When an American Songwriters Hall of Fame was formed in 1971, the first inductees were obvious choices: Gershwin, Berlin, Rodgers, Arlen, Ellington, Mercer. Particularly noteworthy among that first ten was a single woman: Lyricist Supreme Dorothy Fields.
The daughter of celebrated vaudevillian Lew Fields and sister to playwrights Joseph and Herbert Fields, Dorothy Fields began an incomparable career in the 1920s that would yield hit songs in every subsequent decade until her death in the 1970s.
Her first important collaborator was composer Jimmy McHugh with whom she began writing for Harlem revues in 1928. Among their standards: “I Can´t Give You Anything But Love,” “Diga Diga Doo,” “Exactly Like You,” “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” “Don´t Blame Me,” “I´m in the Mood For Love” and “I Feel a Song Coming On.”
Her career in Hollywood reached a new level when she began working with Jerome Kern, a great partnership that yielded “Lovely To Look At,” “I Won´t Dance,” “I Dream Too Much,” and the particularly memorable songs for the Astaire-Rogers film classic SWINGTIME: “A Fine Romance,” “Bojangles of Harlem,” and the Academy Award winning “The Way You Look Tonight.”
The 1940s were highlighted by her charming collaboration with Sigmund Romberg, UP IN CENTRAL PARK (“It Doesn´t Cost You Anything To Dream,” “April Snow,” “The Fireman´s Bride,” “Close As Pages in a Book”). Based on her childhood show business experiences with her producer/actor father, she conceived the idea of writing a show about Annie Oakley starring Ethel Merman. Originally slated to set lyrics to Jerome Kern´s music, she would eventually defer to lyricist/composer Irving Berlin and write the libretto for what became the blockbuster ANNIE GET YOUR GUN.
From 1950 literally right up to her death in 1974, she would continue Broadway/Hollywood work with Arthur Schwartz (A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN), Harold Arlen, and as late as the 1960s & 1970s with Cy Coleman on SWEET CHARITY (“Big Spender,” “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” “Where Am I Going?”) and SEESAW (“Nobody Does It Like Me”).
Dorothy Fields possessed that indefinable ability to set just the right words to the musical line of some of our greatest composers´ music. Her song catalogue is one of the great achievements of American songwriting, the work of a master who made it all look easy.
If you would like to engage Fred Miller for one of his Lectures-in-Song, please contact him directly at any time. For a full listing of all Lectures, click here.
Fred Miller’s Lectures-In-Song comprise a series of solo programs, each an historical, anecdotal and musical profile of some great personality or important aspect of American Popular Song. These Lectures are delivered by singer/pianist/narrator Miller at the piano, and each reflects his lifetime passion and appreciation for great music. He studied classical piano in his hometown of Albuquerque from ages 7-15 but early on gave up any notion of music as a profession. At that time, Fred assumed a musical career was either one devoted to the rigid discipline of classical music or being a freewheeling rock star, and he accurately decided he had no aptitude for either. However, at age 22, upon hearing Ella Fitzgerald sing Cole Porter, he found his calling and life’s mission.
Through the Seventies and Eighties, Miller studied and absorbed in minute detail the life and times and songs of nearly all the great American composers and lyricists who thrived during Broadway & Hollywood’s Golden Age between the two World Wars. In 1987, he founded Silver Dollar Productions in order to produce operettas, dramas, musicals and small cabarets. Silver Dollar Productions required ensemble casts, props, costumes and, most significantly, the challenges of publicity and selling tickets, and for a dozen busy years, the company presented an unbroken string of varied and highly lauded performances.
In 1999, Miller was simultaneously underwritten by both his local Hunterdon County Library and the Art Alliance of Philadelphia to present a series of six solo Lectures-In-Song, each devoted to one of the premiere Broadway/Hollywood songwriters: George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, and Harold Arlen.
In presenting history, biography and psychology while sitting at a piano singing the superlative songs of his heroes, Miller has found a single performing medium that utilizes most of his intellectual and musical passions.The list of Lectures-In-Song that began with six in 1999 is now more than seventy(and growing!), a joyful tribute to the boundlessly rich field of American Popular Song.