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The Great Lady Songwriters
Beth Slater Whitson(1879-1930)
Mabel Wayne(1904-1978)
Ann Ronell(1905-1993)
Maria Grever(1894-1951)
Dana Suesse(1909-1987)
Kay Swift(1897-1993)
Carolyn Leigh(1926-1983)
Peggy Lee(1920-2002)


For reasons best left to the speculations of demographers and the politically-minded, women in the golden age of modern American entertainment did not play the prominent role in songwriting that men did. Only lyricist Dorothy Fields was able to achieve the stellar stature of her most successful male colleagues like Hart, Hammerstein, Harburg and Ira Gershwin. She was, however, not the only woman to write fine songs still worth singing.

The Great Lady Songwriters pays tribute to those other female composers and lyricists who played a significant part in Tin Pan Alley's colorful history. Eight distinguished ladies are profiled representing a broad range of eras and styles, beginning with Edwardian sentimentalist Beth Slater Whitson and ending with ultra-cool singing/songwriting legend Peggy Lee.

Among this songwriting sorority's creative output: "Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland," "Ramona," "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" "What a Difference a Day Made," You Oughta Be In Pictures," "Fine and Dandy," "I Gotta Crow," "Witchcraft," "Young At Heart," "Manana," and many, many more.

If women did not dominate American songwriting, their presence is undeniable as this tuneful Lecture-in-Song happily demonstrates.




If you would like to engage Fred Miller for one of his Lectures-in-Song, please contact him directly at any time. For a full listing of all Lectures, click here.

Fred Miller’s Lectures-In-Song comprise a series of solo programs, each an historical, anecdotal and musical profile of some great personality or important aspect of American Popular Song. These Lectures are delivered by singer/pianist/narrator Miller at the piano, and each reflects his lifetime passion and appreciation for great music. He studied classical piano in his hometown of Albuquerque from ages 7-15 but early on gave up any notion of music as a profession. At that time, Fred assumed a musical career was either one devoted to the rigid discipline of classical music or being a freewheeling rock star, and he accurately decided he had no aptitude for either. However, at age 22, upon hearing Ella Fitzgerald sing Cole Porter, he found his calling and life’s mission.

Through the Seventies and Eighties, Miller studied and absorbed in minute detail the life and times and songs of nearly all the great American composers and lyricists who thrived during Broadway & Hollywood’s Golden Age between the two World Wars. In 1987, he founded Silver Dollar Productions in order to produce operettas, dramas, musicals and small cabarets. Silver Dollar Productions required ensemble casts, props, costumes and, most significantly, the challenges of publicity and selling tickets, and for a dozen busy years, the company presented an unbroken string of varied and highly lauded performances.

In 1999, Miller was simultaneously underwritten by both his local Hunterdon County Library and the Art Alliance of Philadelphia to present a series of six solo Lectures-In-Song, each devoted to one of the premiere Broadway/Hollywood songwriters: George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, and Harold Arlen.

In presenting history, biography and psychology while sitting at a piano singing the superlative songs of his heroes, Miller has found a single performing medium that utilizes most of his intellectual and musical passions.The list of Lectures-In-Song that began with six in 1999 is now more than seventy(and growing!), a joyful tribute to the boundlessly rich field of American Popular Song.

 



 
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