Randy Newman has long been one of the most musically and lyrically ambitious singer-songwriters ever to be at play in the fields of popular music and this summer he will grace the Concert Stage with his immense talent at Vancouver Island MusicFest!
If Randy Newman’s self-titled 1968 debut on Reprise Records seemed out of step with the times upon its release, that’s perhaps because he had created something timeless. Newman combined sophisticated orchestrations and indelible melodies with story-song lyrics that veered between the unabashedly romantic and the sarcastically humorous. A song like “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today,” its simple words harboring heartbreaking emotion, is arguably an American standard, covered by an astonishingly wide range of artists, including Judy Collins, Bobby Darin, Rick Nelson, Nina Simone, and, most recently, Nonesuch label-mate Audra McDonald.
The albums that followed—12 Songs (1970) and Sail Away (1972)—are also regarded as classics now. The Los Angeles-born Newman spent considerable time in New Orleans with his mother’s family during his childhood; his 1974 Good Old Boys is a masterful and controversial exploration of Southern culture, its history and ingrained prejudices, as well as the views and misconceptions of outsiders.
Newman’s reputation among critics, fellow artists, and musicians is huge, and he enjoyed incredible success as a songwriter. Former Animals keyboardist Alan Price popularized his work in England and Harry Nilsson did the same in the US with his still much-admired Nilsson Sings Newman. Three Dog Night had a pop hit with “Mama Told Me (Not To Come)”; Joe Cocker scored with the hilariously lascivious “You Can Leave Your Hat On.”
Newman’s own Top 40 success came with the most unlikely track, “Short People,” from the 1977 Little Criminals. Not everyone got the joke—in fact, the Maryland legislature tried to make it a crime to play “Short People” on the radio. Other pop hits were in a similarly tongue-in-cheek vein: “It’s Money That I Love” from 1979’s Born Again and “I Love L.A.” from 1983’s Trouble In Paradise.
Over the course of 40 years, Newman has released 10 albums of original studio material, along with Randy Newman Live, originally designed as a promo-only item; a recording of his musical theater adaptation of Faust; and The Randy Newman Songbook, Vol. 1 a piano-and-voice retrospective that also served as his Nonesuch debut. Since 1981, however, with his score for Ragtime, Newman has been a prolific film music composer, a regular Academy Award nominee, and, in 2002, an Oscar winner for “If I Didn’t Have You” from Monsters, Inc.
Among his notable scores are The Natural, Parenthood, Awakenings, Avalon, Pleasantville and Leatherheads; Newman even shared screenwriting credit for the 1986 Steve Martin hit, Three Amigos!
In recent years, he has specialized in composing for an impressive range of critically acclaimed, commercially blockbuster family films, including Toy Story, James and The Giant Peach, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc, and Cars. Though Newman projects the image of misanthrope in his own work, he summons tremendous warmth, tenderness, and a gentler form of humor in the songs he’s created for these movies.
Newman is also a five-time Grammy Award winner, and the recipient, in 2002, of the Recording Academy’s prestigious Governors’ Award. He has also garnered three Emmys: in 2004 for the title theme to Monk, in 1991 for songs composed for the short-lived but well-regarded musical series Cop Rock and again for Monk in 2010 for Best Original Lyrics and Music for the song When I’m Gone which appeared in the series finale.
The enduring quality and emotional depth of his work are perhaps best exemplified by “Louisiana 1927,” a song from Good Old Boys about a flood that devastated parts of Louisiana early in the 20th Century. Post-Katrina, the song was adapted by Crescent City artists like Marcia Ball and Aaron Neville as a kind of anthem, sung with as much pride as bitterness. The song became a leitmotif of the 2008 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, where Newman himself delivered a bravura performance.
Randy Newman is more than a mere master of understatement — he is one of the real masters of modern American music. Newman joins an incredible line up of artists including Jon Anderson of “Yes” fame, The Night Train Music Club, Arrested Development, Rodney Crowell, Red Horse, Eliza Gilkyson, John Gorka, The MarchForth Marching Band and many many more!
This year VIMF has also introduced a special Thursday Night Concert Event (July 7th) with 26 time Grammy Award Winner Alison Krauss and Union Station. Weekend pass holders can pick up cheap tickets for the Thursday Concert for only $50.
Early Bird tickets are on sale from now till April 1st for Vancouver Island MusicFest. Find out all you need to know about camping, early bird tickets and community outlets, performers, volunteer and vendor opportunities, community partnerships and much more by visiting www.islandmusicfest.com