Johnny Mathis & Dionne Warwick in 2006
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/GettyImages
Watch Johnny Mathis Sing Dionne Warwick's Praises | GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends
Preview Mathis' performance above, and don't forget to watch GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends on Fri., Oct. 18 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check your local listings)
Beloved standards singer and GRAMMY Hall Of Fame-er Johnny Mathis has a longstanding friendship with pop great Dionne Warwick, both of whom were recently on hand at the GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends.
Honoring Warwick with a rendition of her early '60s classic "Walk On By," Mathis told the Recording Academy a little about what makes their friendship so special.
"My dear, dear friend Dionne Warwick is one of the greatest entertainers of all time," he said. "I guess it may be a secret, but the house that I lived in in Beverly Hills, Dionne Warwick bought it and lived in it after I decided to move!
But more than that, we have had tours all over the world singing together, in tandem sometimes. She's a dear friend and a brilliant artist, and it's a pleasure to be on the stage with her again."
Preview Mathis' performance above, and don't forget to watch GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends on Fri., Oct. 18 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check your local listings).
Dionne Warwick joins GRAMMY PBS concert. Who else is playing?
Find out who's been added to the excellent lineup of GRAMMY winners and past nominees who will be honor this year's 2017 Special Merit Awards recipients
Tickets are now on sale for the second annual "GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends" concert on Tuesday, July 11 at the historic Beacon Theatre in New York City.
Five-time GRAMMY winner Dionne Warwick and GRAMMY nominees Charlie Wilson and Catherine Russell have been added to an all-star lineup of performers that includes GRAMMY nominee Andra Day, two-time GRAMMY winner Dwight Yoakam, six-time GRAMMY winner Randy Newman, and 12-time GRAMMY winner Kirk Franklin.
The live concert, which will honor The Recording Academy's 2017 Special Merit Awards recipients, will feature a series of live tribute performances by GRAMMY-winning and -nominated artists celebrating the songs that made the recipients famous.
Russell will perform in honor of trailblazing music publisher Ralph S. Peer; Warwick will pay tribute to Philadelphia sound architect Thom Bell, and Wilson will salute funk/soul pioneer Sly Stone.
Day will pay homage to the High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone; Franklin will salute the First Lady of Gospel, Shirley Caesar; Newman will honor venerable Warner Bros. executive Mo Ostin; and Yoakam will tip his cap to the Father of Country Music, Jimmie Rodgers.
"GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends" will air on PBS as part of the network's "Great Performances" series on later this year.
Be a part of music history: Get your tickets to the "GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends" now!
Photo: Mark Sullivan/WireImage.com
GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inspirations: Eddie Brigati
Brigati reveals five GRAMMY Hall Of Fame recordings that inspired him, and details Steven Van Zandt's role in bringing the Rascals back together
(To commemorate the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame's 40th Anniversary in 2013, GRAMMY.com has launched GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inspirations. The ongoing series will feature conversations with various individuals who will identify GRAMMY Hall Of Fame recordings that have influenced them and helped shape their careers.)
Music fans not old enough to remember when the Rascals — featuring Eddie Brigati alongside Felix Cavaliere, Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli — ruled the airwaves with such hits as "Good Lovin'," "A Beautiful Morning" and "Groovin'," may remember Steven Van Zandt's indelible speech when he inducted the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
"Some people may not realize it, but the Rascals were the first rock band in the world," said Van Zandt. "[When] 'I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore' [came] on the radio … that was when New Jersey soul was born."
Though the Rascals disbanded in 1972, in less than a decade they managed to release several albums to chart on the Billboard 200, including 1967's Groovin', which was released under the band's former name, the Young Rascals, and climbed to No. 5. The album's title track was a No. 1 hit and earned induction into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 1999.
Fortunately for music fans that wasn't the last they would hear of Brigati or the Rascals. In 2012 Van Zandt brought the original band back together for the first time for "Once Upon A Dream" (taken from the title of the band's 1968 album) — a nostalgic Beatlemania-like production Van Zandt wrote, co-produced and co-directed. The show premiered at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, N.Y., in 2012 and sold out consistently during its April 2013 Broadway run.
Coincidentally, Van Zandt may indirectly owe his acting career to the Rascals. According to Brigati, "Sopranos" creator David Chase discovered Van Zandt (who played Silvio Dante on the show from 1999–2007) after watching him induct the Rascals into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Brigati says that while he is often asked about the rifts that broke the band apart years ago, he chooses to focus on the now.
"The music goes beyond all the negativity that happened," he says. "All that stuff was fertilizer. I know you're talking about half a century later, but believe it: The music keeps getting better. It's better than ever."
Below, Brigati details the five GRAMMY Hall Of Fame recordings that have continued to provide inspiration throughout his storied career.
West Side Story
Original Broadway Cast (Carol Lawrence, Larry Kert)
"I was in school when 'West Side Story' came out. I came out of there and I was practically leaping over cars in the parking lot. Then I went to New York. I was going to be in the movies, I was going to be a dancer, I was going to do everything. I went to see a man by the name of Phil Black. He was the premier dance instructor on Broadway then. He talked to me, he interviewed me, and he said, 'OK, you come back and take this ballet class.' At the beginning I loved it. I was the only guy there. But I didn't realize I was going to Marine camp. I thought I was just going to jump over cars. I didn't know how hard it is to be a dancer. It's a whole life, not a hobby.
"'West Side Story' was important musically because of the story of the whole thing, too. Songs that tell you stories [are] what we [wrote] in the Rascals, and 'West Side Story' did it first. It had songs that tell you something. You want to listen to the story to hear about dreams, ambitions, hobbies, goals. I took that with me."
What's Going On
"Marvin Gaye was a beautiful singer, and he was in some wonderful groups. My brother and I are singers, and the main musical food we had in our house growing up was R&B — black harmony singers. We listened to the Flamingos, the Doves, all these people that came in the '50s and '60s who were blending and harmonizing. … They were blessing your ears. It was something they anointed you with. That's the germ of our history.
"Marvin Gaye was a singer who took it a step further, because he also dealt with political issues. He was talking about social interests, topical stories. He was talking about what's important to him. Again, he told a story, and the story stays with you. It's like with Stevie Wonder — he wrapped his songs in candy, like a sweet pill. You dance to the songs but you also swallow the pill. The message behind the song stays with you."
"What The World Needs Now Is Love"
"I got out of high school in '63. I had done a tour with Joey Dee And The Starliters, and the Rascals began a year later. The song 'What The World Needs Now…' reflected the surrounding temperature of the times. It was the food around us, the information we were receiving. You have to remember the whole background was the Vietnam War. That song captured a countercultural feeling. It had liftoff in the culture. In the Rascals there was social commentary too, but we kept it down, we kept it to the side. It's in there, though."
The Beach Boys
"I know the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds influenced me because I still sing songs from it every day. I sing them, I whisper them, whatever. It left a mark on me as much if not more so than the Beatles, although it's hard to deny the Beatles. I'll sing 'Caroline, No.' Or I'll sing 'Wouldn't It Be Nice' around the house, and then I sing the part about 'wouldn't it be nice if we were older,' and then I'm thinking, the joke is, if we get any older I won't be able to sing anymore. But Pet Sounds has love stories, it has everything. It's all in there."
"Johnny Mathis was the singer's singer. The arrangements, the love songs … still today, his songs are indelible. 'Chances Are' has a beautiful perspective. It's not about violence or aggression, it's about real love — vulnerability, being smitten, two people in awe of each other. That's why it holds up today, and that's why the Rascals' stuff holds up today. The reason is love, the purity of love. The influence may be missing in the American culture now, but it reached me."
(Eddie Brigati served as one of the primary vocalists/composers of the Rascals, along with Felix Cavaliere. The No. 1 hit "Groovin'," which he co-wrote with Cavaliere, has been recorded by artists including Aretha Franklin, Ringo Starr and Booker T. & The MG's, among others.)
(Tammy La Gorce is a freelance writer whose work appears regularly in The New York Times.)
Photo: Kevin Winger/Getty Images
Kesha, Ed Sheeran, SZA & More To Honor Elton John In GRAMMY Salute
Tune in to CBS on April 10 to catch "Elton John: I'm Still Standing — A GRAMMY Salute" featuring an all-star tribute plus special performance of a medley of hits from John himself
How do you celebrate a career as illustrious as that of the great Elton John? With a star-studded concert, of course. "Elton John: I'm Still Standing — A GRAMMY Salute" will air April 10 on CBS and features performances by some of music's biggest names, including Alessia Cara, Miley Cyrus, Kesha, Lady Gaga, Miranda Lambert, John Legend, Little Big Town, Chris Martin, Shawn Mendes, Maren Morris, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, and SZA.
Musicians from multiple genres will perform classic songs from John's impressive catalog with longtime co-writer Bernie Taupin. Additionally, there will be special appearances by Jon Batiste, Neil Patrick Harris, Christopher Jackson, Anna Kendrick, Gayle King, Lucy Liu, Valerie Simpson, and Hailee Steinfeld.
The festivities will culminate with a medley of hits performed by John himself, culminating with the event's title song, "I'm Still Standing" from John's 1983 album, Too Low For Zero.
Here is the full list of performances:
"The Bitch Is Back" — Miley Cyrus
"Candle In The Wind" — Ed Sheeran
"Daniel" — Sam Smith
"I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" — Alessia Cara
"Your Song" — Lady Gaga
"Rocket Man" — Little Big Town
"Border Song" — Christopher Jackson & Valerie Simpson
"Don't Go Breaking My Heart" — SZA & Shawn Mendes
"Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters" — Maren Morris
"We All Fall In Love Sometimes" — Chris Martin
"My Father's Gun" — Miranda Lambert
"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" — Kesha
"Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" — John Legend
"Bennie And The Jets" — Elton John
"Philadelphia Freedom" — Elton John
"I'm Still Standing" — Elton John & Ensemble
"Elton John: I'm Still Standing–A GRAMMY Salute," continues the tradition of previous Emmy-winning TV specials presented by CBS, the Recording Academy, and AEG Ehrlich Ventures, including "Sinatra 100 — An All-Star GRAMMY Concert," "Stevie Wonder: Songs In The Key Of Life — An All-Star GRAMMY Salute," "The Beatles: The Night That Changed America — A GRAMMY Salute" and "Stayin' Alive: A GRAMMY Salute To The Music Of The Bee Gees."
Tune in April 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT for this two-hour concert special, only on CBS.
Photo: Popperfoto/Getty Images
The Making Of Dionne Warwick's "Walk On By"
Current GRAMMY nominee recalls creating magic with Burt Bacharach and Hal David on her GRAMMY Hall Of Fame-inducted classic "Walk On By"
(Since its inception in 1973, the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame has enshrined nearly 1,000 recordings across all genres. The Making Of … series presents firsthand accounts of the creative process behind some of the essential recordings of the 20th century. You can read more Making Of … accounts, and in-depth insight into the recordings and artists represented in the Hall, in the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame 40th Anniversary Collector's Edition book.)
"Walk On By"
(As told to Roy Trakin)
The song was originally the B-side of "Any Old Time Of Day." It didn't really get played on the radio until [New York DJ] Murray the K turned the record over after holding a contest for which side the listeners preferred, and they chose "Walk On By."
I liked it the first time I heard it. Like most of the songs I was given to record at the beginning of my career, it was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, who were not only my songwriters, but my producers. I depended on them to give me great songs, and they did, as my history shows.
I met Burt first. He had written a song called "Mexican Divorce," with another writer named Bob Hilliard, for the Drifters. I was one of the background singers on the session, and after the date was finished, he asked if I'd be interested in singing some demos he was writing with a new partner, Hal David. And that was the start of our association.
We recorded the song at Bell Sound Studios in New York, live with full orchestra ... strings, horns, [a] rhythm section, [and] background singers. That's something I miss terribly. Those were always wonderful musical events. It was basically a performance, and a lot of fun.
With Burt Bacharach sitting at the piano or in the control room, it was never the first take, even if, in fact, it usually ended up being the first take [that we used for the record]. It wasn't about punching in overdubs. We did every single recording full-out, and on about the 28th take, I think someone probably said — if it wasn't me — "I think we may have it."
The song had a memorable melody and words. If I had known it was going to be a hit, I'd be sitting on a mountain with a ruby in my hand. I was dear, dear friends with both Burt and Hal. We depended on each other to bring to the table the expertise we each possessed. Hal David's lyrics were the most incredible I've ever sung. And Burt created those intricate, but memorable, melodies. And I was the vehicle to bring all of that to the listeners' ears.
I'm totally enamored [with] Isaac Hayes' cover, which he made his own. Very much like what Aretha did with "I Say A Little Prayer" or Luther Vandross did with "A House Is Not A Home." When anyone covers a song, it's a compliment to the original version.
To this day, I can't leave the stage without singing it. It's a song that not only I have grown to love over my 50 years in the industry, but it has become a favorite of my audience. The songs that I've had the pleasure of recording with Bacharach [and] David have grown with me. I'm singing it for people my age, who have brought their children, and in turn, they've brought their children. It's been able to age with each new group of listeners.
(Roy Trakin, a senior editor for HITS magazine, has written for every rock publication that ever mattered, some that didn't, and got paid by most of them.)