Barry Manilow

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About Barry Manilow

Singer-songwriter Barry Manilow embodies a style of pop showmanship that all but disappeared by the end of the 20th century. Born in Brooklyn in 1943, Manilow was a lower-class kid who worked his way through Juilliard, backing Bette Midler on piano at a gay bathhouse and writing jingles for the likes of Band-Aid and State Farm before becoming one of the most successful performers of the ’70s and ’80s. Bridging the traditions of the Great American Songbook with the polish and immediacy of pop, he tackles all his material—even the lightest fare—with dignity and often a touch of humor. But it’s the vision behind his sound that makes him such a singular artist. Even in the soft and sentimental '70s, there was nothing like a Manilow tune: Two of his defining efforts, “Mandy” and "Looks Like We Made It”—with their swelling strings, anthemic arrangements, and all-encompassing production—manage to make bittersweetness feel damn good. Both as a writer and master interpreter, Manilow has shown unusual range, touching on disco (1978’s “Copacabana”) and jazz-noir (1984’s 2:00 AM Paradise Cafe), folk and show tunes, big band and holiday music. (“For a Jewish guy, I’ve recorded a lot of Christmas albums,” he once quipped.) While his songs might be opulent, emotion-stoking things of grandeur, Manilow’s approach, at its core, is humble and workmanlike—in service of the audience more than the artist himself.

Brooklyn, NY, United States
17 June 1943
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