"Memorable Moments in a Musical Salute to Songwriters"

by Paul Grein, The Los Angeles Times, Apr 27, 1989

Rosemary Clooney couldn't have chosen a more appropriate song to close the fourth annual Singers' Salute to the Songwriter on Tuesday night-Jerome Kern's "Look for the Silver Lining."

It was in an effort to do something constructive after her sister Betty's death of a brain injury 11 years ago that Clooney came up with the idea of the salute. This year's event at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion raised nearly $500,000 for the Betty Clooney Foundation for Persons with Brain Injury and its offspring, the Betty Clooney Center in Long Beach.

The concert, which toasted songwriters Kern, Mitchell Parish, Johnny Mandel and Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil and arranger Peter Matz, featured several other memorable moments:

- A tender duet by Clooney, one of the top female vocalists of the '50s, and contemporary pop queen Linda Ronstadt.

- Comedian Martin Short's lighthearted version of Kern's "The Song Is You."

- '60s girl-group veteran Darlene Love's soulful rendition of the Dan Hill hit "Sometimes When We Touch," which Mann co-wrote.

- Lucie Arnaz's sassy, stylish version of Mann & Weil's "Here You Come Again."

- Bob Hope and Clooney's witty exchange of lines from different songs. (Clooney: "Birds do it, bees do it. . . ." Hope: "Why then, oh why can't I? . . .")

Frequently, participants at benefit concerts appear to have met for the first time on the day of the show. But at this concert the connections seemed real-and heartfelt.

Clooney and Ronstadt, for example, are mutual admirers who have become friends in recent years. And Hope and Clooney have worked together on many occasions over the years, which made it especially appropriate when they did a wry version of Steven Sondheim's "Old Friends."

The connections between the performers and honorees also rang true. Carol Burnett presented the arranger's award to Peter Matz, who was the music supervisor of her long-running CBS-TV variety series.

And several of the participants have mined the mother lode of American popular music on recent albums. Ronstadt, who sang Kern's "All the Things You Are," released three million-selling albums of standards. Toni Tennille, who sang a sultry version of Kern's "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," and Melissa Manchester, who performed Parish's "Star Dust" and Mandel's "The Shadow of Your Smile," have also covered the classics.

The show was hosted by Clooney's brother, Cincinnati Post columnist and one-time L.A. anchorman Nick Clooney, and featured other family members. Betty's daughter, Cathi Demman, sang Parish's "Deep Purple" and Rosemary's daughter-in-law, Debby Boone, sang a lovely version of Kern's "I'm Old-Fashioned." Boone dryly kidded her square image during an instrumental break in the dreamy ballad: "They really struggled on who should sing this-me or Madonna."

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