|December 27, 2018 ||The Desert Sun||"Barry Manilow will perform at 25th annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards gala in Palm Springs" by Robert Hopwood|
|Music legend Barry Manilow will perform a special concert at the 25th annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards on Feb. 9 for what is expected to be a sold-out crowd. The Palm Springs resident, who has sold more than 85 million albums worldwide, will be the featured performer at this February's gala, which raises money for the Desert AIDS Project.|
The local charity offers an array of health care services to people living with HIV and AIDS. The fund-raising gala has been re-imagined for its silver anniversary, said Steven Henke, the director of community development for the Desert AIDS Project. "We're making a lot of changes, focusing on the experience of attendees," he said. It will be a "fast, tight-paced show."
The gala is part of a series of events starting Feb. 8, when the City of Palm Springs will posthumously honor interior designer and local philanthropist Steve Chase with a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. An invite-only, VIP party for about 500 donors and celebrities will follow the dedication, which will be held at the Palm Springs Art Museum, Henke said. The festivities continue on Feb. 9 with a fashion show outside the Palm Springs Convention Center. It will be followed by a pre-party, which will focus on 25 years of memories from the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, Henke said. During the awards show that follows, Steve Chase will be posthumously honored with the Steve Chase Humanitarian Award. Palm Springs Mayor Pro Tem Geoff Kors and his husband, James Williamson, will receive the Partners for Life Award. The name of the final honoree has yet to be released, Henke said.
After the awards are handed out, Manilow will perform for the expected crowd of 1,500 attendees. An after-party will follow the gala. "People are going to remember this for a very long time," Henke said.
Manilow has been a longtime supporter of the Desert AIDS Project, according to Henke, and in 2017 he posthumously presented Elizabeth Taylor with the Partners for Life Award. The septuagenarian loves spending time at his secluded home in the Palm Springs Mesa district, but he continues to sing the songs loved by Fanilows around the world. After returning from a short tour of Great Britain earlier this year, Manilow performed his holiday show, "A Very Berry Christmas," in San Diego and Rancho Mirage. He also performs at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.
Tickets start at $500 and are on sale now at stevechase25.eventbrite.com.
|December 16, 2018 ||The Desert Sun||"Barry Manilow's 'Very Barry Christmas' is bigger, louder than before" by Bruce Fessier|
|You never see as many happy, smiling faces at a pop music show as you do at a Barry Manilow concert. And, even though we have long appreciated homages to human angst from Mavis Staples to R.E.M. to Mac Miller, that’s not a bad thing. Manilow staged a bigger, louder version of the “Very Barry Christmas” he performed last year at the McCallum Theatre Saturday at The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa. His modulations leading to massive crescendos on his classic power ballads seemed more dramatic. The projected fire in the chimney on the backdrop was huge.|
But his masterful juxtaposition of big and small songs made his intimate material among the highlights of the show. Manilow kept the banter flowing from the beginning. Always appreciative of his audience for “getting” him, Manilow introduced himself as “your skinny Jewish Santa Claus.” Then he explained that his Jewish mother married a non-Jewish Irish-American when he was 12 that gave him an appreciation of Christmas and diverse holiday music. In a more private setting, he might have quoted his late friend, Bill Edelen, or Harvard philosopher George Santayana, saying the poetry of Christmas “feeds my spirit.”
He became introspective on “Even Now” and followed with Joni Mitchell’s song of holiday sadness, “The River,” to take us down to bring us back up again with holiday classics. He let a local child sing “Jingle Bell Rock” and it lit up the room. He sang “White Christmas” in a tuxedo with a white bow tie and carnation and we felt as warm as if that fireplace was really heating up this elegant joint. In the finale, with confetti flowing, he reminded us, this is “For the Children.”
Manilow’s energy at age 75 is amazing, and he acknowledged his astonishment at that. “When my grandfather was this age,” he said, “the best thing he could do was bring up phlegm.” Barry Manilow brings up our spirit. That’s priceless. He does it all over again at 7 p.m. Sunday night at The Show.
|December 15, 2018 ||The Desert Sun||Barry Manilow: A VERY BARRY CHRISTMAS concert in Rancho Mirage|
|Barry Manilow performed at The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, California on December 15, 2018. The concert titled, A Very Barry Christmas, was a near sold-out at the venue.|
|December 10, 2018 ||The San Diego Union-Tribune||"Thanks to Barry Manilow, Christmas comes early for Crawford High School students" by Karla Peterson|
|Barry Manilow brings his “A Very Barry Christmas” concert to San Diego State University’s Viejas Arena on Thursday, but for some local high-school students, Barry’s Christmas came even earlier. Last month, Manilow announced he was donating a Yamaha piano to Crawford High School. The donation was a very public gesture in support of the Manilow Music Project, the long-running program that focuses on providing musical instruments to high schools and middle schools and to funding musical scholarships to universities in the U.S. and Canada.|
It was also a personal reflection of the epiphany that happened when the 13-year-old Brooklyn kid sat down at a neighbor’s piano and saw a whole new future flash before his eyes. “It changed my life. Just changed my life,” Manilow said during a recent phone interview. “I sat down, and I just felt at home. I felt like I was where I belonged. I bet any musician would tell you the same thing. Suddenly, you know what you’re supposed to do. I was just lucky that I could actually make a career out of it.”
Music gave Barry Manilow one heck of a career. It gave him 28 songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, including three No. 1 hits. He racked up 15 Grammy Award nominations and one win. Also five Primetime Emmy nominations and two Emmy Awards. And more concert dates than he can begin to remember, much less count.
Without that first piano encounter, the 75-year-old singer, songwriter, pianist and arranger would not have the life he has now, and the piano donation is just part of his efforts to make sure other budding musicians get the chance to find their fabulous selves. As he has in the past, Manilow is pairing his concert here with a musical-instrument drive. Anyone who donates a new or gently used musical instrument at the Viejas Arena on Thursday will receive two free tickets for the evening’s concert.
Instruments will be accepted at the arena box office from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday. The Manilow Music Project fixes them up and donates them to school districts, which distribute them to needy schools. And in addition to scoring donors free tickets, the instruments can make the kind of difference that truly lasts. “I speak to the principals and I speak to the teachers all the time, and they all tell me the same thing,” Manilow said. “They say that kids in music classes, their grades always go up. They learn to interact with other students. It’s not just playtime. It does change a young person’s life.”
Manilow knows this because he lived it. After sitting down at his neighbor’s piano, the boy who was already a pretty good accordion player took the first small step on the road to bigger things. Much, much bigger things. He got his professional start as an accompanist and arranger. He wrote, arranged and sang on commercial jingles. He composed the original score for an off-Broadway production of “The Drunkard.” He was Bette Midler’s pianist and music director. He was a busy behind-the-scenes bee, and he liked it.
During his stint with Midler, Manilow was offered a recording contract, something he wasn’t looking for and didn’t quite know how to handle. His first single — 1974’s “Mandy” — went all the way to No. 1. After that, the hits came at a dizzying clip. Getting comfortable in the spotlight was dizzying, too. And not in a good way. “In the beginning, I was terrible. Of course I was terrible. I had never done anything like that before,” Manilow said still sounding rattled by the memory of his early concert performances. “But from the beginning, the audience didn’t think I was as terrible as I knew I was. It just kept building, and it wouldn't stop. And the records kept getting bigger, and the audiences kept getting bigger. I didn’t know what was happening, and it just kept terrifying me night after night.”
About 10 years into his performing career, things changed. For years, Manilow’s fans had been telling him about the many ways his big, emotionally vulnerable songs had saved them. One night, while he was singing “Can’t Smile Without You” for the umpteenth time, the house lights in the theater went up, and the singer saw his fans. Really saw them. And that’s when the audience saved Barry Manilow. “For the first time, I saw the audience clearly, and I had an epiphany. And the epiphany was, ‘You are not doing this for you. You are doing this for them.’ Everything changed when I realized that was the job. Then I knew why I was standing on the stage. I was standing on the stage to make these people feel better, and from there on in, I loved this job.”
He still loves the job. He loves rearranging the holiday classics featured in his “Very Barry Christmas” show so that they sound new but still feel as comforting as ever. The Christmas shows include a generous helping of old Barry favorites, and he loves freshening those up, too. He loves his residency at the swanky Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino, where he’ll be returning in February for a four-month stint.
But mostly, he loves those songs. The ones that first piano helped him find. The ones the fans never get tired of hearing and the man behind the keyboards never gets tired of playing. The gifts he will always try to give back. “I believe in what I’m doing. I believe in the lyrics of the songs that I sing. I believe that the audiences need to feel good. Certainly I need to feel good. The show makes me feel good, and my goal is to make them feel better when they leave than they did when they got there. You put that all together, how can I not do this?”
Barry Manilow: “A Very Barry Christmas.” When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Where: Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl, 5500 Canyon Crest Drive, San Diego State University. Tickets: $39-$159, plus service charges. Phone: (800)745-3000. Online: ticketmaster.com
|December 10, 2018 ||The Sarasota||"A Very Barry Manilow Christmas Comes to Tampa Bay, FL" by Vicky Sullivan|
|Christmas came to the Amalie Arena on Friday night in the form of Barry Manilow! Florida and California are the lucky states that are hosting Barry's Christmas tour this year. I was invited by a friend to see the show and quite honestly I was on the fence. At age 15, I loved Barry's first big hit “Mandy” but that was back in 1974 and my musical tastes changed over the years. Sure, I knew Barry's hit songs, I was a child of Top 40 radio but, at some point it became uncool to like Barry. He became my mother’s music. But on Friday night, Manilow brought me full circle, it’s funny how age, nostalgia and a great singer can do that!|
Upon arrival, we were given glow sticks to wave around during the show. A fun way to set the tone for certain songs during the show or use as your applause meter by waving it around. The stage was set in Christmas décor. Barry arrived to the opening number of “It's A Miracle”. He moved right into Christmas mode with several holiday tunes including “Christmas is Just Around the Corner” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”. Extremely personable, Barry makes jokes including about himself. He clearly knows how it is to be Barry Manilow! At 75, Manilow has had an illustrious career. 12 number one singles, 27 top 10 hits and has sold over 80 million albums. He has been respected by both Sinatra and Bob Dylan. He started out with Bette Midler and has since produced her work.
In a beautifully poignant moment of the show Barry performed the Joni Mitchell penned “River” about a Christmastime relationship break-up. He also did a tribute to old blue eyes himself Frank Sinatra, complete with a drink and pretend cigarette. In between holiday tunes came the hits like “I Can’t Smile Without You” and “Daybreak”. Manilow has a great band of around 20 musicians backing him as well as his three background singers. He pays respect to the “talented and wonderful” people who work with him and introduces everyone individually.
Manilow moves around the stage, does a little dancing, hikes himself up on the piano for a tune and sounds great. He holds several notes at length and jokes “What is your 75 year old grandpa doing tonight?” The audience laughs along with him, many of them his age. His fan base is a mixed bag of everyone mostly over 40. One of the highlights is Barry leaving for a costume change and the big screen displays a 1974 Manilow on the TV show “Midnight Special” playing that first big hit “Mandy”. Barry returns to finish the song with both young and current selves singing together. A goosebump time travel moment that has that 15 year-old singing along. “I Write the Songs” has the whole crowd singing and I find I know the words to a song I hadn’t heard in many years.
Of course, everyone is waiting for that classic dance number “Copacabana” that has almost become Manilow’s theme song. Barry and his band deliver a rousing rendition. Taking a bow and leaving the stage, he sends Santa Claus and sleigh out for the encore of Christmas tunes to come including “Jingle Bells” and “White Christmas” complete with snow blasting out into the arena! Children come to the stage and Barry says “Christmas is all about the children” and shares his mic singing with a young girl. Streams of colorful confetti falling from the ceiling, Barry waves goodnight to audience. A great feel-good holiday show, Manilow is actually pretty cool after all!
|December 8, 2018 ||The Sunday Post||"Barry Manilow may be 75, but he has no plans to stop playing for his army of devoted music fans" by Billy Higgins|
|The candles are still burning brightly for Barry Manilow and he plans to keep them lighting up the world without a flicker in 2019. “I am already excited about next year,” the popular singer said. “The season in Las Vegas is going well and that will last at least until the summer and I have other shows planned plus a return to the recording studio, which means that I am going to be doing what I love the most – singing, dancing and performing for all the wonderful people who come to see me.”|
The Las Vegas season started at the magnificent Westgate Las Vegas Resort a few months ago and Barry has been enjoying every minute of his shows there. “I was not very well at the start, nothing serious but it was disappointing to have to postpone,” he said. “We have made up for it since and the season has been going well. I am not on stage every night, but do shows for three nights in succession and then have a break for two or three weeks before the next three-night session. That’s great for me because I can do other shows or recording or just rest in between times and constantly have the Westgate shows to look forward to.”
Many of Barry’s loyal British fans have made the trip to see him in Las Vegas and he really appreciates that. “I always know when there are British fans in the audience as they are such fun, they are the loudest when everyone sings along and they are just great to be with. That is why I like touring Britain. I have said many times British audiences are the best. I still get goosebumps when I remember that special night at Blenheim Palace when there were 40,000 people there and in the encore I sang 'We’ll Meet Again.' Suddenly there were thousands of candles lit and the whole crowd joined in. I couldn’t sing, the emotion of it all just got to me. That was 35 years ago and it still gets to me. I am sorry to go on about it but that was such a magical moment. My trips to Britain have always been like that whether it has been touring or flying over for a Royal Variety Show, the welcome is always a very warm one. When the fans fly over to Vegas to see the show, they are just the same – fantastic.”
It is amazing that Barry’s Las Vegas season is due to end two days before his 76th birthday on June 17 – that is unless the season is extended. “It’s incredible and great at the same time,” said Barry. “The options are open for what comes next, but it is going to be a full year whatever. I cannot believe that I will be 76, I don’t feel it. What is nice is that the audiences who come to see the show are mixed ages. There are those who have been with me throughout the years, but there are young ones, too, in their teens. I love them, but it must be like seeing their grandad up on stage. I don’t think it is me they come to see, I think it is the music. We put a lot of the favourites in the show and as we perform them it is almost as if time has stood still and we are the same as when they were first performed or recorded. Those songs are old friends to me and I think it is the same for the audiences – well, they all sing along and there is a lot of love in their voices. I am sure that my songs will outlive me, but I plan to go on enjoying them for as long as possible. That doesn’t mean that there will be no more new songs. I am still writing, I can’t help it. If you are a creative person, you cannot help but go on creating. Not everything proves great, but every now and then a little gem pops up.”
Barry’s zest for life is as powerful as ever and it is refreshing that he has never become unapproachable. “I have always been grateful to the people who have bought my recordings or tickets for the shows – they are the real stars,” he said. “I don’t think you should ever forget that when the lights go out and you leave the theatre, you are just the same ordinary guy who went to the same schools as everyone else and did the same things as everyone else. Your path just took you in a different direction [than] most and you were able to follow your star. That doesn’t make you special, that makes you very lucky.”
Although he is so very down-to-earth, Barry is aware he has to take care of his health and fitness so that he can give his best with each energetic performance. “I am not a health fanatic, but I believe in being sensible,” he said. “Your body and mind will look after you if you treat it with respect. I do try to take care of myself and keep fit without being enslaved to diets and daily trips to the gym. I jog a little and I have a lot of help with that from my dogs, part of my family. We spend a lot of time together and they help me keep fit. Perhaps they should have a credit in the tour programme!”
Another quality of Barry’s is that he always looks good – you’ll never find him with a stubble on his chin or sprawling about in ragged clothes. “That’s not me at all,” he said. “Of course I wear casual clothes, but I would never like to look like someone who just doesn’t care about themselves. I don’t like not shaving either, that just isn’t me. It is hard enough to look at myself in the mirror without being scared of what looks back at me.”
So Barry is still enjoying life and is excited about 2019. “Oh yes, I am having a great time and I cannot wait to see what happens during 2019 and 2020 too,” he said. “I have talked about retirement a few times, but how can I? I might have to one day, but when you see the lights go up, the music starts and you go out on stage, you just feel the love of your audience and suddenly age has nothing to do with it. “As I said, my music is timeless. Could It Be Magic? Well, who knows, but it’s been a good year and next year will be, too. May I wish your readers and everyone a really great and happy 2019! Perhaps 'We’ll Meet Again' in Vegas – if not, maybe in Britain once more.”
|December 5, 2018 ||The Desert Sun||"Fanilows are clamoring for another book...But Barry Manilow is happy writing songs for now" by Bruce Fessier|
|Barry Manilow is in a good place right now. Unlike contemporaries such as Neil Diamond, Elton John and Paul Simon, Manilow, 75 and as long and lanky as he was when he was 50, hasn’t found the need to put an expiration date on his career. He seems to have found a good balance of work, relaxation and philanthropy.|
The holiday concert he performs once every three years as a benefit for Coachella Valley charities at the McCallum Theatre has proven so popular, he’s taking his “A Very Barry Christmas” show on the road. His Dec. 15-16 stops at The Show at the Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa have also become a charity drive. He’s donating a Yamaha piano to Palm Springs High School and giving away two concert tickets to people who donate new or gently used musical instruments to his Manilow Music Project, as long as tickets last. He's also looking forward to returning to the McCallum, he said, with 2020 being the next date on his "A Gift of Love" schedule of benefits.
Manilow does only a limited number of concert dates on his tours to have more time to spend at his beautiful, secluded compound in the Palm Springs Mesa district. But he loves performing every few months at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, and he’s been offered a long-term contract to continue his residency there. “They want the George Burns contract,” he said with obvious delight over the telephone. “That means until I’m 100! Listen, this Vegas show has turned out to be a very entertaining and exciting show for the audience. It’s doing for the Westgate what they hoped it would do, and it’s doing for me what I was hoping it would do. So, it’s a great gig. I would stay there until they throw me out.”
Manilow is planning a Christmas album, and he’s started work on an LP of original songs and a sequel to his Grammy-nominated “Night Songs” LP. The latter will feature more Frank Sinatra-styled saloon songs, including a version of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” that Sinatra couldn’t get right for his famous “For Only the Lonely” concept album.
“When I was practicing it, I went on Spotify and it said, “Sinatra: ‘Lush Life’,” Manilow said. “He stopped singing. He couldn’t get it. It’s like the craziest melody you’ve ever heard. You’ve got to be a musician or at least really know how to sing the thing. It gets to a very tricky line and he says, ‘Stop, stop, stop. Boy, am I wrong.’ And he says, ‘Let’s go to the next one.’ The chart was great and he was great. He just hit a couple of wrong notes and gave up.”
Literary aspirations - Manilow has always juggled multiple projects, but he's put plans to write a sequel to his 1987 autobiography on the back burner, although not necessarily on the shelf. “Sweet Life: Adventures on the Way to Paradise” chronicled his career through 1984, when he began tackling risky passion projects such as his jazz album, “2:00 AM Paradise Café,” a CBS film version of “Copacabana,” producing jobs for other artists such as Nancy Wilson, Dionne Warwick and Diane Schuur, and writing a musical intended for Broadway, titled “Harmony.”
Manilow said he couldn’t find an artistic reason to compel him to write it. “I tried and I have bored myself to tears,” Manilow said. “I really haven’t got the drama for another book. My life is just not made of drama. I was very happy with that first book. It was a very interesting story about a guy who didn’t expect success and ended up with my career. That ended in ’84. And you would think between ’84 and 2018 there would be a lot more stories. But I just couldn’t find the angle.”
Manilow’s fans are hoping he finds a way to tell the story they've been hanging on for decades. “Fanilows” from France to Japan told The Desert Sun this week there’s a strong appetite for a portal into Manilow's personal journey.
“Why does Barry have to have drama in his book?” asked Merridith Ryan Karpen of Chicago. “There is enough drama in the world. I'm 100 percent sure that his friends, fans (and) admirers would love to read his experiences on the road. A day in the life. How he stays wonderful, positive and genuinely true to himself. Does he know how much his music has helped me, personally, and so many other millions of people that have similar stories of growing up, dealing with illness and hardship? We understand how private he is and are grateful for anything he shares.”
Michael Cavacini of Philadelphia said he’d like to read more about the private life Manilow shares with his husband, Garry Kief, who Manilow said in his last book saved him from financial ruin after becoming his manager more than 40 years ago.
Keiko Sakai of Tokyo sent a copy of an article Manilow wrote for Writer’s Digest in 1987 about his struggles to write his first book. In a creatively-written essay, Manilow talked about how his friends and agents encouraged him to turn his anecdotes about the music business into a book. But, the first time he sat down at a typewriter, he said, “I couldn’t find one word to write.”
His writing process - So, Manilow said he turned to a process he often employed when confronting an unfamiliar project: He began asking what he called “Stupid Questions.” He went shopping for a computer and bought a book on how to write a book. Ultimately, he transferred his musical techniques to the way he conveyed anecdotes.
For example, when writing about how he met Bette Midler, who hired him as her musical director and gave him an opportunity to sing several of his original songs at her concerts, he said he used a counterpoint technique. But, instead of intertwining two independent melodies, he related a conversation with parenthetical statements about what each person was thinking. It made for a clever arrangement of words.
Manilow wrote that his book was the most personal thing he ever created and he was so proud of it, he put copies of it in every room of his house until he heard guests exclaim, “Oh brother, there’s his damn book again.”
Interestingly, few people knew Manilow owned one of Palm Springs’ greatest architectural marvels when he was writing “Sweet Life.” He bought a smaller Palm Springs home with Kief around 1978, Manilow said. Then someone showed them a house on West Vista Chino designed by mid-century modern architect Richard Neutra. It was already known as the Kaufmann Desert House, named after Pittsburgh department store tycoon Edgar Kaufmann, who had it built in 1946. Legendary architecture photographer Julius Shulman took famous pictures of it as early as 1947. House owner Nelda Linsk was photographed there in a 1970 photo by Slim Aarons that has become famous under the title, “Poolside Gossip.”
Manilow and Kief sold the house in 1993 for $982,500, according to public records showing Kief as the trustee/conservator with the Barney Property Trust as joint tenants. It was renovated by the buyers and it became known as the most prominent mid-century modern design in the town that has been called a mid-century modern mecca.
“We realized after we bought it it was a magnificent architectural diamond,” said Manilow. “There were pictures of this house all over the place. When (Kaufmann) built it, it was in the middle of nowhere. It was this modern, magnificent piece of work in the middle of nowhere and then, little by little, houses started to be built around it. By the time we got to it, it was a small neighborhood. When we sold it, it was tripled in size. Across the street from the Neutra house, there was nothing. You could see for miles. But, by the time we sold it, there was a lot of traffic going in and out. We had to sell it.”
Helen M. Holdun of Tustin said she’d like to read about the lessons Manilow has learned – “via his career, touring, and just living. How is he different or the same now than when he was a young man starting out?” she said she’d like to know. “If he had to do it all over again, what if anything would he do differently? How have the fans, their labeling him as ‘super mega sex God,’ affected who he is as a person when he’s not on stage and how can young performers find balance in their own lives? Does he wish he’d been able to come out earlier in life? (He should) offer advice, based on his public and private life, to people who are on the fence about sharing their truth.”
Janet Fauret, of Strasbourg, France, said she'd like to hear the details behind his many tours and the people he’s worked with. She notes, “A little name dropping and anecdotes about other famous people is always good! “It’s funny that Barry thinks you need drama in your life to write a biography,” she said. “He’s had an amazing career. To what does he attribute it? All those tours: He says it was hard, but he kept doing it. Why? The connection he has with his fans is exceptional, but that can’t be the only reason."
She calls the news of his 2014 marriage to Kief "the elephant in the room" and asks, "Can he write a book and call it a biography if he doesn’t? “I know a lot of fans would be interested – sincerely interested, not morbidly curious – about what it was like all those years being one person on stage and another behind the scenes," she said. "Was it hard or did it just become second nature? I know his relationship with Garry was an open secret to many, but, I do know people who were genuinely amazed when he came out. So, it must have been hard sometimes leading what was almost a double life.”
Manilow says he'll revisit the idea of a memoir when he figures out the best way to approach it, just as he usually waits to record a concept album suggested by his friend and Sony Music label chief, Clive Davis, until he's figured out how to solve the puzzle of making it musically viable. "I'll go back to it now and again," Manilow said. "I think I write pretty well. I know how to do it. But, the big question I couldn't answer is, 'Why am I doing it?' So, maybe one of these days, it will hit me."
Manilow in concert: What: A Very Barry Christmas concert. When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16. Where: The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32-250 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage. Tickets: $100-$250.
Manilow Music Project component: Donors may drop off new or gently used musical instruments to be given to student musicians in need from 7-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 and 6-7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16 at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa. Information: (888) 999-1995 or hotwatercasino.com/barry-manilow. Westgate concert info: manilow.com.
|December 5, 2018 ||Orlando Sentinel||"Barry Manilow's holiday show includes gift for Jones High School" by Trevor Fraser|
|Barry Manilow loves Christmas music. “These songs are standards that come from the ’40s and ’50s and I’m crazy for music like that,” said the iconic singer. This explains his three studio albums of Christmas music recorded over his 45-year career, and his show A Very Barry Christmas, coming to the Amway Center on Saturday, Dec. 8.|
But the Brooklyn native’s penchant for the holidays goes beyond the music. “It seems like it’s the only time of year that people stop hollering at each other,” said Manilow. And demonstrating his commitment to the season of giving, his foundation, The Manilow Music Project, will be donating a piano to Orlando’s Jones High School.
The piano won’t be alone. Manilow and the Amway Center have invited the community to bring new and slightly used instruments to the arena for donation. “I beg the audiences that if they have any instruments in their garages or their attic that are collecting dust to bring them down to the arena,” said Manilow.
“It means the world to us,” said Jones band teacher Jamaal Nicholas. “It’s an opportunity for the children to play on an instrument of quality and it is a demonstration that someone in the community cares about their participation in music and is supporting them.” Jones was recommended to the project by the staff at the Amway Center.
Chorus teacher Andrea Green, who teaches piano classes on keyboards, is looking forward to giving her students time with the new instrument. “For students to actually feel a piano, that brings it to a whole new level,” she said.
Manilow, 75, started the project more than 10 years ago when someone asked him to get a sax for his daughter because her school was out of instruments. “So I started to do a little investigation and, sure enough, at high schools and middle schools all around the country, the first thing that goes are music and arts,” said Manilow. The Manilow Music Project has conducted music instrument drives all over the country to assist local schools with their music programs.
This is the second time in a year that a celebrity has aided the Jones High music program. Earlier this year, Ellen DeGeneres presented them with $100,000 from Walmart to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Senior Jevon Baldwin was part of the group that went. The percussionist says that anything people donate to the music program will have a positive impact on the high school, located in Orlando’s low-income Parramore neighborhood. “Being in the neighborhood that we’re in, a lot of people can’t afford these instruments,” he said. “[Manilow is] helping generation after generation that’s coming in.”
Known for hits such as “Mandy” and “Can’t Smile Without You,” Manilow easily recalls the impact a piano had on his young life. “I was the geek of the neighborhood until I played the piano,” he said. “And then suddenly everything changed. I became popular because I was good at it and I was in demand.”
Baldwin, who also plays at his church, concurs on the benefits of music in his life. “God and music ... really made me who I am,” he said. “It changed my in drastic ways. It made me not go the bad route that I could have went.”
“I hear it from teachers and from principals,” said Manilow. “These kids that take music classes, their grades go up, they learn to interact with other students and they become better people.”
Science tends to agree. A study published this year in the scientific journal Neuron found “musical training has the capacity to foster the development of non-musical skills across a host of domains, including language development, attention, visuo-spatial perception, and executive function.”
Jones’ music program was founded by Orange County teacher James “Chief” Wilson in 1950. “It was a time when there wasn’t much support for African Americans in the music classroom,” said Nicholas, who gradated as valedictorian from Jones in 2009. “We still have some instruments from way back then. Obviously we can’t use many of them because they’re in quite a state of disrepair.”
The school has one piano already, but Nicholas has plans for the new one. “We can use it for teaching of course,” he said. “And we can debut it at our concert in the spring.”
Nicholas does have something of a specific request as far as donations go. “I need a new oboe,” he said. But ultimately, he said they will be happy to care for anything that they can get. “Anytime we get something new it’s like Christmas around here.”
People who wish to donate instruments can bring them to the Amway Center in exchange for a pair of tickets to the show. The arena will be accepting donations from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. through Friday and then an hour before the show on Saturday. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $18.75-$246.25. Details can be found at amwaycenter.com.