Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010 | 9 a.m.
Six days before Barry Manilow launches his new two-year contract on the Strip, the superstar entertainer will give a sneak preview of the songs and music at the annual Keep Memory Alive gala. The celebrated music legend will perform Feb. 27 for the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health fundraiser at the Bellagio. The first of his annual 78 performances at the Paris begins March 5.
Manilow follows last year's one-night-only reunion of Siegfried & Roy at Keep Memory Alive. KMA Chairman Larry Ruvo made the announcement yesterday at a downtown secret summit of hotel owners and executives with Cleveland Clinic doctors who unveiled plans for Las Vegas to become a "medical mecca" similar to Houston.
"We are deeply touched and appreciative of Manilow's incredible generosity at this crucial time," Ruvo said. "He has personally donated all of the costs associated with the performance. What a fantastic way to arrive on the Strip, which has been his dream for so many years. His kindness helps us fulfill our dreams, too."
Star chefs Wolfgang Puck and Thomas Keller are teaming up this year for the gala. Other celebrities, including The Sopranos star Steve Schirripa and comedian Brad Garrett, have agreed to join auctioneer Christian Kolberg and Las Vegas Sun celebrity and entertainment reporter Robin Leach, who will be hosting the event.
In addition to his own foundation, The Manilow Fund for Health and Hope, other work includes The Prince's Trust, United Way, The Starlight Foundation and several leading organizations for AIDS prevention and research. He is the national spokesman for The Foundation Fighting Blindness and a member of the Music Center of Los Angeles. He also created the Manilow Music Project as part of his Manilow Fund for Health and Hope to help head off budget cuts to arts and music programs in schools. His foundation gave $500,000 in musical instruments, sheet music and music stands to 21 schools in California's Coachella Valley.
When he opens here at the Paris days after the KMA gala, he has promised to make music donations to Las Vegas Valley schools and already has begun identifying schools and programs with those needs.
"Just call your local schools and ask them what they need," Manilow said. "Get 'em a new set of drums! Anyone can make a difference. Music changes a young person's life."
Manilow wrapped his four-year run at the Las Hilton last month. He performed to sell-out crowds beginning in 2005 with his Manilow: Music & Passion and then expanded it to Ultimate Manilow: The Hits in September 2008.
In addition to the preview of his all-new production, Manilow will feature material from his new album The Greatest Love Songs of All Time, which will be released Jan. 29. He will unveil the album live on QVC on a satellite feed Tuesday from the Paris. During the special QSessions Live broadcast, the Grammy-, Tony- and Emmy-winning artist will perform a selection of songs from the album and give viewers an inside look at the inspiration behind the collection. Manilow also will offer shoppers the opportunity to purchase a week before the album release a five-track bonus disc of songs he put together especially for QVC viewers.
Teaming up once again with longtime collaborator and Arista Records founder Clive Davis, now chief creative officer of Sony Music Entertainment, the album features Manilow's interpretations and arrangements of classic love songs, including "Love Is Here to Stay," "The Look of Love" and "I Can't Give You Anything But Love." Manilow's 2006 QVC appearance marked the highest single-day sales by a music artist in QVC's history, and he still holds the record as the highest single-hour music sales event in QVC's 23-year history.
"I unabashedly can say that this CD is the most beautiful album I've ever made," Manilow said. "Everyone involved in creating this one was committed to making the most romantic album possible. It's a real beauty. I've always loved this style of music. Given the opportunity to make an album of songs like these was an honor and a rich creative experience for me. I hope the songwriters would have been proud of how we treated their masterpieces.
"The final cut of the CD is very special. It's a song called 'When You Were Sweet Sixteen.' In my research, I found that this song was the very first pop love song ever written. It was written in 1898, and many versions of it have been done. When you hear it, I think you'll understand why it still holds up over a hundred years later."
As the founder and president of Arista Records for its first 25 years, Clive was a perennial collaborator with Manilow on virtually all of his recordings. They first worked together on "Mandy," Manilow's debut No. 1 single, after he became the first performer signed by Clive when Arista was launched in 1974.
Although it was back in June 2002 that he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame alongside Michael Jackson, Randy Newman and Sting, Manilow still says the highlight of his long and successful career will be headlining on the Las Vegas Strip.
"I am delighted to be in Vegas," he said. "That was always my dream, and now I am very happy with the show we will be opening at the Paris. It is a pleasure to share its magic in advance with the supporters of Keep Memory Alive."