Biography
Singer/pianist Michael Feinstein was both a prime motivator and a beneficiary of a renewed interest in pre-rock popular music that started in the 1980s, a trend that also found Linda Ronstadt selling millions of copies of albums of traditional pop made with conductor Nelson Riddle and that fueled the success of Harry Connick, Jr. In Feinstein's case, it allowed him to establish a career as a nightclub entertainer and then move up to theaters while releasing major-label albums; his background as a musical archivist also enabled him to bring a scholar's knowledge to his performances of classic pop music. After making his studio debut with Pure Gershwin in 1987, he became a regular on the Billboard Jazz Albums and Traditional Jazz Albums charts, hitting the Top Five of the latter with 1998's Feinstein Sings Gershwin (which went to number one), 2001's Big City Rhythms, 2002's Michael Feinstein with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and 2008's The Sinatra Project, which reached number three on both charts. Also landing on the holiday albums chart with 2014's A Michael Feinstein Christmas, he returned to key inspirations George and Ira Gershwin for 2022's Gershwin Country, a collection of duets with the likes of Dolly Parton, Brad Paisley, and Rosanne Cash.

Born Michael Jay Feinstein on September 7, 1956, in Columbus, Ohio, his father, Edward Feinstein, was an executive in the meat business, but had been a band singer, while his mother, Mazie Feinstein, was an amateur tap dancer. Beginning to play the piano by ear at age five, Feinstein grew up fascinated by the pop music of generations preceding him and amassed a large record collection. He moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1976, and there began to come in contact with the people who created the music he adored. He was hired by Ira Gershwin to catalog the veteran lyricist's archives, a job he performed until Gershwin's death in 1983. (He also worked for Harry Warren from 1981 to 1982.)

At that point, he turned to performing as a cabaret artist full-time, beginning in Los Angeles. A 1986 engagement at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel in New York was extended for four months and resulted in the LP Live at the Algonquin. In 1987, he released his debut studio album, Pure Gershwin, on Asylum. After releasing Remember: Michael Feinstein Sings Irving Berlin (1987), which hit the Top Five of the Billboard jazz chart and topped the traditional jazz chart, he was able to take his act to Broadway, opening Michael Feinstein in Concert: Isn't It Romantic at the Lyceum Theatre on April 19, 1988. The same year, he released his third studio album, also called Isn't It Romantic. During 1989, he released two thematic albums, Over There (Angel), devoted to the music of World War I, and The M.G.M. Album (Elektra).

For Elektra's Nonesuch imprint, Feinstein launched a series of "songbook" albums recorded with the participation of the veteran songwriters themselves, the first of them devoted to Burton Lane (August 1990, with a second volume in November 1992), followed by 1991's Jule Styne, 1993's Jerry Herman, and 1995's Hugh Martin. In the meantime, back at Elektra, Feinstein devoted an album to children, Pure Imagination (1992), and Forever (1993) found him balancing contemporary material with the usual standards. He then switched labels, landing at Atlantic Records for 1995's Such Sweet Sorrow and the next year's Nice Work If You Can Get It: Songs by the Gershwins before moving to Concord Records, beginning with an album to mark the centenary of George Gershwin, 1998's Michael George: Feinstein Sings Gershwin.

In 1999, Feinstein lent his name to a new nightclub in New York located in the Regency Hotel, as Feinstein's at the Regency became a venue for sophisticated cabaret entertainers including its namesake. (A second Feinstein's later opened in Hollywood.) The same year, he released Big City Rhythms, fronting the Maynard Ferguson Big Band. It reached the Top Three of the Traditional Jazz Albums chart. Late 2000's Romance on Film/Romance on Broadway was a two-disc set, the first disc recorded live. It was followed by Michael Feinstein with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in May 2002, which returned him to the traditional jazz Top Five. Later in 2002, Concord announced the formation of Feinstein's own custom subsidiary label, Feinery, intended to "present hidden gems from the American Popular Songbook." It was launched with a new album, Michael Feinstein Sings the Livingston Evans Songbook, on October 8, 2002. Feinstein's 2003 album, Only One Life, was devoted to the songs of Jimmy Webb. In 2005, he and George Shearing teamed up for Hopeless Romantics. The Sinatra Project, which appeared in 2008 and hit the jazz and traditional jazz Top Three. A year later, Feinstein and Broadway star Cheyenne Jackson made The Power of Two for Harbinger Records. 2010's Fly Me to the Moon on the Duckhole label found him accompanied by jazz guitarist Joe Negri, and in 2011, Feinstein followed up his 2008 homage to Sinatra with The Sinatra Project, Vol. 2: The Good Life on the Concord label. That same year, he issued a pair of LPs for Duckhole, Cheek to Cheek: Cook and Feinstein (with Barbara Cook) and We Dreamed These Days (with the Carmel Symphony Orchestra). Change of Heart: The Songs of André Previn arrived on Telarc in 2013, and his first holiday album, A Michael Feinstein Christmas cracked the Top 40 of the Billboard Holidays Albums chart in late 2014.

While Feinstein remained in the public eye through concerts and appearances as a presenter on the Turner Classic Movies network in the interim, it would be eight years before he released another album. Issued on Craft Recordings, 2022's Gershwin Country paired Feinstein with ten country stars and executive producer Liza Minnelli on a set of 11 Gershwin duets. ~ William Ruhlmann & Marcy Donelson, Rovi




 
Videos
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Someone to Watch Over Me sung by Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein performs 'Close to You' at the Gershwin Prize for Hal David and Burt Bacharach
Michael Feinstein performs "The More I See You" and "There Will Never Be Another You"
My Favorite Year
Michael Feinstein & Darren Criss - "Frank Sinatra Medley"
Michael Feinstein performs Gershwin medley
Michael Feinstein performs "Close to You" at the Gershwin Prize for Hal David and Burt Bacharach
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