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It's the first step in what becomes almost two hours of philosophizing. "Gardenia" is a haunting, introspective ballad Bernard fashioned as a sort of musical tribute to the late dancer-actress Ginger Rogers.The notion of this being work seems almost laughable. Bernard became acquainted with the late movie star at a 90th birthday bash for Bob Hope. And I thought, 'Where were all those people who loved her?
"I was up out of my chair and going over..course I just fell all over her talking to her." Rogers, who was frail and seated in a wheel chair, gave the younger performer her telephone number. "I was desperate for this man," she says of this unnamed object of her affections. He sees things in me that no one else sees in me." Dean worked with Bernard on her first album, and joined her in singing a couple of the tunes.
"Talk about unconditional love -- because I excused all his behavior. I would love for him to pick me up and go to a movie and go on a date .... But she refers to her latest album, "Don't Touch Me There," as "organic pop." And truth be told, this material should be no great revelation for students of mainstream pop music.
Now, she's poised to enter a new phase of stardom as a recording artist of no mean talent. Bernard grew up on the road singing gospel with her family. The practice of sharing her thoughts and inspirations -- ministering, if you will -- might be second nature by now.
This pint-sized (5 feet 3 inches) actress is quite the singer-songwriter, a fact she displays in earnest on her recently released album, "Don't Touch Me There" (River North/Platinum Records). Bernard lives high above the Los Angeles fray in a gated community off Mulholland Drive. After three television series -- successful programs, at that -- she's had time to take stock of what she deems important.
She descends a huge staircase -- it makes her seem even more petite -- wearing a blue pullover top and jeans, her trademark strawberry blonde tresses falling over her shoulders, bangs framing a smiling, eager face. It's an internal debate Bernard seems intent on winning at a time when she sees a definite need to find some roses to stop and smell. "If we're talking about the catharsis of my life ... "Enjoying life, enjoying every situation, and what do I get out of it? "Not 'What do I get out of this interview,' the publicity ..."Hi, I'm Crystal," she says as she extends her hand. "'Happy' comes from the Greek word which means 'happenstance,' which means like a roller coaster," she declares as she makes a rolling motion with her hands and utters a little "whoosh! and if I can sell more albums from this interview." Bernard's songs reflect this invigorated search for the ever-changing notion of "more." One, in particular, begs explanation.