The name AJ Lambert may not ring any bells when it comes to her family ties. But the singer is carrying on the legacy of her grandfather — the iconic Frank “Ol’ Blue Eyes” Sinatra — where her uncle, the late Frank Sinatra Jr., left off.
Lambert opens her new residency show, which will continue with once-a-month performances through November, on Feb. 9 at The Space, located at at 3460 Cavaretta Court in Las Vegas. Showgoers will quickly discover that the talented singer is uniquely doing it her way.
“Everyone and their mother does a Frank Sinatra ring-a-ding tribute show,” said Lambert, the daughter of late dancer-choreographer Hugh Lambert and singer-actress Nancy Sinatra. She will perform Sinatra’s entire 1955 album, In the Wee Small Hours, acclaimed as one of the first concept albums.
Between songs, she will delve into stories depicting the Sinatra she knew — the one she says can’t be found on Wikipedia. The show is also her way of having a conversation with her grandfather and bouncing things off of him via his music.
“I’m a 43-year-old woman from a punk music background, and it felt disingenuous to me to do some of his songs,” Lambert explained. “For me to sing ‘Come Fly With Me,’ for example, would be cynical and bizarre. You can’t fake those songs.
“I want to bring the albums that were very personal to my grandfather to life. They are themes I can relate to. He curated In the Wee Small Hours personally.
It was about his relationship and breakup with Ava Gardner. It was followed by subsequent concept albums, such as Only the Lonely, which I will be alternating with In the Wee Small Hours in my monthly shows. He had a soft spot for songs like that — what he called saloon songs.”
Lambert says nothing like what she’s doing in her show has been performed before. She admits she feels like people have only a superficial impression of Sinatra, often viewing him as being sensitive, erratic, quick to fly off the handle and moody, which is a word she says she hates.
She says she resents when her grandfather is reduced in people’s minds to simplistic labels or images; womanizer, microphone and fedora.
“He liked solitude sometimes, and he was very reflective, a thinker,” she revealed. “He had a dark side, but he was not volatile. He was very deep, loving, generous, funny and melancholy at times.
“He loved animals and would take in strays off the street, and would sometimes have 10 to 12 in the house at once. He was a softie, who loved to cook and paint.
“I hope that, through my performances, those things can be heard over the din of what everybody’s used to hearing about him.”
When it comes to seeing the other side of Sinatra, in the wee small hours of the morning, Lambert is a beacon of light.