Cindy Scott: Helping Russell Brand Think

Russell Brand and Cindy Scott

Russell Brand and Cindy Scott

Cindy Scott’s life has, as she puts it, clearly defined “chapters.” Starting as a high-powered executive (“I was involved in all of these big international projects, and I was miserable.”) and ending up with a free mansion after winning a home-improvement reality show (“At the end of the show, the viewers voted and the winners got to keep the house they worked on. And we won.”), Scott and her husband left that hectic life behind to settle in New Orleans after a life-changing epiphany.

“I called my husband in tears saying I need to be making music. He just said, ‘I’ve been trying to tell you that for 10 years!’” She pauses mid-thought. “I’m not sure that he’s still happy that he said that.”

Scott now teaches in the Jazz Studies program at UNO, and that experience brought her to Hollywood’s attention. “I got a call from L.A. They needed someone to coach Octavia Spencer, who just won the Oscar for The Help.” Scott’s efforts to help Spencer sing Radiohead’s “No Surprises” was so successful that Scott was brought in again, this time to coach comedian Russell Brand.

“He was funny. I really liked him. He definitely cared how he did, but when I got there, he didn’t really know the song [Aretha Franklin’s “Think”]. The words are really fast, and it’s not an easy song.”

She used phonetic spellings and a projector screen to help the struggling Brit. “In the first take, he was really tight. The pressure was on. He did it, but the second he finished, he turned to me and said, ‘It feels too low.’ It was really the same key; he just needed to calm down. After that he was okay.”

  • Lizzy

    Wonderful story. I knew the outline, but this filled in all the fun parts!