At age 79, singer/songwriter Barry Manilow is possibly the oldest performer to headline a concert at FLA Live Arena when he performs “Manilow Hits 2023” in Sunrise on January 13, along with six other venues in the American Southeast through January 21.
Promoters normally would hesitate to book a singer at age 79 in a 20,000 seat plus arena, but that is not the case for Manilow, whose concerts have filled major arenas for over 45 years.
Barry Manilow is currently ranked by “Billboard Magazine” as the number one adult contemporary artist of all time, spanning a 50 year recording career selling 85 million albums, with 50 top 40 singles, such as “Copacabana”, “Can’t Smile Without You”, “I Write The Songs”, “Even Now” and “Weekend In New England”, all expected to be performed at his Sunrise concert.
“I consider myself very lucky and fortunate to have so many fans coming to my shows for so many years,” said Manilow, who first became known for his first hit song “Mandy” recorded in 1974.
“My only complaint was the constant touring that I had to do. I love performing for my fans, but I hated catching planes and staying in hotels far from my home (in Palm Springs, California), so I was able to do a permanent residency in Las Vegas”.
Manilow has performed in concerts mostly in Las Vegas since 2000. He has earned the Emmy, Grammy and Tony Awards for his numerous concerts and television specials.
Less well-known is Manilow’s contributions as a composer in the musical theater. Teaming with lyricist Bruce Sussman, the duo wrote both “Copacabana The Musical”, which was performed in regional theaters for over 25 years, and “Harmony”, performed off-Broadway in 2002.
Manilow is especially proud about writing “Harmony”, which won the Theatre Fans Choice Award as Best Off- Broadway musical in 2022.
Harmony is a musical biography of the German based Comedian Harmonists group, who were popular in Europe in the 1920s and ‘30s. Three of the group members were Jewish, one being a Rabbi.
“Writing ‘Harmony’ is the most important achievement I had in my career. The story is about how the group came together and later disbanded in Germany when the Nazis came to power. Although none of the members perished in The Holocaust, the group broke up following World War Two and the enthusiasm they once had for singing together was lost,” said Manilow.
“The story is uplifting and means a lot to Bruce (Sussman) and me because we are Jewish. We wrote the songs in ‘Harmony’ after studying much of the music of the era, including Cantorial and Klezmer music.”
Music teacher Michael Gabriel of Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pemboke Pines, who is the Band Director of multiple bands for over 300 music students, will receive a $5,000 award and another $5,000 to purchase musical instruments for the school as well as VIP tickets to the concert through Manilow’s foundation titled “Manilow Music Project”.
“It is wonderful to partner with our concert venues to identify schools and music teachers that deserve this small token of my gratitude. I had my love of music nurtured by taking music classes when I was a teen.”
“Many music school programs today have been either terminated or their funds have been severely depleted. I always wanted to do my part in keeping music alive in school through The Manilow Music Project”.
Manilow was raised by his mother Edna and his grandparents, (Jewish immigrants from Russia), in a small Brooklyn apartment. Although born as Barry Pincus, he changed his surname to Manilow out of love for his mother, who took her maiden name when she divorced his father.
Manilow honed his music first on the accordion and then on the piano, which he received as a bar mitzvah gift at age 13.
After studying music at Juilliard School, Manilow became adept at arranging and writing commercial jingles that eventually led to him becoming musical director for Bette Midler in 1972 prior to starting his solo career.
Unlike most songwriters, Manilow did not think of himself as a professional singer and was surprised when he was asked to sing and record in 1973.
“To this day, I think of myself as a musician first, rather than as a singer. I was happy working with Bette (Midler), but when the opportunity came to record my first album, I became a singer.”
Manilow wrote an autobiography of his early days in the music business “Sweet Life: Adventures On The Way To Paradise” in 1987. Manilow has been married to his longtime manager Garry Kief since 2014.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Barry Manilow will be performing “Manilow Hits 2023” on January 13 at 7 pm at FLA Live Arena, 1 Panther Parkway in Sunrise. Tickets range from $14.75-335. To buy tickets, go to either ticketmaster.com or flalivearena.com or call 954-835-7000.