Michael Feinstein, the multi-platinum-selling, five-time Grammy-nominated entertainer dubbed “The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook,” is considered one of the premier interpreters of American standards. His 150-plus shows a year have included performances at Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl as well as the White House and Buckingham Palace.
More than simply a performer, Feinstein is nationally recognized for his commitment to celebrating America’s popular song and preserving its legacy for the next generation. He serves on the Library of Congress’ National Recording Preservation Board, which has been asked to ensure the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America's sound recording heritage.
Feinstein’s love of song can be heard in The Sinatra Project, his 2009 Concord Records CD celebrating the music of “Ol’ Blue Eyes,” and in the PBS series Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook, in which he uncovers treasures from the Great American Songbook.
If that weren’t enough, Feinstein will serve as artistic director of the Center for the Performing Arts, a $170 million, three-theatre venue in Carmel, Indiana, scheduled to open in January 2011. The theater will be home to an annual international Great American Songbook festival, diverse live programming and a museum for his rare memorabilia and manuscripts. Starting in 2010, he also took over as director of Jazz and Popular Song Series at New York’s Lincoln Center.
Feinstein has written the score for the new stage musical The Gold Room, and he is working with MGM to turn The Thomas Crown Affair into a Broadway musical. He also is designing a new piano for Steinway called “The First Ladies,” inspired by the White House piano.
Before The Sinatra Project, Feinstein recorded Hopeless Romantics, a songbook of Harry Warren classics recorded with legendary jazz pianist George Shearing. In 2004, he completed a national tour with songwriting icon Jimmy Webb based on their CD Only One Life – The Songs of Jimmy Webb. The disc was named one of “10 Best CDs of the Year” by USA Today.
In 2003, Feinstein received his fourth Grammy nomination for his release Michael Feinstein with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, his first recording with a symphony orchestra. The year before, Rhino/Elektra Music released The Michael Feinstein Anthology, a two-disc compilation spanning the years 1987 to 1996 and featuring old favorites and previously unreleased tracks.
Feinstein hosted and produced The Great American Songbook, a 2003 PBS special and DVD set from Warner Brothers Home Video that traced the history of popular music in our country. His own record label, Feinery, a Concord Records subsidiary, released The Livingston & Evans Songbook, featuring Feinstein and special guest Melissa Manchester. Feinery also records favorite current artists and restores recordings and musical broadcasts from the golden age of popular song.
His Manhattan nightclub, Feinstein’s at Loews Regency, has presented the top talents of pop and jazz, including Rosemary Clooney, Steve Tyrell, Barbara Cook, Glen Campbell, Diahann Carroll, Cheyenne Jackson, Jane Krakowski, Lea Michele, Cyndi Lauper, Jason Mraz and Alan Cumming. Feinstein appears there for a sold-out holiday engagement every year.
His many other credits include scoring the original music for the film Get Bruce and performing on the television series “Caroline in the City,” “Melrose Place,” “Coach,” “Cybill“ and “7th Heaven.”
The roots of all this work began in Columbus, Ohio, where Feinstein started playing piano by ear as a 5-year-old. After graduating from high school, he worked in local piano lounges for two years, moving to Los Angeles when he was 20. The widow of legendary concert pianist-actor Oscar Levant introduced him to Ira Gershwin in July 1977. Feinstein became Gershwin’s assistant for six years, which earned him access to numerous unpublished Gershwin songs, many of which he has since performed and recorded.
Gershwin’s influence provided a solid base upon which Feinstein evolved into a captivating performer, composer and arranger of his own original music. He also has become an unparalleled interpreter of music legends such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington and Harry Warren.
Through his live performances, recordings, film and television appearances, and his songwriting (in collaboration with Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Lindy Robbins and Carole Bayer Sager), Feinstein is an all-star force in American music.
Jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater is widely known to the public radio audience as the host of NPR’s JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater. In addition to her Tony award-winning role in The Wiz (1975), she has performed in shows including Sophisticated Ladies, Cabaret, and Lady Day. She’s also worked with jazz legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, and Horace Silver. This week, Bridgewater shares her renditions of “God Bless the Child” and “Good Morning Heartache.”
One of the most prominent songwriters of his era, Jimmy Webb has written for artists including Glen Campbell, Linda Ronstadt, and the Fifth Dimension. He has earned multiple Grammys, membership in the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Songwriters. In this session Webb presents some of his most memorable songs including “Galveston” and “MacArthur Park.”
Tony nominated actress, vocalist, and Platinum Award-winning songwriter Ann Hampton Callaway has sung with top orchestras and Big Bands the world over, including performances before President Bill Clinton in Washington, DC and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow. As a songwriter, she has penned tunes for Barbara Streisand and wrote and sang the theme to the hit sitcom The Nanny.
Rumer (Sarah Joyce) was raised in England and Pakistan, and her sound reveals a deep connection to the ‘70s singer/songwriter era, along with shades of Broadway, ‘30s jazz, and Gospel. Her debut album, Seasons of My Soul, reached #3 on the UK charts and was certified platinum. Rumer joins Feinstein to talk about Judy Garland, Burt Bacharach, and old Hollywood, and performs a set including “I Loves You, Porgy,” “That’s All,” and her own tune, “Come To Me High.”
Peter, Paul & Mary rode the 1960s folk wave to worldwide acclaim. Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey, along with the late Mary Travers, performed enduring anthems of social change including “If I Had a Hammer” and Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” as well as the light-hearted “Puff, the Magic Dragon.”
Jazz vocalist Tierney Sutton has headlined national venues including Carnegie Hall, The Hollywood Bowl, and the Kennedy Center. And she has earned five Grammy nominations, including four consecutive nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album. With her latest project, After Blue, Sutton takes on the genius of Pop & Folk singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell. Alongside her guitarist Serge Merlaud, Sutton performs a set of standards including “Fly Me to the Moon” and “You Must Believe in Spring.”
Vocalist Bobby McFerrin is best known for his hit 1988 hit, "Don't Worry Be Happy," which was the first a capella song to reach Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won three Grammy Awards including Song of the Year. He is also an accomplished jazz artist with five Grammy wins for Best Male Jazz vocal, and has created a concert version of George Gershwin's Porgy & Bess.
Wayne Brady became a star improvising on the popular TV show Whose Line It Anyway? The singer/actor/dancer/comedian also has appeared on stage in Rent and Chicago, and hosts TV game show Let's Make A Deal. Brady discusses the musical influence of Sammy Davis, Jr. and Sam Cooke.
Vocalist and songwriter Rosanne Cash is the daughter of Country music icon Johnny Cash and one of the preeminent artists of her time, with eleven number one Country singles. She is a Grammy winner, and her 2009 album, The List, won the Americana Music Award for Best Album of the Year. On this week’s Song Travels, Cash and her husband and co-writer John Leventhal join Michael Feinstein to perform a set of music from their latest album, The River & the Thread.
Pianist, singer, composer, and producer Allen Toussaint defines the sound of New Orleans. He penned early R&B hits including “Mother-in-law,” “Working in a Coalmine,” and “A Certain Girl.” He also produced Funk legends The Meters and has worked with artists from The Band to Elvis Costello. This week Toussaint and Feinstein discuss the vital role of New Orleans in American music.
Three-time Emmy award winner Elaine Stritch became a star on Broadway before going on to a string of acclaimed film and television roles. One of her most recent roles was as Colleen, mother of Alec Baldwin’s character, Jack Donagy, on NBC’s hit sitcom 30 Rock.
Austin based quartet the Jitterbug Vipers play 1930s-style viper Jazz - the intoxicating underground take on swing classics by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Cab Callaway. The Jitterbug Vipers are vocalist Sarah Sharp, guitarist Slim Richey, bassist Francie Meaux Jeaux, and drummer Masumi Jones. On this Song Travels, the band presents a set sure to make you want to get up and dance…jitterbug or otherwise!
Legendary composer and arranger Johnny Mandel started out working in the Big Bands of Joe Venuti, Buddy Rich, and Jimmy Dorsey, and later worked as an arranger for Count Basie. Mandel’s resume includes film and television classics such as “Suicide is Painless” (the M*A*S*H* theme) and “The Shadow of Your Smile” from The Sandpiper. The five-time Grammy winner sits down with Feinstein to discuss his lifetime in the industry, writing for screens large and small.
Vocalist, pianist, and Grammy-winning composer John Proulx has a voice that is reminiscent of another great all-around jazzman, the late Chet Baker. Proulx’s original songs have been recorded by artists including Nancy Wilson and Mary Stallings, and he’s also performed with legends Natalie Cole, Anita O’Day, and Marian McPartland. Proulx joins host Feinstein to discuss the continuing evolution of jazz in a changing world.
Jazz and Soul singer Gregory Porter had a breakout year in 2012. His album Be Good topped many “Best of” lists and was named iTunes’ Jazz Album of the Year. He was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance. On this Song Travels, Porter is joined by his band mates Chip Crawford and Aaron James for a set including numbers from his latest album, Liquid Spirit.
New York Times music and film critic Stephen Holden covered the 1970s singer/songwriter explosion before he went on to write up everything from film to cabaret. Music has been with him every step of the way. On this week’s program Holden illustrates his life’s journey through musical milestones from Bob Dylan to Sinatra to Sting.
This year, The Jonathan Channel will celebrate the holiday season with our friend, Michael Feinstein. This hour-long celebration of the American holiday songbook features nearly 30 rare and unusual tracks culled from Michael Feinstein’s personal collection of 20,000 recordings, including rare performances by Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, Louis Prima, and Donny Hathaway.
Grammy-winning opera star and actress Renée Fleming has performed some of the greatest operatic roles ever written at the world’s leading concert halls. Her awards include a Fulbright Lifetime Achievement medal and the National Medal of Arts. This week she shares a few of her favorite selections including songs by Franz Schubert, George Gershwin, and Leonard Cohen.
Superstar violinist Joshua Bell joined us for an exclusive evening of holiday music on December 10, 2013, performing from his new CD, Musical Gifts: Joshua Bell and Friends.