Jim Caruso made his Broadway debut alongside Liza Minnelli in the Tony Award-winning Liza’s At The Palace!, singing, dancing and celebrating the music and arrangements of Kay Thompson and the Williams Brothers. He has won six MAC Awards for his nightclub appearances, performed with the New York Pops in a tribute to Kander & Ebb, performed with Rosemary Clooney in a celebration of Bing Crosby, and sang songs of Hope & Crosby with Michael Feinstein at Carnegie Hall. Jim was honored to sing with Barbara Cook at President Clinton’s First State Dinner at the White House. For the past fourteen years, he has hosted the weekly showbiz bash "Jim Caruso’s Cast Party” at Birdland, Town Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center and across the globe. He also produces the Broadway at Birdland concert series and has a weekly segment on Legends Radio 100.3 FM called “A New York Minute with Jim Caruso.” As a crooner, he performs regularly with Billy Stritch at Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle Hotel. His two cds, “The Swing Set” and "Caruso Live and In Person" are available online.
I will end my Twelve Days of Christmas clips with this performance by one of our newest Broadway stars, Cynthia Erivo. Thanks to YouTube, I was blown away by her extraordinary gifts long before she made her Broadway debut in Color Purple. Her welcome addition to the local scene has been like a shot of adrenaline - the word "powerhouse" can only scratch the surface when describing Cynthia. We shared a memorable evening together in the audience of a Barbra Streisand concert, where her entrance caused almost as much happy chaos as did Ms. Streisand's! Cynthia Erivo is the real deal, and this clip shows you why. The miracle of her singing voice is only matched by her laser-beam focus, and this simple performance of one of the most reverent songs ever written seems to be a prayer for a world gone slightly mad. I wish you all a happy holiday. Whatever you celebrate, may it be joyous and filled with music, hope and laughter!Jim Caruso's 12 Days of Christmas... Happy Holidays from the Osmond Brothers & Williams Brothers! December 24, 2016
This choice will not surprise one person who has ever met me. Here's the history: I grew up an only child. I unsuccessfully begged my mother for a brother or sister until she was well into her 80's. I discovered the Osmond Brothers during their "One Bad Apple" phase, which led me into a few unfortunate years of bell-sleeved shirts and fringed vests. The Osmonds' obvious joy at singing together, to say nothing of their vast musical talents, would bring tears to my eyes as I watched them perform. I knew that Andy Williams had discovered the brothers, and gave them their debut on his TV show. However, I was unaware that Andy and his brothers were the original clean-cut singing siblings…that is until I saw this production number on an Andy Williams Christmas special! Boy, were my eyes…and ears…opened! This performance of "Kay Thompson's Jingle Bells" features the two bro-acts harmonizing their heads off. The irony is that Kay Thompson discovered the Williams Brothers (crooning background vocals at MGM), and Andy discovered the Osmond Brothers (singing barbershop quartet at Disneyland). Little did I know back then, that I would spend three years of my life performing as one-fourth of the Williams Brothers, along with Liza Minnelli as Kay Thompson, in what would become the Tony-winning "Liza's At The Palace." During that period, I enjoyed a phoner with Andy and cavorted with Dick Williams (whom I played), and am happy to call Donny Osmond a pal. In a funny kind of way, I found my long-awaited brothers.Jim Caruso's 12 Days of Christmas... Christmas Time is Here with Peanuts! December 23, 2016
After an impressive career, jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi was hired to score "A Charlie Brown Christmas," followed by seventeen other Peanuts television specials, until his untimely death in 1976. Can you even imagine those animated features with any other soundtrack? Guaraldi and his trio gave sophisticated heart and depth to what could have been just another forgettable cartoon score. At least one night every Christmas season, I walk the cold sidewalks of New York City, headphones on, and Guaraldi playing. I can be the star of my own movie…enjoying my own slightly melancholy, wistful scene while I reminisce about another year spent in the city I adore.Jim Caruso's 12 Days of Christmas... Leslie Odom Jr. Will Be Home for Christmas December 22, 2016
I'm pretty sure there's nothing Leslie Odom, Jr. can't do. This recording of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" perfectly shows off his good taste, style and that exemplary voice. The song is, of course, an American classic, with lyrics by Kim Gannon and a melody by Walter Kent. Gannon wrote it from the point of a World War II soldier stationed overseas, telling his family that he'll be home for the holidays, and to prepare the Christmas fun. Of course, the last lyric is one of the most melancholy ever written - "I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams." When the song was first pitched to folks in the music business, it was roundly refused, since it all seemed incredibly sad. But Bing Crosby smartly threw caution to the wind and recorded the tune, with immense success. Interestingly, after the lyricist's death, he left the royalty rights to the American Heart Association, which has benefitted greatly ever since.Jim Caruso's 12 Days of Christmas... Barbra Streisand Reinvents a Classic December 21, 2016
Love it or hate it, this souped-up arrangement of 'Jingle Bells?' has become an iconic recording by the one and only Barbra Streisand. Of course, it's from her first Christmas album, which came out in 1967, but I was introduced to it in 1970 when it was released on a special promo album for Maxwell House coffee, along with cuts by Doris Day and (yes) Jim Nabors. I thought it was funny then, and I think it's funny now. I especially love the Brooklyn-ese reading of the word 'upsot.' It was all very sophisticated and slightly oddball to the young Jimmy Caruso, and takes me right back to Wexford, Pennsylvania, where I'd listen over and over on my little record player. (Google that word, kids.)Jim Caruso's 12 Days of Christmas... Nat King Cole Wishes You a Merry Christmas December 20, 2016
I don't care how old you are, I'm pretty sure this recording sounds like home. Nat King Cole, with his velvety croon, sings one of the more perfect songs ever written with simplicity and good taste. It's been recorded thousands of times, in every conceivable style - with riffs and shrieks and all kinds of dazzlement. But this arrangement and performance is the only one I want to hear.Jim Caruso's 12 Days of Christmas... Miranda Sings Gets Into the Holiday Spirit December 19, 2016
If you have spent more than twelve minutes with me, you know that I am in love with a fake person named Miranda Sings. I first saw her on YouTube when she gave a 'free voice lesson' to the interwebs. I thought she was a neo-Florence Foster Jenkins, as did most everyone. I wrote to 'her,' inviting her to Cast Party, my weekly open mic night at Birdland. I heard back from her creator, Colleen Ballinger, a wildly intelligent and brilliantly funny actress. That was the beginning of a wonderful friendship and subsequent business relationship. 'Miranda' became a regular on my Broadway at Birdland concert series, until our walls couldn't hold her fan base. Now, she's playing the biggest theaters in the world (Kennedy Center!), just signed for the second season of her Netflix sit-com 'Haters Back Off,' had a #1 book on the New York Times Bestseller List, has guested on the Tonight Show, and hangs with Jerry Seinfeld. Colleen's online following rivals the Catholic Church (almost a billion hits), yet she's still as funny and normal and adorable as ever. This insane video clip makes me hysterical, as do most of her awkward shenanigans.Jim Caruso's 12 Days of Christmas... Jane Monheit Awaits the Man with the Bag December 17, 2016
I know, I know, this isn't really a song about Christmas, but's it's a standout from Carol Hall's wonderful 'Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' score! I used to sing this song with a vocal trio, and everytime we'd get to 'Maybe I'll count the stars until dawn. Me, I will go on,' my eyes would well with tears. It's a song of passion, strength and looking forward to brighter days. If that's not what this season is about, I don't know what is. In this clip, Jenn Colella, Adrienne Warren and Keala Settle perform the song on the Birdland stage for the Lilly Awards. Three better singers, you won't find.Jim Caruso's 12 Days of Christmas... Liza Minnelli & Billy Stritch Have A Merry Little Christmas December 16, 2016
I know, I know, this isn't really a song about Christmas, but's it's a standout from Carol Hall's wonderful 'Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' score! I used to sing this song with a vocal trio, and everytime we'd get to 'Maybe I'll count the stars until dawn. Me, I will go on,' my eyes would well with tears. It's a song of passion, strength and looking forward to brighter days. If that's not what this season is about, I don't know what is. In this clip, Jenn Colella, Adrienne Warren and Keala Settle perform the song on the Birdland stage for the Lilly Awards. Three better singers, you won't find.Jim Caruso's 12 Days of Christmas... Jenn Colella, Adrienne Warren, and Keala Settle Celebrate a Hard Candy Christmas December 15, 2016
I know, I know, this isn't really a song about Christmas, but's it's a standout from Carol Hall's wonderful 'Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' score! I used to sing this song with a vocal trio, and everytime we'd get to 'Maybe I'll count the stars until dawn. Me, I will go on,' my eyes would well with tears. It's a song of passion, strength and looking forward to brighter days. If that's not what this season is about, I don't know what is. In this clip, Jenn Colella, Adrienne Warren and Keala Settle perform the song on the Birdland stage for the Lilly Awards. Three better singers, you won't find.Jim Caruso's 12 Days of Christmas... Becca Ayers Makes a Simple Wish on Day 2 December 14, 2016
We've all seen Becca Ayers on Broadway in Addams Family, South Pacific, Les Miserables and Avenue Q. She's a kickass singer, fabulous actress and very handy with a puppet. But did you know she writes great folky-poppy tunes? 'Simple Wish' is a witty, charming and slightly bitter ode to the search for holiday love!Jim Caruso's 12 Days of Christmas... Cher Takes on a Classic on Day 1! December 13, 2016
I couldn't be more thrilled to share some of my all-time favorite holiday tunes with the BroadwayWorld readers! Rob Diamond, BroadwayWorld and I have had a long history together, with countless podcasts, interviews, and kajillions of photo flashes to our credit. The consistent support the site gives to the entire entertainment community is a thing to behold, and one that all of us consider a great present!