Michael Feinstein, Founder
The Great American Songbook Foundation
Michael Feinstein, the multi-platinum-selling, two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award-nominated entertainer dubbed “The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook,” is 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.
More than simply a performer, Feinstein has received national recognition for his commitment to celebrating America’s popular song and preserving its legacy for the next generation. In 2007, he founded the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative, dedicated to celebrating the art form and preserving it through educational programs, Master Classes, and the annual High School Vocal Academy and Competition, which awards scholarships and prizes to students across the country. Michael serves on the Library of Congress’ National Recording Preservation Board, an organization dedicated to ensuring the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America’s sound recording heritage.
Most recently, Concord Records released A Michael Feinstein Christmas. Feinstein, accompanied by venerable GRAMMY-award winning jazz pianist Alan Broadbent (Charlie Haden, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole), puts his signature stylings on a selection of holiday standards
Feinstein earned his fifth Grammy Award nomination in 2009 for The Sinatra Project, his Concord Records CD celebrating the music of “Ol’ Blue Eyes.” The Sinatra Project, Volume II: The Good Life was released in 2011. His Emmy nominated TV special, Michael Feinstein – The Sinatra Legacy, which was taped live at the Palladium in Carmel, IN, aired across the country in 2011. The PBS series “Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook”was the recipient of the ASCAP Deems-Taylor Television Broadcast Award. The series returned in 2013 for a third season, which is now available on DVD. His next primetime TV Special on PBS, “Michael Feinstein at The Rainbow Room,” aired on New Year’s Eve, 2014. For his nationally syndicated public radio program “Song Travels,” Michael interviews and performs alongside of music luminaries such as Bette Midler, Neil Sedaka, Liza Minnelli, Rickie Lee Jones, David Hyde Pierce and more.
His new book, a Los Angeles Times best-seller, The Gershwins and Me, which is combined with a new CD of Gershwin standards performed with Cyrus Chestnut at the piano, was published by Simon & Schuster in October 2012. He released the CDs The Power Of Two – collaborating with “Glee” and “30 Rock” star – and Cheek To Cheek, recorded withBroadway legend Barbara Cook. He recorded We Dreamed These Days, featuring the Carmel Symphony Orchestra; Feinstein co-wrote the title song with Dr. Maya Angelou.
Feinstein was named Principal Pops Conductor for the Pasadena POPS in 2012 and made his conducting debut in June 2013 to celebrated critical acclaim. Under Feinstein’s leadership, the Pasadena POPS has quickly become the nation’s premier presenter of the Great American Songbook in the orchestral arena delivering definitive performances of rare orchestrations and classic arrangements.
Feinstein serves as Artistic Director of The Center for the Performing Arts, a $170 million, three-theater venue in Carmel, Indiana, which opened in January 2011. The Center is home to an annual international Great American Arts festival, diverse live programming and a museum for his rare memorabilia and manuscripts. Since 1999, he has served as Artistic Director in collaboration with ASCAP for the immensely popular series at Carnegie Hall, Standard Time with Michael Feinstein. Starting in 2010, he became the director of the Jazz and Popular Song Series at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center.
He has designed a new piano for Steinway called “The First Ladies,” inspired by the White House piano and signed by several former First Ladies. It was first played to commemorate the Ronald Regan centennial on February 6, 2011.
In 2013 Michael released a new CD, Change Of Heart: The Songs of Andre Previn, (Concord) in collaboration with legendary composer-conductor-pianist Andre Previn, with an album celebrating Previn’s repertoire from his catalog of pop songs that have most commonly been featured in motion pictures. The album opens with “(You’ve Had) A Change of Heart.” Previn’s work is highlighted with four Oscars and 11 GRAMMY Awards.
In 2005, Feinstein recorded Hopeless Romantics, a songbook of Harry Warren classics recorded with legendary jazz pianist George Shearing. The previous year, he completed a national tour with songwriting icon Jimmy Webb based on their album Only One Life – The Songs of Jimmy Webb. The disc was named one of “10 Best CDs of the Year” by USA Today.
In 2003, Feinstein received his fourth Grammy nomination for his release Michael Feinstein with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, his first recording with a symphony orchestra. The year before, Rhino/Elektra Music released The Michael Feinstein Anthology, a two-disc compilation spanning the years 1987 to 1996 and featuring old favorites and previously unreleased tracks.
His nightclub, Feinstein’s at Loews Regency, presented the top talents of pop and jazz from 1999 - 2012, including Rosemary Clooney, Glen Campbell, Barbara Cook, Diahann Carroll, Jane Krakowski, Lea Michele, Cyndi Lauper, Jason Mraz and Alan Cumming. The club was closed in December of 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 of 2013 and Feinstein’s on Broadway will open at a new location in 2015 and also plans for a future nightclub in London.
His many other credits include scoring the original music for the film Get Bruce and performing on the hits television series “Better With You,” “Caroline in the City,” “Melrose Place,” “Coach,” “Cybil,” “7th Heaven” and “Devious Maids.”
The roots of all this work began in Columbus, Ohio, where Feinstein started playing piano by ear as a 5-year-old. After graduating from high school, he worked in local piano bars for two years, moving to Los Angeles when he was 20. The widow of legendary concert pianist-actor Oscar Levant introduced him to Ira Gershwin in July 1977. Feinstein became Gershwin’s assistant for six years, which earned him access to numerous unpublished Gershwin songs, many of which he has since performed and recorded.
Gershwin’s influence provided a solid base upon which Feinstein evolved into a captivating performer, composer and arranger of his own original music. He also has become an unparalleled interpreter of music legends such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington and Harry Warren. Feinstein has received three honorary doctorates.
Through his live performances, recordings, film and television appearances, and his songwriting (in collaboration with Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Lindy Robbins, Bob Merrill and Amanda Green), Feinstein is an all-star force in American music.