Harry Curtis

ONE FRIEND

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

POOR LITTLE FOOL

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

Till Then

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

Magic Moments

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

I Think of You

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

Flying With Frank

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

On Days Like These

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

The World I Used To Know

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

What a Wonderful World

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

Such A Lot Of Love

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

Part Of You, Part Of Me

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

The duo chartered 6 Top 40 single hits, 4 being Top 10, between 1976 and 1979 and released 11 albums in their career.

“I have the envious benefit of working with producer Tim Hoare who only produces albums of high quality and selects musicians who will give him that pleasure.” Harry Curtis

Introduction

This album is a tribute to one of the finest soft poprock duo’s I have heard, comprising Dan Seals and John Colley. I first heard them on their album ‘Fables’ produced in 1972 and was amazed at the quality of their acoustic based songs and beautiful harmonies. I have subsequently acquired all of their albums and have had an enormous amount of pleasure selecting from their many magnificent ballads, the ones that I most enjoy. I have the envious benefit of working with producer Tim Hoare who only produces albums of high quality and selects musicians who will give him that pleasure. I thank Tim who has given much of his time to the production of this album. His keyboard and supporting vocals have really made this album possible. And of course there are the wonderful guitars of Sandy Robbie and Eghard Volschenk. Seals and Colley, and the musicians that accompanied them on their albums are of the highest calibre and I have but the highest of praise to my producer and musicians in the quality of this tribute.
The Early Years
Dan Seals and John Colley were both born in Texas, USA in 1948. Dan Seals came from a musical family. His father Waylon Seals was a pipefitter and repairman for Shell Oil and was also an amateur singer, playing guitar and bass for bands led by Ernest Tubb and Bob Wills. Dan’s older brother, Jim Seals was the one half of the duo ‘Seals and Croft’, who recorded the hits “Summer Breeze” and “Diamond Girl” in the 1970’s. His younger brother, Eddie Seals became a successful country musician of ‘Eddie and Joe’. His cousins include composers Chuck Seals, Troy Seals and Brady Seals. John Colley was a classically trained pianist. The two first met in high school in Dallas, Texas during the early 1960’s. They began working together as members of local cover bands, later becoming members of a group called Southwest F.O.B. (Freight on Board). The band, with Colley on keyboards and Seals playing sax as well as singing, played a mixture of rock and R&B and became popular locally in Dallas. Seals and Colley begun writing songs together in 1968 and recognised that they were moving in a different direction from the rest of the band, more toward Paul Simon than Jimi Hendrix. Soon they were opening shows for the band with an acoustic set featuring their harmony vocals, warming the crowd up before the entire Southwest F.O.B. took the stage. They remained with the group until 1969, when they decided to head to California and try and land a recording contract as a duo. Originally billing themselves as “Colley and Wayland”, (Seals’ middle name) the name didn’t quite work, and it was Dan’s brother, Jim Seals who suggested they incorporate Dan’s childhood nickname, “England Dan”. It was a reference to the fact that, as a youngster, Dan was fixated on the Beatles and briefly affected an English accent. “Ford” was added to John Colley’s name, and the spelling of his last name shortened to “Coley” to assure its proper pronunciation. England Dan & John Ford Coley not only flowed well, but was unusual enough to merit a second look from programmers, reviewers, and promoters, as well as the general public, even if they’d never heard any of the duo’s music.

 

England Dan & John Ford Coley

As “England Dan & John Ford Coley”, they were signed to A&M Records in 1970. Their debut album ‘Fables’ was produced in 1972 by guitarist Louis Shelton who played with brother Jim Seals in The Dawnbreakers (before Jim’s joining with Dash Crofts to form Seals & Croft). The contract with A&M Records only lasted for 2 years. They continued performing and Coley was hired to play in a couple of Seals & Croft’s albums. In 1976 they cut their own demo of a new song called ‘I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” written by composer Parker McGee and began shopping it around to different record labels. Big Tree Records offered them a contract. Dan and John were paired with producer Kyle Lehning, who had also made McGee’s demo. The result was a No. 2 pop hit single in the spring of 1976, which ultimately sold two million copies. July of 1976 saw the release of England Dan & John Ford Coley’s debut album for Big Tree, “Nights Are Forever”, also produced by Lehning. Their second Big Tree single, “Nights Are Forever Without You”, also written by Parker McGee, also made the Top 10. By 1977, they recorded a second album called, “Dowdy Ferry Road”, which yielded a pair of songs, “It’s Sad to Belong (To Someone Else)” and “Gone Too Far”, both Top Twenty Hits. These two more moderate successes didn’t seem to satisfy the record label, and the duo found themselves being pressured to find songs by other composers with which they could scale the top 10. They’d spent years perfecting a sound and two complementary styles of composition that would allow them to do things musically that were important to them, but both Seals and Coley found the most personal aspect of their work shunted aside and held out of the most prominent positions in their work. Their third LP, “Some Things Don’t Come Easy”, seemed to say more than was intended with its title. The 1978 album generated a top 10 hit with “We’ll Never Have To Say Goodbye Again”, but it was the work of songwriter Jeffrey Comanor, rather than either Seals or Coley. Additionally, the album was mixed in New York, in contrast to their prior work, which was recorded and mixed out of Lee Hazen’s studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee. This pointed to the increasing need for a new sound and texture from the duo’s work. By the end of the 1970’s, England Dan & John Ford Coley were beset by new pressures from all sides. The perception was that, between the burgeoning disco boom and the undercurrent of punk rock, their continuing with the brand of harmony-based, melodic pop-rock in which they specialised, was a losing battle. The song “Love is The Answer” written by Todd Rundgren proved to be their last top 10 hit. They made one last effort at selling their sweetly harmonised music in the form of the single “Why Is It Me”, and contributed one song “Part of Me Part of You”, from the movie “Just Tell Me You Love Me”. Following the release of a “best of” album in 1980, the pair went their separate ways. The duo chartered six Top 40 single hits, four being Top 10, between 1976 and 1979 and released eleven albums in their career.
The Later Years
Seals initially pursued a career in Pop-Rock as England Dan on Atlantic (which had bought up Big Tree Records), and managed a low placement in the top 100 with “Late At Night”. It was around this time, however, that the Internal Revenue Service began an action against Seals which resulted in the seizure of virtually all of his assets. He re-emerged as Dan Seals, still with producer Kyle Lehning, and reinvented himself as a Country performer. After hitting the Country charts three times in one year with “Everybody’s Dream Girl”, “After You” and “You Really Go For The Heart”, he moved into high gear with a six year string of major hits, including nine number 1 Country hits in a row and a series of Country Music Association awards to go with them. His duet with Marie Osmond, “Meet Me In Montana”, was a chart-topper in 1985 and earned the pair a Country Music Association Award for best vocal duo. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, he released sixteen albums and chartered more then twenty singles on the country charts. Eleven of his singles reached number one. His soft Country sound fell out of fashion in the late 1990’s and his popularity waned, but he continued to tour and released his last studio album, “Make It Home”, in 2002. He started working with his brother Jim as a duo, Seals and Seals. They performed some shows and were recording an album which was never finalised. The eight songs they completed are still to be released. Dan Seals was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2007 and passed away in March 2009. He is survived by his wife, four children and seven grand children. Coley withdrew from performing after the split, although he did return to A&M Records in 1981 to cut an album, “Leslie, Kelly & John Ford Coley” with singers Leslie Bulkin and Kelly Bulkin, on which Jim Seals’ long-time partner Dash Crofts did some singing. During the early/middle 1990’s, he reappeared as a solo artist in southern California. John has also had some success as an actor,appearing in the film Dream A Little Dream with Corey Feldman and Corey Haim as well as a movie called Scenes From A Goldmine. He also played the part of the bad guy on an episode of America’s Most Wanted. In 1996, Rhino Records released “The Very Best of England Dan & John Ford Coley”, a 16-song compilation. Whatever success they enjoyed in reshaping their images and music, England Dan & John Ford Coley will always draw smiles and warm feelings about a simpler, more innocent age for which they wrote a good deal of the nicest music of the decade.

 

Recorded and Mixed at Sun Studio
Tel: + 27 21 789 1574
Email: timhoare@webmail.co.za
Engineered & Arranged by Tim Hoare
Keyboard & Programming: Tim Hoare
Vocals: Harry Curtis
Vocal Harmonies: Tim Hoare, Melissa Heyns •
Acoustic & Electric Guitar:
Sandy Robbie H Eghard Volschenk +
Saxophone: Barry Snyman •
Violin: Andrew Curtis #

It’s A Lovely Day Today

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

This is our third album of songs sung by Perry Como and it has given us as much pleasure as the first two albums. The appeal of producing and performing these songs is the knowledge that they were sung by a man who led such an exemplary lifestyle in both his career and personal life.

 

INTRODUCTION
This is an album I have so enjoyed producing with my valued friend Tony Drake. This is our third album of songs sung by Perry Como and it has given us as much pleasure as the first two albums. The appeal of producing and performing these songs is the knowledge that they were sung by a man who led such an exemplary lifestyle in both his career and personal life. The gentleness of the man, and the joy, warmth and sincerity in the delivery of his songs are for me what makes Perry Como the easiest male voice to listen to. Perry Como was an American crooner whose  career spanned more than half a century. He  sold millions of records and also pioneered a  weekly musical variety television show which set  the standard and proved to be one of the most  successful in television history. His combined success on television and popular recordings has never been equalled by any other artist of the time. His appeal spanned generations and he was widely respected for both his professional standards and the conduct of his personal life.

 

EARLY LIFE
Pierino Ronald Como was born in 1912 in the small mining town of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, USA. He inherited a love for music from his Italian parents. He was born the seventh son of a seventh son. Born lucky, maybe – but talent of course was to play a large part in what he was to achieve. He was the seventh of the 13 children of Pietro Como and Lucia Travaglini, who both immigrated to the US in 1900 from the town of Palena. He was a Roman Catholic. His father was an amateur baritone, and had all his children attend music lessons even if he could barely afford them. Young Perry started to help his family at age 10 by helping in Steve Fragapane’s barber shop for 50c a week. Although he always liked to sing, and had shown his early musical talent in his teenage years as a trombone player in the town’s brass band and as organist in the local church, his first great ambition was to be the best barber in Canonsburg. After graduating from high school, he opened his own barber shop – his drive for excellence began at an early age. Perry would sing to his customers, some being musicians who came to town with the touring bands. In 1933, he married his teenage sweetheart, Roselle Belline, whom he had met at a picnic in 1929 when he was just 17. They raised three children. Perry and Roselle remained married until her death in August 1998 at age 84. Como was reportedly devastated by her passing.

 

MUSIC CAREER

In 1933, Perry was offered a contract to tour with the Freddie Carlone band which lasted for 3 years after which he joined Ted Weems band till 1942. He went back to barbering, and it took a call from CBS with the offer of a 15 minute radio show to lure him back to his singing career. In 1943 his solo career started when he signed a recording contract for RCA for whom he recorded exclusively for more than half a century till his last commercial recording in 1987. In 1945, Perry recorded the pop ballad “Till the End of Time” which marked the beginning of a highly successful career. Perry was the first artist to have ten records sell more than one million copies. Perry had fourteen US #1 singles. His final Top 40 hit was a cover of Don McLean’s “And I Love You So”, recorded in 1973. “I Want To Give” was Perry’s last song to appear in the UK charts in 1975. Perry modelled his voice and style after Bing Crosby as most male singers of the 1930’s and 1940’s did. Perry’s voice is widely known for its good-natured vocal acrobatics as portrayed in his highly popular novelty songs such as “Hot Diggity Dog Ziggity Boom”. His total record sales exceeded 50 million. Perry commonly played down his own achievements. He had so many recordings achieve gold- record status that he refused to have many of them certified. It was this characteristic which made him so different from his peers, and which endeared him to legions of fans throughout the world. Over the decades, Perry is reported to have sold millions of records, but he commonly suppressed these figures. He performed up until 1994 and his last commercial recording was in 1987, aged 75. Perry Como was aptly described by music critic Gene Lees in 1968: “Despite his immense popularity, Como is rarely given credit for what, once you stop and think of it, he so clearly is: one of the great singers and one of the great artists of our time. Perhaps the reason people rarely talk about his formidable attributes as a singer is that he makes so little fuss about them. That celebrated ease of his has been too little understood. Ease in any art is the result of mastery over the details of the craft. You get them together to the point where you can forget about how you do things and concentrate on what you are doing. Como got them together so completely that the muscles don’t even show.  It seems effortless, but a good deal of effort has gone into making it seem so. Como is known to be meticulous about rehearsal of the material for an album. He tries things out in different keys, gives the song thought, makes suggestions, tries it again, and again, until he is satisfied. The hidden work makes him look like Mr Casual, and too many people are taken in by it – but happily so. I have of necessity given a good deal of thought and study to the art of singing, and Como’s work consistently astonishes me.”

 

ACTING AND RADIO CAREER

Como was contracted to a 7 year film deal with 20th Century Fox in 1944 and appeared in a few musicals. Acting, however, was not a medium he was comfortable in. He also had a highly rated 15 minute CBS radio show, “The Chesterfield Supper Club” which ran from 1944 to 1950. Perry saw his future much more in the new medium of television.

 

TELEVISION CAREER

“Mr C”, as he was nicknamed, sold millions of records but he also pioneered a weekly musical variety television show which set the standard and proved one of the most successful in television history. His combined success on television and popular recordings have never been equalled by any other artist of the time. His television show, The Perry Como Show, which opened in 1955, resulted in him becoming the highest paid performer in the history of television to that date, earning mention in the Guinness Book of World Records. Prior to this, Como competed with Jackie Gleason in what was billed the “Battle of the Giants”, and won. His television show achieved a much higher rating than that of any other vocalist to date. Perry’s easy relaxed style made him a favourite for millions of viewers throughout the world and he developed a format that is emulated to this very day.

 

PERSONAL LIFE

Like Crosby, his Christmas albums were best-sellers, and his annual television “Christmas specials” became an integral part of the holiday season. Never one for the glitzy trappings of super stardom, Perry comes across as an ordinary guy who just happened to be blessed with a rare talent. Perry exudes all the emotions of a man truly in love and devoted to his partner. This was reflected in his personal life, not many marriages reach the 65 year mark. Perhaps it was because Perry believed in the sentiments of the songs he sang that made his delivery so real. Perry’s deeply religious beliefs shine through many of his songs. Como died quietly in his sleep in May 2001 at his home in Florida, six days before his eighty-ninth birthday. He was reported to have suffered from symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease throughout the final years of his life. References: Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopaedia, Michael Dunnington, Tony Watts, Hugh Palmer

 

Vocals: Harry Curtis • Support Vocals: Natalie Grever
Keyboard & Programming: Tony Drake

Try A Little Tenderness

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info
A Tribute to Tom Jones

A selection of songs to pay tribute to that raw, robust baritone we all so admire.

Summer Breeze

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info
Selection of Favourite Songs Volume 1

A selection of songs, Harry enjoys which he has recorded for his performances.

I Wish You Love

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

A selection of songs by Harry that will cheer you, draw you closer to the meaning of life and fill you with that ever needed love for yourself and others.

 

This is a album which has given me a lot of joy throughout its production. Each song has been carefully selected for both its lyrics and melody, from albums of songs sung by Dean Martin. The beauty and innocence of the songs are indeed uplifting, setting you off with a skip in your step and a whistle from your heart. Jane Swan wrote “Joy is more joyful given a tune”. How true.
How do you beat such lyrics:

‘Your Nearness is my Treasure’ ‘Don’t Save Your Kisses Just Pass Them Around’ ‘It took Hours of Flowers and Wining and Dining and Telephone Calls to get the Pot to Perk’ ‘I Wish you Bluebirds in the Spring’ ‘My Hearts on Fire and the Flame Grows Higher’ ‘I Bless the Day She Came my Way’ ‘Here’s a Kiss I Hope that it brings Lots of Luck to You’

 

Lucien Price wrote,”No one knows what music is. It is performed, listened to, composed, and talked about; but its essential reality is as little understood as that of its first cousin, electricity. We know that it detaches the understanding, enabling thoughts to turn inward upon themselves and clarify; we know that it releases the human spirit into some solitude of meditation where the creative process can freely act; we know that it can soothe pain, relieve anxiety; comfort distress, exhilarate health, confirm courage, inspire clear and bold thinking, ennoble the will, refine taste, uplift the heart, stimulate intellect, and do many another interesting and beautiful thing. And yet, when all is said and done, no one knows what music is. Perhaps the explanation is that music is the very stuff of creation itself.”
All of these songs have a very powerful, intense and sometimes desperate love message in them which makes them come alive and live in the listeners mind and heart. Because of the vivid images the words conjure and with their beauty and gentleness, these songs are ageless and I’m sure will be sung forever. I end with a beautiful quote by Charles Kingsley, “There is something very wonderful in music. Words are wonderful enough; but music is even more wonderful. It speaks not to our thoughts as words do; it speaks straight to our hearts and spirits, to the very core and root of our souls. Music soothes us, stirs us up; it puts noble feelings in us; it melts us to tears, we know not how:- it is a language by itself, just as perfect, in its way, as speech, as words; just as divine, just as blessed.”
I hope that they bring you much joy, the medicine we thrive on in our lives. Harry Curtis has performed at many venues in Cape Town, South Africa and produced a number of albums, most being tributes to the great singers and songwriters of yesteryear. His tributes have been to Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Dean Martin, The Mills Brothers, England Dan John Ford Coley, David Gates, Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck.
Visit his website where you are able to listen to many more of his songs similar in choice and style to those on this album.

Especially For The Young

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

Dean Martin Song

Having already produced 3 albums of Dean Martin songs, I love the man. ‘How Do You Like Your Eggs in the Morning’, typifies the nature of Martin. Fun loving with a razor sharp wit, he seemed to always brighten everyone’s spirit. Dino’s songs are always full of charm and romance.
Johnny Mathis Song

I have produced 2 albums of Mathis songs and have always been fascinated with his trademark emphasis on long sustained notes and heavy vibrato. The name alone is synonymous with romance. Being called the Velvet Voice, few singers have been as successful at capturing the essence of love in song. Mathis is one of only 5 recording artistes to have Top 40 hits spanning each of the 4 decades since 1955. His voice has been used in countless Hollywood movies for theme songs, background music and to enhance a particular setting.
Bobby Darin Song Carpenter Songs

Darin was a talented musician, playing the piano, guitar and drums, singer, songwriter, actor and business entrepreneur. His active years were short, dying at the age of 37 from heart failure. His 1959 hit, ‘Mack the Knife’, sold 2 million copies and was No. 1 on the charts for 9 weeks. He received a Grammy Award, record of the year, in 1960 which was shortly followed by the hit ‘Beyond The Sea’.

 

Own Composition

Harry Curtis has performed at many venues in Cape Town, South Africa and  produced a number of albums, most being tributes to the great singers and  songwriters of yesteryear. His tributes have been to Bing Crosby, Perry Como,  Dean Martin, The Mills Brothers, England Dan John Ford Coley, David Gates, Tom  Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck.
Perry Como Songs

I have chosen 5 songs from Perry Como’s album ‘For the Young at Heart’. They all have ‘Young’ titles with a ‘Youth’ theme. Como has that ‘easy going’ style which puts one in a mellow and happy mood. Como was as loved and well known to his listeners and viewers as a member of their own family. As producer Mike Bernike stated in his album ‘So It Goes’, “the name Como became synonymous with the enjoyment of music everyone loves to hear. The sensitive and sweet dulcet tones of his melodious voice always seem to prompt memories , thoughts and moods to fit all seasons.” The songs ‘So It Goes’ and ‘Whats One More Time’ have been taken off this album. I so enjoyed Como’s renditions of ‘That Feeling in the Moonlight’, ’Over the Rainbow’ and ‘Wind Beneath my Wings’, that these just had to be produced, These are all great songs by a great guy.

 

Carpenter Songs

The 3 songs from the Karen and Richard Carpenter album ‘Reflections’ are favourites of mine. As Ray Coleman, the author of ‘The Carpenters: An Authorised Biography’ writes, they were built to last beyond fads and trends. Music lovers are attracted to the purity, intimacy, sentimentality and emotional resonance of Karen’s voice and the imaginative, impeccable direction chartered by Richard as the Carpenters producer and musical director. Their sound will be around for as long as music is played.

 

Tony Hazzard Songs

Tony is a English singer and songwriter. He has written songs for the Hollies (Listen to Me), Manfred Mann (Ha! Ha! Said the Clown/Fox on the Run), Lulu, The Yardbirds, Herman’s Hemits, The Tremeloes among others. He has produced 3 albums and continues to write music at his home in Cornwall. I enjoyed singing these selected songs from this great songwriter.

 


Produced & Arranged: Tony Drake
Recorded & Mixed: Tony Drake
Keyboard & Programming: Tony Drake
Vocals: Harry Curtis
Support Vocals: Natalie Grever

 

The Way It Used To Be

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

INTRODUCTION
This album has certainly been one of my most challenging. I have always so admired the fullness, warmth and power of the voice of this great singer. Romance has always been at the core of his music, his fans tagging him as “The King of Romance”. He has sold over 150 million albums worldwide, had four Grammy nominations, 63 gold and 24 platinum records and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
EARLY LIFE
Engelbert Humperdinck was born Arnold George Dorsey on 2 May 1936 in Madras, India. He was one of ten children, his parents being both British and his father a British Army Officer. His family moved to England when he was aged 10 and he soon showed an interest in music, learning to play the saxophone. In the early 1950’s he played saxophone in night clubs. Coaxed by friends to enter in a pub singing contest, started his singing career. His impression of Jerry Lewis prompted friends to begin calling him Gerry Dorsey, a name he worked under for almost a decade.
MUSIC CAREER
Humperdinck started recording in 1958 with the Decca Records label, his first single being “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.”
He continued working the nightclubs until 1961 when he was stricken with tuberculoses. After regaining his health, he returned to the night clubs and in 1965 teamed with his former roommate, Gordon Mills, who had become a music impresario and the manager of Tom Jones. Aware that Humperdinck had been struggling for several years to become successful in the music industry, Mills suggested that he change his name to one that would attract the publics attention. He chose the name Engelbert Humperdinck, borrowed from the 19th century Austrian composer of such operas as Hansel and Gretel. Humperdinck’s first hit song “Release Me” was produced in 1967. The song scored in the top ten in both Europe and America, and number one in the UK. “Release Me” spent 56 weeks in the Top 50 in a single chart run, and sold 85,000 copies a day at the height of its popularity.

“Release Me” was succeeded by more hit ballads ”There Goes my Everything” and “The Last Waltz”, earning him a reputation as a crooner with which he did not always agree. He told Hollywood Reporter writer Rick Sherwood, “No crooner has the range I have. I can hit notes a bank could not cash. What I am is a contemporary singer, a stylished performer”.
By the end of the 1960’s, Humperdinck’s roster of songs included “Am I That Easy to Forget”, “A Man Without Love”, “The Way It Used to Be” and “I’m a Better Man”. He also recorded, at this time, a number of successful albums.
By the start of the 1970’s, Humperdinck had settled into a busy schedule of recordings, and a number of signature songs emerged from this period: “We Made It Happen”, “Another Time, Another Place”, “Sweetheart” and “Too Beautiful to Last”. In 1976 he recorded “After the Lovin”, a Top 10 hit in the US which was nominated for a Grammy Award, it went Gold, and won “the most played juke box record of the year” award. Humperdinck has always made a conscious effort to update his music and image and by the 1980’s, approaching his fiftieth birthday, he continued recording albums regularly and was performing as many as 200 concerts a year.
Humperdinck was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1989 and won a Golden Globe Award as entertainer of the year. He is involved in charitable causes such as the Leukaemia Research Fund, the American Red Cross, the American Lung Association and several AIDS relief organisations.

During the 21st century Humperdinck has continued to record albums and regularly perform. At 75 years of age he shows little sign of slowing down and is always looking forward and discovering new avenues that keep him current.

Wonderful World – Volume 1

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

INTRODUCTION
This has been a most rewarding album to produce. There have been just so many albums and so many wonderful songs to choose, from which to best remember this great singer. Such a unique voice and easy relaxed style endears him to everyone. Johnny Mathis really is a romantic whose ballads are all full of true love. The name alone is synonymous with romance. Being called the Velvet Voice, few singers have been as successful at capturing the essence of love in song. He is one of the last in a long line of traditional male vocalists who emerged before the 1960’s. Mathis concentrated on romantic jazz and pop standards for the adult contemporary audience, through to the 1980’s. He became popular as an album artist with several dozen of his albums achieving gold or platinum status, and over 60 making the Billboard charts. He has had 5 of his albums on the Billboard charts simultaneously, an achievement equalled by only two other singers, Frank Sinatra and Barry Manilow. Mathis recorded over 130 albums and sold more than 180 million records worldwide. His voice, like those of Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra and Russ Columbo, and his delivery, are unmistakeably his.
EARLY LIFE
John Royce Mathis was born on 30 September 1935 in Gilmer, Texas. He was the fourth of seven children and is of both African- American and Caucasian ancestry. He learned his appreciation of music from his father who worked briefly as a musician playing the piano and singing on stage. His father taught him many songs and routines and Johnny sang in the church choir, school functions, community events, for visitors in their home as well as amateur shows in the San Francisco area where the family moved when Johnny was a young boy. From the age of 13, Johnny studied with Connie Cox, a voice teacher, for six years learning vocal scales and exercises, voice production, classical and operatic skills. It was this coaching that allowed him his trademark emphasis on long sustained notes and heavy vibrato. At George Washington High School, Johnny was known not only for his singing ability but his athleticism as well. He became a star athlete on the track and field team as a high jumper and hurdler and played in the basketball team. In 1954, Johnny enrolled at San Francisco State College with the intention of being an English and Physical Education teacher. While there, Johnny set a high jump record of 6’-5 ½’’. This is still on the college’s top 15 list and was only two inches short of the Olympic record at the time. Just as when he was in high school, Johnny’s name was frequently mentioned in the sports sections of the Northern Carolina newspapers. He was often referred to as “the best all-around athlete to come out of the San Francisco Bay Area”. A fellow student, whose sextet was working at the Black Hawk nightclub, brought Johnny in for a Sunday afternoon jam session. It was at the Black Hawk that Helen Noga, co-owner of the club, first heard him sing. She decided that she wanted to manage his career. In September 1955, Johnny landed a job singing weekends at Ann Dee’s 440 club. After repeated attempts, Helen convinced George Avakian, then jazz producer at Columbia Records, to see him. Avakian came to the club, heard Johnny sing and sent the now famous telegram to his record company: “Have found phenomenal 19 year old boy who could go all the way. Send blank contracts.” Avakian left for New York after telling Johnny that he would eventually send for him. Johnny continued his studies at San Francisco State and gained additional fame as a high jumper. In 1956, Johnny was asked to attend the trials for the 1956 Olympic team that would travel to Melbourne, Australia that summer. At the same time, Columbia Records requested that Johnny come to New York to start arrangements for his first recording session. With his father’s advice, Mathis opted for a recording career and the rest is history. So, Johnny gave up his chance to become a member of the USA Olympic Team and went to New York to record his first album in March of 1956.
MUSIC CAREER
His first album, Johnny Mathis: A New Sound in Popular Song, was a jazz album that enjoyed only moderate success because jazz vocal albums were not good sellers. Nevertheless, Johnny remained in New York and landed bookings at some of the leading nightclubs such as the Village Vanguard, The Blue Angel and Basin Street East. Soon, Columbia placed Johnny under the supervision of producer Mitch Miller. Mitch favoured using Johnny’s voice to sing soft, romantic ballads. At his second recording session, in the fall of 1956, Johnny recorded two singles. These songs were to become among his most popular all-time greatest hits: “Wonderful, Wonderful” and “It’s Not For Me To Say”. Subsequently, MGM studios signed Johnny to sing “It’s Not For Me To Say” in the film Lizzie. He played a tavern piano bar singer. In 1958, Johnny made another motion picture appearance. This time it was in 20th Century Fox in A Certain Smile. In this movie, he sang the title song playing himself in an elegant nightclub scene. Since then, Johnny’s voice has been used in countless Hollywood movies for theme songs, background music and to enhance a particular setting or segment. “Wonderful, Wonderful” and “It’s Not For Me To Say” reached their peaks on the Billboard pop chart in July of 1957. These successes were followed by the monumental single “Chances Are” which became Johnny’s first #1 hit. In June of 1957, Johnny appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show where he was introduced to the record buying public and became a national celebrity and household name. Columbia Records continued to release albums of Johnny singing beautiful and romantic ballads, classic standards and the best songs from Broadway musicals. These albums, like the singles, became immediate successes with sales in the millions. It was not uncommon for Johnny to have as many as four albums on the Billboard Top Albums chart at the same time. In late 1959, Johnny recorded another song that became synonymous with the name of Johnny Mathis, the Erroll Garner composition, “Misty”. Johnny’s accomplishments are numerous and varied. He holds many records and has set many precedents in the music industry. In 1958, two years after being signed by Columbia Records, Johnny’s Greatest Hits was released. It began a “Greatest Hits” tradition copied by every record company since then. Johnny’s Greatest Hits went on to become one of the most popular albums of all time and spend an unprecedented 490 continuous weeks (almost ten years) on the Billboard Top Albums chart. This record has been noted in the Guinness Book of World Records and was not broken until the 1980s by Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon”. Johnny is one of only five recording artists to have Top 40 Hits spanning each of the four decades since 1955. Amazingly, his second #1 Hit Single, “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late” (recorded with Deniece Williams), came almost 21 years after his very first #1 Hit Single, “Chances Are”. Johnny has been honoured to make several appearances before various heads of state and in 1972, he was awarded his own star on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has participated in the Academy Awards presentation many times to sing a song nominated in the “Best Song” category. Johnny has received three Grammy nominations. The first was for “Misty” in 1960 in the category of Best Male Vocal Performance – Single Record or Track. The second was in 1992 for “In a Sentimental Mood/Mathis Sings Ellington” in the category of Best Traditional Pop Performance. The most recent was in 2006 for “Isn’t It Romantic”, in the category of Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Johnny has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame on two occasions. This is a special Grammy award to honour recordings that are at least twenty-five years old and that have ‘qualitative or historical significance’. In 1998, he made the famous Hall’s list with “Chances Are”.In 2002 he made the list again with “Misty”. Most impressive of all is his 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Academy of Recording Artists and Sciences. This Special Merit Award is presented to performers who have made creative contributions of outstanding artist significance to the field of recording. In 2004 he sang “Over the Rainbow” with Ray Charles on Mr Charles’ “Genius Loves Company”. Johnny was very honoured that Mr Charles requested the song to be played at his memorial service. Mathis continues to perform but from 2000 onwards has limited his concert engagements to fifty to sixty appearances per year. He still records and his 2005 album “Isn’t It Romantic: The Standards Album” has been enthusiastically received by critics and music buyers.
PERSONAL LIFE
Johnny has never been married. He has never abandoned his enthusiasm for sports and today is an avid golfer who has achieved six holesin- one. He has sung at many golf banquets such as the Ryder Cup. In 1985 and 1986, Johnny hosted his own golf tournament, The Johnny Mathis Seniors PGA Classic, which was held in Los Angeles. Johnny has also hosted a charity golf tournament, The Shell/ Johnny Mathis Golf Classic, which was held in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He also hosts the annual Johnny Mathis Invitational Track and Field Meet which has continued at San Francisco State College since it started in 1982. Johnny’s other favourite avocation is cooking, which his mother taught him from an early age. He is a gourmet cook, cooking for himself and often others when at home or travelling. In 1982 he published a cookbook, cooking for you alone.

Wonderful World – Volume 2

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

INTRODUCTION
This has been a most rewarding album to produce. There have been just so many albums and so many wonderful songs to choose, from which to best remember this great singer. Such a unique voice and easy relaxed style endears him to everyone. Johnny Mathis really is a romantic whose ballads are all full of true love. The name alone is synonymous with romance. Being called the Velvet Voice, few singers have been as successful at capturing the essence of love in song. He is one of the last in a long line of traditional male vocalists who emerged before the 1960’s. Mathis concentrated on romantic jazz and pop standards for the adult contemporary audience, through to the 1980’s. He became popular as an album artist with several dozen of his albums achieving gold or platinum status, and over 60 making the Billboard charts. He has had 5 of his albums on the Billboard charts simultaneously, an achievement equalled by only two other singers, Frank Sinatra and Barry Manilow. Mathis recorded over 130 albums and sold more than 180 million records worldwide. His voice, like those of Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra and Russ Columbo, and his delivery, are unmistakeably his.
EARLY LIFE
John Royce Mathis was born on 30 September 1935 in Gilmer, Texas. He was the fourth of seven children and is of both African- American and Caucasian ancestry. He learned his appreciation of music from his father who worked briefly as a musician playing the piano and singing on stage. His father taught him many songs and routines and Johnny sang in the church choir, school functions, community events, for visitors in their home as well as amateur shows in the San Francisco area where the family moved when Johnny was a young boy. From the age of 13, Johnny studied with Connie Cox, a voice teacher, for six years learning vocal scales and exercises, voice production, classical and operatic skills. It was this coaching that allowed him his trademark emphasis on long sustained notes and heavy vibrato. At George Washington High School, Johnny was known not only for his singing ability but his athleticism as well. He became a star athlete on the track and field team as a high jumper and hurdler and played in the basketball team. In 1954, Johnny enrolled at San Francisco State College with the intention of being an English and Physical Education teacher. While there, Johnny set a high jump record of 6’-5 ½’’. This is still on the college’s top 15 list and was only two inches short of the Olympic record at the time. Just as when he was in high school, Johnny’s name was frequently mentioned in the sports sections of the Northern Carolina newspapers. He was often referred to as “the best all-around athlete to come out of the San Francisco Bay Area”. A fellow student, whose sextet was working at the Black Hawk nightclub, brought Johnny in for a Sunday afternoon jam session. It was at the Black Hawk that Helen Noga, co-owner of the club, first heard him sing. She decided that she wanted to manage his career. In September 1955, Johnny landed a job singing weekends at Ann Dee’s 440 club. After repeated attempts, Helen convinced George Avakian, then jazz producer at Columbia Records, to see him. Avakian came to the club, heard Johnny sing and sent the now famous telegram to his record company: “Have found phenomenal 19 year old boy who could go all the way. Send blank contracts.” Avakian left for New York after telling Johnny that he would eventually send for him. Johnny continued his studies at San Francisco State and gained additional fame as a high jumper. In 1956, Johnny was asked to attend the trials for the 1956 Olympic team that would travel to Melbourne, Australia that summer. At the same time, Columbia Records requested that Johnny come to New York to start arrangements for his first recording session. With his father’s advice, Mathis opted for a recording career and the rest is history. So, Johnny gave up his chance to become a member of the USA Olympic Team and went to New York to record his first album in March of 1956.
MUSIC CAREER
His first album, Johnny Mathis: A New Sound in Popular Song, was a jazz album that enjoyed only moderate success because jazz vocal albums were not good sellers. Nevertheless, Johnny remained in New York and landed bookings at some of the leading nightclubs such as the Village Vanguard, The Blue Angel and Basin Street East. Soon, Columbia placed Johnny under the supervision of producer Mitch Miller. Mitch favoured using Johnny’s voice to sing soft, romantic ballads. At his second recording session, in the fall of 1956, Johnny recorded two singles. These songs were to become among his most popular all-time greatest hits: “Wonderful, Wonderful” and “It’s Not For Me To Say”. Subsequently, MGM studios signed Johnny to sing “It’s Not For Me To Say” in the film Lizzie. He played a tavern piano bar singer. In 1958, Johnny made another motion picture appearance. This time it was in 20th Century Fox in A Certain Smile. In this movie, he sang the title song playing himself in an elegant nightclub scene. Since then, Johnny’s voice has been used in countless Hollywood movies for theme songs, background music and to enhance a particular setting or segment. “Wonderful, Wonderful” and “It’s Not For Me To Say” reached their peaks on the Billboard pop chart in July of 1957. These successes were followed by the monumental single “Chances Are” which became Johnny’s first #1 hit. In June of 1957, Johnny appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show where he was introduced to the record buying public and became a national celebrity and household name. Columbia Records continued to release albums of Johnny singing beautiful and romantic ballads, classic standards and the best songs from Broadway musicals. These albums, like the singles, became immediate successes with sales in the millions. It was not uncommon for Johnny to have as many as four albums on the Billboard Top Albums chart at the same time. In late 1959, Johnny recorded another song that became synonymous with the name of Johnny Mathis, the Erroll Garner composition, “Misty”. Johnny’s accomplishments are numerous and varied. He holds many records and has set many precedents in the music industry. In 1958, two years after being signed by Columbia Records, Johnny’s Greatest Hits was released. It began a “Greatest Hits” tradition copied by every record company since then. Johnny’s Greatest Hits went on to become one of the most popular albums of all time and spend an unprecedented 490 continuous weeks (almost ten years) on the Billboard Top Albums chart. This record has been noted in the Guinness Book of World Records and was not broken until the 1980s by Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon”. Johnny is one of only five recording artists to have Top 40 Hits spanning each of the four decades since 1955. Amazingly, his second #1 Hit Single, “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late” (recorded with Deniece Williams), came almost 21 years after his very first #1 Hit Single, “Chances Are”. Johnny has been honoured to make several appearances before various heads of state and in 1972, he was awarded his own star on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has participated in the Academy Awards presentation many times to sing a song nominated in the “Best Song” category. Johnny has received three Grammy nominations. The first was for “Misty” in 1960 in the category of Best Male Vocal Performance – Single Record or Track. The second was in 1992 for “In a Sentimental Mood/Mathis Sings Ellington” in the category of Best Traditional Pop Performance. The most recent was in 2006 for “Isn’t It Romantic”, in the category of Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Johnny has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame on two occasions. This is a special Grammy award to honour recordings that are at least twenty-five years old and that have ‘qualitative or historical significance’. In 1998, he made the famous Hall’s list with “Chances Are”. In 2002 he made the list again with “Misty”. Most impressive of all is his 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Academy of Recording Artists and Sciences. This Special Merit Award is presented to performers who have made creative contributions of outstanding artist significance to the field of recording. In 2004 he sang “Over the Rainbow” with Ray Charles on Mr Charles’ “Genius Loves Company”. Johnny was very honoured that Mr Charles requested the song to be played at his memorial service. Mathis continues to perform but from 2000 onwards has limited his concert engagements to fifty to sixty appearances per year. He still records and his 2005 album “Isn’t It Romantic: The Standards Album” has been enthusiastically received by critics and music buyers.
PERSONAL LIFE
Johnny has never been married. He has never abandoned his enthusiasm for sports and today is an avid golfer who has achieved six holesin- one. He has sung at many golf banquets such as the Ryder Cup. In 1985 and 1986, Johnny hosted his own golf tournament, The Johnny Mathis Seniors PGA Classic, which was held in Los Angeles. Johnny has also hosted a charity golf tournament, The Shell/ Johnny Mathis Golf Classic, which was held in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He also hosts the annual Johnny Mathis Invitational Track and Field Meet which has continued at San Francisco State College since it started in 1982. Johnny’s other favourite avocation is cooking, which his mother taught him from an early age. He is a gourmet cook, cooking for himself and often others when at home or travelling. In 1982 he published a cookbook, cooking for you alone.

The Gift Of Love

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house.
Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbour.
Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.
Be the living expression of God’s kindness, kindness in your face,
kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.
– Mother Teresa

 

Special thanks goes to Tony Drake who has made this album possible. What a privilege it is to be associated with such a talented musician. To sing to such well orchestrated music is so rewarding. Thank you for your equal enthusiasm in supporting this album.

 

The purpose of this album is to take you from your hurried schedule of activities & to let you pause for a moment to reflect on the many different circumstances in which others share this world of ours. To give thought to the joys & sorrows of lifes experiences, how important love is in this world & how grateful we should be for what we have. More importantly, behind each of the songs, whether of love or faith, we need to constantly search for more & more evidence, in strengthening our faith, of Who Jesus Christ really is.
Recently one evening, while listening with my family to a selection of songs identified as possibly suited for a new album, I came across one of my favorite gospel musicians Ray Boltz’s Christmas album on which is the very moving song titled The Gift. I played this song over & over again, picturing this very sad Christmas scene which so many people will be experiencing this Christmas. The images & message of this song were so profound that I had this urgency to share this experience with others through this album.
I hope that many of these songs will sow a seed of increased love & faith, especially during this Christmas season, when we celebrate the most wonderful gift we have been given in the birth of Jesus Christ.
I have been privileged in being able to celebrate Christmas throughout my life with family & friends, enjoying extravagant Christmas dinners & being lavished with expensive gifts. But looking at my past good fortunes, & without appearing pious, & also not taking away any of the Christmas joy I have experienced, I ask myself “Was a lot of this joy as a result of my thanks to God for giving us his son Jesus & sharing this special time with those who are unhappy, experiencing no love, the lonely, poor, imprisoned, sick & lost”.
My answer is No, my focus was far from Jesus Christ. I have throughout my life been very inconsistent in my faith. When times are good, Christ does not feature prominently in my thoughts & activities. During tough times, He is my best friend, He suddenly becomes important for me to get through the day. Why am I being so fickle? How can I say I am a Christian when really the strength of my faith depends on how life is treating me?
The so called hard times that I have experienced in comparison to the majority of the world, is frivolous. This inconsistent & insecure existence I need to address.
I was fortunate to come across Tim Lahaye’s book “Why Believe in Jesus” which has helped me along my crooked path and I share with you his message so that you may choose the right path to happiness today and joy for eternity.
We all have a choice in this life. At the one extreme are the ardent evolutionists, evangelists of atheism who tell us there is no God & no life after death. Opposing them are those who have absolute faith in the existence & teachings of Christ, the Son of God, many of whom have layed down their lives for Him.
To those of you who have doubts about Christianity, & particularly about Christ, don’t be afraid to admit them to God & search for answers in the Bible. God doesn’t expect us to believe blindly. To the contrary, He expects us to use our minds. God challenges us to use reason in determining what we believe. The apostle Peter said “we do not follow cunningly devised fables”.
Honest skeptics should examine evidence of the real identity of Jesus. They will find that there is far more evidence for believing the claims of Christ than for rejecting them, more answered questions than unanswered ones.
We need to find out the most important question to mankind, Who is Jesus Christ? Our eternal destiny hinges on our response, we can either be saved by believing in Him or we are on our own for eternity. If He was the Son of God in human flesh, as the bible presents Him, then He could be the only way to Heaven. Why is Jesus, who had little formal education & ministered for only three & a half years, the most influential person in history?
We owe it to Jesus, ourselves & the ones we love to urgently act so that we may share eternity with them.
I hope that this album results in you questioning your life & adjusting the course that it is taking so that you live peacefully & bring joy to all those that you touch.
This album will be distributed freely to hospitals, centers for the aged, prisons, churches, homes & institutions for the needy & underprivileged with the message that with all your suffering & loneliness you & I have equal access to the Greatest Gift. Funds raised from the sales of this album will be given in support of the above.
I wish to thank the following friends who have sponsored this album, and supported its message:
Lilian Bron-Davis, Bart & Tara Das, Mike & Sue Diepeveen, Frank & Phil Dillon, Pam Golding, Janet Hardie, Uri Mitrani, Richard Moolenschot, Tony & Pat Moolenschot, Andre & Gail Nel, Reiner Noell, James Sedgwick, Peter & Maria Venter, Cathy Wijnberg.
You are all very much part of this album as evidenced by some of your messages:
For God loved this world so much that He gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life – John 3:16
(Peter & Maria Venter)
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…- 1 Corinthians 13:1-8
(Tony & Pat Moolenschot)
Christmas is to remind us about giving. The old adage always works, “in life if you want more, give more!” If you feel alone, give love and attention to others in abundance and it will come back to you in wonderful ways. (Uri Mitrani)
Religion tends to limit free thinking, rather than inspire it. I believe in a higher order, in the responsibility of mankind, in the regulatory function of the individual. I also strongly believe in respecting the freedom of others. The quality I admire most is courage. The courage to be honest, fair, soft, hard, tolerant and intolerant. The courage to speak up and be oneself. I think it is all a question of integrity. I abhor basic dishonesty, jealousy and prejudice. Happiness, to me, means harmony. The sudden flash of inspiration of thought, shared with another free spirit. Happiness is the feeling of warmth and love in another person’s eyes. A state of mind, not perpetual, more like an orchid in the wilderness. (Lilian Bron-Davis)

 

 

Steal Away

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info
Selection of Favourite Songs Volume 2

A selection of songs, Harry enjoys which he has recorded for his performances.

Theres No Tomorrow

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

A Tribute to the Mills Brothers

Harry Curtis Remembers the Mills Brothers …

INTRODUCTION
This album is a tribute to one of the most musical group of male singers I have ever heard. Among the pioneers of close harmony singing, they became the most successful male American group of all time, with 71 chart singles (The Andrew Sisters has 113). The privilege we have of recorded music is that wonderful music never dies and will remain with us forever. Until recently I had never heard of The Mills Brothers and was so fortunate to listen to one of their many albums and was immediately taken in by their happy, warm and melodious voices and harmonies. The songs they sing are cheerful and uplifting and it is such a delight listening and watching them sing on numerous website video clips where it is evident that they enjoy performing and being in each others company. I have so enjoyed the journey through this album, right from the very first song, and I hope this rendition of songs sung by The Mills Brothers cheers your heart and puts a smile on your face. The Mills Brothers were an astonishing African-American vocal quartet producing more than 2,000 recordings that sold more than 50 million copies. They circled the globe more than 17 times over their performance history. They were active for 54 years from 1928 to 1982 and were the first vocal group in history to sell a million records.
THE EARLY YEARS
The four brothers were all born in Piqua, Ohio – John Jr. in 1910, Herbert in 1912, Harry in 1913 and Donald in 1915. Their father, John Sr. was a concert singer before he retired to become a barber. He founded a barbershop quartet called the Four Kings of Harmony. His sons obviously learned their close harmonies first-hand. They began singing in the church choir and after school classes they would sing in front of the barber shop and play the kazoo to passersby. They began performing around the area and at one show, Harry Mills forgot his kazoo, and ended up trying to emulate the instrument by cupping his hand over his mouth. The brothers were surprised to hear the sound of a trumpet proceeding from Harry’s mouth, so they began to work the novelty into their act – with John taking tuba, Donald trombone and Herbert a second trumpet.
RISE TO STARDOM
The group got their major break when they sang for Duke Ellington in 1928 when he and his orchestra played in Cincinnati. The Duke arranged that they be signed up with a record company who brought them to New York. In 1930 they signed a three year contract with CBS radio and became the first African Americans to have a network show on radio. They became a sensation and hit it big during 1931 and early 1932 with the singles “Tiger Rag” and “Dinah”. Dumb-founded listeners hardly believed the notice accompanying the records: “No musical instruments or mechanical devices used in this recording other than one guitar.” The Mills Brothers sounded exactly like they’d been backed by a small studio band. The amazing brothers were still youngsters when they sat atop the musical world in 1931 ranging in age from 16 to 20. The exposure continued during 1932, with appearances in the film The Big Broadcast that included Bing Crosby and the Boswell Sisters, and more hits including “St. Louis Blues” and “Bugle Call Rag.” Not only were the Mills Brothers destined to be emulated by hundreds of vocal groups, but many of their recordings would later be covered by other groups in the style that came to be called rhythm and blues. In 1934, The Mills Brothers became the first African Americans to give a command performance before British royalty. They performed at the Regal Theatre for a special audience: King George V, Queen Mary and their mother. While performing in England in 1935, John Jr. became ill. It took him months to recover from battling pneumonia. Before he was completely well, the brothers returned to England. John Jr. once again became sick and died in the beginning of 1936 at the age of 25. The remaining brothers considered breaking up, when their mother told them John Jr. would want them to continue. They followed her suggestion and their father, John Sr. as the baritone and tuba, replaced John Jr. At this time, Norman Brown joined the Brothers as their guitar player.

 

THE WARS YEARS
Through 1939 they enjoyed remarkable success in Europe. Herbert recalls, “We left England for the last time just three days before war was declared on Germany and the only boat we could get was to Australia. We were overseas from then on except for two months in 1940 and then we went back to South America. We didn’t get back until 1941. In the meantime the Ink Spots were coming up, and people had sort of forgotten us.” The Mills Brothers’ records weren’t performing as well as they had earlier in the decade but all that changed in 1943 with the release of “Paper Doll,” which became one of the biggest hits of the decade, being twelve weeks on the top of the charts, more than a year on the charts and selling more than six million records. The group made appearances in several movies during the early 40’s, and hit number one again in 1944 with “You Always Hurt The One You Love.”
THE POST WAR YEARS
The rise of rock and roll in the early fifties did little to decrease the Mills Brothers popularity. They began recording with traditional orchestras and in 1952 “Glow Worm” became a number one hit. “Opus One”, an updated version to the Tommy Dorsey hit, was soon on the charts as well, followed by “You’re Nobody ‘Till Somebody Loves You”, “Yellow Bird”, “Standing On The Corner” and “If I Had My Way”. In 1957, John Sr. who was 68, retired from the group. As a trio, the Mills Brothers recorded for Dot Records and were frequent guests on The Jack Benny Show, The Perry Como Show, The Tonight Show and The Hollywood Palace. “Cab Driver”, recorded in 1968, was their last great hit. In the late 1960’s, Dean Martin, hosting The Dean Martin Show, booked the Mills Brothers on the show, later explaining that Harry Mills was in fact his greatest musical influence, more influential than Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. The Brothers’ performances with Dean of Paper Doll and Lazy River were among the musical highlights of the show’s ten year run. The Bee Gees have also stated the Mills Brothers as an early influence.
THE LATER YEARS
Their fiftieth anniversary in show business was celebrated in 1976 with a nostalgic tribute in Los Angeles hosted by Bing Crosby. Few in the audience realised that Harry was now almost blind because of diabetes. As a trio, Herbert, Harry and Donald continued performing on the oldies circuit until Harry’s death in 1982. Herbert and Donald continued until Herbert’s death in 1989. Then, Donald began performing with the third generation of the family – his son, John III. In 1998 the Recording Academy recognised the Mills family’s contributions to popular music when it presented Donald, as the surviving member, with a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement. After Donald’s death of pneumonia on November 13, 1999, John III began touring under the name “The Mills Brothers”. The Mills Brothers’ influence was pervasive; they made black music acceptable to a wide audience and encouraged other black vocalists to carry on what they had started. And lest we forget, they did it with dignity and grace in difficult racial times, carried forward by their warmth of character and mellow sound. References: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia, Jay Warner

The Pleasure Of Your Company Inside

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

He was the first vocalist ever signed to an orchestra. He made more studio recordings than any other singer in history, a total of 1700 which is about 400 more than Sinatra. He made the most popular recording ever, “White Christmas”, the only single to make the American pop charts 20 times, every year but one between 1942 and 1962. In 1998, after a long absence, it returned to the charts in Great Britain. Between 1927 and 1962, he scored 368 charted records under his own name, plus 28 as vocalist with various bandleaders, for a total of 396. No one else comes close; compare Paul Whiteman (220), Sinatra (209), Elvis (149), Glenn Miller (129), Nat King Cole (118), Louis Armstrong (85), the Beatles (68). He scored the most number one hits in the 20th century: 38, compared to 24 by the Beatles and 18 by Presley. He received 23 gold and two platinum records, including the first double-sided gold record (“Play a Simple Melody” / “Sam’s Song”). In 1960, he received a platinum record as First Citizen of the Record Industry, having sold 200 million discs, a number that doubled by 1980.

Between 1915 and 1980, he was the only motion picture actor to rank as the number one box-office attraction five times (1944-48). Between 1934 and 1954 he scored in the top ten 15 times. With an estimated one billion, seventyseven million tickets sold, he is ranked as the third most popular film actor, behind Clark Gable and John Wayne. Of the 55 feature films in which he starred, between 1932 (The Big Broadcast) and 1971 (Dr. Cook’s Garden), 29 placed among the top-10 grossing pictures of the year. During the Second World War, he raised an unequalled $14,500,000 in war bonds. In 1946, three of the five top-grossing pictures of the year (The Bells of St. Mary’s, Blue Skies, Road to Utopia) were Crosby vehicles. Going My Way was the highest grossing film in the history of Paramount Pictures until 1947. The Bells of St. Mary was the highest grossing film in the history of RKO Pictures until 1947. He was nominated for an Academy Award for best actor three times and won for Going My Way. He introduced more Academy Award songs (14) and more winners (4) than any other film star. He was a major radio star longer than any other performer, from 1931 until 1954 on network, from 1954 until 1962 in syndication. He appeared on approximately 4000 radio broadcasts, nearly 3400 of them his own programs. He created the first and longest running celebrity pro-am golf championship, playing host for 35 years, raising millions in charity; and was the central figure in the development of the Del Mar racetrack in southern California. He helped ensure the survival of four of the most influential companies in the development of American entertainment: CBS, Paramount Pictures, Decca Records and ABC. References: Gary Giddins

 

INTRODUCTION

Why an album of songs sung by Bing Crosby? Yes, I had heard many of his songs sung by my father who I’m sure remembered most of them from the war years. He would sing them word for word, and many times whistle them. They were such happy and catchy tunes. Only later did I discover Bing had been given the title “The Happy Man’s Singer”. Like Bing my father was a keen golfer, always looking forward to the next round, and always trying new techniques to improve his game.

 

For some unknown reason we had no albums of Bing’s, but did of Perry Como and Dean Martin. Many of the tunes were such a delight to listen to, uplifting and cheerful and so, when I started recording songs, these two artists came to the fore, resulting in my having completed two albums each of the songs sung by Perry and Dean. Although the rendition of the songs are those of Harry Curtis, I do try and flavour them with the artist’s style. You can distinctly tell from the delivery whether my feelings are with Perry or Dean.

 

Reading the life stories of all the great vocalists of that time, they would all credit Bing Crosby with having a large influence on their careers. I knew I had to one day get to the Crosby albums and with great enjoyment and pride at it’s conclusion, I present to you the first of many albums I hope to produce of songs sung by Bing Crosby.
Bing Crosby was an Academy Award winning American singer and actor whose career lasted from 1926 until his death in 1977, aged 74. In 1962 Crosby was the first person to receive the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He was a much celebrated and beloved performer of unparalleled popularity. He was also a force in the development of the three industries of recordings, motion pictures and broadcasting. He is the most successful recording artist of all time; a star of movies, radio and television; and was a firm believer in the wonders of technology. He was a man who loved life, had such ‘feeling’ for the songs that he sang and gave and still gives great pleasure to millions around the world. He derived great enjoyment from performing with other artists. In 1990 Life Magazine listed the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century, naming only two popular singers Bing Crosby and Elvis Presley. Crosby is currently the most recorded voice in history. He was a major inspiration to most of the male singers of the era that followed him, including Perry Como, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.
EARLY LIFE

Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby was born on 3 May 1903 in Tacoma, Washington, USA. He was the fourth of seven children born to a working-class Catholic Irish-Anglo family with deep roots in the American North West. He was an intelligent and conscientious student whose primary interests were in sports, school plays and music. Music had always been part of the Crosby household, his father, who played the mandolin, leading the family in song.
In 1910, the six-year-old Harry was forever renamed Bing by a 15-yearold neighbour who shared Harrys enthusiasm in a newspaper parody “The Bingville Bugle”.
In his youth he would listen to everything, attend the vaudeville shows that came to town and was spellbound by the legendary Al Jolson who Crosby would later say “To me, he was the greatest entertainer who ever lived”. In 1920 Bing enrolled at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington with the intention of becoming a lawyer. While at university he learnt to play the drums and joined a local band called the “Musicaladers”. He made such good money with the band that he decided to drop out of school during his final year to pursue a career in show business.
MUSIC AND MOTION PICTURES
In 1926 while singing in Los Angeles he caught the eye of Paul Whiteman, arguably the leader of the most famous orchestra in the country, and was signed up at $150 a week. Bing was inspired by his idol and life long friend, Louis Armstrong. Whiteman teamed Bing, Al Rinker of the “Musicaladers” and Harry Barris, a pianist and songwriter, calling them the Rhythm Boys. They became the first successful jazz vocal group. Bing was the first vocalist to use the microphone as an instrument.
The band split in 1931, setting the stage for Crosby’s solo career. Ten of the top 50 songs in 1931 either featured Bing solo or with others. In 1932 he starred in his first full-length film “The Big Broadcast” and over the years appeared in 79 pictures.

 

Crosby gave great emphasis to live performances before American troops fighting in Europe. He toured at home and abroad, selling a record number of war bonds and personally answering thousands of letters from servicemen and their families. In a poll of U.S. Troops at the close of World War II, Crosby was recognised as the person who had done the most for American G.I. morale during the war.
Bings radio show regularly attracted an audience of 50 million. He initiated the Road movies, with Bob Hope, one of the most durable, profitable and imitated comedy series in film history.
Crosby’s biggest musical hit was his recording of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” which he sang in 1942. The song was his best selling recording and the best-selling single and song of all time. The recording sold over 100 million copies around the world, with at least 50 million sales as singles. According to ticket sales, Bing Crosby is the third most popular actor of all-time behind Clark Gable and John Wayne. His most popular film was “White Christmas” in 1954. He won an academy award as best actor in “Going My Way” in 1944.
Bing continued to make hit records and movies into the 1960’s, at which time he began to slow down, reserving most of his work for television, including a series of variety specials, frequent appearances as host of The Hollywood Palace, television movies, and an annual Christmas show that became a national tradition. He spent more time on the golf course and the track, two sports he helped pioneer by creating the first celebrity pro-am golf tournament and taking the lead in building the Del Mar racetrack.

 

 

Crosby exerted an important influence on the development of the post-war recording industry investing in the company which developed the world’s first commercial reel-to-reel tape recorder. Crosby became the first performer to pre-record his radio shows and master his commercial recordings on magnetic tape.
PERSONAL LIFE
Crosby was married twice, first to actress/night club singer Dixie Lee from 1930 until her death from cancer in 1952. They had four sons. He married the actress Kathryn Grant in 1957 and they had two sons and a daughter.

 

Bing had an interest in sports. He was a fan of thoroughbred horse racing and bought his first race horse in 1935. He was a founding partner and director of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club at Del Mar, California. In 1978, he and Bob Hope were voted the Bob Jones award, the highest honour given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf.
Crosby smoked two packets of cigarettes a day until his second wife made him stop. He finally quit smoking his pipe and cigars following lung surgery in 1974 when he came out of semi retirement to produce several notable albums and concert tours. The Crosby family became the focus of his Christmas program. In September 1977, Crosby and his family did a concert tour of England after which he flew alone to Spain to hunt and play golf. On 14 October, Crosby died suddenly from a heart attack after a round of eighteen holes of golf near Madrid.
At his death, because of Bing’s shrewd investments in oil, real estate and other commodities, Bing was one of Hollywood’s wealthiest residents. References: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Gary Giddins

A Gift To Us

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

Perry Como was born in 1912 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Throughout a career spanning more than half a century he recorded exclusively for the RCA Victor label after signing with them in 1943. He sold millions of records for RCA and also pioneered a weekly musical variety television show which set the standard and proved one of the most successful in television history. His combined success on television and popular recordings has never been equalled by any other artist of the time. Although he always liked to sing, his first great ambition was to be the best barber in Canonsburg. After graduating from high school, he opened his own barber shop. In 1933 he married his teenage sweetheart, Rosella Belline. They remained married until her death.

 

A popular television performer and recording artist, Como achieved numerous hit records and his weekly television shows were broadcast throughout the world for which his popularity had no geographical or language boundaries. The Perry Como show made him the highest paid performer in the history of television to that date, earning mention in the Guinness Book of World Records. He became TV’s famous “Mr C” and “Mr Nice Guy”. He was equally at ease in live performances and in the confines of a recording studio. His appeal spanned generations and he was widely respected for both his professional standards and the conduct of his personal life. Como modelled his voice and style after Bing Crosby as most male singers of the 1930’s and 1940’s did. Como’s voice is widely known for it’s good-natured vocal acrobatics as portrayed in his highly popular novelty songs such as “Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom)”.

 

In January 1994, Como travelled to Dublin, Ireland, for what would be auspicious moment in his long career of more than 60 years. 1993 Would’ve marked his 50th anniversary RCA Victor label as well as his 45th year of television specials celebrat- ing Christmas and it’s importance throughout the world to people of all faiths. Como’s Irish Christmas was produced for the American public television system and despite Como looking aged and unwell, has been rebroadcast annually since 1994. Como died quietly in his sleep on May 12th, 2001 at his home in Jupiter Inlet Colony, Florida, 6 days before his 89th birthday. He was reported to have suffered from symptoms of Alzheimers disease throughout the final years of his life. In the official RCA Records Billboard Magazine memorial, his life was summed up in these few words: “50 years of music and a life well lived. An example to all”.

 

Keyboard & Programming: Tony Drake
Vocals: Harry Curtis
Support Vocals: Natalie Grever
Guitars: Jonny Blundell
Clarinet & Sax: Len Richey
Recorded & Mixed at Lightway Studios
Tel: +27 21 788 9443
Email: tony@lightwaymusic.com
Engineered & arranged by Tony Drake
(Lightway Studios)
Produced by: Tony Drake & Harry Curtis

 

Our Memories

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

Keyboard and Programming: Tony Drake
Vocals: Harry Curtis • Support Vocals: Natalie Grever
Guitars: Jonny Blundell • Clarinet and Sax: Len Richey
Recorded and Mixed at Lightway Studios
Tel: +27 21 788 9443 • email: tony@lightwaymusic.com
Engineered and arranged by:
Tony Drake (Lightway Studios)
Produced by: Tony Drake & Harry Curtis

Living Africa

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

We wish to express our gratitude to Doug Fitz-Gerald for bringing Africa to us through his lens. Africa lives in our soul & the deep feelings of belonging, the closeness to our creator, His earth & nature are so well captured in the beautiful photographs Doug has contributed to this album. How privileged we are to live and experience the splendour of this magnificent Africa, our home. www.gallerynaturale.com

 

Keyboard and Programming: Tony Drake
Vocals: Harry Curtis • Support V ocals: Natalie Grever
Guitars: Jonny Blundell • Clarinet and Sax: Len Richey

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

Signatures

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

JIMMY DURANTE (1893 – 1980) – TRACK 12
American singer, pianist, comedian & actor. Nicknamed ‘Schozzola’ because of his big nose. Had a distinctive gravelly voice & comic language. One of America’s most familiar & popular entertainers of the 1920’s through to the 1960’s. Other Hits: Inka Pinka Do, Hot Patatta, As Time Goes By.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG (1901 – 1971) – TRACK 15
The greatest of all jazz musicians. Known as Satchmo, widely recognized as a founder father of jazz. Had amazing technical ability & a joy for life. Both an instrumentalist & vocalist. Appeared in over 30 films as a gifted actor. Recorded hit songs for 5 decades. Frequently toured worldwide, performing an average of 300 concerts each year. Other Hits: What a Wonderful World, Jeepers Creepers.
PERRY COMO (1912 – 2001) – TRACKS 5 & 10
An Italian American crooner during later half of the 20th century. Sold over 60 million records, having 14 US pop chart No. 1 singles. He was the first artist to have 10 records sell more than 1 million copies. His television show achieved the highest rating of any vocalist to date. Other Hits: Till the End of Time, Catch a Falling Star, Magic Moments.
DEAN MARTIN (1917 – 1995) – TRACK 9
Born Dino Crocetti. The King of Cool. An entertainer enjoying success in music, film, television & stage. The eternal essence of cool, with highball & cigarette always in hand. Acted in comedy films with Jerry Lewis for 10 years. His television specials very popular. Acted in 51 films & television career lasted 19 years. Almost 40 singles on charts, 3 reaching no 1. Other Hits: That’s Amore, Volare, Everybody loves Somebody.
NAT KING COLE (1919 – 1965) – TRACK 1
Born Nathanial Coles. Popular American singer, songwriter & jazz pianist. A leading jazz pianist & known as “The Man with the Velvet Voice”. First African American to have his own radio program & television show. Sold over 50 million records & appeared in a few movies. Other Hits: Straighten Up & Fly Right, Unforgettable, Mona Lisa.
TONY BENNETT (1926 – Present) – TRACK 4
Internationally acclaimed ballad singer. Close friend of Frank Sinatra. Sold over 50 million records. An accomplished painter. First big hit “Because of You” in 1950. Other Hits: Blue Velvet, Rags to Riches, I Left my Heart in San Francisco.
MATT MONRO (1930 – 1985) – TRACK 8
Born Terence Parsons. In early 60’s he became Britain’s No. 1 male singer. Frank Sinatra said “His pitch was right on the nose & his word enunciation letter perfect.” First big hit “Portrait of my Love” Sang the James Bond movie sound track ‘From Russia with Love’. Other Hits: Born Free, My Kind of Girl.
BOBBY DARIN (1936 – 1973) – TRACKS 2 & 16
Popular rock & roll American teen idol of the late 1950’s. Widely respected for being a multi-talented, versatile performer in both music & acting. Great entertainer. Other Hits: Splish Splash, Dream Lover, Mack the Knife.
ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK (1936 – present) – TRACKS 3 & 11
Born Arnold Dorsey. Billed the King of Romance. Most of his recordings are love songs. Adopted the stage name after the famous German opera composer. Sold over 150 million records. One of the world’s premier live performers. Other Hits: Release Me, The Last Waltz, Quando Quando, Spanish Eyes.
TRINI LOPEZ (1937 – Present) – TRACKS 7 & 18
Latin singing sensation, beginning in the early 60’s. Singer, songwriter, actor & nightclub performer. He has more than 50 albums to his credit. An equally talented actor. Many of his hits he wrote, including “If I Had a Hammer” & “Lemon Tree”. His most successful international hit was “La Bamba”.
DUSTY SPRINGFIELD (1939 – 1999) – TRACKS 6 & 13
Born Mary O’Brien. Regarded as Britain’s greatest female singer & finest soul singer of all time. One of few woman successfully recording jazz, blues, R&B, soul pop & rock. A woman who sang with deep emotion, having a solo recording career from 1963 to 1995. Other Hits – I Close my Eyes & Count to Ten, Wishin’ & Hopin’, Anyone who Had a Heart.
THE FOUR ACES (1949 – 1987) – TRACK 17
Internationally acclaimed, close harmony, all male quartet from Philadelphia. Original members Al Alberts, Dave Mahoney, Rosario Voccaro, Louis Silvestri. Musicians & showmen, delighting audiences of all ages. 25 chart hits & 10 top tens. Sold over 100 million records. Current quartet all new members. Other Hits: It’s no Sin, Heart & Soul, Mr Sandman.
JOHNNY MATHIS (1956 – Present) – TRACK 14
Popular American romantic jazz & pop singer. More an album than singles artist. Also a star athlete as a high jumper & hurdler. Recorded over 110 albums & sold over 100 million records. Recording career spanned six decades. First artist to have a Greatest Hits album released. Other Hits: A Certain Smile, When a Child is Born.

 

Keyboard and Programming: Tony Drake
Vocals: Harry Curtis • Support Vocals: Natalie Grever
Guitars: Jonny Blundell • Clarinet and Sax: Len Richey

An African Tribute To Perry Como

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

Perry Como’s mellow baritone and relaxed style, entertained music lovers for over 50 years. He was a private, family man with a gentle humour and blessed with such a wonderful talent. Perry began his solo career in 1943 and recorded hits right up until his last in 1977. He had over 100 singles reaching the American charts. This album has given me great pleasure both in the selection and singing of songs from the wide range performed by Perry. Memories of my late father singing most of these songs which have such beautiful words and melodies, is what is especially meaningful to me about this album. Thank you Perry Como.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I wish to express my gratitude to Tony Drake. What a talented musician, his exceptional musical arranging and producing skills have made the singing of these songs so immensely satisfying. A big thank you to Tony.

 

MUSICIANS
Keyboard and Programming: Tony Drake
Support Vocals: Natalie Grever
Recorded and Mixed at Lightway Studios
Tel: +27 21 788 9443 • email: lightway@cpmi.org.za
Engineered and arranged by:
Tony Drake (Lightway Studios)
Produced by: Tony Drake
©2005 All rights of the producer and of the work reproduced reserved. Copying, public performance, broadcasting and hiring out directly or indirectly of this recording is prohibited.

An African Tribute To David Gates

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma into a musical family David Gates has become a legend song writer and musician. David and his group Bread produced six albums between 1969 and 1976, many becoming gold and many singles being chart hits. David’s solo career up until 1981 produced five albums when he then opted to go ranching in the remote Northern California until 1994. From 1994 to date he has produced some of his best ballads. This album is a compilation of the songs which David has either written, sung or been a part of, the lyrics and melodies of which have touched my heart because of their beauty. Thank you David Gates.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I wish to express my gratitude to Tim Hoare, a wonderful friend and a person I have been so privileged to work with, for giving form to this compilation with all his enthu-siasm and dedication. I also thank all those people who have contributed to the making of this album and the realisation of my dream.

 

MUSICIANS

Keyboard: Tim Hoare
Guitarists: Eghard Volschenk, José Ikotela, Gavin Hillyard
Saxophone: Len Richey
Support Vocals: Tim Hoare
Recorded and Mixed at Sun Studios
Engineered and arranged by:
Tim Hoare (Sun Studios)
Produced by: Tim Hoare
Executive Producer: Harry Curtis
*All songs written by David Gates except those listed below:
Games Of Magic – Griffin / Royer*
Didn’t Even Know Her Name – Griffin / Gates*
Just Like Yesterday – Griffin*
Today’s The First Day – Griffin / Royer*
Picture In Your Mind – Harry Knechtel*
©2005 All rights of the producer and of the work reproduced reserved. Copying, public performance, broadcasting and hiring out directly or indirectly of this recording is prohibited.

 

Ballads Forever

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info

Salute of a Nation

Click the play button below the tracklist to start listening...

Album Info