into their hotel with all the attention. But It is also a sign of the times. Las Vegas is always reinventing itself and in order to do that some things have to go so that new shows can come into the market. The Follies represents one of the traditions of Las Vegas, bringing beautiful women from all over the world, originating in Paris."

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Laura Taylor & the Nevada Pops at UNLV

I went to see my friend Laura Taylor with the Nevada Pops at UNLV. They played selections from the American Songbook and featured Laura. It was a great show.

Laura is a classic beauty as she walks out on stage dressed in a red strapless gown with her blonde hair up in a chignon twist.

The pure clear sound of her lyrical voice seems to float on air. And we are not talking about easy songs, either. One of them was a lively up-tempo song filled with long melodic phrases that could have easily tongue-tied a lesser talented vocalist.

Laura and I have often talked about how she studied the lines saxophonists played during their solos, earning her the respect from fellow musicians who are often extremely critical of vocalists.

Well respected by her peers, Laura is often asked to perform with the Jazz Society. Last year she performed with the Jazz Band at one of the high schools amazing the students as she created jazz licks on the spot.

What can I say? I am in awe of Laura Taylor and her flawless technique.

If you are curious at all check out her albums on CD Baby & Itunes. I believe you will really enjoy her eloquent delivery and velvety smooth tone.


Making Music & Living Life

Wow, what a month. So much has been happening that it is just zooming by. I was one of the judges for the Miss Summerlin/Miss Henderson Pageants. I was in a Golf Tournament at Canyon Gate Country Club to raise money for Safe Nest, an organization that helps women and children in need.

I joined Cherrisse Goedhart, Janie Bradford, Freda Payne, Claudette Robinson, Hank Dixon, Scherrie Payne, Marilyn Mc Leod, Raynard Milner, Miller London and more who attended the Heroes and Legends, Evening with the Stars, Charity Reception, a fundraiser for talented young people.

Last week I met with Aleta Mc Cormick, founder of Omni-Equus, specializing in the treatment and rehabilitation of equine athletes, Don Hoglund, DVM, author of Nobody's Horses: The Dramatic Rescue of the Wild Herd of White Sands and Robert Miller, world renowned speaker and author on Horse Behavior and Natural Horsemanship, Ron Wechsler, Joan Waldman along with others to discuss the 'Preservation of the Free Roaming Horse'.

As I said, busy month! Many of you know I planned to do a summer tour this year after the release of my new cd. In preparation for it I was in dance classes and rehearsals. In April I started working out with a new trainer and pulled a calf muscle, which meant I had to take 6 weeks off to let it fully heal. This put a big 'dent' in my plans.

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Remember to Warm Up!

A little reminder to all of you out there trying to get into shape. Remember to Warm-Up! I forgot that very important detail Friday morning before working with my trainer. And it isn't because he hadn't reminded me, no! He is very explicit about how important it is to warm up 30 minutes before working out and at least 30 minutes after. I had been doing alright since I started with him a couple of weeks ago, but Friday morning I really messed up by not getting all of my warm-up done before we started. It was typical of me and my overloaded schedule. In my eagerness to get my body back in 'performance' mode I have been going to dance classes three times a week with Angelo Moio over at Backstage Dance Studio, to Pilates twice a week with Jill Davis over at The Pilates Studio and to work out with my trainer, Jeff Monroe.

My body has been quick to respond and I have noticed my muscles responding to the intensity of the classes. But along with all this work to get in top shape for my new upcoming shows I have also been in preparations for my new songs that I am recording with various producers and musicians around the country. It has been exciting but also it is intense, because each project is totally different. I am recording 5 songs with each producer which will include many of my originals and a few covers. Each producer works differently, so it has been interesting planning for each project. Plus most of the songs we are recording are my originals and a few of them are still works in progress.

Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed thinking about too many things at the same time, which is also very common among writers, performers and artists. We don't always do one thing at a time. We often have many 'balls in the air' juggling to get it all done. Also, it is part of that theory that it all is connected. And I believe that 'it' is. Everything that goes on in a day brings another element into my writing. My biggest challenge, though, is focusing on one thing at a time, which is very critical when working out.

Of course, whenever we learn something the 'hard way' we usually don't forget it. From now on I will be warming up my muscles before every work out, because I don't want to be slowed down again, and this is slowing me down. Then again, I am writing now, because I can't be up dancing or running down the street, can I? My writing tools are all in front of me and I am working on the words for my songs that need finishing. Slowing down is not all bad! And besides this is more material for my writing, whether it goes into a song, a book, an article or a musical....who knows where any of this will land?

So, remember, warm up those muscles before you go workout and you will help your body do what it needs to do to build those muscles and get in shape!

Wayne Newton at the MGM in Vegas

Last night long-time writer and publicist Bobbie Katz invited me to see Wayne Newton at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. I remember seeing Wayne for the first time when I was just a little girl. My dad was playing for him at the historic Frontier Hotel. I would sit and watch the rehearsals and on special occasions Dad brought me to watch the show from the light booth.

I was amazed every time I watched him. He would sing song after song after song, play his instruments, come out into the audience and he always went well over 2 hours giving his audiences the best show possible. I learned what it was to be a true performer. He would dance between the booths, shaking hands. He was like the Every Ready Bunny who just kept going. His audiences always left satisfied that they had just seen the best show ever! They always gave him standing ovations at the end of his show.

One of the main reasons Bobbie invited me to see Wayne is because I recorded an album THIS TIME AROUND, which pays tribute to the performers who really made Las Vegas the Entertainment Capital of the World, like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee and Wayne Newton. When I told Bobbie that Danke Schoen is my #1 Download on CDBaby and ITunes, she said, "Well, I have to take you to meet the man himself, Wayne Newton."

When I got the invitation I sent my dad an email and he told me a few stories about his experiences working with Wayne.

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Sandy Records 'Session Projects' with Top Musicians

Currently Recording A Series of “Session Projects” With Top Musicians In Cities Around The U.S., The Former Miss Nevada Is Sponsoring A Participant In Nashville’s Team Rio Walk-Run, Which Raises Money For Big Brothers Big Sisters Of Middle Tennessee

While most of Sandy Kastel’s professional and charitable activities are based in her hometown of Las Vegas, the popular performer and recording artist also has a heart for Nashville, where she has spent much of her time co-writing with other songwriters over the past several years.

The former Miss Nevada (www.sandykastel.com) is sponsoring her friend and real estate agent Holly White, who is a part of Team Rio (www.teamrio.org), a Nashville based Walking/Running organization that is currently celebrating its fifth anniversary raising money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee. Team Rio will have over 150 runners/walkers training with a purpose for the 2009 Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon.

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Sandy Kastel Says "Danke Schoen" To Wayne Newton

The Las Vegas Based Recording Artist, Whose Critically Acclaimed Debut Album ‘This Time Around’ Includes A New Arrangement Of Newton’s Trademark Hit, First Encountered Him As A Young Girl When Her Father Played In His Band

Las Vegas based recording artist Sandy Kastel (www.sandykastel.com) experienced a real blast from the past recently as she hung out backstage at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino with “Mr. Las Vegas” himself, Wayne Newton.

Growing up, Kastel—a former Miss Nevada—watched the legendary entertainer in rehearsals while accompanying her father, an acclaimed saxophonist who for years backed many of the city’s greatest performers, including Newton.

When Kastel told her father that her friend, writer and publicist Bobbie Katz, was taking her to see the singer’s show, he began telling stories of performing with Newton at The Frontier and The International (now the Las Vegas Hilton), as well as Harrah’s Reno and Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. Mr. Kastel also recorded on a Newton Christmas album.

With the release of her critically acclaimed debut album This Time Around, the Vegas born and raised Kastel has become a true cultural ambassador for the city, bringing the magic of classic Las Vegas to the rest of the world for the very first time. Putting her own unique spins on songs that continue to transfix our imaginations decades after we first heard them, the singer pays homage to, among others, Frank Sinatra (a medley of “All Of Me,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “Just One Of Those Things,” plus “Luck Be A Lady”), Peggy Lee (“Fever,” “Come Back To Me”), Johnny Mathis (“Misty”), Dinah Washington/Celine Dion (“When I Fall In Love”) and Judy Garland (“Over The Rainbow”).

Of course, the collection also features Newton’s trademark hit “Danke Schoen,” and Kastel was eager to tell the legendary entertainer that she honored him. “When Bobbie took me backstage to meet him after the show, he was gracious when I told him my story about watching him in rehearsals as a little girl. He remembered my dad and when he bought the musicians the T.V. for the band room. When I told him about my tribute album and that he was one of the people I was honoring along with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Bobby Darin, he laughed and said, ‘I’m in good company.’ Wayne was as I remembered him from my childhood, friendly, funny, a gentleman and a true performer. It was wonderful meeting him again as an adult and watching him perform as only he can. He is truly Mr. Las Vegas!”

Watching him regale yet another appreciative audience, Kastel fully understands the secret to his many years of success: “After almost 2 hours of performing non-stop, singing his hit songs including ‘Danke Schoen’ and closing with a high energy medley, Wayne said goodnight to his audience, promising to join his fans afterwards for a meet and greet where he took photos with every one of them. This is what he does for his fans. He knows they are important and always treats them special, showing them his appreciation by spending time with them after each show. In my opinion this is one of his characteristics that led to a long and successful career.”

For a full rundown on Kastel’s memorable evening seeing “Mr. Las Vegas” in concert, please visit www.sandykastel.com.

Sandy Kastel Gets Back To The Heart Of Her Music

Sandy Kastel’s life is filled with many different hues – she is a singer, a songwriter, a former Miss Nevada in the Miss America Pageant, a sculptor, a wife, and is involved in charity.

These days, she’s “Over the Rainbow” where her music is concerned and it’s her original songs that are currently coloring her perspective. In fact, it could be said that they are where she’s hoping to find the gold.

“People all over the world – from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, the U.S. and other places – have been buying my CD, This Time Around,” Kastel says excitedly about her critically acclaimed mid-2007 indie recording debut. “From it, my recording of ‘Over the Rainbow’ has been put on a compilation CD in Beijing, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. ‘Beyond the Sea’ went to number 14 on the FMQB’s AC40 chart and is the number three downloaded tune on CD Baby and iTunes.

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