As mentioned in the “Current Activities” section of this web, I have become somewhat of a public speaker. For about the last ten years I have developed an interest in popular music of the 20s, 30s and 40s. I also belong one of several continuing education groups at the University of Texas. One of the features of these groups is lectures on a wide variety of subjects.
It occurred to me that I could combine my interest in music with giving a lecture. So I developed a lecture combining listening to music with comments on the musician, music and little known facts about what was going on at the time. The first lecture was successful so, over the years, I developed more lectures.
In addition to giving the lectures at the University I began to get invitations from other organizations, churches, etc. to give the lectures, mostly to their senior groups.
Each lecture lasts about one hour, fifteen minutes. Here is a list of those I have given to date:
“My Misspent Youth — From Victrola to Jukebox”. The songs I listened to while growing up.
“One Of a Kind Singers”. Singers whose voice or singing style make them “one of a kind”. I tried to avoid the “super stars”, e.g. Sinatra, Presley.
“Theme Songs and Vamps”. A lecture with quite a bit of audience interaction. Identifying and discussing theme songs from musicians, TV shows, politicians and some surprises. “Vamps” are the music an accompanist plays while the singer is getting ready to sing. Some of the vamps are so familiar they signal what song is to follow. I play the vamp for about 30 seconds and ask the audience to identify the song it introduces.
“The Great White Way — The Broadway Musical”. Discussion of popular musicals from the 20s, 30s and 40s with songs from the musical — if possible by the original cast members. Quite a bit of “backstage lore.
“Songs That Won The War — Music of World War II”. Songs of the war era that had to do with the conflict and were number one or two on the Hit Parade.
“Sinatra — A Life in Song”. This does not attempt to be a biography of Sinatra. However, it occurred to me that there were certain periods in his life where his songs or singing style reflected what was going on with him during that period. We visit some of these periods and the songs.
“Cabaret! — Cabaret singers of yesterday and today”. Well known (mostly) cabaret singers and their songs.
“Girl Singers — More Than a Pretty Face”. Female singers who sang with a band — mostly the “big bands” of the late 30s and early 40s.
“Rodgers and Hart — An Unlikely Pair”. This duo created hundreds of songs we sing and hear today. We’ll review them and the shows they were from.
“Irving Berlin — 101 Years of Song”. A look at the high and low spots of his life and his appropriate songs.
“Singing Groups — Famous Singers“. Groups whose singing style made them famous.
“The Roaring 20s — The Jazz Age. Music and stories from the 20s.