Noel Coward was born in Teddington, Middlesex, England on December 16, 1899 into what he referred to as “genteel poverty”. Principally a playwright, Coward also wrote a whole catalog of hit popular songs with an elegant, sophisticated style. As a young child, Coward would give little performances in front of his family and was encouraged onto the stage by his mother. His career started with an advertisement in the Daily Mirror his mother saw and answered and auditioned by Lilla Field for whom he sang the song "Liza".
By age 11, Noel was already on the stage acting in minor roles. He worked with actor Claude Hawtrey who Noel would later say had an enormous effect upon his grasp of acting. In 1913, he met and worked with Gertrude Lawrence and in 1915, he appeared in his first adult role in Charley's Aunt. This same year, Coward also composed his first song "Forbidden Fruit".
In 1916, he had his first cabaret appearance and in 1917, in collaboration with Esme Wynne, he wrote his first play entitled Ida Collaborates. In 1918, Coward produced Women and Whiskey, joined the British Army, wrote another play The Rat Trap, and made his first film appearance (as an extra). In 1919, "The Baseball Rag", with music by Doris Joel became Noel's first published tune and in 1921, he his play I'll Leave It To You starring the playwright himself, premiered in London's West End.
In 1921, Coward traveled to America and in 1922, his novel The Withered Nosegay was published. 1923 saw Noel's first musical Revue London Calling in which he appeared with Gertrude Lawrence. Throughout the 1920’s he continued writing plays and produced, among others, The Vortex, Hay Fever, Bitter Sweet, Design For Living and Private Lives.
Through the 1930’s, Coward produced several other plays for the West End and Broadway. He split his time between London, New York and Paris, France. By 1940, he had written 32 plays and perhaps 140 tunes, yet he never learned to read or write music. Among the songs he had composed included the hits "Mad Dogs And Englishmen”, “Go Out In The Midday Sun", "Zigeuna", "Bittersweet", "Don't Lets Be Beastly To The Germans”, "I Travel Alone", "You've Got That Thing", "What Is This Thing Called Love", and many more. Among his films were Cavalcade, In Which We Serve and Brief Encounter.
In the mid-1940’s Coward settled in Jamaica, BWI. A reporter once asked him why he chose to live in Jamaica rather than in Britain, and Noel is reported to have replied "I can answer that in just two words - Income Tax." He built a home in Jamaica, which he called 'Firefly', and entertained lavishly. During the 1950's, he wrote seven new plays, none of which were successful. After the London opening of his play Sirocco, he went on stage and was greeted by boos from the audience. When his plays could no longer find a public, he turned more and more to writing songs, all of which were well received in America. In 1965, he opened as an act in a Las Vegas casino where he was a huge hit. Also in 1965, he had an appeared with Mary Martin on a television show. In the late 1960’s, Coward’s play Hay Fever was revived and opened to critical acclaim and success.
Coward was knighted in 1970, which was soon followed by a secession of illnesses. Noel Coward died on March 29, 1973, at his home “Firefly” in Jamaica. In 1984, a stone commemorating his life was placed in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey.
Composer Leroy Anderson was born on June 29, 1908 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As a boy he showed precocity for music and at the age of 11 studied piano at the New England Conservatory. He attended Harvard University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and later received his Masters degree…
Lamont Dozier was born and raised in Detroit, and was surrounded by music as a child. He began writing lyrics and music before he was a teenager.
At the age of 13, Dozier founded The Romeos, was signed to Atco Records in 1957. The band had a charting R&B record with the song, "Fine Fine Baby". Shortly thereafter, The Romeos broke up, Dozier joined The Voicemasters, a doo-wop band on Anna Records. Soon after, Dozier signed exclusively to Motown Records in 1962 as an artist, producer, and songwriter.
In the early 60’s, Dozier soon hooked up with Brian Holland, and was later joined by Brian's brother Eddie. The catalog the trio would create in the 1960’s was a major part of the Motown success. The team of Holland-Dozier-Holland churned out a massive stream of songs for the Supremes, the Four Tops, the Temptations, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, The Marvelettes, Marvin Gaye. Catalog highlights include “Baby Love", "Where Did Our Love Go", "Baby I Need Your Loving", "You Can't Hurry Love", "Reach Out, I'll Be There", "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)", "Stop! In The Name of Love", "Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart", "Heat Wave", "Nowhere to Run", "Bernadette", "It's The Same Old Song" and more. Holland-Dozier-Holland were the architects of the self-titled Sound of Young America, and created the songs that turned a fledgling Detroit record company into an industry groundbreaker and powerhouse.
After leaving Motown, Holland-Dozier-Holland had a string of hits on the Invictus and Hot Wax labels that rank with their best at Motown. The post-Motown period produced Freda Payne's "Band Of Gold" and Chairmen of the Board's "Give Me Just A Little More Time" and “Why Can’t We Be Lovers”.
In 1972, after the Invictus label failed, Dozier decided to break all business ties with the Hollands and moved to California. The momentum from the “Why Can’t We Be Lovers” record landed him a recording contract with ABC Dunhill Records. Recording as a solo artist at ABC, Dozier scored two pop hits with "Trying To Hold On To My Woman" and "Fish Ain't Bitin'," pushing his first solo album past the RIAA gold mark.
In the late 1970’s, Dozier shifted labels producing and writing gold and platinum albums for Warner Bros., Arista Records and Columbia Records. In 1980, he moved to England with his wife and children, and began working with British vocalists such as Alison Moyet and Simply Red. During this period, Dozier wrote for her the top ten hit, "Invisible", as well as "You've Got It.” He met Phil Collins in 1985, backstage at one of Collins’ shows in Los Angeles. Phil had recorded a top ten hit with his cover version of Dozier's "You Can't Hurry Love", originally penned for The Supremes and when Collins was co-producing Eric Clapton’s August album, Dozier contributed two songs "Hung Up On Your Love Again" and "Run".
In 1988, Collins and Dozier again collaborated on the soundtrack for the film “Buster”. One track from that soundtrack, “Two Hearts”, became the Grammy award winner for best recordof 1988, earned a Golden Globe for best original song, a BPI Award and an Oscar Nomination.
Dozi ? began composing songs with an eye towards landing another record deal for himself as an artist, which he accomplished that in 1991 with Atlantic Records. The new album featured “Love in the Rain”, with guest appearances by Eric Clapton and Phil Collins. Unhappy at Atlantic, Dozier decided to start his own record label to market and distribute his own recordings. 2002 marked a new Dozier album, Lamont Dozier...An American Original, the first release for Hithouse Records, which he founded in the late 1990’s with his wife and business partner, Barbara Ullman Dozier. The album earned a Grammy Award nomination in 2002 for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Album.
Reflecting on the 60’s Motown collaboration with the Holland’s, Dozier says that he and the Hollands had no idea in the '60s what impact their songs were having on America, they were too busy cranking them out. "We were just kids, banging this stuff out," he says. "We had no idea these songs would be around one day to the next, much less 35 to 40 years later. That's why I've chosen now to reflect on those times."
Dozier continues wearing many hats as producer/songwriter/recording artist. He has completed a series of educational tapes entitled “The Lamont Dozier School of Music” and continues to work with new artists of every genre. Lamont Dozier lives in Encino, California with his wife and their three children.