Vocalist Monica Mancini has found balance in her life, and she's not afraid to say so. "I love my life. I have absolutely nothing to complain about and someone should slap my face if I ever start bitching about anything," she says with a candor that manages to sound humble.
Mancini credits her music, her family, and her husband of six years, drummer Gregg Field, for her contentment. She also understands that her situation is rare. "I take things more in stride than a lot of my friends do. I think they appreciate that and see that maybe there's not as much need to get bent out of shape about things," she says. "Although, I am a very blessed person. I have a great, supportive and loving sensitive husband where a lot of my women friends are just looking for one, period."
One of three children raised by Henry Mancini and music education crusader and singer Ginny Mancini in the San Fernando Valley community of Northridge, Mancini could have been bred into a Southern California diva who wouldn't be caught dead without her lipstick or stiletto heels. But Mancini seems to have a clear-eyed view of her talents, her lifestyle, and her father's legacy.
"I have never been slaughtered by anybody," Mancini says of reviews for her three albums of lush pop standards, "because people can't draw the same comparisons with other father-daughter, father-son singers like the Sinatras or Nat [and Natalie] Cole, because you can compare them and say, 'That person's not as good a singer.' But in my case you can't because dad never was a singer and I never said I could write-and I can't."
Home is the rambling hillside house in suburban Studio City, Calif., just over the hill from West Hollywood, that she found after marrying Field. After a concert tour like the 60-city trek she made earlier this year to support Ultimate Mancini, the singer loves to nest. "When we're home, I like to be home," she says. "My husband and I love fine dining and wining and all that, but we've got all our takeout menus in the closet. So we like to sit here with our plasma TV and order takeout and play on the computer and kind of diddle around."
Bordered by picture windows, the house features unfettered views of the hillside's greenery, the San Fernando Mountains and, at night, the lights of the Valley floor below. Fields maintains a basement recording studio and there's also a pool and plenty of cushy places to lounge. Despite the presence of professional audio equipment in the house, Mancini will head to the garage to listen to a CD. "I have a Lexus LS-400 and it's got that system in it, the Mark Levinson. It's really great and everything sounds so much better in my car than anyplace else."
Always near to the singer are memories of her father, whose "Moon River" and "Pink Panther Theme" are part of America's cultural fabric and whose legacy is being celebrated via a U.S. postage stamp this year. "He is gone 10 years now," Mancini says, "and by going out and doing concerts, doing Man-cini programs and doing the Ultimate Mancini I keep him so very alive and close to me. We had such a great relationship, and I really do think that by having his music in my life as closely as I do now, it feels like I am truly a better artist and a better person for it, just because I'm singing his songs." JT
"The New York Times arrived on Sunday. I'm still doing the crossword puzzle and it's Friday. One of my great challenges is to finish it by the time the next one shows up. But I love crossword puzzles and I do a lot of them. I think it's the only thing I do that gets my brain going."
"When I'm home, I'm more a comfort kind of gal. When I'm in my symphony mode, I get very into shopping for gowns. I don't like going shopping, actually. For performing I've got a lot of Badgley Mischka and a couple of Richard Tylers. I love Armani sportswear. I try to do Dolce & Gabbana every now and then, but I put the stuff on and it just looks crazy on me."
"Italian is my favorite food. And I do like to cook, I used to cook a whole lot more, but as we started to discover the different places in the neighborhood that would actually bring the food to us, that sounded like a better idea. But my sister comes over sometimes on a Friday or Saturday night when we're just going to hang out at home and we'll make pasta or we'll open a cookbook and pick out something and make it." (Her identical twin, Felice, is executive director of the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation.)
"Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie McDonald. I just started it. I tried getting through Cold Mountain and it took me months and I never quite got to the end. All I wanted to do was finish it before the movie came out, and I never did. I didn't see the movie, either."
"I don't know the last time we went out to a movie. But every time that any one of the Godfather movies are on TV, no matter how many times we've seen it, we watch it. There's something about Pacino's face that is just mesmerizing. We just kind of mouth the words as the movie goes along."