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The death of Irene Cara and the broken promise

HOLLYWOOD – As I walked down the dark alley towards the glowing light, the opening bridge of the song called to me. “Baby, look at me and tell me what you see, You ain’t seen the best of me yet, Give me time, I’ll make you forget all the rest, I got more in me…” 

The movie Fame had just come out and its anthem theme song was HOT. The glowing light that night was a gay disco, tucked away from heterosexual view, while gay bashers circled in trucks a few blocks away. That safe haven in the dark alley allowed me, a 20-year old youth, a path out of the closet in which I emotionally and sexually had residence. To me, the words of the song Fame, and its overwhelming delivery, was my inner drive and conviction that I could be me, and my own personal superstar.

The young woman delivering the song was barely an adult herself. Irene Cara had been a child performer and was now breaking into the fame she was singing about. She was “instantly” famous thanks to Fame. Amongst other accolades, she was nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy. The song itself won the Oscar that year.

The Grammy nomination put a public trapping on what we all knew: She was a star, and had all the makings to become a superstar, an icon.

For LGBTQ people, her work that year spoke to our souls and our optimism. As “Randy 503” shared on the Joe.My.God site,  “I was a deeply closeted and lonely kid in my early 20s. Not lonely because I didn’t have friends (had tons of them), but lonely because I refused to admit I was gay and kept away from all that. I saw the movie and was transfixed. Bought the album and played it all the time, especially her songs. Her voice was so strong, and so expressive, it really touched me.” 

Cara’s second song in the movie also resonated with the gay audience. While Fame spoke to the sassy optimism of embracing our outstanding selves and taking the world by storm, Out Here On My Own spoke to the dark loneliness of the closet. “Sometimes I wonder where I’ve been, who I am, do I fit in… when I’m down and feeling blue, I close my eyes so I can be strong and be with you…I dry the tears I’ve never shown, Out here on my own.”

Randy points out,  “Out here on my own always left me in tears. It hit so close to home, and I could feel sadness on it. It’s a great song sung by one of the best.”

After the success of Fame, Cara ventured into a sitcom pilot and a freshman album, “Anyone Can See.” Neither caught the world on fire, as apparently only some of us could actually “see” her real worth.

It was not long after however, where Cara’s apparent life mission to deliver culture changing anthems, came calling again. She was recruited to help out with the new Flashdance movie, and to work with iconic gay producer Giorgio Moroder for its theme song. Cara was reportedly reluctant. She had already been criticized as a second tier Donna Summer with Fame, and was hesitant to get into that musical lane. Later she would work with John Farrar whom she credited as being responsible for ALL of Olivia Newton John’s hits. It seems that her superstar aspirations were more to be Pop Princess than another Queen of Disco.

She did sign on board with Moroder and Flashdance, and made history. Her song Flashdance… What a Feeling went to #1 for six straight weeks. It affected American culture in style, attitude and substance. On Academy Awards night, Cara made history again. (She had already made history in a minor way a few years before as the first person to ever perform two nominated songs in one evening.) This time, she became the second African American woman to win an Oscar – the first being Gone With the Wind’s Hattie McDaniels. 

Cara was the first African American woman to ever win a non-acting Oscar ever.

The anthem Flashdance…What a Feeling spoke to LGBTQ audiences of the 80s, in a way that Fame had. “First when there’s nothing but a slow glowing dream that your fear seems to hide deep inside your mind. All alone, I have cried silent tears full of pride in a world made of steel, made of stone, Well, I hear the music, close my eyes, feel the rhythm wrap around, take hold of my heart. What a feeling, being is believing I can have it all..”

Online, Joe.My.God reader BearlvrFl shared, “LUV the song “Out Here On My Own” I call “Flashdance: What A Feeling” my coming out song, popular on the dance floor very close to the time I finally came out at the age of 22. I could relate to “Take your passion/And make it happen.” Super simple lyric, but it’s timing was everything for me, having been closeted for so long.”

This time, AIDS had brought a very dark cloud over the community, however. Its ravage was starting to take widespread hold. It made the line in the song “now I’m dancing for my life” even more poignant and relevant.

The darkness that was falling over the LGBT world was on a parallel track in Cara’s own life. As she picked up Oscars and Grammys, there was a sadness in her eyes above the smile on her face. She shared later that the public glory was matched with a behind-the-scenes horror story. Her record company was keeping her from garnering any success from her accomplishments. Columnist Liz Smith stated in a 1993 piece that Cara earned only $183 in royalties.

Cara inspired women of her generation. Patti Piatt shared on Twitter, “I am from a generation of women who thought anything was possible because of Irene Cara. She gave us so much joy. We all danced to her songs, didn’t matter if we could dance, we danced because she made us want to dance.” 

In spite of singing THE anthem of women empowerment, Cara became an example of a woman destroyed by the male dominated music industry. As she fought back for earnings due her, she became black-listed, and her trek to superstardom halted. They made her all but disappear. A decade later, she won, but by that time, the damage had been done. 

Her final solo album subconsciously called out her professional demise with songs titled “Now That It’s Over”, “Get a Grip” and the ultimate defeatist title “Say Goodnight Irene.”

“I know well enough this is going nowhere… Might as well say goodnight, Say Goodnight, Irene.”

In the end, she seemed to find peace. Her final professional projects were gifts to other women musicians of color. She comfortably settled into what she called “semi-retirement” and her Florida home with a steady stream of funds from her hard-earned residuals.

The promise of becoming a superstar eluded her, but she busted the ceiling so it might not elude others. Painfully for fans, the promise from the song Fame, “I’m gonna live forever” also did not come true. 

Let’s instead, think of her making “it to heaven” and lighting “up the sky like a flame.”

For those trying to find final meaning from her life, and the un-fulfilled promise of what could have been for her and for us, may do so in the words from her lesser-known anthem. Here we swap out a promise instead for The Dream

“We can all be free, we hold the key, if we can see what we want to be. Life is never easy, you get no guarantees, why not give your all and see what you can find?”

And, yes.

Irene Cara, we will always remember your name.

The Dream

*************************

Rob Watson is the host of the popular Hollywood-based radio/podcast show RATED LGBT RADIO.

He is an established LGBTQ columnist and blogger having written for many top online publications including Parents Magazine, the Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, Gay Star News, the New Civil Rights Movement, and more.

He served as Executive Editor for The Good Man Project, has appeared on MSNBC and been quoted in Business Week and Forbes Magazine.

He is CEO of Watson Writes, a marketing communications agency, and can be reached at [email protected] .




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Mannheim Steamroller founder talks 45-year legacy and his love for Christmas music

Chip Davis, an Omaha-based composer, producer and percussionist, has been churning out new-age, rock-bent holiday and secular music under this stage name Mannheim Steamroller since 1974. (Courtesy of Mannheim Steamroller)

Who is the best-selling Christmas artist? Elvis Presley? Bing Crosby? Perhaps Mariah Carey or Josh Groban?

The honor actually goes to Mannheim Steamroller.

The mega group has released a dozen Christmas albums (and counting) to date and has racked up $31.5 million in sales worldwide. Though Mannheim sounds like the German name of some heavy equipment apparatus, it is the nom de plume of Chip Davis, an Omaha-based composer, producer and percussionist who has been churning out new-age, rock-bent holiday and secular music under this stage name since 1974. 

Born Louis F. Davis Jr., the Ohio native is a musical iconoclast and former child prodigy who went from writing his first piece of music at age 6 and into adulthood worked at an ad agency writing jingles. He started his musical persona after numerous labels shot down his neoclassical music pitch. He wanted Mannheim Steamroller — a play on the 18th-century musical technique known as the “Mannheim crescendo” — to lean into classical roots while elevating and crossing over its sounds and rhythms.

“I see it as an eclectic mix of classical forms alongside modern-day rock ‘n’ roll instruments and some older instruments from the 18th century, like the harpsichord,” Davis said.

The major label execs told Davis to go elsewhere — there wasn’t room for something of that caliber.

“But at the same time, they wanted to know if I could send them a box of my debut album because they wanted to pass it around in their office,” he added.

Though a daunting proposition to go forward on his own, Davis was already experiencing concurrent success via CW McCall, a country music persona created by ad agency client and late friend Bill Fries. Fries conceptualized, wrote the lyrics and did the vocals, while Davis wrote the music. In addition to scoring a number of chart-topping country hits, the duo recorded the global No. 1 hit “Convoy” — which earned Davis the 1976 SESAC Country Music Writer of the Year.

With the metaphorical wind blowing at his back, Davis founded the independent label American Gramaphone. The first in the “Fresh Aire” series of records was released in 1975 at a time when the new-age genre was coming into being. Davis’ belief in Mannheim Steamroller found him taking out a loan to finance his first tour in 1975. Money covered three cities: Omaha, Denver and Salt Lake City.

“Mannheim Steamroller was a five-piece with two keyboards, a bass player that also doubled on lute and other fretted instruments,” Davis said. “I was playing percussion and recorder and we had another percussionist. Then when we got to a city, we’d hire a small orchestra to play the orchestral parts that were on the record. Ironically, the band behind CW McCall are the same players that are the Mannheim Steamroller players.”

All this bootstrapping eventually led to Davis indulging in a childhood adoration for the holiday season. Growing up in a small town of 500 people in Ohio — grandmother and father, both piano teachers — he said fond memories were created at the end of every year.

“Christmas music always had a special place in my heart for all the seasonal things that happened, which included my grandmother’s fabulous cooking and all of that,” he said.

So he set out to look into the roots of Christmas music and in 1984 released “Christmas.”

“There’s a song called ‘The Christmas Sweet,’ which is a suite of four pieces,” he described. “I took songs like ‘I Saw Three Ships’ and went back to the origins and played it on instruments that would have been used at that time. Being a wind player, I could pretty much play all of those.”

Mannheim Steamroller’s light show is as electric as the sounds that come through the new-age, rock holiday show. (Photo by Matt Christine Photography)

A mere fascination with the season grew into a cottage industry for Mannheim Steamroller, leading to another 11 Noel releases. Further opportunities sprang up and included performing at the White House for the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony three times under three different administrations. Davis has also joined the lineup for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and produced Mannheim Steamroller holiday ice-skating shows, collaborating with artists including the late Olivia Newton-John, Martina McBride, Kristi Yamaguchi and Brian Boitano. 

Currently, two traveling troupes of Mannheim Steamroller perform across the country each holiday season, with a third ensemble playing at Universal Orlando Resort. Hip surgery a decade ago means Davis has hung up his touring shoes.

“It’s very tiring,” he said. “When we first started with the ‘Fresh Aire’ tours, the band was the crew. We put the stage up and did everything — it was exhausting.”

These days Davis hangs out on his 150-acre farm just north of Omaha. Rather than live the life of a country gentleman, the 75-year-old musician is still intimately involved with the stage shows.

“These tours are a combination of the live music and sound effects, like in some cases where there is a thunderstorm happening with one of the pieces,” he said. “There is also a multi-media show that includes slides and film. And then of course, the musicians and the live orchestra.” 

Davis’ restless creative spirit has yielded music across multitudes of platforms and genres. Disney tapped him in 1999 for “Mannheim Steamroller Meets the Mouse” and he also turned the sounds toward American heritage on 2003’s “American Spirit.” Davis even has a catalog of natural sounds, from the Tucson desert to the full sonic span of all four seasons in the Midwest highlighted in his “Ambience” series.

His latest creation, “Exotic Spaces,” casts a wide musical net. 

“What I did was I tried to musically describe places like the Taj Mahal, so that gave me an opportunity to write using sitars and other really cool instruments, like tabla and those sort of things,” he said.

One of his favorite tracks came when he used hydrophones — or microphones designed to be used underwater for recording or listening to underwater sounds.

“I’ve been a scuba diver since I was in my 20s and with the hydrophones, I actually recorded the song of the whales,” Davis said. “I say it’s in the ‘key of sea.’ I use the whale song as the melody, and it really is in the key of C. I wrote background stuff around the whale song and I had a really fun time doing that because it lined up so perfectly with what I was composing.”

It’s just the latest leg in Davis’ lifelong journey of creating his own path, advice he received from a Nashville lawyer many moons ago.

“What I tell any budding young composer or musician is to follow your own star,” Davis said. “Don’t let anybody detract from what you’re doing because it’s you that’s doing it. It’s the only way I know how to do it.”

Mannheim Steamroller will perform two shows at Wilson Center on Monday, Nov. 28, at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are still available for the 3:30 show and start at $46.


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Westerly High Music HOF announces new slate of inductees | Daily-news-alerts

WESTERLY — The Westerly High School Music Hall of Fame will induct 10 new members at a ceremony scheduled for April 2, according to Louis M. Toscano and Thomas J. Liguori, members of the selection committee.

The inductees include Angela (Lombardo) Bacari, George Bookataub, Marilyn Frechette Brockmann, Margaret Day, John Graham, Robert Guarino, Albert Norcia, Florence Soloveitzik, William Thorpe and the late David DeAngelis.

“It’s a great group,” said Toscano, who, like Liguori, is a member of the Westerly High School class of 1970. “The emphasis is on music educators.”

Members of the class of 1970 created and endowed the hall of fame as their 50th anniversary class gift in October of 2021. In November, they held an induction ceremony at Westerly’s United Theatre.

“We decided to move the ceremony to the spring so we could showcase the Westerly High School bands,” Toscano said.

Interestingly, Liguori said, three members of the Westerly High School class of 1966 are included on the list of 2023 nominees.

DeAngelis, the 2002-03 Westerly Teacher of the Year, taught music and theater at Westerly High School for 33 years. He also founded the high school’s Theater Scrapbook Company and served as music director at Our Lady of Victory Church from 1993 to 2014.

Bacari, a 1961 graduate of Westerly High School, has had a lifelong career in the music industry. A mentor to Liza Minnelli and Billy Gilman, she has made a number of hit records, toured with such celebrities as Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield and Norm Lewis, and has appeared on “The Merv Griffin Show,” “The Dinah Shore Show,” “The Virginia Graham Show” and many Jerry Lewis muscular dystrophy telethons.

Bookataub, also a 1961 graduate of the Westerly High School — where he was voted “Class Musician” — was a member of the first graduating class of Berklee College of Music in 1966, has served as a high school band director for 40 years, and was an instructor of percussion at the University of Maine, Portland.

Brockmann, a graduate of Westerly High School with the class of 1945, performed on Broadway in “All for Love” and road productions of “Blossom Time” and “Miss Liberty.” A regular performer at Fay’s Theater in Providence, she was the soloist at the 1948 Cherry Blossom Festival, performed at the Latin Quarter and has maintained a lifelong love of music.

Day, a 1955 graduate of Westerly High School, studied harp at Julliard School of Music, was the principal harpist for Providence Harp Ensemble and played with a number of local organizations, such as Pfizer Players, St. Pius Church Choir, Immaculate Conception Church Choir, Colonial Theatre and Mystic River Chorale.

Graham, a member of the Westerly High School class of 1966, toured Europe with School Band of America in 1966, taught music in the West Warwick schools from 1970 to 2000 and has performed with both the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Eastern Connecticut Symphony orchestras.

Guarino, also a member of the Westerly High School class of 1966, holds a master’s in voice from Manhattan School of Music and was a tenor soloist with symphony orchestras in Boston, San Antonio, Harrisburg Opera, Orchestra of New York, Princeton Pro Musica and New Haven Chorale. He has performed as lead with Michigan Opera, Atlanta Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera and Wolf Trap Opera. He is professor emeritus at The College of New Jersey and founder of Collegium Musicum, and currently directs Stonington Madrigal Singers. 

Norcia, a graduate of New England Conservatory of Music, taught for more than 20 years in the Westerly school system. He composed the Babcock Junior High School song, wrote and published “Voice,” an instructional guide to singing, judged many statewide student vocal competitions and served as an evaluator of music programs in public schools.  

Soloveitzik, a 1922 graduate of Westerly High School, studied at Julliard School of Music and Yale Conservatory and taught piano in Westerly for many years. Her pupils included hall of famers George Greeley and Al Copley.  

Thorpe, another member of the Westerly High class of 1966, earned degrees from Boston Conservatory of Music in piano and New England Conservatory in voice. A member of Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, he has performed in 32 states, was a soloist on the CBS-TV broadcast celebrating the Cole Porter Centennial, represented the United States at a United Nations concert in Shanghai, was soloist at the Bethlehem Music Festival, Missouri River Festival, Arizona Heritage Festival, Boston Lyric Orchestra, Boston Civic Symphony, and many other East Coast orchestras. He is also founder of Thorpe Music Publishing Company. 

More information about the April 2 induction ceremony will be released closer to the date.

nbfusaro@thewesterlysun.com


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Taylor Swift Ticketmaster Failure Leads to Legal Fallout: Legal Beat – Billboard

This is The Legal Beat, a weekly newsletter about music law from Billboard Pro, offering you a one-stop cheat sheet of big new cases, important rulings, and all the fun stuff in between.

This week: Live Nation faces potential legal fallout from Ticketmaster’s Taylor Swift fiasco, Journey bandmates sue each other over an American Express account, Mariah Carey loses a bid for ‘Queen of Christmas’ trademarks, and much more.

THE BIG STORY: Taylor Swift … Trust Buster?

A week removed from Ticketmaster’s disastrous presale for Taylor Swift’s upcoming Eras Tour, criticism of parent company Live Nation isn’t getting any quieter – and the threat of legal repercussions is growing.

Live Nation has apologized to fans and pinned the blame on a “staggering number of bot attacks” and “unprecedented traffic.” And whether or not the star really was forced to use Ticketmaster is a complicated question, as Billboard’s Dave Brooks writes.

But the debacle, which saw widespread service delays and website crashes as millions of fans tried (and many failed) to buy tickets for Swift’s 2023 Eras Tour, has nonetheless resurfaced some uncomfortable legal questions for the all-powerful concert giant.

Since they merged in 2010, Ticketmaster and Live Nation have been dogged by accusations that they form a near-monopoly in the market for live concerts, potentially violating federal antitrust laws. Federal regulators at the U.S. Department of Justice approved that deal, but only after Live Nation signed a so-called consent decree that aimed to allay fears that they might abuse their dominant position. Among other things, the agreement prohibits the company from retaliating against venues or acts that refuse to use Ticketmaster. Those rules were set to expire in 2020, but were extended by five years in 2019 after the DOJ accused Live Nation of repeatedly violating the decree.

In the wake of the Swift fiasco, those same monopoly questions are back in the spotlight – and some lawmakers want more than just another extension of the consent decree.

On Tuesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) blasted Live Nation as a “monopoly” and called for regulators to “break them up.” Two days later, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the chair of the Senate subcommittee for antitrust issues, warned that the company’s market share “insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically push companies to innovate and improve their services.”

Then on Friday, the New York Times reported that DOJ had already been investigating Live Nation for months over potential antitrust violations, reaching out to venues across the country to ask about the company’s conduct. Reacting to that news, Klobuchar and two other Democratic senators on Monday urged the Justice Department to take hard action if they discover more violations, including “unwinding the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger and breaking up the company.”

“This may be the only way to truly protect consumers, artists, and venue operators and to restore competition in the ticketing market,” the senators wrote.

Such action might have been unthinkable just a few years ago, amid a decades-long period of relatively lax antitrust enforcement that saw airlines and mobile providers (and yes, music companies) merging into ever-larger conglomerations. But the Biden-era Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission have embarked on an aggressive new effort to crack down on such mega-mergers, including successfully blocking book publisher Penguin Random House from buying up rival Simon & Schuster.

Beyond the Justice Department probe, other legal threats also potentially loom for Live Nation. The attorneys general of Tennessee, North Carolina, Nevada and Pennsylvania have all launched investigations into whether state consumer protection and antitrust laws were violated, including a Tennessee state law that aims to fight the use of automated “bots” on ticketing websites.

And don’t forget about class actions. Live Nation is already facing an existing case that accuses the company of “blatant, anti-consumer behavior,” and the rest of the plaintiffs bar could be eager to try similar cases in the wake of such a high-profile snafu. At least one group of Swift-loving lawyers is already brainstorming how to bring cases.

Faced with all that, can Live Nation shake it off? Stay tuned…

Other top stories this week…

JOURNEY’S CREDIT CARD CLASHJourney guitarist Neal Schon filed a lawsuit against bandmate Jonathan Cain over allegations that he’s blocking access to “critical” financial records for the band’s American Express account, through which “millions” in Journey money has allegedly flowed: “This action is brought to turn the lights on, so to speak, and obtain critical financial information Schon has been trying to obtain but has been denied.” The case is the third legal battle among Journey members in the past two years, but the first to divide Schon and Cain — the only core members remaining in the band from Journey’s heyday.

I FEEL SUED – Primary Wave and the estate of James Brown were hit with a lawsuit claiming their $90 million catalog sale last year violated an agreement that the iconic singer had struck decades earlier with another company. The case was filed by David Pullman’s Pullman Group (best known for creating so-called Bowie Bonds in the 1990s) over allegations that the blockbuster sale breached a contract that Pullman company struck with Brown way back in 1999, which allegedly guaranteed the company the right to broker any such deal in the future.

YOUNG THUG GANG TRIAL SET FOR JANUARY – A Georgia judge refused to delay the closely-watched criminal case against Young Thug, Gunna and others accused of participating in an Atlanta gang, meaning their trial is now locked in to start on January 9. Prosecutors wanted to move the trial back by nearly three months because a few defendants had not yet been appointed a lawyer. But with Young Thug, Gunna and many others stuck in jail until trial, defense lawyers strongly opposed the delay: “It is unjust that [Young Thug] rots in the county jail and … is being required to wait on the appointment of counsel for co-indictees.”

DUA LIPA RIPS COPYRIGHT SUIT – Attorneys for Dua Lipa asked a federal judge to quickly toss out a lawsuit claiming she stole her smash hit song “Levitating” from a little-known reggae track called “Live Your Life.” Florida band Artikal Sound System sued the star for copyright infringement last year, arguing the songs were so similar it was “highly unlikely that ‘Levitating’ was created independently.” But in their response last week, Lipa’s attorneys said those allegations were full of “vague, boilerplate labels and conclusions” and “devoid of a shred of factual detail.”

MARIAH CANT GET ‘CHRISTMAS’ TRADEMARKS – The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected Mariah Carey’s application to register “Queen of Christmas” as a federal trademark, siding instead with Elizabeth Chan, another singer who says she’s used the same name for years. Repped pro bono by BigLaw attorneys, Chan had argued that no single singer or company should be able to lock up the title. “It is wrong for an individual to attempt to own and monopolize a nickname like ‘Queen of Christmas’ for the purposes of abject materialism,” Chan said in a statement after the ruling.

R. KELLY MANAGER SENTENCED Donnell Russell, R. Kelly’s friend and former manager, was sentenced to 20 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges that he stalked one of Kelly’s sexual abuse victims in an effort to keep her silent. Prosecutors said Russell used “reprehensible” tactics against the unnamed victim after she filed a civil lawsuit against the disgraced singer in 2018, including threatening messages to her mother and leaking explicit photos online.

SLACKER ON HOOK FOR HUGE ROYALTY JUDGMENT – A federal judge refused to undo his own earlier ruling that Slacker owes nearly $10 million in unpaid music royalties to SoundExchange, despite the steamer’s warnings that the huge judgment could trigger financial ruin for the company. SoundExchange urged the judge to ignore those pleas and last week he obliged – ruling that the seven-figure judgment was simply the result of an agreement that Slacker itself had signed.




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Westerly High Music HOF announces new slate of inductees | Daily-news-alerts

WESTERLY — The Westerly High School Music Hall of Fame will induct 10 new members at a ceremony scheduled for April 2, according to Louis M. Toscano and Thomas J. Liguori, members of the selection committee.

The inductees include Angela (Lombardo) Bacari, George Bookataub, Marilyn Frechette Brockmann, Margaret Day, John Graham, Robert Guarino, Albert Norcia, Florence Soloveitzik, William Thorpe and the late David DeAngelis.

“It’s a great group,” said Toscano, who, like Liguori, is a member of the Westerly High School class of 1970. “The emphasis is on music educators.”

Members of the class of 1970 created and endowed the hall of fame as their 50th anniversary class gift in October of 2021. In November, they held an induction ceremony at Westerly’s United Theatre.

“We decided to move the ceremony to the spring so we could showcase the Westerly High School bands,” Toscano said.

Interestingly, Liguori said, three members of the Westerly High School class of 1966 are included on the list of 2023 nominees.

DeAngelis, the 2002-03 Westerly Teacher of the Year, taught music and theater at Westerly High School for 33 years. He also founded the high school’s Theater Scrapbook Company and served as music director at Our Lady of Victory Church from 1993 to 2014.

Bacari, a 1961 graduate of Westerly High School, has had a lifelong career in the music industry. A mentor to Liza Minnelli and Billy Gilman, she has made a number of hit records, toured with such celebrities as Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield and Norm Lewis, and has appeared on “The Merv Griffin Show,” “The Dinah Shore Show,” “The Virginia Graham Show” and many Jerry Lewis muscular dystrophy telethons.

Bookataub, also a 1961 graduate of the Westerly High School — where he was voted “Class Musician” — was a member of the first graduating class of Berklee College of Music in 1966, has served as a high school band director for 40 years, and was an instructor of percussion at the University of Maine, Portland.

Brockmann, a graduate of Westerly High School with the class of 1945, performed on Broadway in “All for Love” and road productions of “Blossom Time” and “Miss Liberty.” A regular performer at Fay’s Theater in Providence, she was the soloist at the 1948 Cherry Blossom Festival, performed at the Latin Quarter and has maintained a lifelong love of music.

Day, a 1955 graduate of Westerly High School, studied harp at Julliard School of Music, was the principal harpist for Providence Harp Ensemble and played with a number of local organizations, such as Pfizer Players, St. Pius Church Choir, Immaculate Conception Church Choir, Colonial Theatre and Mystic River Chorale.

Graham, a member of the Westerly High School class of 1966, toured Europe with School Band of America in 1966, taught music in the West Warwick schools from 1970 to 2000 and has performed with both the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Eastern Connecticut Symphony orchestras.

Guarino, also a member of the Westerly High School class of 1966, holds a master’s in voice from Manhattan School of Music and was a tenor soloist with symphony orchestras in Boston, San Antonio, Harrisburg Opera, Orchestra of New York, Princeton Pro Musica and New Haven Chorale. He has performed as lead with Michigan Opera, Atlanta Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera and Wolf Trap Opera. He is professor emeritus at The College of New Jersey and founder of Collegium Musicum, and currently directs Stonington Madrigal Singers. 

Norcia, a graduate of New England Conservatory of Music, taught for more than 20 years in the Westerly school system. He composed the Babcock Junior High School song, wrote and published “Voice,” an instructional guide to singing, judged many statewide student vocal competitions and served as an evaluator of music programs in public schools.  

Soloveitzik, a 1922 graduate of Westerly High School, studied at Julliard School of Music and Yale Conservatory and taught piano in Westerly for many years. Her pupils included hall of famers George Greeley and Al Copley.  

Thorpe, another member of the Westerly High class of 1966, earned degrees from Boston Conservatory of Music in piano and New England Conservatory in voice. A member of Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, he has performed in 32 states, was a soloist on the CBS-TV broadcast celebrating the Cole Porter Centennial, represented the United States at a United Nations concert in Shanghai, was soloist at the Bethlehem Music Festival, Missouri River Festival, Arizona Heritage Festival, Boston Lyric Orchestra, Boston Civic Symphony, and many other East Coast orchestras. He is also founder of Thorpe Music Publishing Company. 

More information about the April 2 induction ceremony will be released closer to the date.

nbfusaro@thewesterlysun.com


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Westerly High Music HOF announces new slate of inductees | Daily-news-alerts

WESTERLY — The Westerly High School Music Hall of Fame will induct 10 new members at a ceremony scheduled for April 2, according to Louis M. Toscano and Thomas J. Liguori, members of the selection committee.

The inductees include Angela (Lombardo) Bacari, George Bookataub, Marilyn Frechette Brockmann, Margaret Day, John Graham, Robert Guarino, Albert Norcia, Florence Soloveitzik, William Thorpe and the late David DeAngelis.

“It’s a great group,” said Toscano, who, like Liguori, is a member of the Westerly High School class of 1970. “The emphasis is on music educators.”

Members of the class of 1970 created and endowed the hall of fame as their 50th anniversary class gift in October of 2021. In November, they held an induction ceremony at Westerly’s United Theatre.

“We decided to move the ceremony to the spring so we could showcase the Westerly High School bands,” Toscano said.

Interestingly, Liguori said, three members of the Westerly High School class of 1966 are included on the list of 2023 nominees.

DeAngelis, the 2002-03 Westerly Teacher of the Year, taught music and theater at Westerly High School for 33 years. He also founded the high school’s Theater Scrapbook Company and served as music director at Our Lady of Victory Church from 1993 to 2014.

Bacari, a 1961 graduate of Westerly High School, has had a lifelong career in the music industry. A mentor to Liza Minnelli and Billy Gilman, she has made a number of hit records, toured with such celebrities as Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield and Norm Lewis, and has appeared on “The Merv Griffin Show,” “The Dinah Shore Show,” “The Virginia Graham Show” and many Jerry Lewis muscular dystrophy telethons.

Bookataub, also a 1961 graduate of the Westerly High School — where he was voted “Class Musician” — was a member of the first graduating class of Berklee College of Music in 1966, has served as a high school band director for 40 years, and was an instructor of percussion at the University of Maine, Portland.

Brockmann, a graduate of Westerly High School with the class of 1945, performed on Broadway in “All for Love” and road productions of “Blossom Time” and “Miss Liberty.” A regular performer at Fay’s Theater in Providence, she was the soloist at the 1948 Cherry Blossom Festival, performed at the Latin Quarter and has maintained a lifelong love of music.

Day, a 1955 graduate of Westerly High School, studied harp at Julliard School of Music, was the principal harpist for Providence Harp Ensemble and played with a number of local organizations, such as Pfizer Players, St. Pius Church Choir, Immaculate Conception Church Choir, Colonial Theatre and Mystic River Chorale.

Graham, a member of the Westerly High School class of 1966, toured Europe with School Band of America in 1966, taught music in the West Warwick schools from 1970 to 2000 and has performed with both the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Eastern Connecticut Symphony orchestras.

Guarino, also a member of the Westerly High School class of 1966, holds a master’s in voice from Manhattan School of Music and was a tenor soloist with symphony orchestras in Boston, San Antonio, Harrisburg Opera, Orchestra of New York, Princeton Pro Musica and New Haven Chorale. He has performed as lead with Michigan Opera, Atlanta Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera and Wolf Trap Opera. He is professor emeritus at The College of New Jersey and founder of Collegium Musicum, and currently directs Stonington Madrigal Singers. 

Norcia, a graduate of New England Conservatory of Music, taught for more than 20 years in the Westerly school system. He composed the Babcock Junior High School song, wrote and published “Voice,” an instructional guide to singing, judged many statewide student vocal competitions and served as an evaluator of music programs in public schools.  

Soloveitzik, a 1922 graduate of Westerly High School, studied at Julliard School of Music and Yale Conservatory and taught piano in Westerly for many years. Her pupils included hall of famers George Greeley and Al Copley.  

Thorpe, another member of the Westerly High class of 1966, earned degrees from Boston Conservatory of Music in piano and New England Conservatory in voice. A member of Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, he has performed in 32 states, was a soloist on the CBS-TV broadcast celebrating the Cole Porter Centennial, represented the United States at a United Nations concert in Shanghai, was soloist at the Bethlehem Music Festival, Missouri River Festival, Arizona Heritage Festival, Boston Lyric Orchestra, Boston Civic Symphony, and many other East Coast orchestras. He is also founder of Thorpe Music Publishing Company. 

More information about the April 2 induction ceremony will be released closer to the date.

nbfusaro@thewesterlysun.com


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Westerly High Music HOF announces new slate of inductees | Daily-news-alerts

WESTERLY — The Westerly High School Music Hall of Fame will induct 10 new members at a ceremony scheduled for April 2, according to Louis M. Toscano and Thomas J. Liguori, members of the selection committee.

The inductees include Angela (Lombardo) Bacari, George Bookataub, Marilyn Frechette Brockmann, Margaret Day, John Graham, Robert Guarino, Albert Norcia, Florence Soloveitzik, William Thorpe and the late David DeAngelis.

“It’s a great group,” said Toscano, who, like Liguori, is a member of the Westerly High School class of 1970. “The emphasis is on music educators.”

Members of the class of 1970 created and endowed the hall of fame as their 50th anniversary class gift in October of 2021. In November, they held an induction ceremony at Westerly’s United Theatre.

“We decided to move the ceremony to the spring so we could showcase the Westerly High School bands,” Toscano said.

Interestingly, Liguori said, three members of the Westerly High School class of 1966 are included on the list of 2023 nominees.

DeAngelis, the 2002-03 Westerly Teacher of the Year, taught music and theater at Westerly High School for 33 years. He also founded the high school’s Theater Scrapbook Company and served as music director at Our Lady of Victory Church from 1993 to 2014.

Bacari, a 1961 graduate of Westerly High School, has had a lifelong career in the music industry. A mentor to Liza Minnelli and Billy Gilman, she has made a number of hit records, toured with such celebrities as Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield and Norm Lewis, and has appeared on “The Merv Griffin Show,” “The Dinah Shore Show,” “The Virginia Graham Show” and many Jerry Lewis muscular dystrophy telethons.

Bookataub, also a 1961 graduate of the Westerly High School — where he was voted “Class Musician” — was a member of the first graduating class of Berklee College of Music in 1966, has served as a high school band director for 40 years, and was an instructor of percussion at the University of Maine, Portland.

Brockmann, a graduate of Westerly High School with the class of 1945, performed on Broadway in “All for Love” and road productions of “Blossom Time” and “Miss Liberty.” A regular performer at Fay’s Theater in Providence, she was the soloist at the 1948 Cherry Blossom Festival, performed at the Latin Quarter and has maintained a lifelong love of music.

Day, a 1955 graduate of Westerly High School, studied harp at Julliard School of Music, was the principal harpist for Providence Harp Ensemble and played with a number of local organizations, such as Pfizer Players, St. Pius Church Choir, Immaculate Conception Church Choir, Colonial Theatre and Mystic River Chorale.

Graham, a member of the Westerly High School class of 1966, toured Europe with School Band of America in 1966, taught music in the West Warwick schools from 1970 to 2000 and has performed with both the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Eastern Connecticut Symphony orchestras.

Guarino, also a member of the Westerly High School class of 1966, holds a master’s in voice from Manhattan School of Music and was a tenor soloist with symphony orchestras in Boston, San Antonio, Harrisburg Opera, Orchestra of New York, Princeton Pro Musica and New Haven Chorale. He has performed as lead with Michigan Opera, Atlanta Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera and Wolf Trap Opera. He is professor emeritus at The College of New Jersey and founder of Collegium Musicum, and currently directs Stonington Madrigal Singers. 

Norcia, a graduate of New England Conservatory of Music, taught for more than 20 years in the Westerly school system. He composed the Babcock Junior High School song, wrote and published “Voice,” an instructional guide to singing, judged many statewide student vocal competitions and served as an evaluator of music programs in public schools.  

Soloveitzik, a 1922 graduate of Westerly High School, studied at Julliard School of Music and Yale Conservatory and taught piano in Westerly for many years. Her pupils included hall of famers George Greeley and Al Copley.  

Thorpe, another member of the Westerly High class of 1966, earned degrees from Boston Conservatory of Music in piano and New England Conservatory in voice. A member of Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, he has performed in 32 states, was a soloist on the CBS-TV broadcast celebrating the Cole Porter Centennial, represented the United States at a United Nations concert in Shanghai, was soloist at the Bethlehem Music Festival, Missouri River Festival, Arizona Heritage Festival, Boston Lyric Orchestra, Boston Civic Symphony, and many other East Coast orchestras. He is also founder of Thorpe Music Publishing Company. 

More information about the April 2 induction ceremony will be released closer to the date.

nbfusaro@thewesterlysun.com


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Westerly High Music HOF announces new slate of inductees | Daily-news-alerts

WESTERLY — The Westerly High School Music Hall of Fame will induct 10 new members at a ceremony scheduled for April 2, according to Louis M. Toscano and Thomas J. Liguori, members of the selection committee.

The inductees include Angela (Lombardo) Bacari, George Bookataub, Marilyn Frechette Brockmann, Margaret Day, John Graham, Robert Guarino, Albert Norcia, Florence Soloveitzik, William Thorpe and the late David DeAngelis.

“It’s a great group,” said Toscano, who, like Liguori, is a member of the Westerly High School class of 1970. “The emphasis is on music educators.”

Members of the class of 1970 created and endowed the hall of fame as their 50th anniversary class gift in October of 2021. In November, they held an induction ceremony at Westerly’s United Theatre.

“We decided to move the ceremony to the spring so we could showcase the Westerly High School bands,” Toscano said.

Interestingly, Liguori said, three members of the Westerly High School class of 1966 are included on the list of 2023 nominees.

DeAngelis, the 2002-03 Westerly Teacher of the Year, taught music and theater at Westerly High School for 33 years. He also founded the high school’s Theater Scrapbook Company and served as music director at Our Lady of Victory Church from 1993 to 2014.

Bacari, a 1961 graduate of Westerly High School, has had a lifelong career in the music industry. A mentor to Liza Minnelli and Billy Gilman, she has made a number of hit records, toured with such celebrities as Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield and Norm Lewis, and has appeared on “The Merv Griffin Show,” “The Dinah Shore Show,” “The Virginia Graham Show” and many Jerry Lewis muscular dystrophy telethons.

Bookataub, also a 1961 graduate of the Westerly High School — where he was voted “Class Musician” — was a member of the first graduating class of Berklee College of Music in 1966, has served as a high school band director for 40 years, and was an instructor of percussion at the University of Maine, Portland.

Brockmann, a graduate of Westerly High School with the class of 1945, performed on Broadway in “All for Love” and road productions of “Blossom Time” and “Miss Liberty.” A regular performer at Fay’s Theater in Providence, she was the soloist at the 1948 Cherry Blossom Festival, performed at the Latin Quarter and has maintained a lifelong love of music.

Day, a 1955 graduate of Westerly High School, studied harp at Julliard School of Music, was the principal harpist for Providence Harp Ensemble and played with a number of local organizations, such as Pfizer Players, St. Pius Church Choir, Immaculate Conception Church Choir, Colonial Theatre and Mystic River Chorale.

Graham, a member of the Westerly High School class of 1966, toured Europe with School Band of America in 1966, taught music in the West Warwick schools from 1970 to 2000 and has performed with both the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Eastern Connecticut Symphony orchestras.

Guarino, also a member of the Westerly High School class of 1966, holds a master’s in voice from Manhattan School of Music and was a tenor soloist with symphony orchestras in Boston, San Antonio, Harrisburg Opera, Orchestra of New York, Princeton Pro Musica and New Haven Chorale. He has performed as lead with Michigan Opera, Atlanta Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera and Wolf Trap Opera. He is professor emeritus at The College of New Jersey and founder of Collegium Musicum, and currently directs Stonington Madrigal Singers. 

Norcia, a graduate of New England Conservatory of Music, taught for more than 20 years in the Westerly school system. He composed the Babcock Junior High School song, wrote and published “Voice,” an instructional guide to singing, judged many statewide student vocal competitions and served as an evaluator of music programs in public schools.  

Soloveitzik, a 1922 graduate of Westerly High School, studied at Julliard School of Music and Yale Conservatory and taught piano in Westerly for many years. Her pupils included hall of famers George Greeley and Al Copley.  

Thorpe, another member of the Westerly High class of 1966, earned degrees from Boston Conservatory of Music in piano and New England Conservatory in voice. A member of Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, he has performed in 32 states, was a soloist on the CBS-TV broadcast celebrating the Cole Porter Centennial, represented the United States at a United Nations concert in Shanghai, was soloist at the Bethlehem Music Festival, Missouri River Festival, Arizona Heritage Festival, Boston Lyric Orchestra, Boston Civic Symphony, and many other East Coast orchestras. He is also founder of Thorpe Music Publishing Company. 

More information about the April 2 induction ceremony will be released closer to the date.

nbfusaro@thewesterlysun.com


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68a9f312-d163-11e8-94cf-c72bb49f3ebc.png

Westerly High Music HOF announces new slate of inductees | Daily-news-alerts

WESTERLY — The Westerly High School Music Hall of Fame will induct 10 new members at a ceremony scheduled for April 2, according to Louis M. Toscano and Thomas J. Liguori, members of the selection committee.

The inductees include Angela (Lombardo) Bacari, George Bookataub, Marilyn Frechette Brockmann, Margaret Day, John Graham, Robert Guarino, Albert Norcia, Florence Soloveitzik, William Thorpe and the late David DeAngelis.

“It’s a great group,” said Toscano, who, like Liguori, is a member of the Westerly High School class of 1970. “The emphasis is on music educators.”

Members of the class of 1970 created and endowed the hall of fame as their 50th anniversary class gift in October of 2021. In November, they held an induction ceremony at Westerly’s United Theatre.

“We decided to move the ceremony to the spring so we could showcase the Westerly High School bands,” Toscano said.

Interestingly, Liguori said, three members of the Westerly High School class of 1966 are included on the list of 2023 nominees.

DeAngelis, the 2002-03 Westerly Teacher of the Year, taught music and theater at Westerly High School for 33 years. He also founded the high school’s Theater Scrapbook Company and served as music director at Our Lady of Victory Church from 1993 to 2014.

Bacari, a 1961 graduate of Westerly High School, has had a lifelong career in the music industry. A mentor to Liza Minnelli and Billy Gilman, she has made a number of hit records, toured with such celebrities as Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield and Norm Lewis, and has appeared on “The Merv Griffin Show,” “The Dinah Shore Show,” “The Virginia Graham Show” and many Jerry Lewis muscular dystrophy telethons.

Bookataub, also a 1961 graduate of the Westerly High School — where he was voted “Class Musician” — was a member of the first graduating class of Berklee College of Music in 1966, has served as a high school band director for 40 years, and was an instructor of percussion at the University of Maine, Portland.

Brockmann, a graduate of Westerly High School with the class of 1945, performed on Broadway in “All for Love” and road productions of “Blossom Time” and “Miss Liberty.” A regular performer at Fay’s Theater in Providence, she was the soloist at the 1948 Cherry Blossom Festival, performed at the Latin Quarter and has maintained a lifelong love of music.

Day, a 1955 graduate of Westerly High School, studied harp at Julliard School of Music, was the principal harpist for Providence Harp Ensemble and played with a number of local organizations, such as Pfizer Players, St. Pius Church Choir, Immaculate Conception Church Choir, Colonial Theatre and Mystic River Chorale.

Graham, a member of the Westerly High School class of 1966, toured Europe with School Band of America in 1966, taught music in the West Warwick schools from 1970 to 2000 and has performed with both the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Eastern Connecticut Symphony orchestras.

Guarino, also a member of the Westerly High School class of 1966, holds a master’s in voice from Manhattan School of Music and was a tenor soloist with symphony orchestras in Boston, San Antonio, Harrisburg Opera, Orchestra of New York, Princeton Pro Musica and New Haven Chorale. He has performed as lead with Michigan Opera, Atlanta Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera and Wolf Trap Opera. He is professor emeritus at The College of New Jersey and founder of Collegium Musicum, and currently directs Stonington Madrigal Singers. 

Norcia, a graduate of New England Conservatory of Music, taught for more than 20 years in the Westerly school system. He composed the Babcock Junior High School song, wrote and published “Voice,” an instructional guide to singing, judged many statewide student vocal competitions and served as an evaluator of music programs in public schools.  

Soloveitzik, a 1922 graduate of Westerly High School, studied at Julliard School of Music and Yale Conservatory and taught piano in Westerly for many years. Her pupils included hall of famers George Greeley and Al Copley.  

Thorpe, another member of the Westerly High class of 1966, earned degrees from Boston Conservatory of Music in piano and New England Conservatory in voice. A member of Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, he has performed in 32 states, was a soloist on the CBS-TV broadcast celebrating the Cole Porter Centennial, represented the United States at a United Nations concert in Shanghai, was soloist at the Bethlehem Music Festival, Missouri River Festival, Arizona Heritage Festival, Boston Lyric Orchestra, Boston Civic Symphony, and many other East Coast orchestras. He is also founder of Thorpe Music Publishing Company. 

More information about the April 2 induction ceremony will be released closer to the date.

nbfusaro@thewesterlysun.com


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