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Como, Perry, 1912-2001

  • LC86869295
  • Personne
  • 1912-05-18 - 2001-05-12

Pierino Ronald Como, known professionally as Perry Como, was an American singer and television personality that dominated the early broadcast era. Como continually hosted a music variety show from 1948 to 1967. He was famous for his insistence on keeping the content of his shows clean, as well as his natural demeanor on and off screen.
Como was the first American-born child of Italian parents who immigrated to Canonburg, Pennsylvania in 1910. He didn't learn English until he started school, but quickly learned to play a variety of instruments including the organ, piano, trombone, and guitar. Ironically, he never had formal voice lessons. Beginning at the age of 10 Como trained to be a barber; by the time he was 14, he had his own shop. He was extremely popular around town because he would sing while he worked. A career as a musician was not what Como had in mind for his life, but in 1933 he was offered a job as the vocalist for a traveling dance band headed by Freddy Carlone. Despite the fact that he would make only a quarter of what he did as a barber, Como's father urged him to accept, and he did.
Como toured with Freddy Carlone for the next 3 years. He then received an offer to become a vocalist for the nationally renowned Ted Weems Orchestra, which he accepted at Carlone's insistence. The position came with a raise and a change of location to Chicago, although the band also toured regularly. It was with the Weems orchestra that Como did his first recording work. Despite his incredible success as a vocalist, in 1942 Como left the music business and returned to Pennsylvania so that he could spend more time with his wife and young child. Offers for radio and recording contracts followed him all the way there. Como was reluctant to take any but was convinced by his wife to accept an offer for a no-sponsored radio show and recording contract from CBS. He went live in March 1943; he began performing at the Copacabana Night Club later that year, and signed a recording contract with RCA. The live performances didn't last very long, but in 1944 he moved to NBC to front the sponsored radio musical variety program "Chesterfield Supper Club". He would also continue recording with RCA for the remainder of his career, an arrangement that proved to be so profitable for the label that it eventually stopped trying to tally how many Como hits had been sold.
In 1948, NBC decided to try something new: they simulcast "Chesterfield Supper Club" on both radio and television. The experiment proved successful, and Como became a television staple for the next 20 years. In 1950, his show moved to CBS and became the "Perry Como Chesterfield Show". In 1955 he returned to NBC, where he would remain for the next 12 years with "The Perry Como Show" (1955-59) and "Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall" (1959-67). In addition to his regular shows, Como recorded constantly. Nearly every year, from 1948 to 1994, he recorded an annual Christmas special for broadcast. When "Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall" went off air in 1967, Como began limiting his television appearances until his holiday specials were his only major broadcasts. He returned to radio in the 1990s, but for the most part he enjoyed his later life out of the public eye.
Como died a few days before his 89th birthday.

Feinstein, Michael

  • LC88626481
  • Personne
  • 1956-09-07 -

Michael Jay Feinstein (born September 7, 1956) is an American singer, pianist, and music revivalist. He is an interpreter of, and an anthropologist and archivist for, the repertoire known as the Great American Songbook. He currently serves as Artistic Director for The Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana.
Feinstein was born and raised in Columbus, OH, where he started playing the piano by ear at age 5. He worked in local piano bars after graduating from high school and moved to LA when he was 20, where he was introduced to Ira Gershwin in July 1977. Feinstein became Gershwin’s assistant for six years; this assignment led to six years of researching, cataloguing and preserving the unpublished sheet music and rare recordings in Gershwin's home which earned him access to numerous unpublished Gershwin songs, many of which he has since performed and recorded.
By the mid-1980s, Feinstein was a nationally known cabaret singer-pianist famed for being a dedicated proponent of the Great American Songbook. In 1986, he recorded his first CD, Pure Gershwin (1987), a collection of music by George and Ira Gershwin. He followed this in quick succession with Live at the Algonquin (1986); Remember: Michael Feinstein Sings Irving Berlin (1987); Isn't It Romantic (1988), a collection of standards and his first album backed by an orchestra; and Over There (1989), featuring the music of America and Europe during the First World War.
By 1988, Feinstein was starring on Broadway in a series of in-concert shows and in the early 1990s, Feinstein embarked on an ambitious songbook project wherein he performed an album featuring the music of a featured composer, often accompanied by the composer; he proceeded to release a number of albums on several labels through 1989. In 1999, Feinstein lent his name to a new nightclub in New York located in the Regency Hotel, as Feinstein's at the Regency became a venue for sophisticated cabaret entertainers including its namesake. In the late 1990s, Feinstein recorded two more albums of Gershwin music: Nice Work If You Can Get It: Songs by the Gershwins (1996) and Michael & George: Feinstein Sings Gershwin (1998).
In 2000, the Library of Congress appointed Feinstein to its newly formed National Recording Preservation Board, an organization dedicated to safeguarding America's musical heritage. Feinstein earned his fifth Grammy Award nomination in 2009 for The Sinatra Project, his CD celebrating the music of “Ol’ Blue Eyes.” His Emmy Award-nominated TV special Michael Feinstein – The Sinatra Legacy, which was taped live at the Palladium in Carmel, IN, aired across the country in 2011. Feinstein was named Principal Pops Conductor for the Pasadena Symphony in 2012 and made his conducting debut in June 2013 to celebrated critical acclaim. He launched an additional Pops series at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in Palm Beach, Florida in 2014. Feinstein's memoir The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs about working for Ira Gershwin was published in the fall of 2012, accompanied by a CD of Feinstein performing the Gershwin brothers' music discussed in the book. Feinstein opened his new nightclub, Feinstein's at the Nikko in San Francisco's Nikko Hotel in May 2013, Feinstein's/54 Below at New York's Studio 54 in 2015 and also plans for a future nightclub in London.

Kahn, Gus

  • LC89002698
  • Personne
  • 1886-11-06 - 1941-10-08

Born in Koblenz, Germany on November 6, 1886, Gustav Gerson Kahn emigrated to America with his family when he was four; the family settled in Chicago in 1892. Gus completed grammar school where he demonstrated an ability to create rhymes and won an essay writing contest. He worked at various jobs including a stint as a pottery wrapper in a china factory while continuing to write lyrics. In 1909, Kahn collaborated with Grace LeBoy, a song composer for music publisher Joseph H. Remick whom he met on New Year’s Eve, 1908. Their collaboration of his lyrics and her melody resulted in Kahn’s first hit “Gee, I Wish I Had a Girl,” and the marriage of Kahn and LeBoy after an 8-year professional relationship. The marriage produced two children, Donald and Irene.

In 1932, Kahn moved his family from Chicago to Hollywood where he worked as a lyricist for MGM and RKO. With Vincent Youmans, Kahn wrote the score for Flying Down to Rio, the cinematic debut of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Before his untimely death in 1941, Kahn worked on numerous films including The Merry Widow, Naughty Marietta, and Girl of the Golden West. His last hit, “You Stepped Out of a Dream,” appeared in the 1941 movie Ziegfeld Girl.

Kahn worked with and befriended many of the top composers of the period including Walter Donaldson, Richard Whiting, and Harry Warren; his circle of friends also included actors and singers like Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson and bandleaders Guy Lombardo and Isham Jones. An avid golfer, Kahn was known to write lyrics while playing a course with Walter Donaldson. Al Jolson served as godfather to son Donald. Kahn served on the ASCAP Board of Directors from 1927 to 1930 and was admitted to the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 1970. His 32-year songwriting career produced approximately 800 published songs, many of which remain standards today.

Charles, Ray, 1918-2015

  • LC91026368
  • Personne
  • 1918-09-13 - 2015-04-06

Raymond Charles Offenberg, known professionally as Ray Charles (and who jokingly referred to himself as "the other Ray Charles" for much of his later career), was an American singer, arranger, and conductor. He is most famous for working with Perry Como as the arranger and director for the Ray Charles Singers, Como's backing group for over 30 years. He also served as the musical consultant for the Kennedy Center Honors gala.
Charles was born in Chicago. By the time he was in high school he was already the host of a 15-minute radio show. He attended the Chicago Musical College and continued singing, arranging, and conducting for various choral groups and radio shows. He changed his name to Ray Charles around the same time he was drafted, in 1944. During World War II Charles wrote and arranged music for the women's branch of the Naval Reserve (WAVES) and trained the WAVES "Singing Platoons". After the war he went right back to working on the radio; among other roles, he worked as an arranger-conductor for "The Big Show", one of the last well-known radio variety shows.
The bulk of Charles's career was spent working with Perry Como, beginning in about 1948. He arranged music for and conducted Como's backing group, which would become known as the Ray Charles Singers. The group, which was not a consistent group of vocalists, also recorded a number of albums in the 1960s that arguably founded the "easy listening" genre. They were also responsible for several popular commercial jingles. Charles also arranged music for a variety of television specials during the same period.
Beginning in 1982, Charles was also acted as a musical consultant for the Kennedy Center Honors gala, selecting and arranging the songs for the annual program. He did so every year through 2014. He also served in a similar capacity for over a decade's worth of Independence Day and Memorial Day concerts for PBS. He also wrote the song "Fifty Nifty United States," which many elementary school children continue to learn.
Charles died of cancer at the age of 96.

Haymes, Dick

  • LC91036885
  • Personne
  • 1918-09-13

Sandler, Tony

  • LC91086515
  • Personne
  • 1933-08-18

Le Boy, Grace

  • LC92064699
  • Personne
  • 1890-09-22 - 1983-05-24

Randall, Frankie

  • LC92092631
  • Personne
  • 1938-01-11 - 2014-12-28

Born Franklin Joseph Lisbona, Frankie Randall was a singer, pianist, and actor. He first caught the attention of Frank Sinatra when he worked as a pianist for the star. He also appeared a number of times on the Dean Martin Show and hosted it on many occasions when Martin was not available, as well as starring in the 1965 movie Wild on the Beach. The majority of Randall’s solo recordings were issued in the 1960s, but he remained a staple performer in various clubs and cabarets. He had an open-ended contract at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, NJ for most of the 1980s. Randall received a significant portion of Sinatra’s personal arrangements shortly before the master crooner died in 1998, which Randall used to create a signature show called “Sinatra My Way” that he performed at various showrooms in southern California into the 2000s.

Randall married and divorced three times and had four children. He died from lung cancer in 2014 at the age of 76.

Billman, Larry

  • LC93032525
  • Personne
  • 1938-10-23 - 2017-05-03

Andrews, Maxene, 1916 - 1995.

  • LC93074908
  • Personne
  • 1916-01-03 - 1995-10-21

Maxene Andrews was the middle of the three Andrews sisters, and usually sang the higher harmony part in the trio. She had a successful comeback as a cabaret singer in the late 1970s and toured regularly through the 1980s, even releasing a solo album in 1985. She died from a heart attack at the age of 79.

Perito, Nick

  • LC93076272
  • Personne
  • 1924-04-07 - 2005-08-03

Nick Perito was an American composer, arranger, and band leader, and for 40 years the closest collaborator of singer Perry Como. Perito was nominated for a dozen Emmys, primarily for Como specials and televised presentations of the Kennedy Center Honors in the 1980s and early '90s. Perito joined Como in 1963 as the singer's long-running "The Perry Como Show" was ending, and stayed on as his music director and conductor for frequent television specials, tours and recording sessions. Perito also handled the music for television specials for Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, and Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. He played piano in recording sessions for Steve & Eydie and for Julius La Rosa, among others. For the big screen, Perito scored the 1968 comedy "Don't Just Stand There," starring Robert Wagner and Mary Tyler Moore.

He began playing the accordion at a young age and soon started performing at parties. He received a scholarship to the Lamont School of Music, studying at the University of Denver. Perito was drafted in 1943 and served as an Army medic in New York during World War II; he also played piano and did musical arrangements for the Army band. Perito remained in New York after World War II, entering the Juilliard School of Music and graduating from the college in 1949.

Perito returned to Denver in 1946 and worked at Denver's KOA with his own weekday radio program. After that, he went back to New York, where he worked as a songwriter, arranger, and accordion/piano session musician. Perito also had his own band that had a permanent spot at Jack Dempsey's Broadway Restaurant, owned by the boxer. His first association with Perry Como came through Como's arranger, Ray Charles, in the early 1950s. Como had recorded a novelty song, "Hoop-De-Doo", and Perito was hired to accompany him on accordion for television performances of the song. He also became the musical director of United Artists Records in 1961.
Perito's other credits include the Kennedy Center Honors, American Film Institute awards, The Don Knotts Variety Show, and the Andy Williams and Bing Crosby television specials. Perito wrote the music for the 1968 film, Don't Just Stand There! with Robert Wagner and Mary Tyler Moore. Perito was also an influential arranger of background music for Muzak in the late 1960s and early 70s. He became the musical director for Bob Hope in 1993 and worked with Hope's wife, Dolores, when she decided to pick up her singing career after 60 years. Perito, along with musicians Dick Grove and Allyn Ferguson, was a founder and partner of the Grove School of Music in Van Nuys, California; the school was accredited in 1979 but closed in 1991. His work earned Perito a dozen Emmy nominations a year before his death of pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 81 on August 3, 2005 in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, CA.

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