Monday, May 9, 2011

Carol Channing, Dionne Warwick, Louis Armstrong...and more!

(This picture was taken at Carol Channing's 90th Birthday celebration at The Pantages Theatre in Hollywood February 21st, 2011. (Pictured are John Bowab (who directed the event), Davis Gaines, Joann Worley, Carol Channing, Bruch Vilanch, Carole Cooke, Mary Jo Catlett
I LOVE my horoscope today! "Others may not understand or appreciate your strange behavior today and your dance could become one of avoiding the truth. But even your most direct approach could get lost in your foggy mental landscape.
Your friends might believe that you are being contentious now, but you're not. Remember, you can still play well with others even if you're marching to a different drummer." Story of my life. Today, I'm writing about Carol Channing, Dionne Warwick, and Louis Armstrong.

Legendary Broadway star, Carol Channing and her husband Harry Kullijian, take in the closing performance of “Ramona” in Hemet on Saturday.

Carol Channing and her husband Harry Kullijian take in the closing performance of "Ramona" in Hemet May 7.
Channing had appeared to open the show that day, receiving a standing ovation and roaring applause.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Channing. “I’m deeply touched!”

Carol Elaine Channing (born January 31, 1921) is an American singer, actress, and comedienne. She is the recipient of three Tony Awards (including one for lifetime achievement), a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. Channing is best remembered for originating, on Broadway, the musical-comedy roles of bombshell Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and matchmaking widow Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello, Dolly!
Channing was born in Seattle, Washington, the only child of George and Adelaide (née Glaser) Channing. Her father was a city editor at the Seattle Star; his newspaper career took the family to San Francisco when Carol was only two weeks old. Her father later became a successful Christian Science practitioner, editor, and teacher. Carol attended Aptos Middle School and Lowell High School in San Francisco. At Lowell, Channing was a member of its famed Lowell Forensic Society, the nation's oldest high-school debate team.
Channing was introduced to the stage while working for her mother. Channing recounted this experience:

"My mother said, 'Carol, would you like to help me distribute Christian Science Monitors backstage at the live theatres in San Francisco?' And I said, 'All right, I'll help you.' I don't know how old I was. I must have been little. We went through the stage door alley (for the Curran Theatre), and I couldn't get the stage door open. My mother came and opened it very well. Anyway, my mother went to put the Monitors where they were supposed to go for the actors and the crew and the musicians, and she left me alone. And I stood there and realized – I'll never forget it because it came over me so strongly – that this is a temple. This is a cathedral. It's a mosque. It's a mother church. This is for people who have gotten a glimpse of creation and all they do is recreate it. I stood there and wanted to kiss the floorboards."
Channing's first job on stage in New York was in Marc Blitzstein's No For an Answer, which was given two special Sunday performances starting January 5, 1941 at the Mecca Temple (later New York's City Center). She was 19 years old. Channing then moved to Broadway for Let's Face It!, in which she was an understudy for Eve Arden. Decades later, Arden would play "Dolly" in a road company while Channing filmed THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE. Channing had a featured role in a revue, Lend an Ear. She was spotted by author Anita Loos and cast in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as Lorelei Lee, the role that brought her to prominence. (Her signature song from the production was Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend.) In 1961, Channing became one of a very few Tony Award nominees to gain a nomination for work in a revue (rather than a traditional book musical), when she was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical, for the short-lived revue Show Girl.

Louis Armstrong hit the top of the pop charts for the first time On This Date in 1964 with "Hello Dolly!". Renowned for his charismatic stage presence and deep, instantly recognizable voice almost as much as for his trumpet-playing, Armstrong’s influence extends well beyond jazz music, and by the end of his career in the 1960s, he was widely regarded as a profound influence on popular music in general."My whole life, my whole soul, my whole spirit is to blow that horn"
Louis Armstrong
1901-1971Coming to prominence in the 1920s as an “inventive” cornet and trumpet player, Armstrong was a foundational influence on jazz, shifting the music’s focus from collective improvisation to solo performers. With his distinctive gravelly voice, Armstrong was also an influential singer, demonstrating great dexterity as an improviser, bending the lyrics and melody of a song for expressive purposes. He was also greatly skilled at scat singing, or vocalizing using syllables instead of actual lyrics.

On this day in 1983- Michael Jackson's single "Beat It" was certified Gold by the RIAA.

The incomparable Dionne Warwick shares stories on her 50 years in show biz
PJ Maytag - BottomLine Magazine
May 6th, 2011
PALM SPRINGS -- There’s a very short list of entertainers who can claim five decades of practicing their craft. And Dionne Warwick is one of them. The New Jersey native has been belting out hits throughout her career, firmly etching an indelible spot in American music.

Throughout the years, Warwick has had 56 singles chart in Billboard’s Hot 100 between 1962 and 1998.
Only Aretha Franklin has more female vocalist singles than her.

Her long running collaboration with composer Burt Bacharach, who discovered her while she was singing background vocals for The Drifters, turned into a veritable hit making machine. Songs like “Walk On By,”.
"Walk on By" is a song composed by Burt Bacharach, with lyrics by Hal David for Dionne Warwick. It was recorded at the same December 1963 session that yielded "Anyone Who Had a Heart", which, in 1964, became Warwick's second Top Ten hit. Released in April of that year, "Walk on By" became a landmark single, reaching #6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The song also reached the top 10 in a brief run on Billboard's easy listening survey, and was a Number One hit on Cashbox's R and B chart (Billboard did not print rhythm and blues charts during 1964, the year of the song's peak performance.)"
"Make Way for Dionne Warwick, the third album by American singer Dionne Warwick, was released in late 1964. It was recorded at Bell Sound Studios in New York City with producers Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and was released by Scepter Records. The album was Warwick's first LP to chart, reaching #65 on the Billboard Top 200 and #10 on the Billboard Black Albums chart."
"Dionne Warwick (pronounced as War-wick, not like the town Warwick) (born December 12, 1940) is an American singer, actress, activist, United Nations Global Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization, former United States Ambassador of Health, and humanitarian. She is best known for her partnership with songwriters and producers Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
According to Billboard magazine, Dionne Warwick is second to Aretha Franklin("The Cliff Richard Show" 1970.) as the female vocalist with the most Billboard Hot 100 chart hits during the rock era (1955-1999). Warwick charted a total of 56 hits in the Billboard Hot 100. The artist scored crossover hits on the Rhythm & Blues charts and the Adult Contemporary charts. Joel Whitburn's tome on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts entitled "Top Pop Singles 1955-1999" ranked Dionne Warwick as the 20th most popular of the top 200 artists of the rock era based upon the Billboard Pop Singles Charts." “I Say A
Little Prayer,” “Do You Know The Way To San Jose,” “Alfie,” “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,” and “Don’t Make Me Over,” just to name a few, are worldwide hits that have established her as Bacharach and Hal David’s muse.

And the five-time Grammy Award winning chanteuse continues to enthrall audiences – releasing her latest album, a Jazz compilation, entitled Only Trust Your Heart in mid-March. She has also recently penned her autobiography My Life As I See It. Her new book is the reason why her fans will have a golden opportunity to meet the legendary singer at her book signing at Just Fabulous in Palm Springs on May 14, from 2 to 4 pm.

(Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross & Whitney Houston)

The BottomLine: you’re celebrating your 50th year in music! What do you attribute your longevity to in an often fickle music biz?
Dionne Warwick: You know, I wish I could give you an answer that made sense. I guess it’s basically that I have been consistent being who I am musically and the support of people who have kept me in their arms and in their hearts and on their radios over the period of time. And singing great songs certainly didn’t hurt.

BL: Well you’ve definitely collaborated with so many great songwriters and musicians over the years: Burt Bacharach, Barry Manilow and Barry Gibb to name a few – who was your favorite and why?

Oh they all are. They’re all friends first of all, and you can never choose a favorite friend.
They each brought to the table something very special with each recording

BL: It’s so hard to break into the business, was there a moment for you when you thought to yourself – “wow, i’ve really made it!”

You know I keep saying that. [Laughs]. You know when you hear your recordings on radio and the support of audiences when you’re doing your concerts. It’s nice to be recognized for the work you do and appreciated for it. So I guess I’m still saying those very words – ‘Wow, I think I’m going to make it after all.’

BL: You’ve performed thousands of times – any concert in particular stands out as truly memorable?

Oh my goodness, 50 years of music – it’s hard to think about one concert! That’s kind of difficult. There have been many, many special moments.
Of course there was my very first concert when I was headlining – that has to reign at the top of the list. And there have been several over the years – performing before the Queen of England for the first time – the Queen Mother – at that. The concerts I did with Burt on the road, and the concerts I did with Johnny Mathis on the road, and the concerts I did with Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight – there’s been several.

BL: If you could work with anyone in the business – past or present – who would you choose?

At this moment I’m still waiting to do a recording with Earth, Wind & Fire who also happen to be my favorite group of all time. We keep passing each other on the road and say, ‘OK, we’re going to do it soon!’ [Dionne laughs]. It’s just a matter of scheduling.

BL: “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” was actually the first song lyrics I could ever memorize off the radio. Take us back to winning your first Grammy. Did you ever think that song would be such a worldwide smash hit?

Ah no, because I hated it. [Laughs]. But it caught the ear of the general public and they seemed to love it. I still get when I’m going to the airport or in a grocery store and be – ‘Do you know the way to San Jose, Dionne?’

BL: Did you hate performing it?

Well all of my songs are like my babies and I treat them that way so even though it wasn’t one of my favorites to record, as I’ve said on several occasions, I just cried all the way to the bank.

BL: You were on "Celebrity Apprentice" this season with quite a cast of characters. What was that experience like?

In a word – and it’s the only word I’ve been using – and it’s true to form – it was quite interesting. And that’s all I have to say about "The Apprentice." (She was voted off the women's team fairly early, for those who don't follow the show.)

BL: How do you like Donald Trump’s chances for becoming president in 2012?

Is he a Democrat?

BL: Definitely not.

Whatever he is – I’m a Democrat and that’s my answer.

BL: Shifting gears a little. You were part of the vanguard of celebrities that answered the call for HIV/AIDS activism in the mid-'80s. Your single, “That’s What Friends Are For,” with Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight raised over $3 million for the fledgling AMFAR in 1985.
What compelled you to campaign for AIDS awareness?

Well, of course I was appointed the Ambassador of Health for the United States by the Reagan administration, which ran through the first year of the Clinton administration. I traveled the entire world meeting with scientists, doctors, nurses and people with HIV/AIDS to get a handle with what this thing was and is. I felt it was vital that people be educated about it and know the kind of fight we were in – especially in the industry where it hit most prevalently first. It actually got a face with Rock Hudson’s death.
We just lost an incredible amount of incredibly talented people within the industry: hairdressers, make-up people, dancers, lighting people, cameramen – it just ran rampant through our industry.

And like most people, we sat around and talked about it quite a bit and I am a doer. I felt it was time to stop talking and to start doing. That became my graceful mandate from my heart and apparently from the hearts of so many others.

BL: Well, it meant the world to so many in our community when celebrities such as yourself took up the cause at a time when AIDS victims were treated like pariahs.

Educating people to what this really was and how it was contracted – it didn’t transfer to you if you hugged someone or took their hand. It was important to show compassion towards the fight they were facing.

BL: When you are gone Dionne, what do you hope people remember you most for – your music or your humanitarian effort?

I hope I’m just remembered for being Dionne, you know? I’m always who I am – on the stage, in the grocery store, wherever it is. I’m still who I am – Dionne.

BL: If there was anything you could do over in your career what would it be and why?

Not one thing. It’s just been an incredible ride I’ve been on and the journey hasn’t ended yet. The support I have received over these many years have just been overwhelming at times. I wouldn’t change one thing – the ups or the downs, it’s all a part of life, you know?

BL: Indeed they are. Can you tell us a bit about your book, “My Life As I See It?”

It’s a book that I swore I would never write. So I took a meeting with Simon & Schuster, who were very interested in my book. And the key was when they told me, "We want you to write the book that you want to write." That was the key. It gave me the opportunity to clear up many, many misnomers – what people thought, they now know because it came directly from me.

BL: Was it a daunting task to write your autobiography?

No, not at all. In fact, it was a lot of fun. Remembering all those incredible things that have occurred throughout my lifetime thus far and I’m looking forward to the next memories.

BL: I know something I wanted to touch upon. Are you still a big believer in psychics?

It’s not so much a belief as it’s that I’m curious about it – I think everybody is. It’s always interesting when you ask someone to read your sign and they give it to you. I would never live my life by it – I think that is definitely in God’s hands – but I think it’s an interesting gift. There are people that have that ability, to be able to see and it’s in the Bible that God said there would be people left on the Earth to lead and guide us.

BL: If there was only one thing readers could take away from reading your autobiography – what would it be and why?

The reasons for doing the book are the lessons I’ve learned. I’d hope that those lessons go throughout the book and are able to give some insight. Whether how to avoid some mistakes, work your way through them – I’d hope it’d be inspiring. Hopefully people can learn from my mistakes.

Richard Skipper accompanied by Fred Barton and introduced by Lee Roy Reams at The Zani's Furry Friends benefit at BIRDLAND May 7th, 2011

Happy Monday to you all!

All you have to do today is bask in the LOVE and talent that surrounds you!
(Buy THE THOUGHT EXCHANGE by David Friedman

Tomorrow's blog will be YOU TELL ME...the first three suggestions I receive!

Richard Skipper,

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