The Irish Presence In American Popular Song

YouTube Preview



What would America be without immigrants? More specifically, what would American music be without the rainbow of foreign cultures that blended so indelibly into the American landscape during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries?

The distinctive Irish presence in American Popular Song (only superseded by that of Jews & Blacks) permeates every nook of our collective consciousness: “Casey would waltz with the strawberry blonde….,” “I´m a Yankee Doodle Dandy…,” “I´ll take you home again, Kathleen…,” “Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill!…,” My Wild Irish Rose, the sweetest flow´r that grows…,” “Boys & girls together, me and Mamie O´Rourke…”

EVERGREEN is a musical & historical tribute to the Irish in America beginning on the Auld Sod itself: the incomparable lyricism of Irish Poet Laureate Thomas Moore´s timeless ballads-“The Last Rose of Summer,” “Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms,” “The Minstrel Boy“- moving through the Great Famine-“The Wearing of the Green,” “The Rose of Tralee“- and the mass exodus to America in the mid-nineteenth century.

In the Colonies, the Irish built the railroads, worked the mines and settled the frontier, all the while singing longingly of their homeland [“Come Back to Erin,” “I´ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen“] as they put down permanent roots in American culture [“And the Band Played On,” “My Wild Irish Rose.”]

By the twentieth century, we find the Irish centerstage on Broadway, in Tin Pan Alley and Vaudeville boasting such creative giants as Chauncey Olcott, George M. Cohan, Victor Herbert; and finally at the very peak of twentieth century popular entertainment, the gigantic collective Hollywood presence of Bing Crosby, John Wayne, James Cagney, Pat O’Brien, John Ford…

One would have to be completely indifferent to the cream of American culture not to resonate joyfully to the memories, melodies and countless musical blessings bestowed by the uniquely gifted Irish to the American saga.

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.