GEORGE M. COHAN (1878-1942)
KATE SMITH (1907-1986)
BOB HOPE (1903-2003)
Many admirable entertainment personalities have lent their talents to various patriotic causes down through the years, but there are three who came to personify America herself by virtue of their unique contributions. This trio of “Red, White & Blue” stars provided a special magic when it came to promoting American pride.
In George M. Cohan, we had the entertainment phenomenon of turn-of-the-century America: producer, director, writer, hoofer, singer, self-assured leading man and brash flag-waver who saw us through WWI and beyond: “The Yankee Doodle Boy,” “You´re A Grand Old Flag,” “Over There.”
Kate Smith was an established radio star who asked Irving Berlin for a special song for her Armistice Day broadcast in 1938. Berlin presented her, and us, with “God Bless America,” our second National Anthem. Though one gets nostalgically misty-eyed thinking of that warm, welcoming alto crooning “When The Moon Comes Over The Mountain,” it is her forthright delivery of Berlin´s Anthem that has made her an American icon.
Bob Hope had one of the most eventful careers of the twentieth century, starring first on Broadway, then in film, television and most memorably on makeshift stages in front of The Troops worldwide. For six decades this hapless, ski-nosed wiseacre provided corny jokes and a bit of home for those defending our country. He was also the man who introduced such song classics as “Two Sleepy People,” “I Can´t Get Started,” “Buttons and Bows,” “Silver Bells,” and his poignant theme song, “Thanks For The Memory.”
Even without their patriotic activities, these three extraordinary personalities would evoke admiration for their career attainments; however, they added an extra dimension to our lives by making no secret of their love for America. For this, America continues to love them back.
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.