Judy Garland was Hollywood’s greatest female musical star, a doe-eyed, ordinary looking American girl with a genius for singing. No one ever entranced an audience as she did over the 15 years she was MGM’s leading lady and thereafter, when she proved herself to be arguably the world’s most electrifying live concert performer.
Even during her lifetime, her personal trials and tribulations were a matter of public record. There was the ambitious stage mother, early discovery and ruthless exploitation of a prodigious talent, the self-destructive cycle set in motion early on, the final pitiful burn-out at age 47.
Overriding all the mythology is the undeniable glory of her voice, preserved on recordings, film, television tape & kinescopes: “Dear Mr. Gable,” “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart,” “Over the Rainbow,” “The Boy Next Door,” “The Trolley Song,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe,” “A Couple of Swells,” “The Man That Got Away.”
“Born in a trunk,” as she recounted so memorably in A STAR IS BORN, Judy Garland was the ultimate Show Business Baby. Few performers created the infectious kinship with a live audience that Garland did, and her place in our collective memory has taken on full-blown cult status. Watching one of her television appearances as she sits motionless, working her vocal magic on one or another heart-tugging ballad, still provides us with the meaning and value of what a great performer can contribute to a culture at large.
Fred Miller’s Lecture-In-Song on Judy Garland pays full tribute to this alternately fragile and overwhelming performer, the endearing, enduring waif who continues to eclipse all the competition.
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.