My heroes have been using social media to share an interview with Harry Connick, Jr., conducted after he spent a week acting as a mentor for American Idol participants. Betty Buckley used her Twitter account to get the word out. She retweeted Michael Feinstein‘s tweet. Two of America’s finest song interpreters support Connick’s point of view, and, if I read between the lines, lament with him.
If you haven’t been following the story, here’s my debrief. Connick coached four Idol contestants who were tasked with singing songs from the “Great American Songbook.” Or as I prefer – songs from the time when lyrics and melody counted! The upstarts ignored his advice, and Judge Jackson took him to task for the advice he gave one young lady. Connick made the point that a singer can’t sing a classic properly if he or she hasn’t taken time to understand the context and meaning of a song. Harry expects his singers to do homework!
Great actors do their homework. Interpreting Shakespeare requires effort. Why shouldn’t singers put some effort into singing the poetry of Larry Hart, Cole Porter or Ira Gershwin? Good on ya, Harry!
Thursday night, I’ll be in the audience when Buckley interprets Memory for the zillionth time. I believe she is going to sing it as if it were the first time. Because Betty understands the power of lyric interpretation.