Who was that singer at The Cellar Door last night? Piaf? Dietrich? Garland? Lenya?


That's right, the woman in question was Linda Rulka, a young Washington singer who dares to rub shoulders (and thereby invite comparison) with some of the better vocalists of this century.

Linda Rulka is no mirror imitator. Nor is she a hopeless derivative performer with no imagination of her own. She is an entertainer of the first order who sings with an intense abandon that comes from a passion for the music and personalities of her idols. Her show last night was a marvel of vocal prowess and comic finesse. Rulka's husky voice may not be the equal of her illustrious predecessors, but it has an elastic feel that stretches to cover everything from a quirky Jacques Brel number to the classic "yfalling in Love Again." Interspersed with the music selections were a series of monologues, sly gestures and dramatic poses that captivated the crowd.

Linda Rulka is self-indulgent, artificial and pretentious in the best sense of those words. She knows what and whom she likes, and she aspires to do justice to her material and its originators. The result is a charm that is her very own.