- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 4, 2002

He has been writing, recording and crooning the songs that make the whole world sing for more than 30 years.
The youthful 56-year-old pop star Barry Manilow continues this mission with his latest international tour, "Live 2002," which will stop off at the MCI Center on Sunday.
"When performing these days, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude," says Mr. Manilow on tour in the Midwest. "To be able to continue to make the music I love so dearly for audiences of enthusiastic thousands moves me deeply. I can only hope that I give these beautiful people as much joy as they have given me over the years."
"Live 2002" will combine music from a vast library that dates to 1972, as well as his latest concept album, "Here At The Mayflower" (Concord Records) his first recording of all original material in more than 15 years.
"Here At The Mayflower" marks a new road in Mr. Manilow's travels. He has left the comfortable enclave of his longtime label, Arista Records, to record on the smaller Concord Records Inc., where he says he found new artistic freedom.
"The biggest difference about this album and every other album I ever recorded is that I recorded every single thing by myself, playing every instrument on my computer and engineering my own vocals," Mr. Manilow says.
"There were many talented people who helped me, including guitarist Ken Berry and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and a small vocal trio that augmented my vocal backgrounds. But overall, this album is all me."
Half of the album's songs are the result of Mr. Manilow reuniting with collaborators from past hits such as Bruce Sussman ("Copacabana") and Enoch Anderson ("I Want To Be Somebody's Baby").
"It took many years to complete, as I took my time with each song and each arrangement, never giving myself any kind of deadline," Mr. Manilow says.
"Recording songs in this manner enabled me to change the actual composition of the songs, the lyrics, the interpretations and the actual structure of each song in ways I have never been able to do."
The album presents vignettes of life in a Brooklyn apartment house, the Mayflower, relating a collection of stories based on its inhabitants. The song styles are as varied as the building's occupants a bit of Broadway, jazz, disco and pop that have all been a part of Mr. Manilow's career.
Song titles correlate with apartment numbers, such as "Apartment 6C: Not What You See," the story of the "oldest couple at the Mayflower, Esther and me." Mr. Manilow wrote the song, and it is a soaring Broadway-inspired memory of youth gone but not forgotten.
The voice of the elevator operator leads listeners on a tour of the old building in four numbers. The work opens with the introspective "Do You Know Who's Livin' Next Door" (a look at the building know-it-all) and goes on to "Freddie Said," "She Should'a Been Mine" and "They Dance," a disco-paced tale of working folks who find the time to celebrate and dance.
This album is true Manilow storytelling from beginning to end.
"The fun of making 'Here At The Mayflower' was being able to create so many varied styles of music," Mr. Manilow says. "It made sense to me. You would find varied personalities in an apartment building, and this CD enabled me to create as many musical styles as I am capable of."
This 27th album of his career joins a musical library that includes 10 releases that hit the platinum mark, which designates 1 million units sold. Mr. Manilow's latest Arista Records offering, the compilation "Ultimate Manilow," reached gold (or 500,000 units sold) within a month of hitting shelves.
"Ultimate Manilow" features all 20 of the songs that reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Adult Contemporary and Hot 100 charts from 1974 to '84 including "Mandy," "It's a Miracle," "Tryin' To Get the Feeling Again" and "I Write the Songs."
"Out of all my music, my favorite would have to be "Could It Be Magic," he says. "It is based on the beautiful Prelude in C minor by Chopin. It doesn't get much better than that."
While Mr. Manilow will probably never earn the title of "cool" from music critics, he has earned the respect of a music industry that has seen him succeed with amazing regularity.
The pop star has also received Grammy, Emmy and Tony awards, and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1978 for best song from a motion picture. Albums he has produced for artists such as Bette Midler, Nancy Wilson and Dionne Warwick have also been nominated for Grammys.
His 1983 one-man show on Broadway put him in the Guinness Book of World Records for fastest ticket sales. A crowning achievement will be his induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York in June.
Mr. Manilow may best be remembered for his 1978 Grammy Award-winning disco-pop song "Copacabana," which not only went gold but contributed to his 1978 album "Even Now" going triple platinum and inspired one of his most flamboyant articles of stagewear.
"I marvel at how my career has continued, despite the worst reviews in show business," Mr. Manilow says, "If I could change anything at all it would be to toss out that stupid Copacabana shirt."

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