UCSB Arts & Lectures brings in the crme de la crme of performing artists every year, so it’s always interesting when the coordinators add someone new, particularly in the hotly contested category of the standards singer. Steve Tyrell made the leap to frontman on the crest of his success with songs for the soundtracks of two hit movies, Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride Part II. Since then, his second career has taken off, and his warm, Bourbon-swampy Texas singing voice has garnered him millions of fans. His latest album, Songs of Sinatra, includes duets with Frank Sinatra Jr., Roy Hargrove, Dave Koz, and his own daughter, Lauryn Tyrell.
Tyrell will be appearing with the Hollywood Jazz Orchestra-the same group he and Quincy Jones worked with on the concert to celebrate Sinatra’s induction into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. Tyrell and Jones go way back, as might be expected given that Tyrell has been producing hit records since “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” which he did with writers Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and Texan singer B.J. Thomas for the motion picture Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I spoke with Tyrell last week.
You have quite the story, considering the fact that you are now a frontman after so many years of success behind the scenes. Absolutely. The story is that I was working for Steve Martin, and we were the wedding band in the movie Father of the Bride. The first thing that happened was Steve asked us, “What would you be playing if this were a real wedding?” And that made me think. And I came up with “The Way You Look Tonight” as the kind of standard that I thought would be classy at the wedding. And then I ended up singing it. From there, we knew from past experience that songs reprised over the credits at the end of the film sometimes caught on. It was a formula that had worked for us in the past. But then something unexpected happened.
What was that? Well, the song became a hit, but not the usual kind of hit. It became a hit for weddings, and people started writing to me about how the song made their wedding, which was very intense feedback for me.
What happened next? Then Steve Martin suggested I record an album as a singer, doing these standards. I said, “That’s great Steve, but who would buy them?” You see, I had record industry experience, and I was skeptical about myself, my chances. But Steve said, “I would buy it,” and, due to a few more people, it happened.
Steve Tyrell and the Hollywood Jazz Orchestra hit the stage at Campbell Hall on Thursday, October 11, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 for the public and $19 for UCSB students. Visit artsandlectures.ucsb.edu or call 893-3535 for details.