Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton are among the artists duetting with Michael Feinstein on Gershwin Country.
Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton are among the artists duetting with Michael Feinstein on Gershwin Country. The album sees the GRAMMY and Emmy-nominated entertainer re-imagines the timeless Gershwin songbook through the contemporary lens of country music
Executive produced by his long-time friend and collaborator Liza Minnelli, and co-produced by the Kyle Lehning, other artists on the project include Rosanne Cash, Lyle Lovett, Lee Ann Womack, Ronnie Milsap, Mandy Barnett, Amy Grant and The Time Jumpers.
He says, “For me, the last bastion of great interpreters of lyrics is Nashville artists. They sing songs that tell stories. The Gershwin repertoire lends itself particularly well to reinterpretation in the country style.”
The set, which was originally planned for release in 2019 but was delayed because of COVID-19, is due on March 11. The first single, Krauss and Feinstein’s Someone to Watch Over Me, is out now.
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The late poet Maya Angelou gave Feinstein the inspiration for the country album.
Feinstein told Billboard, “I was staying with her at her home in Winston-Salem and she started playing me her favourite country records and I took notice of the many great voices, one after another. That was the first seed for the project, even though it didn’t come to fruition until many years later. After beginning the process of artistically ‘casting’ the duets, I started making lists and listening even more. I knew the work of many of the most prominent country stars and started exploring their work in terms of how they might sound doing a Gershwin song together. Kyle Lehning was instrumental, as he knows and has worked with many of the artists on the record and without him, I’d still be trying to make choices.”
Feinstein, one of today’s leading interpreters of the Great American Songbook, has long been fascinated by the Gershwins, starting with his six years as Ira Gershwin’s assistant and archivist when Feinstein was in his 20s. He’s released a number of Gershwin projects, including his 1987 debut, Pure Gershwin and 1998’s Michael & George: Feinstein Sings Gershwin. The latter album brought him a Grammy nomination for best traditional pop vocal album, one of five he has received in his career.
He says, “I’m grateful that we recorded the tracks live with the band in Nashville, but then as the world changed, so then did the production on this project, and our time line went out the window. Getting the music finished, and recordings completed needed to wait until it was safe for singers, musicians, and producers to get back into the studio, for tweaking. The unexpected delay gave me and Kyle Lehning, a true genius of a producer, the luxury of time to live with it a while longer which was invaluable in itself.”
He adds, “I wanted to create something that is truly as timeless as is the Gershwin catalogue. We feel that we’ve succeeded, and the best part is that I’m excited for this celebration of Gershwin and the American Songbook to be introduced to a whole new audience who will simply respond viscerally to what they hear. Having it out officially this Spring will give us the chance to schedule some dates to support the album and let people experience these tunes in person as well as via the record. It’s all a tremendous blessing.”
A portion of the proceeds from the album’s sales will go to MusiCares, the Recording Academy’s philanthropic partner that provides healthcare and other services for those in the music industry.
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