'Father of the Bride' singer Steve Tyrell coming to Fairfield
Updated 12:26 pm, Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Ertegun, who, along with millions of American moviegoers, had been wowed by Tyrell's rendition of "The Way You Look Tonight" in the Steve Martin-starring film, had a crazy idea.
"He wanted me to record an album of standards," Tyrell recalled. "I was hesitant. I didn't think anyone would buy an album of standards."
It took another six years for Tyrell to come around to the idea. But when "A New Standard," his debut album, finally hit the shelves, it proved the Great American Songbook was still alive and thriving. The album spent 84 weeks on the Billboard Jazz Album chart and became one of the decade's best-selling releases in the genre.
With his charasmatic, gravelly voice and unwavering dedication to the classics, Tyrell became the definitive ambassador of the Great American Songbook in an era dominated by grunge and dance pop.
In a recent interview, the Grammy-winning singer, who performs at the Fairfield Theatre Company on Sunday, May 4, talked about his 10-year residency at the world-famous Cafe Carlyle, being a "reluctant artist" following the success of "The Father of the Bride" and the remarkable longevity of the Great American Songbook.
More InformationFairfield Theatre Company's StageOne, 70 Sanford St., Fairfield. Sunday, May 4, 7 p.m. $65. 203-259-1036, www.fairfieldtheatre.org.
Q: I understand it's the 10th year of your residency at the Cafe Carlyle in New York City. What keeps bringing you back?
A: It's such an historic residency. Cafe Carlyle is one of the most famous places of its kind in the world. I've been playing there for 10 years. Combined with Bobby Short, we've played the holiday season there for 46 years.
Q: It's great that you can set aside some time to come up and play in Fairfield.
A: Yeah, I love it. This is a place I look forward to playing ... it's a nice little theater, in a really nice area of the country. You want to play those, too; they're intimate and the crowds are really into it.
Q: As a producer, you helped a lot of artists step into the spotlight. Then, following your appearance in "Father of the Bride," you stepped into the spotlight yourself. What was it like transitioning from behind-the-scenes hitmaker to successful solo artist?
A: I was a reluctant artist. I sang in "Father of the Bride" in 1991, and I didn't release an album until 1999. Everybody thinks that after you get the opportunity to sing in a major motion picture, you run out and start making albums. I didn't think anyone would buy an album of standards. But when people started listening, I said, "Wow, that's a cool thing." I never thought that it could be successful back in those days.
Q: Why not?
A: Back when I did "Father of the Bride," pop culture was dominated mostly by Seattle grunge music. Nirvana was huge, Sound Garden was huge. Most of the songs of that time were songs of angst, which is about as far away from "The Way You Look Tonight" as you could possibly get. I didn't think an album of standards would be something anybody would buy.
Q: Maybe listeners needed a break from all that angst. To what do you attribute the longevity of the Great American Songbook?
A: I believe this is America's greatest music and whenever there's a messenger for it, a person who can bring this music to someone who's never paid attention to it, it can be hugely successful. You've got Natalie Cole, who was singing R&B records and then put out "Unforgettable," which sold millions. You have Henry Connick, who was very successful singing standards. And now Michael Buble, who brought this music to a whole new generation. I believe its America's greatest contribution to the arts, and I was lucky enough to stumble into it.
Scott.email@example.com; Twitter: @scottgarg
Fairfield Theatre Company's StageOne, 70 Sanford St., Fairfield. Sunday, May 4, 7 p.m. $65. 203-259-1036, www.fairfieldtheatre.org.