Barry Manilow looks at the lives and works of ten famous composers of the Great American Songbook. He explores their genius through rare recordings and de-constructs their songs at his piano.
Recorded at Barry's home in America, the series gives a songwriter's insight into the art and craft of songwriting. It covers over sixty years of composition examining the work of George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Frank Loesser, Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Jerry Herman and Kander and Ebb. Among the rare recordings are songs by Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland, and a never before heard Barry Manilow recording, made when he was three years old.
George Gershwin is the first composer in the spotlight, who left school in 1913 to pursue a career as a song plugger and composer in New York's Tin Pan Alley. His first hit song was Swanee, which was recorded by Al Jolson in 1920. He went on to create an impressive body of work, including celebrated musicals like Funny Face; jazz standards and popular songs like They Can't Take That Away from Me [which was posthumously nominated for an Oscar]; and the ambitious opera Porgy and Bess.