This is my story on what has now become my Musical Tribute to Barry Manilow, the best selling solo artist of all time. It's been a long adventurous journey in preparing this show and it all began at the 1st Annual Sunburst Celebrity Impersonators and Tribute Artists Conference in Orlando in the spring of 2004. There were Tina Turners, Elvises, Marilyn Monroes, a Rod Stewart, Elton John, Madonna and many more, but “Wait, no Barry!” And that’s when it hit me! “I’m a professional pianobar entertainer and when I get a request for Barry, as I always do, I'm often told that my voice and style are close to his. So I explored the idea - a lot. And just nine months and hundreds of hours of rehearsal later, I arrived onstage with Copa dancers and a grand piano and won the IGCITA / Sunburst award for “Best Showcase Presentation.” And that was all the encouragement I needed.
I’ve always been a Barry Manilow fan. Here is a man whose achievements include Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Awards, 45+ albums, 38 Top 40 Hits and the list goes on and on. Mr. Manilow is simply amazing. If mankind could create the perfect musical human prototype, the end result would be Barry Manilow: a pianist, a composer, an arranger, a songwriter, an accompanist, a musical director, a commercial jingle writer, a writer and scorer of Broadway musicals, a producer, an incredible vocalist, and a spectacular showman. Nobody alive even comes close to excelling in all of these categories - in any profession. That said, Barry Manilow is the perfect “Musical Prototype.”
I grew up playing piano in the heart of the pop Manilow era. By 1976, you could find Mandy in most Greatest Hits Piano Books, and with Barry always on the radio with hit after hit: Could It Be Magic, Tryin’ To Get The Feeling, I Write The Songs, American Bandstand, Copacabana, This One’s For You, Even Now, The Old Songs, Somewhere In The Night, Weekend In New England and many more, his songs naturally influenced my musical style. And still today, Barry songs always connect. Women still go crazy over Copacabana and melt over Mandy, and to no surprise, the men know all the words.
I would have never guessed that this - a Barry Manilow Tribute Act - would be such a ticket to adventure. It's been nothing short of an amazing experience with great places, new faces and friends, fantastic audiences, inspiring fellow entertainers, wonderful people, all while taking a chance doing something fresh and different. But for all the positives I've experienced, it's not without it's big challenges. For one, it's a crazy endeavor to actually pay tribute to a celebrity, and in this case, such an amazing living musical icon. So when the curtain opens, and you say to yourself, “Does this nutcase actually believe he is the second coming of Barry Manilow?”, my quick answer is NO!, but like everything significant I've ever decided to do, I'll give it 200%. The music, vocals, and arrangements alone demand it. I'll admit it's a bit strange wearing a wig and pretending to be someone else, but that's what this particular piece of showbiz expects. So enjoy the show! The music and songs are nothing short of fantastic and it's a lot of fun for me to perform them. And honestly, that’s what this whole thing is all about - having a great time through music and song.
If you’re a huge Manilow fan, I hope you absolutely love what I'm doing with his music. If you're not a huge Manilow fan or maybe you're just new to his music, I hope I've helped you become one. Mr. Manilow's gift of music is a very rare commodity in any era of music.
So just a couple of things in closing. Thanks Mom for keeping me going with piano lessons - not an easy thing to do and one that I can now fully appreciate. And to Barry, thanks for being a big influence on my musical career. It’s beautiful, “Beautiful Music.”