Michael Feinstein Reimagines the Songs of George & Ira Gershwin with Country Music’s Biggest Stars

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Executive produced by Liza Minnelli, Gershwin Country pairs the Great American Songbook Preservationist with Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss, Brad Paisley, Lyle Lovett, Rosanne Cash and many others. A portion of all proceeds to benefit MusiCares®, a partner of the Recording Academy® that provides critical health and welfare services to members of the music community.

Gershwin Country Album Art

Gershwin Country Album Art

Craft Recordings is thrilled to announce Gershwin Country: a brand-new album from the GRAMMY®- and Emmy-nominated entertainer Michael Feinstein, who reimagines the classic songs of George and Ira Gershwin through the contemporary lens of country music. Executive produced by his longtime friend and collaborator Liza Minnelli, the album pairs Feinstein with some of the biggest names in country music, including Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss, Brad Paisley and Rosanne Cash. Available for pre-order now on CD and digital, Gershwin Country hits stores March 11—with a portion of all proceeds benefitting MusiCares®, a partner of the Recording Academy® that provides a support system of health and human services across a spectrum of needs, including physical and mental health, addiction recovery, preventative clinics, unforeseen personal emergencies and disaster relief to the music community.

Beginning today, fans can stream the advance single, an expressive performance of “Someone to Watch Over Me,” featuring 27-time GRAMMY-winner Alison Krauss. From Gershwin’s 1926 musical Oh, Kay!, the tune became a No.2 hit alongside the Broadway show and has since been recorded more than 1,800 times by such artists as Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Willie Nelson, Barbara Streisand and Linda Ronstadt. Listen to the single and pre-save the album here.

George Gershwin (1898–1937) not only composed some of the 20th century’s most important orchestral works (Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris), he also wrote the groundbreaking English-language opera Porgy & Bess (including the hit “Summertime”), before finding great success in popular music, collaborating with his brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin (1896–1983). Embarking on his career as a teenager on New York’s famed Tin Pan Alley, George parlayed his work into Broadway at the turn of the 1920s. Within a few years, he began his fruitful creative partnership with Ira. Together, the brothers would go on to write some of the most influential songs of the era—forever changing the landscape of American musical theater. In 1924, the brothers collaborated on the stage musical comedy Lady Be Good (“Fascinating Rhythm” and “Oh, Lady Be Good!”), before following with Oh, Kay!, Funny Face (1927) and Strike Up the Band (1927). Later, with the rise of musical films, the Gershwins brought their talents to Hollywood—writing more than two dozen scores for the stage and screen before George’s untimely death at 38.

The brothers’ vast catalog of music, however, continued to live on through the decades—recorded over and over again by the world’s most respected artists. In Feinstein’s liner notes, he writes, “It is the reinvention of those songs that has given them the wings to fly through the changing times of the century, and travel onward through the years, eternally seducing new generations with their echoes of the Jazz Age expressed through his encoded DNA.”

Gershwin’s influence on Feinstein cannot be understated. “As a person who became besotted with [George] Gershwin long ago, I cannot be objective of his work, nor of his brother Ira’s, for it all goes too deep into my soul,” says the singer and pianist. “From the time I first heard them decades ago, the songs have felt personal, and as I have sung them through the years, they have become multifaceted diamonds revealing new angles of truth and depth with every exploration.”

At 20, Feinstein began a six-year tenure with Ira, serving as his assistant and archivist, among other roles. That pivotal experience informed the musician’s career—inspiring his broadly acclaimed 1987 debut, Pure Gershwin, and encouraging him to become the preeminent educator, archivist, interpreter and Ambassador of the Great American Songbook. Over the decades, Feinstein continued to explore Gershwin’s music through such albums as Nice Work If You Can Get It: Songs by the Gershwins (1996) and Michael & George: Feinstein Sings Gershwin (1998), as well as through his Los Angeles Times bestseller, The Gershwins and Me (Simon & Schuster, 2012). Yet, no matter how many interpretations that he arranged or performed, Feinstein yearned to find a way to re-introduce these vital songs to contemporary ears. One day, the answer came to him through the voices of country music’s biggest artists.

“The best interpreters of lyrics today are country singers,” he explains. “The deeper habitation of a song comes from connecting lyrically to the story and telling it honestly and with simplicity. Country artists are the last bastion of that art.” Gershwin Country, he continues, “was a chance to amplify and expand the palette of what Gershwin songs said, for I felt they could be heard anew from a different perspective and remain organic. And the thought of creating a Gershwin project with the potential to reach those who have never heard the name and would simply take the songs on face value was too irresistible.”

And so, Feinstein sought out the best talents in the genre, including his venerable co-producer, Kyle Lehning, who has helmed projects for Kenny Rogers, Faith Hill and Randy Travis, among many others. Lehning, in turn, assembled some of Nashville’s most esteemed musicians to back the sessions, including Bryan Sutton (acoustic guitar, mandolin), Steve Brewster (drums), Viktor Krauss (bass) and Kerry Marx (electric guitar).

When it came to his duet partners, Feinstein selected a cross-generational line-up of stars—all of whom have long been celebrated for their compelling vocal deliveries. Perhaps the most iconic storyteller on the album is Dolly Parton, who joins Feinstein on “Our Love Is Here to Stay.” Originally written for the 1938 film The Goldwyn Follies, the song was the last musical composition George completed before his passing. Ira wrote the lyrics after George’s death in tribute to his brother. It went on to become widely popular in 1951 when Gene Kelly performed the song in An American in Paris.

Brad Paisley, meanwhile, holds his own on a jaunty rendition of “I Got Rhythm.” Written for the 1930 musical Girl Crazy, the song became an instant jazz standard. Paisley and Feinstein’s version—which opens with a bit of witty banter—follows in a long line of famous recordings, including those by Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker and Ethel Merman, who reimagined it as a disco track in 1979.

Alongside the stunning Alison Krauss collaboration for “Someone to Watch Over Me,” Feinstein draws again from the enduring musical Oh, Kay!, partnering with multi-GRAMMY Award-winning singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett for a soul-stirring version of “Clap Yo’ Hands.”

Other guests include The Time Jumpers with Vince Gill, who offer a harmony-filled version of 1924’s “Fascinating Rhythm.” Ronnie Milsap, meanwhile, lends his distinctive vocals to 1924’s “Oh, Lady Be Good!” and Lee Ann Womack makes 1927’s “Soon” her own. Mandy Barnett, one of the latest inductees to the Grand Ole Opry, delivers a moving performance of “How Long Has This Been Going On?” Introduced to audiences in the 1928 musical Rosalie, the song was later popularized by artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby.

Rounding out the album is Amy Grant, who lends her vocals to one of the Gershwins’ most enduring songs, “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” Originally written for the 1937 Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers film Shall We Dance, the tune continues to be a favorite and has been recorded in more recent years by such artists as Gloria Estefan, Rod Stewart and Brian Wilson. Another popular tune, “I’ve Got a Crush on You”—which made its earliest appearances in the musicals Treasure Girl (1928) and Strike Up the Band (1930)—is performed with singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash in an upbeat arrangement.

Gershwin Country closes with a poignant duet of “Embraceable You” by Feinstein and Liza Minnelli. The jazz standard is particularly meaningful to the iconic singer and actress, as her father, Vincente Minnelli, considered the song to be a favorite. The renowned director was not only close friends with both George and Ira, but also chose the younger Gershwin brother to be Liza’s godfather. Kicking off early 2022, Feinstein will also honor Liza’s mother, Judy Garland, with a tour devoted to the beloved star on her centennial. For more information and a full list of dates, visit MichaelFeinstein.com.

Reflecting on Gershwin Country, Feinstein writes, “Every single [artist] was an inspiration with the caring, dedication, and wisdom they instilled in these songs. Some titles were new to them, and that brought a gift of freshness to the proceedings.” Making the album, he adds, “was one of the happiest experiences of my life. Music is truly the universal language, and we all felt such a part of each other through the process.”

Pre-order or pre-save Gershwin Country.

Gershwin Country tracklist (CD/Digital):

1. Love Is Here To Stay featuring Dolly Parton
2. I’ve Got A Crush On You featuring Rosanne Cash
3. Someone To Watch Over Me featuring Alison Krauss
4. I Got Rhythm featuring Brad Paisley
5. They Can’t Take That Away From Me featuring Amy Grant
6. Clap Yo’ Hands featuring Lyle Lovett
7. How Long Has This Been Going On? featuring Mandy Barnett
8. Fascinating Rhythm featuring The Time Jumpers with Vince Gill
9. Soon featuring Lee Ann Womack
10. Oh, Lady Be Good! featuring Ronnie Milsap
11. Embraceable You featuring Liza Minnelli

ABOUT MICHAEL FEINSTEIN:
In addition to being one of the leading musical entertainers and piano virtuosi of recent decades, Michael Feinstein’s work as an educator, archivist, interpreter, and Ambassador of the Great American Songbook has established him as a pre-eminent force in contemporary music. Having released more than 30 studio and live albums, the top-selling and critically-acclaimed recording artist has earned five GRAMMY® nominations and two Emmy nominations, among other recognitions, while he has performed at iconic venues around the globe, including The White House, Buckingham Palace, Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall, and the Sydney Opera House.

In 2012, Feinstein was named Principal Pops Conductor for the Pasadena Symphony. Under his leadership, the Pasadena Pops has become a premier orchestral presenter of the Great American Songbook, with definitive performances of rare orchestrations and classic arrangements. Feinstein can also be seen regularly at New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall for his “Standard Time with Michael Feinstein” series, in conjunction with ASCAP. Offstage, Feinstein serves as Artistic Director of the Palladium Center for the Performing Arts, in Carmel, IN, and oversees the Jazz and Popular Song Series at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center. Additionally, the tireless artist owns several popular nightclubs, including Feinstein’s at the Nikko (at San Francisco’s Nikko Hotel) and Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York. He opened his first Los Angeles location, Feinstein’s at Vitello’s, in June 2019.

As an extension of his work, Mr. Feinstein founded the Great American Songbook Foundation, which works to preserve and elevate America’s rich musical legacy. He also serves on the Library of Congress’s National Recording Preservation Board; an organization dedicated to ensuring the survival, conservation, and increased public availability of America’s sound recording heritage.

ABOUT CRAFT RECORDINGS:
Craft Recordings is home to one of the largest and most essential collections of master recordings and compositions in the world. Its storied repertoire includes landmark releases from icons such as Joan Baez, John Coltrane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Celia Cruz, Miles Davis, Isaac Hayes, John Lee Hooker, Little Richard, R.E.M., Joan Sebastian, and Traveling Wilburys. Plus, the catalog recordings of celebrated contemporary acts including A Day to Remember, Evanescence, Alison Krauss, Nine Inch Nails, Taking Back Sunday and Violent Femmes, to name just a few. Renowned imprints with catalogs issued under the Craft banner include Fania, Fantasy, Fearless, Musart, Nitro, Panart, Prestige, Riverside, Rounder, Specialty, Stax, Vanguard, Varèse Sarabande, Vee-Jay and Victory, among many others. Craft creates thoughtfully curated packages, with a meticulous devotion to quality and a commitment to preservation—ensuring that these recordings endure for new generations to discover. Craft is also home to the Billie Holiday and Tammy Wynette estates which preserve and protect their respective names, likeness and music through day-to-day legacy management of these cultural trailblazers.

Craft Recordings is the catalog label team for Concord Recorded Music. For more info, visit CraftRecordings.com and follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Apple Music, and Spotify.

ABOUT MUSICARES
MusiCares helps the humans behind music because music gives so much to the world. Offering preventive, emergency, and recovery programs, MusiCares is a safety net supporting the health and welfare of the music community. Founded by the Recording Academy in 1989 as a U.S. based 501(c)(3) charity, MusiCares safeguards the well-being of all music people through direct financial grant programs, networks of support resources, and tailored crisis relief efforts. For more information please visit: http://www.musicares.org.

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Susan Madore
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