LOU'S VIEWS: Feinstein and company raise funds, pay tribute

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Lou Harry

Philanthropic arts patrons are asked time and again to attend fundraisers for their favorite organizations (and for the organizations where their friends have seats on the boards). The challenge for the organizations themselves is to create events that feel less obligatory and more pleasurable. Ideally, those pleasures tie in with the core mission of the group in question.

One group that succeeds at that task is the Center for the Performing Arts, which offered its Great American Songbook Hall of Fame Gala induction on June 21.

Oh, you could complain about the after-party’s long food lines or the awkward placement of bands (primarily facing walls and windows rather than attendees in multiple lounges). But the core event itself—the honoring of the latest round of inductees into the Great American Songbook Hall of Fame—was perfectly in tune with the organization.

The point—in addition to raising money for the center—is to pay tribute to performers and composers “responsible for creating America’s soundtrack.” Think of it as a more narrowly focused version of The

ae-views-johnny-mathis-with-award-hi-res-1col.jpg Legendary vocalist Johnny Mathis accepts his honorary award at the Center for the Performing Arts. (Photo courtesy of Angela Talley)

Kennedy Center Honors. This year offered tributes to Shirley Jones (yes, from “The Partridge Family,” but also from the film versions of “Carousel,” “Oklahoma!” and “The Music Man.”), Johnny Mathis, Linda Ronstadt and, posthumously, Nat King Cole.

With Jones and Mathis graciously accepting awards—although not performing—Natalie Cole charmingly standing in for her father, and Michael Feinstein hosting (and, in good voice, working in performances of three songs), there was plenty for those who wanted to see “names.” (Ronstadt, battling Parkinson’s disease, could not attend.)

The evening’s greatest pleasure was a new one, at least to me. Singer Denzal Sinclaire, backed by a terrific band of local players, offered a tribute to Cole that honored the man without imitating him. I don’t usually like medleys—they tend to be a “Remember this one?” hit parade with little time to plumb the heart of each song—but Sinclaire managed to put truth into every syllable with a sound that sent me running to YouTube as soon as I got home. I can’t recall a time when I so quickly became a fan of a performer. Here’s hoping he finds his way here for a full concert soon.

Also charming the crowd was Julia Goodwin, last year’s Great American Songbook Vocal Competition winner. That not-to-be-missed July contest serves as a nice companion piece to the Hall of Fame Gala, one event honoring those who have already contributed to the American musical canon and the other encouraging the next generation to pick up the torch (song).•


This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.


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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.