The distinctive jazz-influenced style of Burt Bacharach and Hal David is immediately recognizable and was recorded by the biggest music stars of the 1960s and 70s, including Cher, Johnny Mathis, The Carpenters, Aretha Franklin, B.J. Thomas, Tom Jones, Jackie DeShannon, and of course, Dionne Warwick. Even The Beatles recorded a Bacharach/David song (“Baby, It’s You”).
Bacharach and David began their collaboration in 1957 at the storied Brill Building in New York City. Their first hit, “The Story of My Life,” was recorded by country music star Marty Robbins and soon climbed to #1 on the country charts. Their next effort proved the range of the talented young duo. “Magic Moments” was a big 1957 hit for crooner Perry Como. Once the two forged an exclusive writing partnership in 1963, the hits flowed, among them “Blue on Blue,” “The Look of Love,” “Wishing and Hoping,” “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” “Always Something There To Remind Me,” “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” “One Less Bell to Answer,” and including an incredible 38 hit singles for Dionne Warwick.
Burt Bacharach and Hal David were awarded the 2011 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the first and currently the only songwriting team to be so honored.
Though most consider him a jazz master, Ellington is in a category by himself...he called it “beyond category.” A pianist, composer and bandleader, Ellington did it all. He wrote more than a thousand compositions, many now considered standards of the Great American Songbook. His style often reflected his collaborators, whether that collaborator was a songwriting partner or a particularly talented musician in his big band.
Duke Ellington was born in Washington, D.C., the grandson of slaves, in 1899. He learned music from his parents, both of whom were pianists. His mother instilled in him the grace and elegance he became known for throughout his storied career. He was an integral part of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and nurtured many young talents, including Hoagy Carmichael, Dorothy Fields, Harold Arlen, and Billy Strayhorn, who became his closest collaborator.
He received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1966 and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971 and the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1978. In 1969, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. At his funeral in 1974, attended by 12,000 people, Ella Fitzgerald said it all: “A genius has passed.” His music lives on as music lovers around the world listen to “Mood Indigo,” “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” or “Take the A Train.”