“In a world forever striving for peace, could Barry Manilow be the answer?” – Washington Post after Barry Manilow’s headlining performance at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway.
“Among the few things one can count on in life: the taste of McDonald’s cheeseburgers, “I Love Lucy” reruns are still funny—and Barry Manilow never wearing out his welcome at the top of the charts.” -Billboard Magazine.
With worldwide sales of more than 80 million records, Barry Manilow’s success is a benchmark in popular music. His concerts sell out instantly. He is ranked as the top Adult Contemporary chart artist of all time, according to R&R (Radio & Records) and Billboard Magazines. Rolling Stone crowned him “a giant among entertainers… the showman of our generation.” Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters stated that “Barry Manilow is the coolest motherf***er in the world,” and Frank Sinatra summed up Manilow best when Ol’ Blue Eyes told the British press, “He’s next.”
Music is Manilow’s passion — both in the studio and in the classroom. While he has released over 40 albums, Manilow has also raised millions of dollars through his Manilow Music Project. In response to drastic budget cuts in arts programs across the U.S., the Manilow Music Project is keeping the music alive by ensuring that middle and high school students have instruments in their hands to use in their music classes.
Manilow’s roots are in his native Brooklyn, where music was an integral part of his life. By the age of seven, he was taking accordion lessons and playing on a neighbor’s piano. He attended New York College of Music and the Julliard School of Music while working in the mailroom at CBS. He subsequently became musical director for the CBS show “Callback” (the predecessor of American Idol), which led to a lucrative sideline on New York’s advertising jingle circuit.
In 1971, Barry Manilow met Bette Midler and became her music director, arranger and pianist. The following year, he signed with Bell Records to record his debut solo album.
In 1974, Clive Davis founded a new label, Arista, along with Columbia Pictures. Davis had the right to choose any artist on the Columbia Pictures-owned Bell Records to bring to Arista. Davis chose Manilow and the rest is history. He famously brought Manilow a recent U.K. hit rock song entitled “Brandy” (written by Scott English). Clive and Barry changed the title to “Mandy” so it wouldn’t be confused with the Looking Glass U.S. hit “Brandy.”
Using his arranging and producing abilities, Manilow changed the rock song into the sweeping ballad that the world knows. When the Arista single reached Number One in early 1975, it ignited one of the most incandescent careers in pop music.
Manilow would describe himself as a musician before he would call himself a singer. From the beginning, his love of music was, and still is, in arranging, composing and songwriting. All of which were evident in his most recent original album, 15 MINUTES, released in 2011. Inspired by the Andy Warhol quote, “In the future, everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes,” this edgy, guitar-driven pop album is a captivating musical odyssey exploring the perils and pinnacles of fame’s double-edged sword.
On May 12, 2012, Manilow released his highest charting live album since 1974, LIVE IN LONDON. LIVE IN LONDON is the highest charting live album since 1977.
Beginning in 2006, Manilow triumphed with his hugely successful series of albums celebrating the great songs of four decades starting with the platinum album, THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE FIFTIES, which entered at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
Next came the platinum THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE SIXTIES also released in 2006, entering the chart at #2 and was the all-time highest first sales week debut chart entry of Manilow’s career. Manilow became the first artist since 1981 to have two albums in the top two positions on the Billboard chart in one calendar year.
The success of the decades series continued with THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE SEVENTIES. Released in 2007, the chart debut of this album made Manilow the only artist to have three top four debuts on the Billboard 200 chart in two years.
THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE EIGHTIES marked the fourth album of the decades series to enter in the Top 10.
In the winter of 2010, Manilow completed his remarkable decades series with a Grammy® nomination for THE GREATEST LOVE SONGS OF ALL TIME.
Other Manilow album highlights touching on a multitude of music styles include:
In 1985, Manilow stepped out of his pop comfort zone to create this original jazz album, 2:00 AM PARADISE CAFÉ. Featuring jazz legends Sarah Vaughan, Mel Tormé and Gerry Mulligan, this album was the pinnacle of Manilow’s originality and received the best reviews of Manilow’s career.
The Techno-Jazz SWING STREET (1987) featured guest appearances by Stan Getz, Phyllis Hyman, Kid Creole, and Diane Schuur.
Later came SHOWSTOPPERS (1991), spanning nearly a century of Broadway show tunes.
For 1994’s SINGIN’ WITH THE BIG BANDS, Manilow was paired with the orchestras of Les Brown, Duke Ellington, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Harry James, and Glenn Miller on a glorious set of Swing Era standards.
Manilow is ranked as the top Adult Contemporary chart artist of all time, according to R&R (Radio & Records), with 50 Top 40 Hits. The list includes all-time favorites that Manilow still sings today: “Mandy,” “It’s A Miracle,” “Could It Be Magic,” “I Write the Songs,” “Tryin’ To Get the Feeling Again,” “This One’s For You,” “Weekend In New England,” “Looks Like We Made It,” “Can’t Smile Without You,” “Even Now,” and the Grammy Award-winning “Copacabana (At the Copa).”
To date, 29 of Manilow’s albums have been certified platinum, while BARRY MANLOW/LIVE (1977), EVEN NOW (1978), and GREATEST HITS (1978) are each certified triple platinum.
Every album produced by Manilow for other artists – including Bette Midler, Nancy Wilson, and Dionne Warwick – has been nominated for Grammy® Awards.
A winner of Grammy®, Emmy®, and Tony® Awards, Manilow’s film credits include the Oscar®-nominated song “Ready To Take A Chance Again” (from 1978’s “Foul Play”), the production of Bette Midler’s “Perfect Isn’t Easy” (from Walt Disney’s “Oliver and Company”), and writing and scoring the soundtracks for the animated features “Thumbelina” and “The Pebble and the Penguin.”
Highlights of Manilow’s theater career range from his Tony® Award-winning Broadway debut in 1977 to an SRO eight-week run on the Great White Way in 1989. Beginning in 1997, Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana – The Musical,” an elaborate two-act spectacular, played to packed houses in London’s West End for 18 months before touring the U.S., Australia and Asia. June 2001 saw the opening of “Could It Be Magic? – The Barry Manilow Songbook.” Manilow recently enjoyed another career milestone. Together with writing partner Bruce Sussman, they launched the musical “Harmony,” which opened in Atlanta in September 2013 to rave reviews and then moved to Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre in March 2014.
The singer has made countless television appearances, from Emmy®-winning network specials to cable concerts, and released such best-selling long-form home videos as “Live On Broadway” and “Because It’s Christmas.” His 1996 A&E special, “Barry Manilow: Live by Request” was the highest rated music show in the network’s history. Manilow also has appeared on the highly rated TV series “Murphy Brown,” “Ally McBeal,” and “Will & Grace.” In 2006, Manilow received his fifth Emmy® nomination and Emmy® win for the PBS special, “Manilow: Music and Passion.” “Barry Manilow: Happy Holiday!” is Manilow’s holiday-themed television special from A&E’s “Live By Request,” this show is one of the highest-rated A&E “Live By Request” performances ever.
In June 2002, Manilow was inducted into the National Academy of Popular Music’s Songwriters Hall of Fame alongside Ashford & Simpson, Michael Jackson, Randy Newman, and Sting. In 2012 he was inducted into the Great American Songbook Hall of Fame.
Manilow is a member of the Board of Governors of the National Academy of Jazz. His autobiography, Sweet Life: Adventures on the Way to Paradise, was published by McGraw-Hill in 1987. In addition to his own foundation, the Manilow Fund for Health and Hope, other involvements include The Prince’s Trust, United Way, the Starlight Foundation, and several leading organizations for AIDS prevention and research.
In 2008, Manilow created The Manilow Music Project as part of his Manilow Fund for Health and Hope. Answering the call of need at a time when arts and music programs in most schools are the first casualty in budget cuts. To date The Manilow Music Project has given away more than $3,000,000 in
instruments to more than 50 high schools across the United States. Manilow also provides music scholarships at ten leading universities.
In 2013 Manilow’s dedication to helping others in need was recognized once again when he was honored with the Dream Foundation’s Humanitarian Award.
Manilow’s latest project, MY DREAM DUETS, is a miracle of modern technology. Modern technology has given Manilow the opportunity to record his “dream” duets with his own musical heroes and is set to be released on VERVE/Universal on October 27, 2014. From cherished idols like Judy Garland and Louis Armstrong to contemporary icons like Whitney Houston and John Denver, they have all joined Barry in his “virtual recording studio.”
After spending an unprecedented 10 years at the top of the pop music charts, this multi-talented producer, arranger, musician, composer, singer and performer has succeeded with albums focused on 50’s Jazz, Techno-Jazz, Big Band Swing, Show Tunes, Sinatra Swing, songs from the Great American Songbook, Christmas music and rock ‘n roll. Makes one’s head spin. No wonder Rolling Stone dubbed him “The Showman of Our Generation”.