Three of Cleveland’s top vocalists – Barbara Knight, Vince Mastro and Evelyn Wright – will join forces with Bill Rudman, Joe Hunter and his jazz trio to celebrate the songs of Yip Harburg on Sunday, Oct. 7 (3 PM). The multi-media concert, part of TMTP’s “The Song Is You!” series, is titled “Paper Moon” and will be held at Tri-C Metro’s Mainstage Theater.
TMTP co-director Rudman points out that though Harburg never became a household name like his fellow lyricists Oscar Hammerstein and Lorenz Hart, he wrote songs that are imbedded in the national psyche. These include the eloquent “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?,” acknowledged as the anthem of the Great Depression, and all of the lyrics for “The Wizard of Oz.” One of them, “Over the Rainbow” (music by Harold Arlen), was named the most beloved American song of the 20th century in a survey by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Adds Rudman: “Harburg liked to say that ‘songs are the pulse of a nation’s heart.’ No Broadway or Hollywood lyricist before or since has charted that heartbeat with more wit, intelligence and fervency.”
Born in poverty to Russian Jewish parents on New York’s Lower East Side, Harburg (1896-1981) was a self-described “rebel by birth, contesting anything that is unjust, that causes suffering.” In 500 songs written over more than 50 years, he became a master satirist, his targets ranging from racism and classism to nuclear war.
Harburg also explored the mystery, illusions, joy and pain of love in classic songs like “Old Devil Moon,” “Last Night When We Were Young,” “April in Paris” and “Paper Moon” – all of which will be performed at the TMTP concert.
The vocalists are award winners who have become “Song Is You!” favorites since the popular series debuted in 2002. And their performances will be supplemented by rare video footage including Harburg himself performing “Over the Rainbow.” Hunter will be at the piano with Bryan Thomas on bass and Ray Porrello on drums.
Tri-C Metro: $20, reserved seating. Tickets available after August 1. Call 216-987-4444. Also online at www.tricpresents.com.
Want to learn more about the music of “Broadway’s Social Conscience” Yip Harburg? Click here to get a list of TMTP recommended listening and reading.