Photos & Exclusive Special Report: Norm Lewis at Lincoln Center's American Songbook

This season's Lincoln Center's American Songbook, curated by John Nakagawa and Charles Cermele, busted out of the gate with a 'B' (as in Broadway...) with an opening night featuring Billy Porter and, last night, a star who we saw in a whole new light, Norm Lewis. Lewis did what he does best, and knocked it out of the ballpark with a fantastic program, entitled WHO AM I?, in which he proved, via one of the strongest American Songbooks ever seen, that "you are, indeed, what you sing."

The evening was non-stop thrills in both repertoire and in approach, and it was quite astonishing to witness the versatility that Norm displays. With Joseph Joubert as Musical Director, Arranger and on the piano, and assisted with unerring aplomb by George Farmer on bass and Perry Cavari on drums, the music and the approaches to each and every song were impeccably executed.

The program was 75 minutes long, under the assured hand of Lewis' longtime friend and director, Richard Jay-Alexander. The guests on the bill were Pastor Bobby Lewis (who we learned, as it turns out, is his cousin) and the Bobby Lewis Ensemble. They practically 'wrecked the place' with an homage to the late Andrae Crouch, with a stirring 'Take Me Back'. But, if that wasn't enough to pierce your heart, they all went on to 'kill us' with Henry Krieger's 'Family' from DREAMGIRLS. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

Mid-show, a surprise guest came right out of the audience, Hugh Panaro, who co-starred with Norm in the original SIDE SHOW. We also noticed that at the first show, Bill Russell was in the audience.

And, lucky for all of you - both of last night's performances were filmed for Live from Lincoln Center for PBS and we learned that the air date will be April 10, 2015, so be sure to check your local PBS listings. The broadcast is directed by Annette Jolles with Executive Producer Andrew Carl Wilk and Douglas Chang as the Series Producer. Also, kudos to Matt Berman and Scott Stauffer who are responsible for the lighting and sound design for the American Songbook Series.

Songs Included:

Once In a Lifetime
Azure Te
Wouldn't it Be Loverly?
I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'
It Amazes Me
Marry Me a Little
I Will Never Leave You (with Hugh Panaro)
Before the Parade Passes By
What's Going On?
Knock Me Off My Feet
Take Me Back (with Bobby Lewis & the Bobby Lewis Ensemble)
Family (with Bobby Lewis & the Bobby Lewis Ensemble)
If I Ruled the World
Lift Every Voice and Sing (acapella)
No One is Alone

With special thanks to Lincoln Center and Photographer Kevin Yatarola, here is a special scrapbook of photos from a very special night!

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