Lyricist Bob Hilliard was born in New York City on January 28, 1918.
After attending New York City public schools, Hilliard began work as a lyricist on Tin Pan Alley. Beginning in the 1930s through the 1950s, Hilliard produced such hits as The Coffee Song, The Big Brass…
Hugh Martin was born in Birmingham, Alabama on August 11, 1914, and began studying music at the age 5 at the Birmingham Conservatory of Music. He attended Birmingham. Southern College and his original intention was to be a classical musician, but he had fallen in love with George Gershwin's songs, and decided on a career in popular music.
Moving to New York City in the mid 1930’s, Martin worked as a vocal arranger for many of the most successful Broadway shows of the period, including Cole Porter's DuBarry Was a Lady (1939), Vernon Duke's Cabin in the Sky (1940), Rodgers and Hart's The Boys from Syracuse (1942), Jules Styne's High Button Shoes (1947), and Jules Styne's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949).
In 1937, in addition to doing the show's vocal arrangements, he was a singer in the Broadway production Hooray For What?. Another singer in that show was Ralph Blane. Not long after the opening of the show, Martin organized a vocal quartet called The Martins, and he included Blane as one of the singers. The Martins appeared on Fred Allen's popular radio show and also appeared in Irving Berlin's 1940 musical Louisiana Purchase, for which Martin and Blane were the vocal arrangers.
Soon, Martin and Blane began collaborating on songs of their own, and in 1941 Richard Rodgers and George Abbot, chose Martin and Blane to write the songs for a new Broadway musical to star Nancy Walker. The show was called Best Foot Forward, and included the standards "Buckle Down Winsocki", "Wish I May", "What Do You Think I Am", "That's How I Love The Blues", and "Ev'ry Time".
In 1944, Martin and Blane wrote the original songs for the classic Hollywood musical Meet Me In St. Louis, starring Judy Garland. The score that contains what are probably their best known songs, including "'The Boy Next Door", "The Trolley Song" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas."
In 1945, Martin and Blane wrote “Love" for Lena Home to sing in the film Ziegfield Follies. In 1948, working alone, Martin wrote both words and music for the Broadway show Look Ma, I'm Dancin'. The show starred Nancy Walker and included the songs "Tiny Room" and "If You'll Be Mine". In 1951 he again worked alone on both words and music for another Broadway show Make a Wish, which included "What I Was Warned About".
Re-teaming with Blane in 1955, the two wrote the song “An Occasional Man” for the film The Girl Rush. In 1961, there was a revival of Best Foot Forward, which included a new song “You Are For Loving”, written by Martin and Blane.
In 1964, Martin began collaborating with songwriter Timothy Gray. The two produced a new Broadway musical High Spirits, based on a Noel Coward play Blithe Spirits. The musical was a hit and included several brilliant songs, most notably “I Know Your Heart", "If I Gave You", and "You'd Better Love Me".
Throughout his career, Martin remained active as a performer, most memorably as Judy Garland's accompanist when she first played the Palace, and as Eddie Fisher's accompanist at London's Palladium. He was also music director of the 1979 Broadway hit Sugar Babies, which starred Mickey Rooney.
Hugh Martin currently resides in Encinitas, California.
John Kander, the composer half of the legendary songwriting team, Kander and Ebb that has produced Cabaret, Woman of the Year, The Act and the incomparable Chicago, was born in Kansas City, Missouri on March 18, 1927.
Kander began studying music as a child and in his early…
Fred Ebb, the lyricist half of the legendary songwriting team, Kander and Ebb that has produced Cabaret, Woman of the Year, The Act and, of course the incomparable Chicago was born in New York City, NY on April 8, 1935.
His lifelong love of the theater began while…
Neil Sedaka was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 13, 1939. He was a piano prodigy as a child and later attended the Julliard School of Music.
In 1956, he was seleceted by Arthur Rubenstein to perform on New York City’s classical music station, WQXR. However, prior to that, at the age of 13, he had met and befriended Howard Greenfield. Both lived in the same apartment building in Brooklyn's Brighton Beach section. They didn't know of each other's existence until Greenfield's mother had a chance meeting with the young Sedaka in a Catskills Mountain resort. Suggesting to the juvenile pianist that "You should meet my son; he writes great lyrics," Mrs. Greenfield arranged the meeting (in the same apartment complex) and what was to become the most productive and successful team from the Brill Building was formed.
Soon, Greenfield, the budding poet, and Sedaka, the 13-year-old piano student at the Juilliard School, had become a team, and established a regimen of writing a song a day, a routine they continued for nearly two years. At the same time, they began making the rounds together in Broadway's Brill Building, one of several major centers for writers and producers of pop music. During one of their music publisher visits, they met what was to become another brilliant songwriting duo of the era, Mort Shuman and Doc Pomus, who steered them to another office in another music business center known as 1650 Broadway, where a new publishing company was just being formed by the veteran music man, Al Nevins, and his younger partner, Don Kirshner.
Hearing some of the material as Sedaka played the piano and sang, and Greenfield watched for hopeful reactions, Nevins commented, "Where did you steal these songs?" Finally convinced they were on the level, Nevins signed the pair. Thereupon, an association began which was to last, off and on, for the next 36 years, and which was interrupted only by Greenfield's death in 1986.
The new team enjoyed its first major hit in 1958, when Connie Francis recorded their song, "Stupid Cupid," into immortality. In 1959, Sedaka was signed with RCA as a singer. He had a minor hit with “The Diary”, but it was his fourth single, “Oh, Carol!”, a lament to his former girlfriend Carole King, that established Sedaka as a performer.
In the early 1970’s, Sedaka moved to England and performed an oldies show on the northern club circuit. After several years out of the studio, the oldies show revived his career.
In 1975, Greenfield, with Sedaka, enjoyed an immense new run of success, sparked by their song, "Love Will Keep Us Together" a hit not only for Sedaka himself, but for the duo, The Captain and Tenille. The song actually launched their hit record career, and their version went on to be acclaimed "Number One Record of the Year," by The National Academy of Recorded Arts and Sciences (NARAS). The song itself was accorded a tribute by the performing rights organization, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) as the most performed song (on radio) during 1975.
From 1972-1976, Sedaka recorded 5 albums with several hits including “Standing on the Inside”, “That’s Where the Music Takes Me”, “Our Last Song Together,” inspired by the breakup of the Sedaka-Greenfield parnership, and “Laughter in the Rain”.
Sedaka continued writing and producing albums till the end of the 1970’s and through the 1980’s. He teamed with Philip Cody and other lyricists and has continued to achieve recognition as one of the great singer-songwriters of his generation.
Lyricist Harry Tobias was born in New York City on September 11, 1895. He grew up in Worchester, Massachusetts with brothers Charles and Henry, also songwriters.
Harry began writing songs in 1911, at the age of 16. As he recalled in Henry Tobias’ autobiography, “Music in My Heart and Borscht in My Blood”, “I wrote a little poem and then read an article, ‘Write a Song and Make a Fortune’”. Harry paid the advertising sheet music publishers $25 to add a melody and produce 200 copies of sheet music. The song was entitled “National Sports” and was the beginning of a 7 decade career.
Harry’s first major hits came in 1916 with the songs “Take Me to My Alabam” and “That Girl of Mine”. Enlisting in the US Air Force in 1917, he spent time in World War I shouting song lyrics into megaphones to entertain the troops. Returning to the States after the war, Harry joined his brother Charles’ music publishing company and the two brothers began collaborating.
In 1929, Tobias went to Hollywood and from that time through the 1940’s, worked for studios musicals. His filmography includes such hits as Blondie of the Follies, Dizzy Dames, The Old Homestead, Daniel Boone, Trail Dust, One Rainy Afternoon, Criminal Lawyer, Sing While You’re Able, Sweetheart of the Navy, Meet the Boyfriend, Roll Along Cowboy, Knight of the Plains, Pride of the West, The Girl From Rio, Rancho Grande, Carolina Moon, Let’s Go Collegiate, She Has What it Takes, Sensations of 1945, Two Girls and a Sailor, I’ll Remember April and Moonrise.
The Harry Tobias catalog includes the standards “Miss You”, “Sweet and Lovely”, “It’s a Lonesome Old Town”, “Sail Along, Silv’ry Moon”, “No Regrets”, “I’ll Keep the Lovelight Burning”, “At Your Command”, “I’m Sorry Dear”, “In God We Trust”, “Oo-oo Ernest”, “Lost and Found”, “Wait for Me, Mary”, “The Girl From Rio”, “I’m Gonna Get You”, “That Girl of Mine”, “The Daughter of Peggy O’Neill”, “Go to Sleepy, Little Baby”, “Brother”, “The Bowling Song”, “Take Me to Alabam’”, “When It’s Harvest Time”, “Somebody Loves You”, “That Girl of Mine”, “Wild Honey”, “The Broken Record”, “Love Is All”, “Rolleo Rolling Along”, “Girl of My Dreams”, “Thy Will Be Done”, “Star of Hope”, “I Want You to Want Me”, “Take Me Back to Those Wide Open Spaces”, “So Divine” and “Oh, Bella Mia”.
Throughout his career, Harry collaborated chiefly with Charles and later with Henry. He also worked with his son, Elliot Tobais, Will Dillon, Gus Arnheim, Neil Moret, Jules Lamare, Phil Boutelje, Percy Wenrich, Al Sherman, Harry Barris, Jean Schwartz and Jack Stern.
Harry Tobias died in St. Louis, Missouri on December 15, 1994.
Alec Wilder was born Alexander Lafayette Chew Wilder in Rochester, New York on February 16, 1907, the son of a prominent Rochester banker. He studied for a time at the Eastman School of Music, but was for the most part Wilder was a self taught musician. He moved to New York City, and for most of his very nomadic life his single most frequent address was the Algonquin Hotel.
In New York, Wilder quickly became known among fellow musicians such as Mabel Mercer, Mildred Bailey, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Benny Goodman and Jimmy Dorsey.
According to sources, Wilder was never really interested in being categorized as a "classical" or a “popular", or even a "famous", composer. His ambition was to write good music. And he did, creating a large catalog of work characterized by intelligence, grace, elegance, sensitivity, and honest sophistication. Among his best-known songs are "Moon And Sand" (1941, written with Morty Palitz and William Engvick); "It's So Peaceful In the Country" (1941); "Who Can I Turn To?" (1941, lyric by William Engvick); "I'll Be Around" (1943, memorably recorded by Sinatra and countless others); "While We're Young" (1943, written with Morty Palitz and William Engvick), "The Lady Sings the Blues" (1956, lyric by William Engvick and a hit for Mabel Mercer); "Where Do You Go?" (1959, lyric by Arnold Sundgaard); "Mimosa and Me" (1963, lyric by William Engvick); "Remember My Child" (1964, lyric by William Engvick); "Walk Pretty" (1966, lyric by Fran Landesman); "Lovers and Losers" (1968, lyric by William Engvick); "Blackberry Winter" (1976, lyric by Loonis McGlohon); "Be a Child" (1976 lyric by Loonis McGlohon); and "A Long Night" (1980, Wilder's last song, written for Sinatra with a lyric by Loonis McGlohon).
Alec Wilder died of lung cancer in Gainesville, Florida in December, 1980.
As the composer half of Martin and Blane", Ralph Blane has had one of the most successful songwriting teams from late Tin Pan Alley. Blane has created the timeless melodies such standards as Buckle Down, Winsocki, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Girls Were Made To Take Care of…
Harry Akst was born in New York City on August 15, 1894 beginning a career that would prove him one of the most prolific composers of the era and an accomplished pianist and conductor. His early career was as a pianist and accompanist, for 4 years he was beside Nora…
STEVIE WONDER b. Steveland Judkins, 13 May 1950, Saginaw, Michigan, USA. Born Judkins, Wonder now prefers to be known as Steveland Morris after his mother's married name. Placed in an incubator immediately after his birth, baby Steveland was given too much oxygen, causing Steveland to suffer permanent blindness. Despite this…
Composer and lyricist Ervin Drake had a remarkably varied career, including extensive work as a producer in television and significant activism on behalf of songwriters.
He was born Ervin Maurice Druckman in New York City on April 3, 1919. He attended Townsend Harris Hall, and then the City…
Johnny Mercer Award
Abe Olman Publisher Award
Howard S. Richmond
Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award
Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award
Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award