Melissa Manchester to perform in Uniontown
Audiences at the State Theatre Center for the Arts in Uniontown will get a treat on Saturday when Grammy Award-winner Melissa Manchester takes the stage for her holiday show.
“I thought it would be something different to offer for the holiday season,” theater manager Erica Miller said. “She has a fabulous voice, and I knew her holiday show would be great. Everyone loves to hear the holiday classics this time of year, but Melissa Manchester also has so many hits that she'll be performing — I think it will be a great night of music.”
The singer/songwriter's show will feature traditional favorites from her holiday album “Joy,” including “I'll Be Home for Christmas,” “White Christmas,” “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “Christmas Time Is Here.”
“My Christmas album ‘Joy' was a labor of love,” Manchester said.
In addition to the holiday staples, Manchester wrote two special holiday songs that she will perform on Saturday.
The first, “A Christmas Song for You,” was co-written with James Collins. The second, “Let There Be More Light,” was written about Hanukkah.
“I think this show will help to get everybody in the mood for the season and give them a chance to slow down and relax from the hustle and bustle,” Manchester said. “It's lovely to share my journey this season and to be able to give them the gift of my songs just makes it a little sweater.”
Manchester began her songwriting career when, as a student at New York University, she enrolled in a songwriting class taught by the legendary Paul Simon. Under his tutelage, she landed a staff-writing job at Chappell Music. She also began performing as a solo singer/pianist in the clubs of Greenwich Village.
While working in the New York jingle-singing circuit, she met Bette Midler and soon was working as her back-up singer. Manchester then fulfilled her childhood fantasy of playing Carnegie Hall.
Six months later, Manchester had a recording contract, and went on to be the headlining act at Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall.
Since, she has performed for sold-out audiences across the country.
Manchester has received the Governor's Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for her contributions to the music and recording arts, and her body of work to date as a singer/songwriter was a featured exhibit at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum.
She was nominated for a Grammy in 1978 and 1979 and received the award in 1982 for Best Female Vocalist. In 1980, she became the first artist in the history of the Academy Awards to have two nominated movie themes in a given year — “Through the Eyes of Love” and “The Promise” — and went on to make Oscar history by performing both songs during the worldwide telecast.
Manchester and friend Kenny Loggins co-wrote the classic “Whenever I Call You Friend,” and her songs have been recorded by artists including Barbra Streisand, Dusty Springfield, Alison Krauss, Roberta Flack, Johnny Mathis, Kathy Mattea, Peabo Bryson, Cleo Laine, Barbara Cook and Mel Torme.
Her international hits — “Through the Eyes of Love” and “Don't Cry Out Loud” — were written for her by her friend and frequent collaborator Carole Bayer Sager, the late Marvin Hamlisch and the late Peter Allen. Her hits include “Midnight Blue,” “Don't Cry Out Loud,” the Academy Award-nominated movie themes “Ice Castles” and “The Promise,” and the Grammy-winning “You Should Hear How She Talks About You.”
“I'll be singing all of my hits and I've incorporated different videos into the show as well,” Manchester said. “I will also share stories about people who I've worked with that have become friends and I even sing a virtual duet with Barry Manilow.”
Manchester also will sing songs from her new album, “Playlist: The Very Best of Melissa Manchester,” which has many of her most popular hits as well as four new songs, including the song she co-wrote with friend Mary Steenburgen titled “Rainbird” for the movie “Dirty Girl.”
This will be Manchester's first performance in the Uniontown theater and she said she is looking forward to singing in the historic building.
“I love the soulful quality of an old theater, especially one in which the community had a hand in restoring,” she said. “More modern facilities do not have the acoustic quality of theaters built back then. I was raised in and around old opera houses that have that kind of grandness, so they feel normal and very comfortable to me.”
Tickets are $28, $32 and $36 and are available online at www.statetheatre.info or by phone at 724-439-1360 or 800-397-2554. Senior, children and student rush discounts may be available. Show time is 8 p.m.
Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.