Songs Of Gratitude & Optimism
The Landing of the Pilgrims in 1620 and their hard-won success in the New World gave occasion to the First Thanksgiving. What of subsequent American arrival/survivals?
Jump ahead 3 centuries, and the image of a little girl in gingham dreaming of something brighter than dreary old Kansas flickers on screens all over the country. “Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly,” she muses. “Birds fly over the rainbow; why then, oh why can´t I?“
Not by chance was that timeless expression of longing for a better life created almost entirely by latter-day “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” and their “tempest-tost” talented offspring. In fact, that classic scene is emblematic of a whole magnificent entertainment Age driven by the enthusiasm of a generation of enterprising New Americans…and never more transparently than in The Songs:
“I got rhythm,
I got music,
I got my man.
Who could ask for anything more?”
It was an extraordinary popular culture inspired by a fresh immigrant energy preaching hope, persistence, faith:
“I´ll have a time,
It´s a climb
But I´ll make it ´cause I´m
At every lyrical turn, there is the wisdom of building one´s life and character on essentials:
“In this world of over-rated pleasures
Of under-rated treasures,
I´m glad there is you.”
If things are particularly tough, one might turn to natural beauty for solace:
“The moon belongs to everyone;
The best things in life are free.”
The gift of freedom, money in your pocket, the deed to your own house, the joy of having succeeded, all cause for celebration…and singing:
“Yes, it´s a good day for singin´ a song,
And it´s a good day for movin´ along.
Yes, it´s a good day, how could anything go wrong?
A good day from mornin´ till night.”
Drawing upon the boundless bounty of classic American Popular Song, Fred Miller´s AN AMERICAN THANKSGIVING is a Turkey Day feast of a different kind: all within earshot leave heart-full and soul-satisfied without gaining an ounce. If the immigrants and their children who wrote these songs did not find the streets actually paved with gold as promised, they left America´s cultural coffers overflowing with something infinitely more precious that mere metal:
“Blue days, all of them gone,
Nothing but blue skies from now on………….”
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.