Karen Ziemba and More Set for 92Y's Lyrics & Lyricists Series to Tribute Jerome Kern, 5/4-6
The greatest songwriters revered him. And his songs-from "All the Things You Are" to "The Way You Look Tonight"-remain a vital part of our cultural conversation. It is no accident that Jerome Kern is also known as "The Dean." Author and Lyrics & Lyricists series artistic director Deborah Grace Winer takes the helm as artistic director/writer/host for The Song is You: Jerome Kern Coast to Coast, on May 4, 5 and 6. Winer is joined by vocalists Karrin Allyson, Debby Boone, Jeffry Denman, bassist Jay Leonhart, Howard McGillin, Paula West and Karen Ziemba, with special guest Barbara Carroll.
"Kern was the oracle for all the oracles of the American Songbook," says Deborah Grace Winer, "The Gershwins, Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter and the rest worshipped at his feet not just because of his brilliance as a melodist, but because in essence he had invented that uniquely American sound that defined Broadway and popular standards. He revolutionized musical theatre with shows like Show Boat, and elevated Hollywood musicals with masterpieces like the Astaire-Rogers Swing Time. His melodies are so fresh, sophisticated and universal that today, Kern's music transcends time and style, so that interpreters of every stripe continue to make it a living part of our contemporary life."
Now in her fifth season as Lyrics & Lyricists series artistic director, Deborah Grace Winer is an author and playwright who has written extensively about the American Songbook. She has presented Lyrics & Lyricists shows on Dorothy Fields, Rosemary Clooney, Carolyn Leigh, Johnny Mercer, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and the music of the New York nightclub scene. Ms. Winer is the author of On the Sunny Side of the Street: The Life and Lyrics of Dorothy Fields (Schirmer Books) and The Night and the Music: Rosemary Clooney, Barbara Cook and Julie Wilson Inside the World of Cabaret (Schirmer). She is co-author of Sing Out, Louise!: 150 Broadway Musical Stars Remember 50 Years (Schirmer); and I Remember Too Much: 89 Opera Stars Speak Candidly of Their Work, Their Lives and Their Colleagues (William Morrow). She also authored three companion coffee table books included in each of three box sets of the complete early recordings of Rosemary Clooney (Bear Family). Her articles have appeared in The New York Times and Town and Country, among other publications. Her play, The Last Girl Singer was produced Off-Broadway, and others, including Little Shows, Buzz and the upcoming The Real Tabasco, have been developed at Lincoln Center Theater, the Lark, the Women's Project, the Westport Country Playhouse, The Actors Studio and elsewhere.
John Oddo started his career as pianist, arranger and composer for Woody Herman and his Thundering Herd. He met Rosemary Clooney in 1983 and served as her musical director, pianist and arranger for more than 18 years, working on 20 of her recordings as well as countless live and televised performances. As music director, Oddo he has collaborated with Deborah Grace Winer on all five of her previous Lyrics & Lyricists shows, most recently 2011's "The Crowd's at El Morocco: The Heyday of New York Nightclubs." He currently works as music director for Debby Boone, Christine Ebersole and James Naughton, is a frequent collaborator of Michael Feinstein's and received a Drama Desk Award nomination for his orchestrations for Dame Edna Everage and Michael Feinstein's Broadway show, All About Me.
Mark Waldrop made his L&L debut as a guest artistic director in 2012, after serving as stage director for six shows. He directed and provided special material for Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends, which earned a Tony Award nomination for Unique Theatrical Event and similarly directed and wrote material for Bette Midler on her Divine Miss Millennium tour. Waldrop wrote the book and lyrics as well as directed the Obie, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle award-winning Howard Crabtree's When Pigs Fly, directed the Encores! production of Ziegfeld Follies of 1936, and has helmed cabaret and concert performances for such artists as Sutton Foster, Brooke Shields and Rebecca Luker. A winner of the prestigious Edward Kleban Award for lyricists, Waldrop recently received praise for his lyrics for Bunnicula, currently running off-Broadway.
Karrin Allyson, vocals: Singer Allyson has been hailed by The Los Angeles Times as "...one of the jazz world's finest." Equally at home with the American Songbook as with jazz standards, she has garnered four Grammy Award nominations for Best Jazz Vocal album, most recently for 2011's Round Midnight (Concord), her 13th release.
Debby Boone, vocals: Singer/actress Boone won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1977 when "You Light Up My Life" became an overnight hit and then sold over four million copies. Since then, she has won two additional Grammy Awards and has received seven Grammy nominations. Her Broadway credits include Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Grease; she also earned a Drama Desk nomination for her role as Maria in Lincoln Center's 30th-anniversary production of The Sound of Music.
Jeffry Denman, vocals, choreography: Denman's Broadway credits include Irving Berlin's White Christmas, The Producers, Dream, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Cats. He was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for his role in the off-Broadway musical YANK! Denman chronicled his experience with The Producers in the book A Year with the Producers: One Actor's Exhausting (But Worth It) Journey from Cats to Mel Brooks' Mega-Hit. He recently appeared in the Classic Stage Company's production of Passion.
Jay Leonhart, bass & vocals: The Los Angeles Times described Leonhart as "the Fred Astaire of jazz, a craftsman so seamlessly smooth that casual observers often fail to grasp the immensity of his talent." Leonhart has performed with everyone from Tony Bennett to Dizzy Gillespie, recorded numerous albums and is a noted purveyor of witty songs of his own authorship, including "It's Impossible to Sing and Play the Bass." However you describe him, this musical veteran is a favorite with audiences behind and in front of the mic.
Howard McGillin, vocals: McGillin is best known for his record-setting run as "The Phantom" on Broadway; he has also appeared in She Loves Me, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Secret Garden and in Tony Award-nominated roles in Anything Goes and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. His TV appearances include the CBS miniseries Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke and ER, as well as such televised concerts as Stephen Sondheim's Follies and The Kennedy Center Honors.
Paula West, vocals: Acclaimed singer West is known for a distinctive repertoire that includes such diverse material as Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" and standards like "Fly Me to the Moon," West has won three New York Nightlife Awards for Outstanding Female Jazz Vocalist and has been a favorite at such clubs as The Oak Room, Feinstein's, The Jazz Standard, Birdland, and Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center. She has also sung at major jazz festivals and shared the bill with such luminaries as Rosemary Clooney, Jimmy Scott, Freddy Cole and Mavis Staples.
Karen Ziemba, vocals: One of Broadway's most versatile stars, Ziemba won the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics' Circle Awards for her performance in the hit musical Contact at Lincoln Center Theater. She garnered Tony nominations for her roles in Steel Pier, Never Gonna Dance and Curtains, and starred in 42nd Street, Crazy for You and Chicago. Off-Broadway, she won a Drama Desk Award for And the World Goes 'Round and for New York City Center Encores!, did The Pajama Game and Bye, Bye, Birdie. Ziemba just completed a run in the Off-Broadway revival of Anita Loos's play, Happy Birthday.
Barbara Carroll - Special Guest: Legendary jazz pianist and vocalist Barbara Carroll has epitomized the glamour and elegance of the city's nightlife since her first New York engagement in 1947, on a bill with Dizzy Gillespie. Her "two week" engagement at The Carlyle's Bemelmans Bar lasted for 25 years, along with jazz festival appearances and recording numerous albums. Carroll has played such rooms as Dizzy's Club Coca Cola, the Algonquin's Oak Room and Feinstein's at the Regency. She now headlines the Jazz Brunch with Barbara Carroll at 54 Below.
ABOUT LYRICS & LYRICISTS: Long one of 92nd Street Y's most popular programs, the American Songbook series Lyrics & Lyricists was launched in 1970 when longtime Broadway conductor Maurice Levine and lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg (The Wizard of Oz) took to the stage to talk about the then unusual topic of songwriting. Over the years the series has featured great Broadway and Hollywood lyricists including Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Johnny Mercer, Stephen Sondheim, Dorothy Fields, and Alan Jay Lerner. Since 2004, L&L has featured original programs created by accomplished champions of the repertoire, including John Pizzarelli, Rob Fisher, Sheldon Harnick, Robert Kimball, Rex Reed, Billy Stritch, Lucie Arnaz and Ted Sperling. Each show is designed to celebrate the American Songbook through a blend of narrative and entertainment with a particular focus on lyrics. For more information, visit www.92Y.org/Lyrics.
92nd Street Y is a world-class nonprofit community and cultural center that connects people at every stage of life to the worlds of education, the arts, health and wellness, and Jewish life. Through the breadth and depth of 92Y's extraordinary programs, we enrich lives, create community and elevate humanity. More than 300,000 people visit 92Y's New York City venues annually, and millions more join us through the Internet, satellite broadcasts and other digital media. A proudly Jewish organization since its founding in 1874, 92Y embraces its heritage and enthusiastically welcomes people of all backgrounds and perspectives. For more information, visit www.92Y.org.