|February 23, 2018 ||Miami Herald||"Barry Manilow sings a dedication to 'all of us' grieving the Parkland massacre" by Howard Cohen|
|Barry Manilow wasn’t sure what he should do about his scheduled concert Wednesday night at Hard Rock Live near Hollywood -- just one week after Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.|
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Hard Rock Live had already decided to donate proceeds from Manilow’s ticket sales to the victims and their families of the shootings. But should the concert, itself, go on, Manilow pondered? Manilow decided it would, of course, go on.
From the stage, about 16 songs into his set, he told his near sold-out audience at Hard Rock Live he wanted to do “the right thing.” While he said he had considered canceling so soon after the terrible events in Parkland, “I kept thinking what could I do, what should I do? I kept coming back the only thing I know how to do is make music for you,” Manilow said, as fans waved green glow sticks and cheered. “So we decided to do the show in hopes maybe it would make you feel a little better tonight. So before I sing this song I’d like to dedicate it to the victims and to the family members and for all of us who are grieving.” And with that, the singer-songwriter began to sing his 1980 hit “I Made It Through the Rain,” its intro in a capella and, with a dramatic flourish, the band joined in with a swell of sound and light.
Manilow, 74, has long held a positive relationship with South Florida. On the eve of what he was billing as his One Last Time! Tour in February 2016, before his concert at Sunrise’s BB&T Center, he told The Miami Herald about how his first hit, “Mandy,” broke first in Miami thanks to radio station WHYI Y-100.7 FM in the Christmas season of 1974. “That song came out of Dade County. I’ll never forget it. Bruce [Sussman, his frequent collaborator] and I were driving in the car and the DJ said, ‘Now, the No. 1 record in Dade County — Barry Manilow’s Mandy.’ Bruce and I nearly drove off the road. It was the first time that that had happened.”
In addition to ticket sales proceeds, Hard Rock Live offered a featured cocktail, Parkland Strong, and donated sales from that drink to the fund, said a Hard Rock spokeswoman.
|February 20, 2018 ||SouthFlorida.com||"Barry Manilow bringing smiles to Hard Rock Live" by Ben Crandell|
|Barry Manilow wasn’t one of the cool kids when he arrived at Eastern District High School in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in the late 1950s. But he went from outsider to insider once he sat down at the keyboard. “When they learned I could play the piano, suddenly I was in great demand. I became a popular geek,” Manilow says, laughing.|
Manilow’s concert is special for other reasons: He was part of the vanguard of artists, dominant for decades on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary Chart, who have announced they will stop touring. They include fellow Brooklyn singer-songwriter Neil Diamond and Elton John. “We crossed paths. He was a great guy. It’s a heartbreaking story what’s going on with him. I was in a real funk for a time,” says Manilow, who remembers buying Diamond’s debut single, “Solitary Man,” in 1966. “He’s a wonderful performer with a tremendous catalog of music. I hope [the Parkinson’s disease] is easy on him.”
Via mutual friends, Elton John and Manilow have been in more frequent contact over the years. John announced in January that his extended Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour (with two performances in Sunrise and one in Miami) would be his last. “We’ll see about that. I know he wants to take time off and be there to raise his kids. But then, he announced a three-year tour,” Manilow says, laughing. “We’ll see if he actually stops.”
Manilow has so far been able to stick to his decision to stop doing major tours after a 2015 trek that coincided with the 40th anniversary of "Mandy," the first of 16 top 10 hits between 1974 and 1981. The Hard Rock concert is one of the “one-nighters I’ll plug in every once in a while,” he says. While not the focus of the announcement of Manilow’s final tour, the singer says a principal motivation was to spend more time at home with husband and manager Garry Kief.
An intensely private person, Manilow went public with his 40-year relationship with Kief in a People magazine interview last April. “Everybody knew that Garry and I were a couple. You can’t hide for 40 years, not that I ever would,” Manilow says. “I’m a private guy. I don’t want people knowing what my dogs ate. I don’t like people knowing where and how I live. I’m very public, but there’s some parts of me that I’ve kept to myself. It’s the only way I’ve been able to survive.”
Manilow admits that for a time he was reluctant to talk about the relationship for fear of disappointing his fans. But the reaction was something he calls “a beautiful experience.” “They really care for me. And when they found out that I was happy and not sitting alone in some big mansion, they were very happy for me,” he says.
Manilow says there is one song that he’s looking forward to performing at Hard Rock Live on Wednesday night. “Boy, I never would have said this years ago, but it’s ‘Can’t Smile Without You,’” Manilow says of his [1978 hit]. “I’ve never seen a happier crowd. I never really respected it as much as I do now. It’s an amazing thing that happens, night after night. I think people in that audience forget all the negative stuff that’s outside the arena when that song hits. And that’s really what I’m there for. That song starts that feeling, and from then on, it’s a big party.”
The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and Hard Rock Live will donate this week’s proceeds from Barry Manilow ticket sales to the GoFundMe page created by the Broward Education Foundation to support the victims of the shooting in Parkland and their families, which can be found at GoFundMe.com/StonemanDouglasVictimsFund. In addition, proceeds from sales of a specialty cocktail sold during Manilow’s performance will go to the fund. For more information, go to SeminoleHardRockHollywood.com/Parkland-Strong.htm.
Barry Manilow will perform 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, at Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 1 Seminole Way, in Hollywood. Tickets cost $65-$180. For more information, go to MyHRL.com.
|February 17, 2018 ||Herald-Tribune||"Barry Manilow gets crowd singing in Van Wezel debut: Grammy-winning singer performs for the Van Wezel Foundation gala" by Jay Handelman |
|Barry Manilow probably could have performed for three hours or more and not touched on all the hits he recorded or the songs that die-hard fans were longing to hear during his Sarasota debut Friday night at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.|
As it was, backed by three singers and a lively band, the Grammy Award-winning singer presented a 90-minute show featuring hits that touched on different periods of his long career. Manilow may have initially been a reluctant performer when he started recording his own music in the 1970s, but he’s a showman at heart (as well as a fine songwriter and craftsman) and he clearly loves what he’s doing. And he must get pleasure from standing on stage or sitting at the piano to play one of his old favorites and have 1,700 people enthusiastically singing along.
In a concert that was part of the annual Van Wezel Foundation gala, Manilow performed 20 songs, joked about himself and turned the theater into a party room. Audience members were given green glow sticks as they entered the theater, and throughout the show, you could see the lights bouncing to the lively beats or swaying during one of the ballads.
Of the gala and the Van Wezel, he said, “You have the support of your community, the respect of your peers and tonight you have something no one else has, you have me.” That set the crowd cheering even louder than they had at the opening number, “It’s a Miracle.”
It’s an elaborate show with lots of flashing lights and a video screen that kept Manilow in focus especially for those in the back of the theater. His performance of “Bandstand Boogie” was sung as a video clip played of “American Bandstand” and its longtime host Dick Clark. “I Can’t Smile Without You” was accompanied by a video of a bouncing smiley face and the lyrics, but it didn’t seem like many people needed the words to join in the sing-along.
Before performing his first big hit, “Mandy,” he briefly left the stage to change into a white jacket as a video showed him performing the song years ago on the old “Midnight Special” TV series. He then joined in with his old self as the video displayed him then and now.
The crowd started cheering as they quickly recognized each song from just the first few notes. The ballads have a bit more bombast when he performs them on stage, but they still convey the heart. Before launching into the tender “Somewhere in the Night,” he noted a distinction in his music. “Music is all about rhythm these days. I keep thinking, where did the melodies go. Well, they’re right here tonight.”
Manilow has reason to boast after selling more than 85 million records since 1974. The show is schmaltzy, filled with big arrangements and dramatic punches on the expected key changes. But it all fits Manilow, and the audience members clearly eat it up. That’s partly because he performs with such affection. He’s enjoying himself, so you can, too.
After singing a disco version of his early hit “Could it be Magic” that had him dancing a bit with his backup singers, Manilow jokingly noted, “I’m still a sex God. And this sex God has got to sit down. What’s your 74-year-old grandfather doing tonight? Mine could barely cough up phlegm.” That reference to his age is stunning because for the most part he looks pretty much as he did 40 or more years ago. He’s trim and energetic, still singing in a clear and strong, if slightly raspier voice.
He could have used any dozen of his songs as a closer, but he chose perhaps his most popular song, “Copacabana,” which featured members of the Sarasota High School choir singing and dancing in the background. The audience was on its feet, glow sticks waving in the air and the energy rising. And with cheers, he waved his goodbyes and said “I hope I’ll see you again.” 90 minutes and done. A true showman knows to always leave them wanting more.
|February 17, 2018 ||Herald-Tribune||"Manilow headlines Van Wezel Gala" by Gayle Guynup|
|Van Wezel Foundation Gala: For those of us who grew up in the1970s and ’80s, hearing Barry Manilow was like stepping back in time, each song spurring some memory of teenage angst and young love. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. The 17th annual Van Wezel Foundation Gala, which also celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, began at a gala dinner held under tent, adjacent to the hall.|
Mary Kenealy Events created a beautiful, pearl-inspired setting. The evening began with cocktails on the bayfront, the ideal spot to take in a picture-perfect sunset. Guests then moved into the tent, where they were greeted by new COO Jim Selinski, who announced a $10 million legacy gift from Herta Klauser Cuneo, who passed away on Sept. 11, 2017. “Her legacy will live on forever through her truly transformative gift (the largest in the foundation’s history),” Selinski said.
The hall’s Executive Director Mary Bensel then noted that “This is the most important night of the Van Wezel’s year.” Proceeds benefit the hall’s educational programs, which annually bring 30,000 students to a variety of performances. “We provide a safe place and a joyful experience,” she said. “That is what our education program is all about - creating a memory that will last a lifetime.”
Following dinner catered by Michael’s on East, and a live auction and paddle raise led by Michael Klauber, it was time to move into the hall for a 90-minute performance by Barry Manilow. The high-energy show began with “It’s a Miracle,” and the hits kept on coming ... “Can’t Smile Without You,” “I Write the Songs,” “Mandy,” “Even Now” and many more. The 74-year-old performer put on a show that delighted people of all ages.
|February 15, 2018 ||News-Press||"Barry Manilow gives gift of music to Dunbar High as he prepares for Germain Arena show" by Charles Runnells|
|Barry Manilow knows it better than just about anybody: The piano can change your life forever. For him, the change started modestly in elementary school. “Suddenly I became the most popular kid in school,” Manilow says. “Because I knew how to play the PIANO.”|
Then along came his love song “Mandy” in 1975 -- a song Manilow will no doubt play Tuesday when he visits Germain Arena in Estero. And boy, did Manilow’s life change after that one. Forty three years later, he says, it’s still the song that means the most to him. “That was the first one,” says Manilow, 74, of Palm Springs, Calif. “It was the biggest surprise of my life. I never thought I’d have a hit record. Suddenly, I had a No. 1 record, and it was crazy. It was the most exciting and terrifying couple of years of my life."
Manilow never saw himself as the superstar he later became, a pop icon who’s 50 Top 40 hits include “Copacabana,” “Mandy,” “I Write the Songs,” “Can’t Smile Without You” and “Looks Like We Made It.”
He had a more low-key career planned, in fact. “I was going to be a musician, an arranger, a conductor, a songwriter,” he says. “That’s where I was heading. And suddenly I wind up with a No. 1 record. And boy oh boy, that was a crazy year. It exploded in a million pieces, and I just wasn’t prepared for it ... I’d never even thought of it. And really, it changed my life.”
That’s why Manilow started his Manilow Music Project about 10 years ago. Wherever he performs -- including Tuesday’s Germain Arena concert -- he donates a keyboard to kick off a musical-instrument drive for a local school’s musical program (in this case, Dunbar High School). Then he asks his fans to donate instruments, too. And here's the sweetener: If they do, they get two free tickets to the Manilow show. So far, Germain Arena has collected about 12 instruments for Dunbar High, including keyboards, guitars, trumpets, a saxophone, a clarinet and a flute, according to Germain’s event coordinator, Channa Harrington.
Dunbar High’s principal, Carl Burnside, said he's excited to be selected as a beneficiary of the Manilow Music Project. “The gift of music is a very powerful one,” he said in a press release last month announcing the charity drive. "I am extremely appreciative that students of Dunbar High will benefit from Mr. Manilow’s mission of highlighting the importance of music programs in schools.”
Manilow says he got the idea for the Manilow Music Project from a friend in Palm Springs, California. “He asked me if I knew where his daughter could get a sax, because the school didn’t have one,” he says. “And I said, ‘They don’t have a sax?’ And I started looking around and reading up on it. And yeah, nearly all the middle schools and high schools around the country, because of budget problems... the first thing that goes is music and art. That’s the first thing that goes. And I said, ‘I’m a musician. I have to do something!’”
Music is important, Manilow explains. Sure, most people don’t become famous pop stars. But learning to play an instrument can boost your confidence, sharpen your memory, improve your math and reading skills, and a lot more. “A lot of people think it’s playtime, but it really isn’t,” Manilow says. “It’s more than just playtime. I’ve spoken to principals and teachers, and they always tell me that (the students’) grades go up when they’re in music classes. “It’s more important than people think. It changes peoples lives -- like it did mine!”
If you go... Who: Barry Manilow. When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Where: Germain Arena, 11000 Everblades Parkway, Estero. Tickets: $55-$247. Info: 948-7825 or germainarena.com.
Donate a musical instrument, get two free tickets to Barry Manilow: Barry Manilow got things started last month by donating a Yamaha keyboard to Dunbar High School. Now the pop icon wants Southwest Florida residents to step up, too, and donate more musical instruments to the school. Anyone who donates a new or “gently used” instrument will get two free tickets to Tuesday’s Manilow show (while supplies last, valid for pre-selected seat locations on a first come, first served basis). Donations can be dropped off at the Germain Arena box office between now and Tuesday. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Learn more about the Manilow Music Project at manilowmusicproject.org.
|February 14, 2018 ||Local 10 News (ABC)||"Barry Manilow Live at Hard Rock Live, Wed., Feb. 21" by Brian Doughty|
|HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - Barry Manilow performs live at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood on Wednesday, February 21st. Fans will get to hear hits like "Mandy", "I Write the Songs" and of course, "Copacabana"! The show is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. For tickets or more information click here.|
|February 14, 2018 ||Jacksonville.com (Florida Times-Union)||"Retirement isn’t in the cards for Barry Manilow" by Tom Szaroleta|
|In the past month or so, Neil Diamond announced that he’s retiring from performing due to health problems. Elton John announced his final tour. Paul Simon said he’s calling it quits. Even Lynyrd Skynyrd is going out on its final tour. Don’t expect Barry Manilow to follow suit any time soon. “First of all, Neil has to because he’s ill and Elton’s got children, so that makes sense,” Manilow said last week in a phone interview. “Me? I’ve just backed off on the big tours. I’m not leaving the road. Last year I realized that I’ve got to stop being away from home as much as I am so I go out a few times a month and that’s good enough for me. I don’t think I will retire, but I don’t go out as much as I used to.”|
Manilow plays the Times-Union Center in Jacksonville on Sunday, one of a handful of Florida dates. Manilow said he’s negotiating to do a residency in Las Vegas, where he can play in one place and have his fans come to him. That would be ideal, he said, because it would allow him to spend more time at home while still keeping his longtime band busy. “That’s the answer for me. My band and my crew, I’m going to lose them if I don’t do something and I don’t want to lose them,” he said. “It would be terrible to have to break in new people. I’ve got such a huge catalog and the people who work for me know the stuff inside out so we don’t even have to rehearse very much.”
Another option would be to pair up with another big star and go out on a co-headlining tour, but Manilow said that isn’t really his style. His fans are pretty hardcore, he said, and are there to hear his music. He rarely tours with opening acts but when he does, he usually chooses comics or jazz saxman Dave Koz, whose work fits in with his crowd.
And don’t look for Manilow to go on the road opening for someone else. He said it’s been decades since he was an opening act, and he doesn’t miss it. “When my first album came out -- which nobody bought -- I had to go out and promote it. I was the opening act for Country Joe, without his Fish. He was the headliner, so you can imagine that audience; they were so stoned they were laying in the aisles and I came out with my commercial [medley] and they didn’t know what they were looking at. I opened for Johnny Rivers. I was the opening act for Freddie Hubbard, the jazz trumpet player. When he heard my commercials [medley], which went over very well, he refused to go on. He said he refused to go on with anybody who plays commercials. He wanted nothing to do with me.”
Manilow said he plans to go into the studio soon, but he’s not sure what he’ll record. He’s done the best songs of the ’50s, ’60. ’70s and ’80s, songs of New York, Christmas songs, duets, big band and Frank Sinatra songs. So what’s next? He said he might turn to Nashville for inspiration. “If you take some of those country songs and dig into them, suddenly you find there’s a pretty ballad hiding in that song,” he said. “I couldn’t just do a country album, that would be silly, it’s not who I am. But maybe there are some songs out there that I could do.”
Barry Manilow: 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Times-Union Center. $57-$247.
|February 14, 2018 ||Herald-Tribune||"Barry Manilow says farewell in Van Wezel concert stop: Singer makes his Sarasota debut in a concert of hits" by Jay Handelman|
|When I was a junior in high school, I remember talking with some friends between classes in the hallway one day when our math teacher joined us and, out of the blue, asked, “Have you heard this Barry Manilow guy?”|
It was late in 1974, and at the time, Manilow had his first hit record with the song “Mandy” by Scott English and Richard Kerr. It was hard not to have heard the song, which soared to the top of the charts at a time when Top 40 radio was still popular (and about the only place to hear new music). “I think he’s going to be big,” Mr. Stevenson told us. He taught math, not music, but he was certainly right.
Those words have stuck with me all these years. I have heard that teacher’s voice in my head every time I listen to one of Manilow’s albums or when I’ve seen an interview or watched him perform on television: “He’s going to be big.”
Over the years, Manilow has sang his way to selling more than 80 million records, with lively hits like “Copacabana” and all those sorrowful ballads about missed chances, the ships passing in the night and the relationships that didn’t make it through the rain or survive that “Weekend in New England.”
I’m not sure if my teacher had anything to do with it, but I’ve followed along all these years, from the big hits at the start of his solo career, through the holiday albums and his recordings celebrating great songs of Frank Sinatra and music from the 1950s through the ’80s, even his most recent record, released last year, of songs about New York.
In a telephone interview a few weeks ago to talk about his concert Friday night at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Manilow said his popularity coincided with a desire on the part of music lovers to hear songs with a melody and a good lyric. And his Sarasota concert will feature “90 minutes of songs that everybody will recognize. I’m one of the lucky guys that has a catalog of songs that people know.”
Though he was initially a reluctant performer, he realized the theatricality of the music he wrote and the songs by other composers that he popularized. (He didn’t write “I Write the Songs,” but his recording hit No. 1 and stayed on the charts for 20 weeks in 1975.)
His songs usually tell stories. “Copacabana,” about the showgirl Lola’s descent into drunken loneliness after a fight one night between her boyfriend and a mobster, became the focus of an original stage musical that he hopes will someday make it to Broadway.
His 1976 hit “Weekend in New England” is typical of the kind of ballads he sang, about a man having to wait to be with his love once again. “When will our eyes meet? When can I touch you? When will this strong yearning end? And when will I hold you again?” he sings.
As he brings his long-running farewell tour to Sarasota, Manilow will be touching on all those feelings, performing hits “that make the whole world sing.”
Barry Manilow’s chart-topping songs, according to Billboard: “Mandy,” 1974, peaked at No. 1, on the charts for 16 weeks. “I Write the Songs,” 1975, peaked at No. 1, 20 weeks. “Looks Like We Made It,” 1977, peaked at No. 1, 19 weeks. “Can’t Smile Without You,” 1978, peaked at No. 3, 19 weeks. “Could it Be Magic,” 1975, peaked at No. 6, 18 weeks. “Copacabana,” 1978, peaked at No. 6, 16 weeks. “Somewhere in the Night,” 1978, peaked at No. 9, 15 weeks. “Ships,” 1979, peaked at No. 9, 14 weeks. “Tryin’ to Get the Feeling Again,” 1976, peaked at No. 10, 15 weeks. “Weekend in New England,” 1976, peaked at No. 10, 19 weeks.
Barry Manilow performs at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, as part of the Van Wezel Foundation annual gala. Remaining tickets are $206-$256. For more information: 941-953-3368; vanwezel.org. For information on the gala dinner and event: 941-366-5578; vwfoundation.org.
|February 14, 2018 ||Bradenton Herald||"Barry Manilow writes the songs that make the whole word sing, but not all of the ones he sings" by Marty Clear|
|He got his start as a jingle writer, and if you watched TV in the 1960s, his commercial melodies probably wormed their way into your ears. You heard them on commercials for State Farm Insurance (“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there”) “Band-Aid” (“I am stuck on Band-Aid and Band-Aid’s stuck on me”) and McDonald’s (“You deserve a break today”). He later went on to pop megastardom, singing the kind of personal-sounding ballads that songwriters usually sing themselves.|
And Barry Manilow did write or co-write a lot of his big hits. But there are a lot that he covered, or that other people wrote for him. They’re some of his best songs, even his most ardent fans would agree. So, in honor of Manilow’s Sarasota debut, Friday evening at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall (it’s the featured performance for Van Wezel’s annual gala), here’s a look at some of his best songs that he didn’t write:
1. “Read ’em and Weep.” Jim Steinman wrote it, Meat Loaf recorded it first, but it was still obscure when Manilow released it on his 1983 “Greatest Hits” album. It had not been a hit before them, but it was released as a single and reached the top of the Adult Contemporary Chart.
2. “Mandy.” Originally titled “Brandy,” it was a hit in a couple other countries by other performers before Manilow changed the name to “Mandy” and re-wrote it a bit and made it a bigger hit here in 1974. Despite the prevalent urban myth, it is apparently not about the songwriter’s dog.
3. “Ships.” By far the most improbable source for a Manilow song. This one’s by British classic rocker Ian Hunter, best known as the frontman for Mott the Hoople, from his great solo album.“You’re Never Alone With a Schizophrenic.” Manilow’s version is lusher but less edgy than Hunter’s. Which version makes you miss your father more is simply a matter of your musical taste.
4. “I Write the Songs.” It must have taken a bit of hubris for Bruce Johnston to write a song that says he writes the songs that make the whole world sing. It must have taken a bit more for Manilow to sing the song that he writes the songs that make the whole world sing when he didn’t even write the song that says that.
5. “Weekend in New England.” Randy Edelman’s lyric [barely] mentions New England and doesn’t mention weekends at all. But it’s a pretty song and Manilow’s version has gorgeous orchestration.
6. “I Made It Through the Rain.” The original version was about a songwriter. Manilow rewrote the lyrics so they were not specific to the protagonist’s occupation. It was only a few years after “I Write the Songs” so maybe he didn’t want to record too many songs he didn’t write about being a songwriter.
7. “Can’t Smile Without You.” Several artists, including the Carpenters, recorded this old-fashioned sing-along ditty before Manilow.
8. “Looks Like We Made It.” Richard Kerr (who co-wrote “Mandy”) and Will Jennings (who wrote “My Heart Will Go One”) wrote it, but Manilow was the first to record it. The lyrics are intriguingly ironic, because they’re about two former lovers who find happiness with other partners, not with each other.
9. “Ready to Take a Chance Again.” Written by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel, who also wrote “Killing Me Softly.”
10. “Somewhere in the Night.” Another Kerr and Jennings song, it was a recorded by third-tier ’70s folkies Batdorf & Rodney and became a hit for Helen Reddy before Manilow made it famous.
Details: 8:30 p.m. Feb. 16, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. $106-$256. 941-953-3368, vanwezel.org.
|February 14, 2018 ||News-Press||"Barry Manilow talks about Germain Arena show, his 'secret' marriage, 'Mandy' and more" by Charles Runnells|
|Barry Manilow performs Tuesday at Germain Arena, but first, he chatted with The News-Press about the concert, his "secret" marriage, why he quit doing big tours and much more.|
Here's what the pop icon had to say about...
- The difference between his current Florida shows and his One Last Time Tour, the massive two-year tour that visited Germain Arena in 2016 and signaled the end of big tours for Manilow: These are one nighters,” Manilow says about the Florida shows. “We’re doing four in Florida, and then I’m off for a month or so. THAT I can do. It’s not a tour. The one that we did (the One Last Time Tour) was really a tour. It was the last time I was going to do those big tours that kept me away for weeks at a time, going from city to city, hotel to hotel. I was done with that ... It's a young person's gig. It really is. It was the One Last Time Tour, and I wasn’t kidding. That was the end of my big touring years. That was the end of it."
- His plans to play live shows as long as he can: “As long as they come, I’ll be there,” he says. “And they still seem to be coming to see the shows and enjoy the music. And I certainly do love it, being with my band and my crew ... It’s fun.”
- His “secret” relationship with longtime partner Garry Kief, now his husband since 2014 (Manilow revealed the marriage to the public last year): “Everybody knew that Garry and I were a couple, for forever!” he says and laughs. “We’ve been together - this is our 40th year together. We’ve been together for 40 years. Everybody knew we were a couple since year one. So it wasn’t like I was hiding. Never! I’ve never been hiding. I just never talked about it unless somebody brought it up. And nobody brought it up!”
- Why he waited until 2017 to discuss his marriage publicly. Part of it was worry about how fans might react, he says. But the bigger part was his longtime need for privacy: “I’m a private guy,” he says. “I don’t invite you into my house unless I invite you. You can’t come in unless I invite you. So since 1975, I’ve kept my life to myself. My life is so filled with people and music and noise and everything, and I keep that part to myself. It’s one little piece of the pie, and it’s mine. It’s got nothing to do with being gay or not. It’s just, I don’t want people knowing the names of my dogs! ... And I’ve kept that forever. So a relationship is the most private thing you can have, and I didn’t talk about it for that reason only.”
- His fans' total acceptance and support after he announced his marriage: “I kind of expected that,” he says. “These people who have been in my corner for all these years, they only care that I’m happy. That’s it. So when they read that, they were really happy for me. And I got no negatives, not one negative comment anywhere. And I kind of expected it, because I know who these people are. So that part was beautiful.”
- How his style of songwriting isn’t in fashion anymore in pop music: “They don’t do it anymore!” he says. “It’s all about rhythm and drum machines and loops. But where’d the melodies go? Did you see the Grammys? Can you sing one (song) back? For what they’re doing, they’re great. For that genre. But the melody seems to have gone the way of the Great American Songbook.”
- Barry Manilow fans who call themselves “fanilows”: “It’s definitely been a thing for many years,” he says. “It started on the 'Will & Grace' show. One of the characters was standing outside in a really long line for a show I was supposed to be giving, and Eric (actor Eric McCormack) said, ‘What are you, a fanilow?’” Manilow admits he didn’t love the term, at first, but he grew to accept it. “I’m fine with it now,” he says. “Because when people tell me they’re fanilows, they are SERIOUS. And they’re proud to say it. So I got rid of my icks, and I’m fine with it now.”
- Why "Mandy" is still the song that means the most to him, 43 three years later: “That was the first one,” he says. "It was the biggest surprise of my life. I never thought I’d have a hit record. Suddenly, I had a No. 1 record, and it was crazy. It was the most exciting and terrifying couple of years of my life."
- Manilow never saw himself as the superstar he later became, a pop icon who’s 50 Top 40 hits include “Copacabana,” “Mandy,” “I Write the Songs,” “Can’t Smile Without You” and “Looks Like We Made It.” He had a more low-key career planned, in fact. “I was going to be a musician, an arranger, a conductor, a songwriter,” he says. “That’s where I was heading. And suddenly I wind up with a No. 1 record. And boy oh boy, that was a crazy year. It exploded in a million pieces, and I just wasn’t prepared for it ... I’d never even thought of it. And really, it changed my life.”
- How he learned to play the piano... “I was raised by my grandparents and my mother in a Jewish household (in Brooklyn),” he says. “And if you were a Jew or an Italian, you had to play the accordion. They won’t let you over the Brooklyn Bridge if you don’t play the accordion. (My family) knew I was musical, but they didn’t know what to do with me. And certainly they had no money. But somehow, they put a whole bunch of money together to rent me an accordion and get an accordion teacher. And I was good at it. But the best part about it was I learned to read music. And that was the beginning, for me. And then my mother remarried, and Willie Murphy came into my life. That's my stepfather. And he got rid of the accordion and rented me a piano. And from that moment on, I was on my way.”
|February 10, 2018 ||Herald-Tribune||"Barry Manilow brings his hits to Van Wezel gala concert: Singer makes a stop on his farewell tour Feb. 16 in Sarasota" by Jay Handelman|
|Though he became one of the top-selling recording stars of all time, Barry Manilow never gave a thought to a singing career when he was growing up in Brooklyn and started working as an arranger, orchestrator and accompanist for Bette Midler. It was a fluke, he says, that led to four decades of best-selling singles including “Mandy” “Copacabana” “I Write the Songs,” “Can’t Smile Without You,” “Could it Be Magic” “Looks Like We Made It.” He has sold more than 80 million records.|
“Before I started making records, I had 10 years of being an arranger, conductor and songwriter. When ‘Mandy’ came out in ’75, I was already 29. I already had a career. That’s where I thought I would be going. I was conducting and arranging for Bette Midler and then I figured I’d go to the next great singer and the next,” he said. And while he didn’t personally compose “I Write the Songs” (that credit goes to Randy Johnston), Manilow said he wanted people to hear his own music. So, to save money on hiring a professional singer, he made demos of his songs and started sending them around to record labels.
He recalls that it was a time when singer-songwriters like Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro were rising in popularity. “A record executive heard them and asked me if I wanted to record them. When I got a record contract, the only reason I accepted it was because it was a way to get my music out there,” he said in a telephone interview about his performance on Friday at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and the annual Van Wezel Foundation gala.
The concert is part of an extended farewell tour that is expected to mark his retirement from touring. The tour began in 2015 and he has dates booked through the year. He once recalled in a radio interview that even Midler, whom he accompanied during her now legendary performances at the Continental Baths in New York City, was surprised that he was recording his own music.
Audiences instantly connected with his music, but that meant he had to start touring to promote the recordings. Behind the scenes or the piano, he was fine. But it was a different thing being in the spotlight. “I was terrible. I’m telling you I was just terrible. But the audiences didn’t think I was. They never did. They were OK with me on that stage bumbling around not knowing what I was doing,” he said.
Manilow, who is now 74, eventually “made friends with the idea” of performing, which he has been doing regularly for more than 40 years, from Las Vegas nightclubs, to arena shows and occasionally smaller theaters like Van Wezel, which are his favorite venues. “I like the smaller ones better. What I do is more intimate. When I do it in front of 10,000 people, it’s very exciting, but I like doing it in a smaller venue. They can understand the lyrics, it’s clearer,” he said. And he’s different. “The show is pretty much the same, 90 minutes of songs that everybody will recognize. But it’s different for me because we’re closer,” he said.
Many of his songs are meant to be performed live, he said. “I’ve always written big. Sure, I do some small songs, but I always had this kind of theatrical bent to my writing, always a big idea, a catchy melody, a real interesting arrangement. Those kind of songs work just great when you put them on stage,” he said. Manilow could probably do a four-hour show and not touch on all the songs that he has written or recorded that hit the top 40 or the commercials he wrote or performed from McDonald’s “You Deserve a Break Today” to State Farm’s “Like a Good Neighbor” and “Grab a bucket of Chicken” for KFC.
A musical theater major at Juilliard, Manilow also has written two stage shows with original songs -- “Copacabana,” built around his 1978 hit and “Harmony,” about the German male sextet the Comedian harmonists. The shows have been well-received in different regional productions but haven’t made it to Broadway, which he still hopes will happen at some point.
Various producers and writers also have proposed creating a jukebox musical built around his hit songs (in the style of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” or “Jersey Boys”). “People have approached me about a musical and I tell them to put something together and send it to me and if I like it, I’ll give them permission to do it, but nothing has come of it yet,” he said.
Unlike a lot of performers still plugging away with hits from decades ago, Manilow hasn’t stopped recording. He has recorded more than 30 albums, most recently “This is My Town: Songs of New York,” which was released last year. “I just have ideas. The well hasn’t run dry. I’m still writing. I go from one idea to the next and I’m lucky that record companies are still interested and interested in having me make records. So far so good. I have ideas for three albums right now.”
His other recent albums have featured a series of greatest songs albums from each decade from the 1950s to the 1980s, and the “Greatest Love Songs of All Time,” as well a tribute to Frank Sinatra and several Christmas albums. And audiences haven’t tired of listening to him. “I think I will always connect with an audience with a good melody and a good lyric. If you see what goes on in these concerts, as I do, you’ll feel the same way,” he said. “I think they’re starving for it. They’re starving for a song that has a nice melody and a nice lyric. And I have to believe there will always be an audience for that.”
Barry Manilow: The singer performs at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, as part of the Van Wezel Foundation annual gala. Remaining tickets are $206-$256. For more information: 941-953-3368; vanwezel.org. For information on the gala dinner and event: 941-366-5578; vwfoundation.org
|February 3, 2018 ||Houston Chronicle||"Kingwood High gets musical boost from Barry Manilow" by Melanie Feuk|
|Barry Manilow's concert in Sugar Land drew in much more than fans on the night of Friday, Feb. 2. Some in the crowd of people arriving at the Smart Financial Center carried instruments with them. This unusual behavior may have troubled concert performers under normal circumstances, but was more than welcome at this event.|
Through his nonprofit, the Manilow Music Project, Manilow himself launched an instrument drive for music students at Kingwood High School by announcing his donation of a Yamaha keyboard. Anyone who donated a musical instrument received two free tickets to the concert. Among those arriving at the event center were students from Kingwood High School.
Kingwood High School students have been displaced from their school due to flood damage from Hurricane Harvey. The school's fine arts programs suffered a crippling loss of over $1 million worth of equipment. The Humble ISD Education Foundation began a fundraising initiative for the Kingwood High School fine arts, which had collected approximately $12,000 through several events and connections.
The Manilow concert helped boost the fine arts fundraising total by donating $20 of each ticket purchased through the Humble ISD website to Kingwood High School fine arts. "Fine arts are an essential part of education," Humble ISD Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen stated in a news release. "Barry Manilow's donation of a piano keyboard to Kingwood High School touches our hearts and shows that the ravages of flooding will not stop the music. Humble ISD is honored that a true legend - one of the world's best-selling artists - cares for students," Fagen said.
|February 2, 2018 ||News-Press||"Free tickets to Barry Manilow at Germain Arena: Just donate musical instruments for kids" by Charles Runnells|
|Barry Manilow got things started with his plans to donate a Yamaha keyboard to Dunbar High School. Now the pop icon wants Southwest Florida residents to step up, too, and donate more musical instruments to the school. And here’s the bonus: If you donate, you’ll also get two free tickets to Manilow’s Feb. 20 show at Germain Arena (while supplies last).|
Manilow kicked off the charity drive last week with a press release for his Manilow Music Project. “I’m thrilled to once again bring the gift of music to these kids,” Manilow said in the release sent by Germain Arena. He couldn’t be reached for further comment through his publicist.
The Manilow Music Project has conducted musical-instrument drives all over the country to help schools with their music programs. Dunbar High’s principal, Carl Burnside, said he was excited to be selected as a beneficiary of the Manilow Music Project. “The gift of music is a very powerful one,” he said in the press release. “I am extremely appreciative that students of Dunbar High will benefit from Mr. Manilow’s mission of highlighting the importance of music programs in schools.”
Donations can be dropped off at the Germain Arena box office between now and Feb. 20. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Anyone who donates a new or “gently used” instrument will get two free tickets to the Feb. 20 show (valid for pre-selected seat locations on a first come, first served basis).
Tickets for the Germain Arena concert are $55-$247 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com. Learn more about the Manilow Music Project at manilowmusicproject.org.