This week I talked with multifaceted entertainer Michael Feinstein, the multi-platinum, two-time Emmy Award-nominated and five-time Grammy Award-nominated entertainer dubbed "The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook" and considered one of the premier interpreters of American standards. His 200-plus shows a year have included performances at Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House and the Hollywood Bowl as well as the White House and Buckingham Palace. Michael will be headlining the London Festival of Cabaret on Nov. 4 at the Palace Theatre, where he will be performing his acclaimed show "Michael Feinstein & Friends," joined by special guests Elaine Paige and Julian Ovenden for an evening of great music, lyrics and performance.
I talked with Michael about his upcoming show in London and his spin on LGBT issues. When asked about his personal commitment to LGBT civil rights, he stated:
One of the things in my life has been the evolution I've gone through in my perception about LGBT rights. I guess it happens to everybody, but for me, I have been less on a soapbox and more just living my life as openly and freely as I can. So when I come in contact with people who have differing points of view, the gentle approach of them seeing me with my husband Terrence in a social situation is sometimes more powerful than anything else. I was invited to the younger Bush White House on Valentine's Day a few years ago to perform, and everyone was saying, "How can you do that?" Well, my agreement was that I would only go to the White House if I could bring my life partner, because we weren't married then, and we would be treated as a couple, and we were. We were introduced together, we were treated as a couple, and we were with, on Valentine's Day, almost all the Bush family's close friends, and that, to me, was a very powerful statement. The thing that was interesting for me is that I had to hold in check my own emotions about some of the people who were there whom I had perceived as being those who threatened my own freedom, and yet I connected with them on a human level. It was very freeing for me and, in a certain way, was freeing for them, and I think that's one of the things that has led us toward more marriage equality.
Michael Feinstein was named Principal Pops Conductor of the Pasadena Pops, succeeding Marvin Hamlisch. This year he also released a new album, Change of Heart: The Songs of André Previn (Concord), in collaboration with legendary composer-conductor-pianist André Previn, celebrating Previn's catalog of pop songs, which have most commonly been featured in motion pictures. When his Manhattan nightclub, Feinstein's at Loews Regency, which had presented the top talents of pop and jazz from 1999 to 2012, closed in December 2012 due to a year-long, complete renovation of the Regency Hotel, Michael opened his new nightclub, Feinstein's at the Nikko, in San Francisco's Nikko Hotel in May 2013. He plans to reopen in New York at a new location in the spring of 2014. He is also currently working on a new musical.
For more information on Michael Feinstein, visit michaelfeinstein.com.
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