Michael Feinstein, American songbook performer, discussing his work as archivist for Ira Gershwin with host Richard Wolinsky,
Michael Feinstein is an American singer, songwriter and classicist of the American songbook. At the age of 20, he was hired to help Ira Gershwin archive his collection of recordings and preserving unpublished Gershwin sheet music. He continued that task for the next seven years. By the 1980s he was a well known cabaret performer, and soon had several CDs under his belt. He has been nominated five times for Grammy Awards. Has been the subject of a PBS documentary series, and hosts a radio show on NPR, among other projects, along with two nightclubs, one of which, Feinstein’s at the Nikko, is in San Francisco. His latest album is titled “Gershwin Country.”
Created to air as commentary for a 1991 KPFA Morning Concert focused on a new recording of the 1927 production of “Strike Up The Band,” excerpts of this interview were also intended to be used for a radio documentary on the life of George Gershwin. This was one of seven interviews recorded for the program before it was abandoned. Three interviews have already been posted as Radio Wolinsky podcasts. The three remaining interviews, with Gershwin scholar Deena Rosenberg, author and musicologist Robert Kimball and the late Broadway composer Burton Lane, will eventually be posted. This interview has not been heard since its initial broadcast on KPFA.
George Gershwin was born in 1898 and his brother Ira two years earlier. At the age of 15 he took a job as a song-plugger, playing other people’s songs on a piano for Remick Music Publisher for the sale of their sheet music. His first composed song was published when he was 17, and at 21 he scored his first big hit, Swanee. But it wasn’t until 1924 when he teamed up with his brother Ira as lyricist that George Gershwin became, what we might call a superstar, which he remained until his untimely death from a brain tumor in 1937. Ira Gershwin, who went on to work with other composers until he retired in the early 1960s, died in 1983.
The Gershwin Project
Interview I: English Strunsky, Ira Gershwin’s brother-in-law and George’s wingman in the 1920s.
Interview II: Musicologist Deena Rosenberg and Michael Strunsky, Ira Gershwin’s nephew.
Interview III: Kitty Carlisle.