On the way home from Carnegie Hall on Friday, my guest turned and commented to me. “I think that we may have been a part of history tonight,” he said. I agreed. There have been many moments and countless concerts in that esteemed edifice, but some are more memorable than others. Friday March 24th, 2023 was one of those stand out nights as took center stage.
The Grammy nominated and multiple winner of other awards is no stranger to the Carnegie Stage. On two prior occasions, she was included in a line-up with other entertainment. Yet Friday night, the lady was alone on stage, backed by the ever fabulous New York Pops Orchestra and conductor Steven Reineke.
Maye is a master of the American songbook and for two solid hours, she had the crowd eating from the palm of her hand. Performing solo at Carnegie at any age is a big deal. But in two weeks, Ms. Maye turns 95—and her voice is still in tremendous shape. Furthermore, there wasn’t a moment when she rested on stage.
Instead, she left the melodies carry her. After the rapturous overture from Jerry Herman’s Mame, Reineke introduced the night’s guest. Before he could finish, the audience applause was so loud and thunderous that everyone leapt their feet to welcome the gold sequined diva. It was one of several standing ovations that would occur throughout the night
She opened with one of her signature melodies, the first from one from the ever sophisticated and urbane Cole Porter. The “You” themed melody included “Looking at You”, “I Concentrate on You”, “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and “All of You.”
Moments after, another medley followed, this one about rainbows: “Look to the Rainbow,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “Make Me Rainbows,” and “Rainbow Connection”
The night wasn’t all melodies, however. Other selections included snazzy versions of “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face,” “On the Street Where You Live,” and “Too Late Now,” all of which are from the pen of lyricist Alan Jay Lerner. The last of the three, Maye recorded and her version is included among the Smithsonian Institute’s best recordings of the 20th century.
Maye also sang the title song from Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret and ended the evening with the Stephen Sondheim classic, “I’m Still Here.” The wordy song threw her for a loop as she sang it shortly after Reineke presented her with a proclamation from the Mayor’s Office: March 24th would officially become “Marilyn Maye Day” in New York City. “If you want to hear the rest of the lyrics, you’ll have to come to my club act—around the corner-next month,” she joked.
Indeed there is no sign that Maye will take a break. She continues to play to sold out crowds around the country. It was a triumphant finale for the Pops 40th season—and an inspiration to see a seasoned senior at the top of her game.
For information about Marilyn Maye, visit her website
For information about the New York Pops, click here.