Fashion, Style and Glamour in American Popular Song
The visual images of Broadway/Hollywood in its mid-twentieth century heyday continue to set the standard for what we consider “stylish, fashionable, glamorous.” In those years surrounding the two World Wars, did most people lounge around their Park Avenue mansions in black tie & evening gowns as Claudette, Fred, Ginger, Irene and Cary did? Hardly, but it was fun and invigorating to dream about such a world existing somewhere up there in the clouds. And it still is.
These deities continue to “step out of a dream,” not only in photo images and classic films but in words and music. Many celebrated song classics make direct reference to the accoutrements of fashion [Fred Astaire describing his ever-present “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails”] while other songs are so inextricably associated with specific, glamorous images that they might as well be visual [Rita Hayworth in black satin sheath & gloves delivering “Put The Blame On Mame”].
On film, in photos, in dozens of great songs, the Golden Age of American Popular Song remains “Lovely to look at, delightful to know, and heaven to kiss….”
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.