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Monday, April 22, 2013

Buddy Beaverhausen Meets Melissa Manchester

In such strong voice, Melissa Manchester opened her set at B.B. King's New York last night with the song, "So Strong." She followed that first number with "Don't Let the Feeling End (theme from the film Ice Castles)," an Oscar-nominated song written by her friends, Marvin Hamlisch and Carol Bayer Sager, and a Billboard smash.

This was a good tiding, as I had just read the Clive Davis tell-all. He painted Melissa as an artist who wanted to promote her songwriting talent and disdained many of the songs Clive offered her and that, then, became radio hits for her. But Melissa treated us to most of her popular hits and so much more during this show.

In a sparkly black blouse-and-jacket ensemble over black slacks, Melissa tore through her popular catalogue with "Midnight Blue" (which she originally wrote for Dionne Warwick); "Just You and I;" "Come In from the Rain" on piano; the Grammy Award-winning (for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance) "You Should Hear How She Talks About You" ("Made me the queen of aerobics classes," the songbird snarked); "Don't Cry Out Loud" (written by Carol Bayer Sager and Peter Allen) was offered with a beautiful arrangement on Spanish guitar.

In a frighteningly karaoke-like moment of the night, MM did a duet with Barry Manilow -- who appeared on-screen! -- to Carole King's "You've Got a Friend." She kindly referred to her work with Manilow and Midler, for whom she was a Harlette. (She even appears in the Midler movie, For the Boys, as a back-up girl!)

Surprises of the night included a cover of The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" that was presented as a beautiful ballad not unlike the Ellie Greenwich recording; "Let's Face the Music and Dance" and "From This Moment On," prefaced by Melissa discussing teaching melody-driven music at UCLA; Rogers and Hammerstein's "Something Wonderful" (from The King and I); the Bermans' "The Way We Were;" and -- as her encore and tribute to Dusty Springfield (whose birthday was on show night) -- an impresive interpretation of "Son of a Preacher Man."

Other highlights of the evening included Melissa's powerhouse vocals on "I Know Who I Am," which she co-wrote, from Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls movie and "Beloved," backed by a magnificent recorded choir, from the singer's commitment to teach music to life-imprisoned women.

I met Melissa after the show, where she spoke more about her involvement with Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, California. She is a doll! Plus, she was very conversationally engaged and kind, and just lovely to speak with.

Melissa was a Bistro Awards winner in 2012, appearing and performing at that ceremony with Marvin Hamlisch, who passed away shortly thereafter. I sat with Sherry Eaker, who produces The Bistros, unfortunately spilling a glass of wine on her. (At least it was pino, a white wine. But... oh boy, I'm such a klutz sometimes!)

We sat across from her friends, who ran into us on our way into the showroom from Lucille's bar across the floor. (It was Sherry's first visit there and she is such a Motown girl! She hated to leave the live band doing Motown faves. Always good to turn a friend on to something good.)

Her friends, it turned out, were Broadway star Lee Roy Reams, and his significant other. Mr Reams has appeared in Sweet Charity! Oklahoma! Hello, Dolly! La Cage! The Producers! Yet, he was as sweet and dishy as anyone might imagine, and adored the show along with his partner.

On our way out, we ran into my friends Tony and Charlie! I joined them on the line to meet Melissa. What a great group of people! What a great show! And what a great star! Melissa from the Bronx, come back to NYC soon!

Below, a video of last night's "Dont Cry"


  1. In my interview with her, she never mentioned Clive by name, but she really didn't like the direction her music was taking with "You Should Hear How She Talks About You," even though it was her biggest hit.


  3. copy & paste the above link into your browser to read the edgekabaret interview.