Song of the Week

Beginning today I shall post what I’m calling the song of the week. The idea came to me while I was getting my head shaved. My stylist, Matthew Krause, told me Sweeney Todd is his favorite musical. The irony!!

About a year ago, Christopher Van Hof (former afternoon drive host on WXXI 91.5) suggested I listen to a CD called Symphonic Sondheim. Thank you, Chris! It’s among my favorite CDs–seldom do I go a week without listening to it. Christopher, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, is now a trombone and music professor at the University of Wisconsin–Platteville. He’s an outstanding musician — I’d encourage you to visit his website:

Please send me your recommendations via a comment or email: In most cases I’ll feature the song on the next edition of Stage Notes. This week’s song is Sweeney Todd Suite from the CD Symphonic Sondheim. Enjoy!

Don Sebesky Conducts the London Symphony Orchestra performing  Sweeney Todd Suite

The Wonderful World of “Stage Notes” (8/25/12)

Saturday, August 25th

“The Wonderful World of Stage Notes” Promo

This week’s Stage Notes is sure to be animated when host Robert Hammond showcases songs from Broadway musicals produced by Disney.

Among others, songs from Beauty and the Beast; Mary Poppins; The Little Mermaid; Tarzan and Disney’s  hottest new musical adaptation, Newsies will be featured.   Gather the kids around the radio for this week’s wonderful world of Stage Notes.

Stage Notes Saturday at noon (EST), immediately following NPR News. Last week’s program is now available on demand at Other programs, including A Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch; Adam Pascal; Nicolette Hart; and Out & Open with Ronnie Kroell (acts one and two) are available by clicking Stage Notes on demand.

A Tribute to One Singular Sensation, Marvin Hamlisch (8/11/12)

The late, great Marvin Hamlisch

The singularly productive and sensationally decorated composer of musicals like A Chorus Line and songs like “The Way We Were,” Marvin Hamlisch’s death was announced Tuesday through a press representative of his family.  Join Host Robert Hammond as he paytribute to Marvin Hamlisch for the entire hour on this week’s Stage Notes.

According to The New York Times, he had  career that spanned film, television, theater and recorded music. Hamlisch won seemingly every award available in each medium. He was a 12-time Academy Award nominee, for his score and song contributions to films like The Spy Who Loved Me and Sophie’s Choice, and a three-time Oscar winner for the score of The Sting as well as the score from The Way We Were and its title song (with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman). He won four Emmy Awards and four Grammy Awards, as well as a Tony Award for his score to the musical A Chorus Line. That musical, which blended bouncy, brassy songs like “One” and “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three” with melancholy numbers like “At the Ballet,” also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1976.

As recently as last month, Hamlisch was working on a musical adaptation of the Jerry Lewis comedy The Nutty Professor, for which he wrote the score. His press representatives said he was also working on a new Broadway musical called Gotta Dance, and had written the score for an upcoming HBO movie, Behind the Candelabra, about the life of Liberace.

According to his biography at his official website, Hamlisch held the title of Principal Pops Conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Pasadena Symphony and Pops, the Seattle Symphony, and the San Diego Symphony.

In an interview in July, Hamlisch talked about the emotional investment he put into each piece of music he composed.

“I’m not one of those people who says, ‘I never read reviews,’ because I don’t believe those people,” Mr. Hamlisch said. “I think they read ‘em. These songs are my babies. And I always say, it’s like having a baby in a hospital, taking a Polaroid and going up to someone and saying, ‘What do you think?’ And he goes, ‘I give you a 3.’ That’s what criticism is like. You’ve worked on this thing forever – ‘I give you a 3.’ And it’s part of you. That’s the bargain you’ve made.”

Marvin Hamlisch with good friend Barbra Streisand

A “Stage Notes” Christmas with Amy Grant

As a Christmas music icon, Amy Grant is the perfect guest to have on Stage Notes Christmas Day at 12:00 p.m. (EST) on WXXI and 9:00 p.m. (EST) on WITH. Listen anywhere at Mixed with Amy sharing some of her favorite Christmas memories, the program will also feature a blend of Christmas music she’s recorded throughout her career.

With six Grammys, numerous Dove Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and numerous other accolades to her credit, Amy Grant is an American music icon who has erased lines between genres and earned the respect of fans and peers with her honesty, vulnerability and ceaseless creativity. Whether laying her soul bare in her 2008 Book “Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far” or exploring faith and family in a diverse catalog of hits from “El Shaddai” to “Baby Baby,” Grant’s artistry has continually resonated with audiences since she first hit the national spotlight as a fresh-faced teen with a guitar three decades ago.

Born in Augusta, Georgia in 1960 during the residency of her doctor father, Grant was still a baby when her family (she’s the youngest of four daughters) moved back to its native Nashville. Her unlikely rise to icon status was sparked while she was working part-time sweeping floors and demagnetizing tapes in a Nashville studio. She had been singing in church and school for years and a friend, producer Brown Bannister, allowed her to use the studio to duplicate a tape of her original songs that she wanted to give to her family. But a Word Records producer heard the tape and played it over the phone for company executives. The 15-year-old was signed almost immediately.

Her self-titled 1977 debut album introduced a fresh-faced young woman with a fresh voice. A series of albums followed, including 1979′s Father’s Eyes which eventually went gold.

In 1982, Amy Grant was the first Contemporary Christian artist to reach platinum status with the release of her album, Age to Age, which also secured her a Grammy for Best Pop Gospel Performance.

Though Contemporary Christian music was clearly a growing force in the mid-’80s, no artist had yet crossed over to mainstream success. Then came Grant’s 1985 album Unguarded. Cracking the pop Top 40, earning platinum and winning a Grammy, Unguarded was a challenge within her gospel audience for its secular nature but it proved a watershed for the genre. The track “Find A Way” reached both Top 30 pop and Top 10 Adult Contemporary and its video even aired on MTV.

Now signed to major label A&M Records, another sign of her crossover appeal, her platinum 1988 album Lead Me On won the fifth of her Grammys and spun off the Top 40 AC hit “Saved By Love.” 1991′s Heart In Motion, her first Top 10 pop album and at five times platinum her biggest seller, brought together “Baby Baby” (#1 pop/#1 AC), “Every Heartbeat” (#2 pop/#2 AC), “That’s What Love Is For” (#7 pop/#1 AC), “Good For Me” (#8 pop/#4 AC) and “I Will Remember You” (#20 pop/#2 AC). The double platinum, House Of Love (1994) yielded several more top 10 pop hits.

Amy has continued to write and record music about life and love; faith and heartbreak; hope and healing. Her music continues to be part of the fabric of life for long time listeners and brand new fans.

In 2005, Amy hosted the NBC prime time series “Three Wishes” which brought her into millions of living rooms across the U.S. each Friday night.

In 2006, Amy added a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to her list of accolades. With friends, family, industry VIPs and fans in attendance, Grant’s husband/country music star Vince Gill and founder of A&M Records Jerry Moss spoke at the September 19th ceremony, along with Johnny Grant, Honorary Mayor of Hollywood and Walk of Fame Chairman.

On October 16, 2007, Amy published her first book, Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far (Flying Dolphin Press/Doubleday), a collection of her favorite memories from her life and her career. Also in 2007, Grant released her first-ever career spanning hits collection, Greatest Hits. Released around the world in CD and Special Edition CD/DVD packages, Greatest Hits features 19 tracks culled from all of Grant’s studio albums.

In the fall of 2008, Amy embarked on a 20 city “Lead Me On” reunion tour to celebrate the 20 years that had passed since that landmark recording was released. To coincide with the tour, EMI released a special “20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition” of the original Lead Me On album, which includes a bonus disc of previously unreleased live tracks and new acoustic recordings of a few songs.

After the “Lead Me On” tour finished, Amy joined her husband, Vince Gill, for a Christmas tour that featured many of the classic songs they have both recorded as well as several new songs from Amy’s newest release, The Christmas Collection.

Amy Grant has done more than simply be successful in two different music worlds; in her music, in fact thanks to her music, she has brought those two worlds together.