About Barbara Slater -
In Barbara’s voice, you hear her smiles, feel the longing heart, and smile back at the flirtatious fun. Her warmth and enthusiasm embrace each line of Mercer’s lyrics.
Experience the joy and pleasure that grace every song on this Mercer Centennial Celebration Collection.
Barbara Slater, vocals
Kent Hewitt, Kawai Grand Piano and Kurzweil Digital
John Repucci, Acoustic Bass
Steve Langone, Drums
Kirk Feather,Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone and Flute
About "Remembering Johnny Mercer" and how it happened -
Serendipity is the only way to explain it. I was born the year “Too Marvelous for Words” came out, and as an eight-year old spent evenings singing songs from the radio show “Your Hit Parade”. Little did I know I would become a late-blooming vocalist in 2007. What Miles Davis said is true ~ “Sometimes it takes a long time to play the way you play”. Or perhaps it was being in the right place at the right time and believing it is never too late to become what you were meant to be. In any event, I love the lyrics and melodies in The Great American Songbook and want to help keep them alive.
In 2008, after deciding to produce a CD, I read Gene Lees' biography, Portrait of Johnny, and knew it would be all Johnny Mercer. I wanted to honor his centennial year and also support the educational program of Friends of Johnny Mercer. The next decision concerned which of the many wonderful songs to include.
All of us who love Johnny, know how endlessly versatile he was. His extraordinary range and brilliance made him one of the greatest all-around lyricists in American popular song. What captivates me is his sensitivity to the contours of a melody ~ how he translated what he heard into what he felt. By using his power of alchemy, Mercer’s lyrics transform our moods ~~~ make us smile, invite playfulness, and evoke longings and desires from the past. With poetic palette, he painted his worlds in ways that pull us into his landscapes. And, it was by drawing on the experiences of his youth in his beloved Savannah, and his personal, wistful memories and dreams, filled and unfulfilled, that Mercer proved he possessed that rare gift : an intuitive understanding of the human heart, its mysteries and its magic.
Because, in my view, the most compelling, puzzling, and unpredictable aspect of life is our relationship to and with love, I selected songs that speak to that mysterious mélange. Every song tells a love story and reflects a different stage of this thing called love. Whether we are in the grips of passion, dwelling in disappointment, or on the verge of invitation, we are all in some part of a love story that inevitably comes full circle, beginning and ending with Longing. In my imagination, this musical journey begins with “Skylark” which we hope will lead to the recognition in “Dearly Beloved”. In our infatuation stage we may sing “Day In, Day Out”, add a bit of playfulness to the mix with “Something’s Gotta Give” and even some flirtatious fun in
“Too Marvelous for Words”. We will do whatever leads to an invitation “Come Rain or Come Shine”. There could come a time for the promises of “I Remember You”, and the hypnotic blessing of passions in “That Old Black Magic”. We are often unprepared for the disappointments of “I Wanna Be Around”. Will we have regrets? “I Thought About You”. However short or long our story, there will be goodbyes and the loss of “Early Autumn”. Yet the heartbreak of “Days of Wine and Roses” can be comforted by the remembrance of “Midnight Sun”. Coming full circle, we return to longing : “Once Upon a Summertime”. Nevertheless, we will, if we allow it, be embraced by hope in “My Shining Hour”. After all is said and done, our hearts are meant to be open to give and receive.
It gives me great joy to offer you, Remembering Johnny Mercer. Planning and producing this collection has been a glorious adventure. In the same way I feel when performing, I want to put my arms around all of you as we travel together through this emotional landscape.
My wish is that you experience as much joy listening as I had singing. Together we can keep this music alive.
Providence, RI July 2009