VIDEO: Legendary Orchestrator, Arranger Harold Wheeler was Honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Tony Awards
On Sunday night, the Tony Awards honored legendary orchestrator and arranger Harold Wheeler with one of three 2019 Lifetime Achievement Awards. Wheeler is currently represented on Broadway with AIN'T TOO PROUD - THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE TEMPTATIONS.
Watch Harold Wheeler Accept the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award
Harold Wheeler is an accomplished orchestrator, composer, conductor, record producer and arranger. In a career spanning more than five decades, he has received numerous accolades, including Emmy, Tony and Drama Desk nominations and a lifetime achievement award from the NAACP Theatre Awards. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Wheeler began studying piano at age five, when he played for Sunday school at his church. He continued his studies through elementary and high school, which eventually led him to Howard University. While at Howard, Wheeler met other budding musical talent, including Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway and his future wife, Hattie Winston.
Wheeler's talents led him to legendary composer Burt Bacharach, who hired him to conduct his musical Promises, Promises. At the time, Wheeler became the youngest conductor on Broadway. He would go on to work on some of Broadway's most memorable shows, including: Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death, A Chorus Line, The Wiz , Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music and Dreamgirls. He has earned six Tony Award nominations for his work on The Life, Little Me, Swing, The Full Monty, Hairspray and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and won a Drama Desk Award for his work on Hairspray.
Wheeler has also arranged and produced for Aretha Franklin, Anita Baker, Peabo Bryson, Della Reese, Nina Simone, B.B. King, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Freda Payne, Kathleen Battle, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Joe Cocker, Dizzy Gillespie, Gloria Gaynor, Whitney Houston, Stephanie Mills, and Debbie Allen among scores of other performers.