April 2021 The Palladium \/\/ Sat., May 15 - 3 p.m. and Sat., May 15 - 8 p.m. LIVESTREAMING PERFORMANCESAT., MAY 15 8 P.M. Don\u2019t miss the return of world-class talent to the Palladium when Michael Feinstein and longtime friend Melissa Manchester team up for an evening of pop hits and gems from the Great American Songbook! Michael Feinstein at The Center For The Performing Arts The concert will be Feinstein\u2019s first live public performance\u2014and the first Center Presents event with an on-site audience\u2014in over a year. The two entertainers will perform individually and together, backed by a piano trio. Feinstein, whose work as a singer, pianist, preservationist and ambassador of timeless popular music has earned him five Grammy Award nominations, is artistic director for the Center and founder of the Great American Songbook Foundation. While taking a break from the road, he has been developing a podcast, \u201cMusic and Madness,\u201d featuring unique recordings from his personal collection. His upcoming album, \u201cGershwin Country,\u201d was recorded in Nashville with a roster of top country artists. Manchester is perhaps best known for her Billboard Top 10 singles \u201cMidnight Blue,\u201d the Grammy-nominated \u201cDon\u2019t Cry Out Loud\u201d and \u201cYou Should Hear How She Talks About You,\u201d which won a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Her original songs have been recorded by artists including Barbra Streisand, Roberta Flack, Dusty Springfield, Alison Krauss and Kenny Loggins. She is rerecording several of her classics for her upcoming 24th album, \u201cRE:VIEW.\u201d Please note: Tickets are available online at thecenterpresents.org and by phone at (317) 843-3800. The Palladium Box Office remains closed for in-person sales. Janelle Morrison: Having been raised on your vinyl albums, I can speak to how your songs impact people at various points in their lives and remain timeless. Your songs are encouraging and lift people\u2019s spirits in the most challenging of times. To that point, your 24th album, \u201cRE:VIEW,\u201d is a reimagined collection of some of your iconic hits, including \u201cDon\u2019t Cry Out Loud.\u201d How have these songs impacted you personally throughout the pandemic? Melissa Manchester: There are many things that are deeply interesting to me about this long, dark moment that we have lived through with the pandemic. In my experience, I wasn\u2019t able to travel anywhere, to any of the places that I wanted to share my music, because the venues were shut down and some are still shut down. That created a new subtext to what \u201cDon\u2019t Cry Out Loud\u201d was about. And that has been true to most of these songs that I\u2019m rerecording. Suddenly, \u201cJust You and I\u201d is not a song about solidarity between friends or a romantic song. It\u2019s suddenly about paying homage to frontline workers. \u201cDon't Cry Out Loud\u201d has a deeper and wider meaning for me in that, again, all of these venues that I and all of my colleagues around the world would be playing at were shuttered abruptly. And for me personally, that threw me into a very deep moment of grief and then anxiety. And then in the end, like any good onion that is peeled away, you do find grace for what you have. The useful part of this moment for me has been not only have I had a chance to look at society around me, but I\u2019ve gotten a chance to really see the endless challenges, and it\u2019s been very interesting. And these challenges have not gone unnoticed by me. There is light coming at the end of the tunnel, and it doesn\u2019t seem to be a train coming at us anymore. JM: I was reflecting on the connection \u201cDon\u2019t Cry Out Loud\u201d has with the HIV\/AIDS epidemic and how your timeless collection of songs is helping to bring comfort to your fans in this current pandemic. Melissa: Well, that\u2019s the thing that\u2019s very interesting about art. For me, these songs have grown into this moment, and it was certainly not by my design. It\u2019s just one of those unusual things that happen, and that becomes the enduring blessing of these songs. It\u2019s why I never tire of them\u2014ever. They have become monologues that I have grown into and can share. JM: I read where you quoted Arthur Miller\u2019s \u201cDeath of a Salesman.\u201d When Willy Loman dies, his widow, Linda, said, \u201cAttention must be paid,\u201d and you said this has become your mantra at this time. Would you care to expand upon that? Melissa: When \u201cLinda\u201d said that about \u201cWilly,\u201d she was talking about an everyday, ordinary man with dreams and disappointments. And here we are, still mostly sequestered in our places with the opportunity to see our society, see what is broken, see what is beautiful and see what needs to be saved and nurtured. We can see what needs to be deconstructed and rethought when thinking about the unfinished work of the American promise so that we can all move forward together\u2014that\u2019s the attention that must be paid. What is extraordinary about these times and about the reaction to the murder of George Floyd is how it awakened something in the nation and across the world. It has awakened that unfinished business that finally, hopefully, can be attended to. JM: As a veteran of musical activism, you released the poignant music video, \u201cA Better Rainbow,\u201d in 2018, and it spoke to a wide breadth of demographics who have been feeling frustrated and helpless. I think this particular video helped to reinvigorate people\u2019s desire to get involved and make a difference and made them feel that their contributions matter. Melissa: Thank you. It seems to me that what I have learned, in this moment and in my life, is that the goal is not perfection. It\u2019s never perfection. Perfection is a silly carrot that just makes us crazy. What\u2019s more comprehensive is accomplishing a sense of wholeness. And part of the journey to wholeness is not only to awaken but to stay awake. I know there were many times in my life that I was sure I was awake. Then a couple of years later, I thought, \u201cDamn, I fell asleep again! How did that happen?\u201d I\u2019m finding that the notion of awakening is so powerful and so continuous, and it\u2019s something you can really hold onto. You can monitor yourself by your reactions to things and monitor society by its reactions to things to see if we are consistently awakening or going back to sleep. I believe an awaking is really upon us, and that is a good and potentially glorious thing. JM: Now that many venues throughout the nation are slowly and cautiously beginning to turn on their lights and reopen their doors, do you feel that as people begin to come back together in public spaces to enjoy visual and\/or performance art that we will begin to build up the empathy that seems to have dissipated in society? And do you agree that the arts play a vital role in creating that empathy and common ground among its audiences? Melissa: Those are very interesting questions. I think, by nature, we are hardwired to seek out community and to find safe harbor in community. We were not allowed to do that , and I think that the soul is hungry to go to venues to watch beautiful or interesting art on stage. And to be reminded of things that people didn\u2019t realize they\u2019d forgotten, which is what art can do. I think there\u2019s such a hunger waiting to be satisfied because of all of this. I am cautiously optimistic about what it will look like to reopen venues. I believe it\u2019s going to be a slow unveiling because for every action there is going to be a COVID-19 reaction. But I think society in general is hungry to reengage. I say to people, you don\u2019t want to live in a world without Mozart. Even if you never listen to Mozart, I\u2019m telling you that you don\u2019t want to live in a world without Mozart because there is a specific thread that weaves art into society and makes it whole. The same as beautiful parks do\u2014they keep us whole and centered, just knowing they\u2019re there and that we can escape to them. JM: Throughout your career, you have collaborated with some of the greatest talents in the entertainment industry. One of my favorite duets is \u201cBig Light\u201d recorded by you and the late Al Jarreau. Would you share with me and my readers why that particular recording was so special to you? Melissa: Al and I were longtime colleagues and dear friends. Creating \u201cBig Light\u201d was really special. It is a song that I wrote with John Proulx, and it was on my 20th album, \u201cYou Gotta Love the Life.\u201d Al called me and said, \u201cMissy\u2014I hear you\u2019re making an album. Can I sing on it?\u201d I said, \u201cWell, of course.\u201d I\u2019ve been an artist-in-residence at Citrus College . It\u2019s a wonderful community college and has a spectacular music department. Many of the students have never seen the collaborative aspect of making music, so Al came into the studio one day, and the control room was full of engineering students. My engineer was their professor. The students watched us collaborate on \u201cBig Light\u201d and watched Al do those \u201cJarreau-isms.\u201d Anyone who knows anything about Al knows that when he started to sing, he became the instrument that he was hearing in his head. The place was so reverential because these kids had never seen anything like this before. At the end of that session, I went into the studio to thank Al and to give him a hug. I could feel as he was hugging me that he was hanging on to me and was weeping. He said, \u201cKeep doing this. And don\u2019t stop doing this\u2014for all of us.\u201d I started weeping. It was incredible. JM: Speaking of working with iconic artists, can you share a little bit about your friendship with Michael Feinstein and what you hope people will experience when you both take the stage? Melissa: Michael and I are old friends. His mom and my late mom were friends, and I\u2019ve known him since the beginning of his career. I am thrilled for what has happened to him throughout his career. He is an ambassador of the glory of the American Songbook, to the importance of it. He is magic on stage and is an incredibly committed musician and archivist. When Michael first introduced himself to me, it was the morning after I won the Grammy. Unbeknownst to each other, we were having brunch at the same restaurant. He came over and introduced himself to me\u2014of course, we later found out that our moms knew each other\u2014but he said to me, \u201cMs. Manchester, my name is Michael Feinstein, and I\u2019m the assistant to Ira Gershwin.\u201d I said, \u201cMay I have his autograph, please?\u201d As it turned out, I got an autography of Ira Gershwin and a lovely letter from Michael Feinstein. Michael has assured me it was Ira\u2019s last autograph.\u201d JM: In my mind\u2019s eye, I can visualize what it will look like when the two of you are performing at the Palladium. What do you imagine it will be like for your audiences who haven\u2019t seen a live show\u2014in person\u2014for more than a year? Melissa: I wouldn\u2019t be surprised if people cry a little bit. And I wouldn\u2019t be surprised if people breathe a little deeper and are deeply grateful for the experience of it. I hope that people come away from this having really enjoyed the love that Michael and I have for each other and the respect that we have for each other\u2019s artistry. I think it will be a good time had by all\u2014those of us on the stage and in the audience.